updated 3/17/2006 12:05:20 PM ET 2006-03-17T17:05:20

Guests: Barry McCaffrey, Jennifer Hale, Michael Jackson, David Schwartz, Susan Filan, “Judy”, “Jane”, William Fallon, Suzy Spencer, Gloria Allred, Lyda Longa, Clint Van Zandt

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, a judge rules three college students accused of setting nine churches on fire, should be free while they wait for their trial.  He‘s granted them bail.  The question, are they getting special treatment? 

The program about justice starts now.  

But first, this is the U.S. launching its most intense air attacks since the start of the war in Iraq.  It began last night.  It is called “Operation Swarmer”.  The attack is targeting insurgents northeast of the town of Samarra and involves more than 50 aircraft, over 200 tactical vehicles and more than 1,500 U.S. and Iraqi troops. 

Retired Army General Barry McCaffrey was one of the leaders of the first Gulf War.  He‘s now an MSNBC military analyst.  He joins us now.  General thanks for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  How different is this from other operations we have seen since the war ended? 

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, (RET.), U.S. ARMY:  Well in some ways it‘s not all that different.  We‘ve conducted regimental brigade sized unit operations.  The (INAUDIBLE) regiment up at Tal Afar, the Marines are doing it out in the Anbar Province.  This is the biggest use of surprise, operational security.  A huge intervention forced by helicopter came from many places, assembled and massed on the objective, achieved surprise. 

A lot of Iraqis, second commando police unit, brigade out of the Iraqi Fourth Infantry Division, a pretty good operation trying to regain the tactical initiative.  There‘s been a huge level of violence as we‘re aware;

I think General George Casey is pushing back and trying to get back in control of the situation.

ABRAMS:  When we say air attack, that doesn‘t just mean bombs being dropped from the air, right? 

MCCAFFREY:  Well actually, in this case, there was apparently no air strike at all. 

ABRAMS:  Right.

MCCAFFREY:  No use of AC-130 gun ships, no Apache gun runs.  It was to achieve surprise.  Start the operation, largely in the dark, tremendous night vision capability.  They‘ve now encircled four villages out near Samarra and I imagine as the sun comes up, the Iraqi police will be in there going door-to-door. 

ABRAMS:  A lot of questions for the White House about why now, are there political undertones to this?  The president says that U.S.  commanders on the ground made the decision, not the White House.  Does that make sense? 

MCCAFFREY:  Oh yes, sure.  I think it would be impossible for me to imagine that George Casey, the four-star joint commander on the ground would do something, particular for political purposes.  I do think, however, that he‘s watching internal Iraqi politics.  You know these people have suffered, hundreds killed, tortured, murdered, hung. 

Dozens of mortar rounds fired in his each other‘s communities.  I think he‘s trying to signal that the Iraqi security forces are still strong.  They haven‘t been cowed and that the coalition is going to back off it.  You remember, in the last several weeks, U.S. forces have largely disappeared from the streets of Baghdad.  So now he‘s, you know trying to show we‘ll still push it back against the insurgency, trying to create the conditions under which the government can form up.

ABRAMS:  And I—you‘ve got to have good intelligence on something like this, right?

MCCAFFREY:  Yes, and I think the intelligence is getting better because thank God, now there‘s Iraqi police units, an intelligence service and Army units that are stationed throughout this area.  Still a problem though.  No question.  The interior ministry police forces are seen by this Sunni-Muslim Iraqi area as Shia, not as their people, so there are still some challenges, no question about it. 

ABRAMS:  General McCaffrey, thanks a lot for coming on the program. 

Appreciate it.

MCCAFFREY:  Good to be with you. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  After they lit the first two fires in Bibb County, then it became two spontaneous.  That‘s indicative of excitement through a motive. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Now three college students suspected of setting a string of Alabama church fires you‘d think would be thrilled that a federal judge ruled they can be released on $50,000 bond each.  It was a massive manhunt, high profile case.  It led many to ask, were the young men getting special treatment.  But now we learn that the men are going to reject that, saying they‘re not going to take the bond.  Because they think that ultimately they‘re going to be rearrested on state charges anyway. 

Joining me now is reporter Jennifer Hale from our Birmingham station WVTM.  Jennifer, this is just coming to us about this information about them rejecting the bond.  What were the conditions that had been set for their release if they had put up the bond? 

JENNIFER HALE, WVTM REPORTER:  Well, Dan, obviously, the largest one and the most controversial is the fact that the bond was set at $50,000.  The defense actually suggested this amount during a federal detention hearing yesterday afternoon.  Federal prosecutors passionately argued against it, saying hey, that‘s just not enough, given these guys‘ ages and the amount of time they‘re facing, that‘s not high enough amount of money to ensure that they are not a flight risk. 

Another big factor, all three sets of parents were in federal court at that detention hearing.  They had to promise that they would be responsible for their sons, 24 hours a day, seven days a week should the judge agree to set a bond and he let them know that hey, should anything happen while your sons are out on bond, I‘m holding you legally responsible.  All six parents said that was fine.  They would agree to those terms and they would be happy to go ahead and set up the money and accept that responsibility.

Another thing the judge probably took into consideration is the fact that up until now, up until these arsons and their arrests, these suspects seemed to have virtually no record.  They‘re 19, 20 years old, students at the University of Alabama Birmingham, a Birmingham southern college where they are active on campus, they are well-liked.  They are very big in the theater departments there. 

They seem to be happy, contributing successful members of society.  Probably important to point out, that detention hearing started yesterday at 3:00, it took about an hour.  The judge did not make his decision then.  He wanted to think things over and sleep on it.  He went ahead and agreed to set that bond around 10:00 this morning...

ABRAMS:  Jennifer, let me ask you this, in the community there, is there more anger or sympathy?  I mean you‘d think that if they weren‘t nice-looking boys from local schools, that people would just be furious.  The idea that these guys are allegedly responsible for burning nine churches would make them the scorn of the community.  Are they? 

HALE:  Well Dan, it would really depend on which camp you‘ve asked. 

They certainly have a lot friends who are successful members of society.  They seem to be on the right track, who are vouching for these guys saying we don‘t know what happened.  This is not them.  Wait a second.

Then you certainly have that segment of the population.  This is a very religious area, very committed to faith and to Christianity and yes it is appalling to them that something like this would happen.  What we‘re actually hearing from a lot of the congregations who were burned was that they are praying for these suspects and they‘re praying for their families and they feel like something must have gone wrong somewhere and they don‘t understand what it is because as you‘ve said, they seem like they would be on a different track in life. 

So you are seeing some outrage but you‘re also seeing a lot—I would use the word sympathy and understanding.  A lot of people say hey, we‘re praying for them...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

HALE:  ... and we‘re hoping that this can move some change in their life somehow. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  Jennifer thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

Joining me now is the Bibb County district attorney, Michael Jackson.  He is the one who had said if they are released on these federal charges, he‘s going to step in and make sure they are behind bars.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Do you think that they are getting sympathy in the community because they are nice-looking, white, young men who go to nice colleges in the area?

MICHAEL JACKSON, BIBB COUNTY, AL DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  Well, they‘re not going to get any sympathy from me.  And we filed the state charges to make sure that they don‘t go around walking around the streets.  A message has to be sent.  You can‘t go around burning churches.  I don‘t care for whatever reason.  So they knew that if they post bond, then we drag them in the state court in the Bibb County Courthouse and we‘d probably be asking for a $5-million bond on each one of these guys. 

ABRAMS:  Why do you think the federal judge agreed to release them on bail? 

JACKSON:  Well, the federal system is a lot different than the state system.  In the state system, with me, I ran on being tough on crime and I think the word has gotten to the attorneys for these young men, that if they do try to get them out, they‘ll be locked up.  So I‘ve been told that they don‘t want to deal with the state so they‘re going to stay in there for a while.

ABRAMS:  Yes, that‘s what we‘re told as well.  This from “Reuters”, three college students accused of burning nine churches in Alabama chose Thursday to reject posting a bond and to remain in jail because they could have been rearrested on state charges.  Would that have meant that they would be serving time in a state jail as opposed to a federal one and that might be the reason that they want to stay there? 

JACKSON:  Well, we‘re actually going to bring other charges.  We brought burglary charges now along with arson charges, so on the arson charge, they were facing two to 20 years on each charge and on the burglary, they‘re facing up to 10 years on each, so given the amount of time they could possibly face over 100 years.  They decided that maybe they better stick with the federal stuff right now.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  District Attorney Jackson, if you want to stick around, we‘re going to talk about this.  You‘re welcome to join in or you can go if you want to go.  It‘s up to you.

Joining us now is—but thanks a lot.  It‘s been great having you on

former prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst Susan Filan and criminal defense attorney David Schwartz.

All right, so David, right decision, do you think, by these guys to say we‘re not going to take the bail because we‘re going to be facing the man you just saw in Bibb County?

DAVID SCHWARTZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Yes, I wouldn‘t want to be facing the state charges at this point.  Obviously, the federal pen is a much better place to be than the state system, and I think the bail that was set by the federal judge was fair when you look at the actual factors that the judge has to look at.  The bail is not meant to punish the defendant.  The bail is just meant to ensure that they return to court.

ABRAMS:  No criminal record.  Exemplary high school students...

SCHWARTZ:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... financially dependent on their parents, having successful college careers from normal stable, caring working parent homes.  The problem, I guess I have, Susan is if you look at those factors, it would seem to allow richer, younger people to get out on bail more than poor ones. 

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  There‘s no question about it, Dan, if their daddies weren‘t rich and they weren‘t white and they weren‘t in college, I can‘t imagine in any other case where people are accused of setting fires to nine churches—think of the number of victims, think of the number of people that they‘ve affected—that any bail would be set.  And let me tell what the standard for bail in federal court is.

It‘s two things and two things only.  Are they a flight risk and are they a danger to the community?  They‘re clearly dangerous.  I mean people start with arson and move up the food chain of crime.  The other thing about flight risk, if they‘ve got means, their daddies are going to get them lawyers.  They‘re going to sit down with their lawyers and the first question you ask is hey, what countries don‘t have extradition because I don‘t want to spend the rest of my life in the federal pen and typically, states don‘t file charges when the feds get involved.  But this prosecutor is really afraid that they‘re actually going to get out and he‘s stepping in to bridge the gap.

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FILAN:  They‘re not stupid for staying in the federal pen and I think this prosecutor is absolutely right.  If they‘re going to slip through the federal system, the state is going to step right in. 

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  No, bail isn‘t to punish, but it‘s to keep dangerous people out.

ABRAMS:  Let me ask Michael Jackson about that.  Mr. Jackson, were you concerned that they were a flight risk? 

JACKSON:  Oh, yes.  See, she stated it very well.  If they had gotten out on the federal charges, on the bond, they would have—they could have caught a plane, could have been in Mexico or Canada or somewhere.  They certainly had the means to do that and let me just also add these are the kind of crimes that destroy the soul of a community and the people rallied together in the community...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

JACKSON:  ... and we‘re not going to allow that. 

ABRAMS:  I tell you, that‘s why I was surprised to hear that they could be getting out on bail.  David Schwartz, so what you‘re saying is that you think that this is just a typical case.  That in a case where someone is accused of burning down nine churches, that you would expect that they‘d get bail. 

SCHWARTZ:  Absolutely, I would expect that they get bail.  I don‘t understand the district attorney‘s presumption that these kids are going to be a flight risk.  I don‘t see any evidence whatsoever that they are going to flee the jurisdiction and get their private planes, like the district attorney is stating, and that they‘re going to leave.  There is no basis...

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  You can presume. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ:  To ask for $5 million bail, that is a ridiculous amount of bail.  In this case, nobody—there is no physical injury to anybody in this case.  They are young kids.  They have ties to the community and absolutely bail should be set. 

ABRAMS:  Susan, real quick...

SCHWARTZ:  You can‘t punish these people with bail.

FILAN:  Dan, of course they‘re a flight risk.  You don‘t say they‘ve never fled before.  They‘ve never been charged with anything before.  You presume flight risk...

SCHWARTZ:  No, you don‘t presume flight risk...

FILAN:  ... when you look at the times that they‘re facing and when you look at what they‘re accused of doing they‘re dangerous and when you look at the years they‘re facing, they are a flight risk...

SCHWARTZ:  They have electronic monitoring belts. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ:  They have electronic belts...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ:  The minute they leave the house...

ABRAMS:  Mr. Jackson, is it fair so say that Susan just represented your position fairly? 

JACKSON:  Yes.  I‘d also like to add though that if someone burns a building or a home, you never know if somebody‘s in there. 

FILAN:  That‘s right.  That‘s exactly right. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Michael Jackson thanks a lot for taking the time to come on the program.  We appreciate it.  Susan Filan and David Schwartz, as always, good to see you.

Coming up, this serial child molester was one of Massachusetts‘ most wanted.  He repeatedly molested seven children.  He was released.  He then violated his parole 11 times, sent police on an eight-month manhunt.  He‘s back in custody.  A judge rules he gets to go home.  One of his victims is with us, as you can imagine, she is not happy. 

Plus, Rusty Yates, the ex-husband of Andrea Yates who killed her children in Texas by drowning them in a bathtub, he‘s getting remarried this weekend.  I say OK, congratulations.  You deserve to move on with his life.  So why are some people so outraged about this? 

And the hunt for what police believe is a serial killer in Daytona Beach, Florida.  Three women murdered in the past three months, spring break around the corner.  Will police catch him first?  Coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  A serial sex offender who violated his probation 11 times sent police on a manhunt for eight months, finally caught, brought back to court in Massachusetts.  He gets there.  The judge says he can go home. 

Convicted child molester Glen Wheeler repeatedly molested and made nude videos of seven Massachusetts children, one as young as 5 years old.  In 1999 during his trial, he ran out of the courthouse, tried to escape in his wife‘s car.  Police caught him.  He pled guilty to 22 counts of indecent assault and battery on a child.  Two counts of posing a child in a state of nudity.  He was sentenced to three to five years.  All right.  He was released in 2004.  He says he converted to Islam, was found a few months later living in a mosque with children, clear violation of his probation. 

He then unsuccessfully tried to sue the state.  He didn‘t register as a sex offender either.  He then skipped town, went on the run for eight months until the U.S. marshals finally tracked him down in Tampa.  Eleven probation violations, 11, including having contact with children, failing to register as a sex offender, failing to enroll in required counseling.  Refusing to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

When he gets back to Massachusetts, Judge John McCann sentenced him to 10 years probation, ordered him to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.  The only reason he‘s still in custody at the moment is for failing to register as a sex offender, but he could beat the jail time there, then he‘d be sent home.

Joining me now is Judy, who asked us to conceal her identity.  She was friends with Glen Wheeler‘s daughter and he molested her for about six years beginning when she was 5 years old.  Judy is now 18.  Judy‘s mother, Jane we‘re going to call her, is also with us.  She has two other children who were also molested by Glen Wheeler.  We are concealing her identity as well.  Also with us is former Massachusetts‘ sex crimes prosecutor Bill Fallon.  Thanks to all of you for joining us.  We appreciate it. 

All right.  Judy...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You‘re welcome.

ABRAMS:  ... let me get your reaction to hearing that you know they finally catch him.  He‘s had all these parole violations and the judge is saying you know, well I guess you can go home. 

“JUDY”, REPEATEDLY MOLESTED BY GLEN WHEELER:  Well, I‘m definitely very upset about that.  I was expecting that he was supposed to get the 10 years in jail that they were telling us before he would get if he did violate (INAUDIBLE) his probation and he did 11 times and all he got was the 10 years with the ankle bracelet and that‘s definitely not what I was expecting and it made me very upset. 

ABRAMS:  Jane, I assume you feel the same way. 

“JANE”, HER THREE CHILDREN WERE REPEATEDLY MOLESTED:  Yes.  We‘re all very outraged at the whole thing.  Thinking that it was very clear, very black and white, very spelled out that he had this probation to serve for his sentence, which was proposing a child in a state of nudity, and that if he violated this probation, any time during this 10 years that he would have to serve that 10 years in jail.  And on March 3 when we went to court, that was not the case. 

ABRAMS:  I think for people to truly understand how bad this man was, it‘s important to know the stories of what happened and Judy, before we went on the air today, we asked you if you were comfortable talking about it and you said you were.  Can you tell us what he did to you? 

“JUDY”:  Well, he sexually molested me and he would make videotapes of me and there was another child as well.  It‘s very embarrassing to talk about, but I feel that it has to be out there that people need to know that the best thing you can do is to tell someone if this has happened to you, tell a trusted parent, friend or teacher.  Just tell someone so that these people can be put behind bars.

ABRAMS:  And you were 5 when this started? 

“JUDY”:  Yes, yes. 

ABRAMS:  How long did it go on for? 

“JUDY”:  It went on until I was in fifth grade.

ABRAMS:  And mom, how did you find out that this was happening to your children? 

“JANE”:  I found out because Judy here decided one day during a talk about the birds and the bees, that she had a fear of maybe becoming pregnant and you know, just in that conversation, lots of fears came to her mind and she just kind of blurted it out and I could not believe what I was hearing.  And it was a shock and the nightmare began from there. 

ABRAMS:  Judy, I‘m going to come back to you in a minute to talk to you about your life now, but I want to just talk law for a minute with Bill Fallon.  Bill, how does this happen?  I don‘t get it.

WILLIAM FALLON, FORMER ESSEX COUNTY MA PROSECUTOR:  Well Dan, what you get is that people should not have the discretion.  It is why people are outraged the way child abuse victims are handled and the way society handles these and particularly judges.  What you have here is absolutely the epitome of a system gone wrong.  We have somebody who is told, as these victims should have been told, as this victim should have been told, he got a light sentence, three to five years for 22 counts of indecent assault and battery. 

Remember, a maximum sentence would have been 220 years.  But more importantly, not only did he get the light sentence of three to five years having pled in the middle of a trial.  He did almost all five years.  (INAUDIBLE) what does that tell you?  That tells you that in prison, they decided he didn‘t deserve the minimum.  There‘s something wrong with what went on here and the judge should have realized that. 

Not only should he have realized it at that point, when he in fact bucks the whole system, he goes on.  He doesn‘t register.  I tell you if he had one violation, he should have been doing his 10 years.  That he had 11 violations, an outrage.  And I know judges...

(CROSSTALK)

FALLON:  ... probably this judge said I don‘t like 10-year minimum mandatory out of a 20-year sentence.  But that‘s tough.  That‘s what the legislature said.  And if ever you were going to impose a sentence, you‘re going to impose the 10 years that these victims have a right to have imposed and I would say that society and other potential future victims...

ABRAMS:  In particular because one of the violations was living with children.

FALLON:  Oh, absolutely, Dan.  Not only living with children, you figure he‘s constantly lived with children.  He was in a mosque with children originally, then when he was first found by the probation department, remember, he‘s not even on parole because guess what, he‘s done all of his time because they didn‘t think he was parole worthy to get out and then he‘s living with children again. 

So basically, it is the fox and the hen.  Also when you put him home on the bracelet, how pretty is the bracelet, he can back to those films, he can go back to the Internet and that‘s the outrage here because what we know from the federal case that just came out now, every time you look at a child, the violation is a child has been molested or raped that‘s on those pictures and films and that‘s why people have to take it seriously.  I think this is a movie, a very bad movie, and I think it‘s an outrage.

ABRAMS:  Judy, how did he meet your children? 

“JANE”:  Are you addressing Judy or Jane?

ABRAMS:  I‘m sorry.  Jane.  I apologize. 

“JANE”:  He and his wife were acquaintances and became close friends over time and we became very trusting of he and his wife and let our children go to their house to play and also let his children come to our house to play. 

ABRAMS:  Judy, are you fearful now that he‘s—could be released? 

“JUDY”:  What was that? 

ABRAMS:  Are you fearful of him still? 

“JUDY”:  I am not fearful of him in particular, but I‘m scared of what he could possibly do to other children now that he‘s out there.  I‘m not scared for him coming after me again.  I feel like I have control now.  I don‘t have to be scared of him anymore.  But I‘m scared that he will go out there, violate his probation again and possibly lose the bracelet altogether and go out and molest more children.  And that scares me.

ABRAMS:  How are you doing in general, Judy? 

“JUDY”:  I‘m doing very well.  Of course with this whole situation, it comes back every once in a while and I think about it.  I think of all the things that he‘s done to me.  But it doesn‘t bother me as much as people were thinking it might because I talk about it so much with my parents and my family and I think that helped me get over it quicker.

ABRAMS:  Well you are clearly a strong, young woman and you‘ve been through a lot and it seems that you‘ve overcome it in the way we all hope one would be able to.  Judy and Jane, thank you very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

“JUDY”:  You‘re welcome.

“JANE”:  Thank you very much. 

ABRAMS:  Bill Fallon, thanks.  Appreciate it. 

FALLON:  OK, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, Andrea Yates being retried for the murder of her five kids, remember, drowning them in the bathtub.  Her husband stood beside her, supported her.  Well this weekend, he‘s getting remarried.  OK, I say good for him.  My guest says no.  It‘s inappropriate.  Why? 

And later, three women dead in three months, now Florida police say there is a serial killer on the loose in Daytona Beach, Florida.

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing offenders before they strike.  Our search is in New Jersey. 

Authorities need your help locating Nelson Delgado.  He‘s 40, five-eleven, 205, convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a boy under 13, has not registered his address with the state.  If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the New Jersey police, 609-882-2000.  Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, just days before his wife is retried for the murder of his young children, Rusty Yates is getting married.  My guests say it‘s inappropriate.  I say why can‘t the guy move on with his life.  Details after the headlines. 

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSTY YATES, ANDREA YATES‘ HUSBAND:  I can understand and forgive, but I can‘t have the relationship I had with her before.  Understanding to me leads to forgiveness you know and I can have that.  I have had that from the beginning, but because she‘s hurt me so much, I can‘t have the same type of relationship, the same type of trusting relationship that I had with her before. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Rusty Yates, ex-husband of Andrea Yates, the Texas mom who admits to drowning their five children almost five years ago is now putting that relationship behind him.  He‘s getting remarried on Saturday to Laura Arnold, the woman he met at church.  The wedding comes a year after his divorce from Andrea was finalized, but just two days before she is retried for her children‘s murders. 

“My Take”—I‘ve longed said that Rusty‘s a victim here and I‘m glad to see him moving on with his life.  His five kids are dead, should have every right and opportunity to start a new life as quickly as possible.  It seems not everyone agrees with me. 

Joining me now, famed attorney Gloria Allred and Suzy Spencer, author of “Breaking Point”, the first book written about Andrea Yates.  Thanks to both of you for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

All right.  Suzy, you got a problem with Rusty getting married?   

SUZY SPENCER, INTERVIEWED RUSTY YATES:  Not so much that he‘s getting married, but the timing.

ABRAMS:  So he has to base his wedding around Andrea Yates‘ trial dates. 

SPENCER:  Well I think it would be a polite thing to do to sort of be cognizant of the fact and the P.R. and how this looks for her, as well as for him. 

ABRAMS:  I mean he planned this a while back.  It‘s not like he just said oh, her trial is starting, let‘s have a wedding. 

SPENCER:  Come on.  We‘ve known for months when this trial was starting.  He could have easily moved it up or moved it back.  And also let‘s put it—there‘s a good chance the trial is not going to happen on Monday in the first place.  So in that case, it‘s sort of moot.  But I still think, keep it out of the press, do a low-key thing and not try to be out there in front of the cameras... 

ABRAMS:  He has done everything he can since she‘s been arrested to help her.  He has been...

SPENCER:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... fighting publicly to get her into a mental hospital, et cetera.  She killed his five kids. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  The fact that he is even defending her publicly, I think says a lot about this guy and for now people to judge him for the fact that he‘s getting married or when he‘s getting married, to me, seems ridiculous.

SPENCER:  Like I say, I think he can move on.  I think he stood behind her.  There are—but a lot of mistakes have been made and it‘s time to move on.  But then there‘s that factor and I‘ve had people in Houston talking about this, that the women are still having trouble with the fact that Rusty‘s getting married and I was told today he wants to have children as soon as possible. 

ABRAMS:  Good.  Good.  Good.  He should.  Gloria Allred, you‘ve got a problem?

GLORIA ALLRED, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, my concern, Dan, is this.  I wonder what responsibility, if any, he has taken in all of this.  After all, we know that he was aware of his wife‘s having serious mental health issues. 

ABRAMS:  That‘s why he took her to the doctor.  The doctor took her off an anti-psychotic drug despite the fact that Rusty asked the doctor to put her back on.  The doctor said there was no concern that she was going to hurt anyone. 

ALLRED:  Well, I think there‘s a real question about whether or not she should have been left alone.  Whether or not Rusty knew that those children were not a 100 percent safe with her. 

ABRAMS:  So the big women‘s rights defender, Gloria Allred is saying that the little woman should have been treated with kid gloves more, right?

ALLRED:  Well I would like her to have received all of the care and treatment that she obviously needed. 

ABRAMS:  He took her to the doctor.  He did what he could.  The reason I‘m doing this segment and I think both of you know this, is I‘m just so tired of everyone blaming Rusty.  People on my staff do it, too.  We have talks about this all the time.  People say I still blame Rusty, et cetera, and I say he didn‘t do anything wrong.  Let him move on with his life.  The guy‘s getting married.  I‘m happy for him.

ALLRED:  Dan, there‘s so much pressure having five little children, which she had, 7, 5, 3, 6 months and another one 2 years old.  For somebody who doesn‘t have mental health issues, that‘s a whole a lot of pressure to have them home every day, home schooling them, taking care of them, leading a rather isolated existence and you take somebody who has serious mental health issues on top of that, giving her all of that responsibility, of course a person is going to break... 

ABRAMS:  Oh, of course, so everyone in that situation goes and kills their kids.

(CROSSTALK)

ALLRED:  I could see that it could lead to you know, it could lead to a breakdown.  In this case, a breakdown and the death of the children. 

ABRAMS:  Oh, come on.

ALLRED:  And I‘d like to hear him say what role he had in all of this and what he did wrong and what he should have done so that could send a message to other husbands whose wives have serious mental health issues about what they could do in the future... 

ABRAMS:  The message that he would send is tell the doctors to more appropriately diagnose.  I mean that‘s what his position would be.  Suzy, you wanted to get in...

SPENCER:  Well and then also the insurance.  You know, the insurance kept running out on them so every time it did, that they would shoot Andrea back out of the hospital, so I think he—Rusty‘s in there for mental health reform, insurance reform, and I stand behind Rusty on a lot of things.  And I get a lot of flack because the people who hate him think I don‘t hate him and the people who love him think I don‘t love him.  I think Rusty is a normal human being to some degree, but that he has good and bad in him.  And yes...

ABRAMS:  That‘s fine.

SPENCER:  ... he made some mistakes in this.  Like he shouldn‘t have had any more kids as they told him.

ABRAMS:  OK.  All right, in retrospect...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... we can sit here and we can blame Rusty again and again for the fact that his wife killed their kids.  All right.  I mean because that‘s what we‘re starting down the road of saying, well, there‘s got to be some way to blame somebody else other than Andrea Yates, so why don‘t we just blame—why don‘t we blame her husband for allowing her—again, it‘s this sort of this condescending father and control attitude for allowing her to have five children, et cetera.

ALLRED:  Well, why did he have—why did he continue...

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know.

ALLRED:  ... to impregnate her when he knew that she wasn‘t able to handle it? 

(CROSSTALK)

ALLRED:  Why doesn‘t he take responsibility for that, Dan, and the fact that he‘s not going to be there during the trial, if he‘s going to be off on his honeymoon, if the trial starts on Monday, that could have a negative impact...

(CROSSTALK)

ALLRED:  ... on her emotionally and also on the jury.

ABRAMS:  He has done everything that anyone could have asked of this guy during the trial, since the trial, considering that she killed his five kids.  Here‘s what Rusty said on the program in January about how all this happened. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YATES:  The fact still remains that from my perspective, it came out of nowhere and you know every night before she went to bed, I would ask her, I would say Andrea is anything bothering you, anything you‘d like to talk about?  And she would shake her head, no.  Every single night she was sick and you know this came—this like I said literally out of the blue and it‘s just such deep-seeded hurt, I just can‘t get past it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And he says that even though, you know look, he was the one going to the doctors, saying look, I don‘t know if you should take her off this anti-psychotic drug. 

SPENCER:  That‘s not true though.

ABRAMS:  It is true. 

SPENCER:  Because when Debbie Holmes—what I mean is that Andrea was fine and he asked—because Debbie Holmes went to Rusty several times, you know, who was Andrea‘s best friend and said Rusty, she needs help now...

ABRAMS:  And he took her doctor...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... what was the name, Saeed, was that his name? 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Dr. Saeed?

SPENCER:  Yes...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

SPENCER:  ... and he waited like days and days and then he says that he didn‘t take her to the other doctor... 

ABRAMS:  She was hospitalized.  They released her from the hospital. 

The doctors released her.

SPENCER:  And the nurses were sitting there saying she shouldn‘t be released... 

ABRAMS:  Well then blame the doctors.  Don‘t blame Rusty for all this. 

SPENCER:  I think there is blame enough to go all around.  That it‘s not 100 percent Rusty‘s fault by any stretch of the imagination.  But if he had a contribution to it.  His—the Kennedy family, Andrea‘s family, asked him two or three days...

ABRAMS:  All right.

SPENCER:  ... before the murders, please, don‘t leave her alone. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Well...

SPENCER:  And they thought that she wasn‘t going to be left alone. 

ABRAMS:  And he asked the doctors two days before, don‘t you think that she should be on a different kind of drug and the doctor said no.  So...

SPENCER:  And I can‘t use the word on TV of how one of the nurses described this doctor to me. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.

SPENCER:  But let‘s put it he‘s not competent.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well look, Gloria Allred and Suzy Spencer, thank you very much for coming on the program. 

ALLRED:  Thank you, Dan.

ABRAMS:  My producer is really into this one too.  She‘s yelling in my ear.  She‘s on your side.  She‘s even—she‘s way off on your side, even further on your side than you guys are.  She blames Rusty for everything.  Any way.  All right.  Rusty, good luck. 

Coming up, at the height of spring break, police announce they‘re searching for a serial killer in Daytona Beach.  Three women dead in three months.  The latest details after the break.

And later, love is in the air.  Rusty isn‘t the only one getting hitched.  Word today that Debra Lafave, the Florida teacher who had sex with one of her students, is getting married to her high school sweetheart.  My letter to her new hubby is my “Closing Argument”. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, three women murdered in three months.  Daytona Beach police searching for what they believe is a serial killer before he strikes again.  Details after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It appears there is a serial killer on the loose in Daytona Beach, Florida, this as thousands of college students flock there for spring break.  Three women have been found dead in the area in three months, all victims of gunshot wounds, all three bodies dumped, one in an alley, one in a ditch, and one on a dirt road. 

Lyda Longa is the police reporter with the “Daytona Beach News-Journal” and she joins us on the phone and MSNBC analyst and former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt joins us as well.  Thanks to both of you.

All right.  Lita, do they have any leads? 

LYDA LONGA, “DAYTONA BEACH NEWS-JOURNAL”:  Dan, not right now.  As a matter of fact, I just spoke to the police a few minutes ago and there‘s nothing new right now.  They‘ve questioned several persons of interest, but nobody yet has turned out to be the suspect they‘re looking for. 

ABRAMS:  Have they been able to link these three women in any way?

LONGA:  Well they have told us—they told me several days ago there are some striking similarities in the way the women were murdered.  They were all shot to death and apparently, the profiler from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has linked them, but the police are not releasing much on how, you know what the clues are linking them, except for the fact that they were shot. 

ABRAMS:  Are they looking into the possibility that these three are linked to other murders in the area? 

LONGA:  That has been explored.  There were some women that were murdered up in Flagler County, just north of us, in the mid ‘90‘s but they have ruled out in the last few days that those are connected.  At this point, only these three are connected. 

ABRAMS:  Expecting tourism at all?  I mean this is spring break time.

LONGA:  Yes, it‘s spring break right now.  We‘re in the middle of spring break, but it really has not affected it much.  A lot of the college kids are just out having a good time and most of them say they feel pretty safe.

ABRAMS:  Clint Van Zandt, you sent us something profiling the type of person you think may be responsible.  Lay it out for us.

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER:  Well, I don‘t know if it‘s a profile necessarily.  You know I don‘t have all the crime scene evidence, but you know, obviously, it appears they‘ve got a male who‘s probably picking up these women.  It‘s alleged that two, if not three perhaps had links in the world of prostitution, as well as the abuse of drugs. 

It doesn‘t look like this guy—he probably didn‘t kidnap them.  He may have picked them up as streetwalkers.  This is someone who needed a gun, Dan, I think to gain control over his victims and keep control.  This is probably not the type of guy that‘s out picking fights with other men in bars. 

He‘s using a gun to control the women.  Then the profiler down in Florida seems to believe, and I can‘t disagree with him, that this guy may be acting out his anger.  He may be mad at someone else and he‘s using these three victims that we know of so far as symbolic targets.  Someone that he is punishing, he‘s taking his anger out.  Two if not all three women died not only of gunshots, but it looks like execution type of headshots.

As you say, the guy has killed in December, January and February and the police and the media in Florida of course are now suggesting is this a pattern and if it is, the pattern says of course there may be a victim this month.  A serial killer is somebody who kills three or more people with an emotional cooling off period in between. 

So he meets that definition.  The question was what was this guy doing in November and the months prior to that?  He didn‘t just start doing horrific crimes.  He had other anger management, other challenging issues.  What is his background?  Where is he and of course the big question, will he strike again. 

ABRAMS:  And if he does, Clint, based on what we know, which as you point out, is somewhat limited.  Would you expect that he would strike again with a prostitute or someone using drugs, et cetera? 

VAN ZANDT:  I would think so, Dan.  This is a target-rich environment for this guy.  This is easy pickings for him.  I mean he doesn‘t have to go and grab someone out of a phone booth or out of their bedroom at night.  He drives down the street.  Women of the night step out and say hey buddy, you looking for a date.  He says sure.  Jump in.  And then he‘s got them. 

Now because he shot these victims, Dan, he must be taking them somewhere where he‘s comfortable.  He‘s not going to be heard and the gunshot, maybe multiple...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

VAN ZANDT:  ... shots won‘t be overheard.  So we have got a crime scene where he takes the victim.  We‘ve got one perhaps where he shoots them and now we‘ve got three different ones where he‘s just quickly dumped the body, not try to hide them, but just separate himself from the body and move on.

ABRAMS:  Yes and some of the prostitutes now saying they‘re carrying knives and stuff, but as you point out, that‘s not going to help a whole a lot.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Lyda Longa and Clint Van Zandt, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

VAN ZANDT:  It‘s a fool that brings a knife to a gunfight (INAUDIBLE).

ABRAMS:  Yes. 

VAN ZANDT:  (INAUDIBLE)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, who says there‘s no second chances.  Debra Lafave, the Florida teacher who had sex with a 14-year-old student, is getting remarried.  The lucky guy, her high school sweetheart.  My letter to him is my “Closing Argument”. 

And later, finding the love of your life.  Many of you writing in complaining about online dating services after we told you about a single guy suing Match.com. 

Keep the e-mails coming abramsreport@msnbc.com.  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—apparently congratulations are in order for former middle school teacher turned statutory rapist Debra Lafave.  She‘s engaged.  Debra attended court last week sporting a sizable diamond ring.  No, the lucky man is not a 14-year-old boy, but a man she knew when he was that age.  Debra‘s former high school sweetheart, Andrew Beck.  So it got me thinking about what would Andrew‘s friends might write to him upon hearing the news. 

Dear Andrew, it‘s been too long.  Hope all is going well in Tampa.  So I hear you and Debbie are back together.  Wow.  Who would have thought that after all these years you two would be getting married?  I must say you were great together.  Remember the party at Steve Froma‘s (ph) house and you two on the lawn in the back.  Yikes. 

Anyway, I‘m writing this as a lifelong friend.  I don‘t know how else to say it.  Have you been reading the news?  Has she been telling you what happened?  She was having sex with a kid at her school.  They got busted because he told his mom.  Oh and she was married at the time. 

And you must know that a Florida judge is deciding whether to put her in jail.  At best, she‘s going to be on probation, unable to leave the house after 10:00 p.m. for years.  I mean who are you guys going to hang out with?  She‘s not allowed to work with or near children or to live within 1,000 feet of a school, church or playground.  Yes, sure, she is good looking, she always was, but are you really meeting so few other women? 

Look, I‘m certainly not going to tell you what to do, but really, there have got to be some better, safer options, even an online dating site.  I hear at least they screen out the sex offenders.  I know, you know you‘re remembering who she was, but what if she‘s doing the same thing, thinking of you as a little kid?  Any way, good luck, Andrew.  I think you‘re going to need it. 

Coming up, many of you writing in with your complaints after we told you about how one single guy is suing Match.com.  Your dating experiences coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  I‘ve had had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night, Match.com being sued by customers who say Match.com sent fake messages designed to keep them as customers on the site, even alleging that the site hired people to go on fake dates with customers to keep their business.  Match.com calls the suit frivolous.  I had my doubts about it. 

Many of you writing in with your own stories.  David Lawrence, III in Columbus, Georgia, “I can verify that it happened to me more than a few times.  Absolutely gorgeous babes supposedly in my own hometown.  A lot of times I would get them right after I let my membership drop and I‘m sure they came from the company.  I wouldn‘t have been online if girls like that existed in my small town.”  David. 

From Summerfield, Florida, Bob Schmitz, “Another deceptive thing that they do is they have a great many people shown on there that have expired and cannot answer or receive messages.”  You‘re nodding, Joe?  Oh, all right.  OK.  The stage manager is nodding.

And Bethe writes, “Several times when my membership expired, they would send you a note to say someone is interested in you or you have e-mail, but not give you access to who it is.  You finally give in and rejoin to find out the person who was interested in you has just taken their profile off the site or doesn‘t write you back.  A little too coincidental.”

That too, Joe?  Yes.  All right. 

J.R. McGrail in New York City wonders about the plaintiff who was on the show.  “Perhaps Matt Evans himself is a plant hired by one of Match.com‘s online dating site competitors.  Thereby damaging the reputation among online daters.”

Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com.  We go through them at the end of the show. 

That does it for us tonight.  Just looking down at Joe, he‘s counting me down.  Do we have a camera we can put on Joe?  There we go.  There he is.

Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  See you tomorrow. 

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 MSNBC.  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 MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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