msnbc.com
updated 6/1/2006 10:12:45 PM ET 2006-06-02T02:12:45

Guests: Joe Morgan, Annetta Nunn, Elizabeth Artz, Melina Kennedy, Kenneth Falk, Jake Goldenflame, Rachel Sullivan, Clint Van Zandt, Larry Kobilinsky, Karen Jackson, Christie Mysinger and Ron Mowery

DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, new details about the harrowing gunpoint abduction of a 34-year-old Alabama attorney. Police rescued her nine hours later at a hotel with her arms and legs bound.

The program about justice starts now.

Hi, everyone. First up on the docket, she is safe. Thirty-four-year-old family law attorney Sandra Eubank Gregory is with her family today, a day after she was abducted at gunpoint at about 8:30 a.m. in a parking lot outside her apartment complex. This security camera shows Sandi opening the door to her boyfriend’s Lexus SUV as a gunman approaches and forces her into the vehicle.

We now know much more about the harrowing nine hours until she was rescued. Shortly after she was kidnapped, Sandi was forced to stop at three different banks — presumably to take out money — then early in the afternoon, taken to this housing project. The Lexus she was abducted in found abandoned there at about 1:00 p.m., then a tip from an informant.  Just over four hours later, authorities were forcing their way into the room at a Comfort Inn hotel in Homewood, Alabama. The door opened. They took the man down.

Sandi was lying on the floor between the bed and the wall. Her wrists and ankles bound with a telephone cord, a sheet covering her body. She was beaten. We’re now learning that fortunately her injuries were not serious.  Thirty-five-year-old Dedrick Grim (ph) was taken into custody. Court records show he has an extensive record of robbery convictions.

Birmingham police Chief Annetta Nunn joins us now, as well as Joe Morgan, III, attorney and friend of Sandra Gregory, who last saw Sandi last night at the hospital. Thanks to both of you for coming on the program.  We appreciate it. First and foremost, Joe, how’s she doing?  JOE MORGAN, III, FRIEND OF SANDRA GREGORY: She’s doing well. By all reports, she’s alive. That’s the best thing we can say.  ABRAMS: How badly bruised was she?  MORGAN: That, I’m not sure of. She was still doing a lot of police interviews yesterday evening and so we wanted to give her all the time she needed, obviously. But all — excuse me — all reports are she’s doing well.

ABRAMS: Have you gotten a chance to speak to her at all?

MORGAN: I have not, sadly enough. I can’t wait until I get the chance but I know she’s got other priorities today.  ABRAMS: All right. Chief Nunn, tell us how you ended up at this Comfort Inn hotel? It seems there was a lot of good police work here.  What led you there?  ANNETTA NUNN, BIRMINGHAM, AL POLICE CHIEF: Well, we received a call from a citizen when the incident happened and we pulled and reviewed the tape and we were getting information throughout the day and each time we got leads, or detectives developed leads, they were followed up on until eventually we ended up at the Comfort Inn.

ABRAMS: Did a citizen say I think I’ve seen the man who abducted that lawyer I saw on TV?

(AUDIO GAP)

ABRAMS: Chief, can you hear me? OK. Let me do — let me go back to Joe Morgan a little bit. Joe, tell me, at least in terms of the friends and family that you’ve gotten a chance to speak to, what is the sense there about the prognosis for the future? Is she going to go back to practicing law?  MORGAN: Oh, I know her well enough to know she sure will. I’m surprised she wasn’t right at it first thing this morning. But given the circumstances, I’m glad she was not. She’s tenacious. She’ll be back at it hard and she’ll do a good job. The sad thing is, among the friends and family members both at court and in her personal life, most of us are attorneys and we know how these cases usually work out. And we were all just gravely concerned for her. And it worked out well.  ABRAMS: Chief Nunn, I think you can hear me now. We apologize for that.  I was asking you about the reason that you ended up at the — at this particular hotel. Did someone call in and say I’ve seen him, I’ve seen the guy, I’ve seen that woman. They’re here at this hotel.

NUNN: Well, we know that our detectives developed some leads so exactly how it came in, I wouldn’t be at liberty to say right now. But they ended up at the Comfort Inn hotel.

ABRAMS: Do you have any sense of how he got from the housing project, which is apparently miles away, where the car was left, to the hotel?  NUNN: Well, we believe that he had someone to probably take him there. That is under — that part is under investigation as well. And further details will be released as the detectives get ready to take this case to the district attorney’s office.  ABRAMS: All right, Chief Nunn, congratulations. It seems that there was a lot of good police work here. Thank you very much for coming on the program. Joe Morgan, thank you.

Elizabeth Artz from our Birmingham station joins us now, WVTM. All right, Elizabeth, maybe you — the police chief obviously has to be a little circumspect in terms of what they know and what they can say publicly. Can you give us a sense of how it is that at 1:00 they find the car, the Lexus car at that housing project and then about four hours later they’re at the hotel?  ELIZABETH ARTZ, WVTM-TV REPORTER: Well, unfortunately, you heard what the chief had to say and we’re not getting much more information out of her ourselves. What we are hearing is that a tip did lead authorities from one location to the other. We do also know that yesterday federal marshals were being led to several different hotels before they actually got to that hotel in Homewood, where Ms. Gregory was found alive and OK.

So I know that there were some conflicting reports yesterday with the marshals. But we’re not really getting much more information today. We do know that it was a tip that led them to finding Ms. Gregory, but again we’re not getting much more information ourselves.

ABRAMS: What about the moment that they get there? There was some indication initially that he may have opened the door. It seems that the door was opened. Do you know exactly what happened the moment they reached that door?

ARTZ: Well, we actually shot video of them, you know, banging in the door using the typical police techniques where they break the door down.  And what happened after they got inside, I’m not sure. I was not witness to that myself. So we do know that Ms. Gregory was led from one part of the hotel to another, where she was taken out the back.

She was not led directly out of the door, so we did not get good sight of her. We couldn’t see what her condition was like. We didn’t get any video of her leaving the hotel room. She was protected and guarded and taken out a different entrance of the hotel at that time.

ABRAMS: All right. Elizabeth Artz, thank you very much for taking the time. Appreciate it.

ABRAMS: Coming up, a group of convicted sex offenders want to be able to go to city parks, playgrounds and pools and they’re suing. We’ll talk to the ACLU lawyer who filed suit and to a convicted sex offender.  And Clemson student Tiffany Souers buried today as police say they’re close to creating a profile of the person who strangled her with a bikini top.  Plus, grandparents charged with hiring a hit man to kill their own grandchildren and their daughter-in-law along with the dog. The woman police say they were trying to kill is with us.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS: Sex offenders are fighting back in court. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of six convicted offenders. It’s an effort to strike down an Indianapolis ordinance that finds convicted offenders against children or — quote — “sexually violent predators” who come within 1,000 feet of public playgrounds, recreation centers, swimming pools, sports fields and other facilities when children are present. The ordinance makes an exception for sex offenders who are accompanied by an adult who hasn’t been convicted of any of those crimes.

The fines start at $600 for a first offense, 1,000 for a second and $2,500 for each additional violation within the same year. The Indiana chapter of the ACLU says enforcing the ordinance amounts to banishing sex offenders and claims it’s unconstitutionally vague. It violates the plaintiff’s right to intrastate travel, prevents them from exercising their right to vote and religious freedom, is fundamentally irrational and arbitrary, and punishes people already convicted of a crime.

Kenneth Falk is the legal director of the ACLU’s Indiana chapter.  Melina Kennedy is the former deputy mayor of Indianapolis. She helped propose the city ordinance that’s at issue and is running for prosecutor in Indiana County, which includes Indianapolis and Jake Goldenflame is a convicted sex offender and author of “Overcoming Sexual Terrorism: 60 Ways to Protect Your Children From Sexual Predators.”

All right, let me start with you, Ms. Kennedy. The ACLU is basically saying this doesn’t make any sense. They’re saying that these sex offenders don’t even know it half the time when they’re passing by these schools. And they’re saying it just doesn’t make any sense. What do you make of it?

MELINA KENNEDY, CANDIDATE FOR MARION CTY. PROSECUTOR: Well I think the clear intention is to make sure that the sexual violate predators who are on the sex offender registry are not hanging out in the play areas of parks where children are present. And so, you know the intention is you know someone walking by a park or whatnot. It’s to make sure that someone who has that kind of a history isn’t hanging around in the play area of a park...

ABRAMS: Right. Regardless of what the intention is, what the ACLU is saying is the law that’s on the books doesn’t make any sense.

KENNEDY: Well, I think it makes perfect sense and frankly, I have to say I’m kind of surprised that this has blown up to this level. It’s really not that much to ask someone who’s on the sex offender registry not to be able to be in the play area of a park when children are present. And I really don’t think that that’s asking too much. I think there’s a big concern from people and families in this community that someone who has that kind of history may be in the play area of a park for not very good intentions.

And the bottom line is I think that the city county council in passing this tried to make sure and think through and how this could actually be implemented and I think would be very willing to have talked through the way the ordinance is structured with the ACLU rather than been slapped with a lawsuit.

ABRAMS: So basically you’re saying — it sounds like you’re willing to concede that there’s some problems with the law.

KENNEDY: I don’t think it’s vague actually. I don’t agree with that.  And the lawyers for the council who have looked at this think it’s not vague. Again, it’s crafted in a way that it specifically says that it’s the play areas of the parks and so that the person who’s on the sex offender registry can’t be there. And, you know, I don’t think we should expect that this is going to be a situation where someone who happens to be walking by is going to be stopped. But what happens is if someone is hanging out in the park and that causes someone a concern, at least it gives a tool to the neighborhoods or to the law enforcement to be able to ask if they are on the registry and do something about it.  ABRAMS: Kenneth Falk, look, you know the position you’re taking in this case is not going to be popular but that’s — you know, your job is not to do what is popular, it’s to do what you guys think is the right thing legally. How is this law different from all the laws around this country that prevent sex offenders from getting close to kids?  KENNETH FALK, ACLU INDIANA LEAL DIRECTOR: Well, this law is unique in that it prevents people from being within 1,000 feet of certain designated areas. And the problem is, if you look at a map of Indianapolis, it’s virtually impossible to travel in and around or through Indianapolis even on the interstates without violating the law. I have clients — we have plaintiffs who are not able to go to work because their employment is within 1,000 feet of a playground. We have people who can’t vote. There are more than a 100 precincts here in Marion County, which is Indianapolis, which are in schools, which are within 1,000 feet of playgrounds.

People can’t vote. People can’t go to church because they’re within this 1,000-foot restriction. It’s so broad that it really does affect a banishment. These people have now been told that there’s nowhere they can go within the city without violating the law.  ABRAMS: Let me read from the ACLU lawsuits — this is number three — Ms. Kennedy. There’s no way for a person to know if he or she is passing within 1,000 feet of a playground open to the public, recreation center, bathing beach, swimming or wading pool, sports field or facility. What of that?  KENNEDY: Well, I guess one thing I’d like to point out too it’s not that this doesn’t have any sort of precedent. I mean there are restrictions in other context that are similar. And in fact, I think the 1,000-feet requirement actually came from other requirements that are unrelated. And so that’s not new and necessarily out of the blue. But what I would say to that is, again, you know, the intention here is to make sure that someone who’s convicted of a sexually violent...

ABRAMS: I know what the intention is.

KENNEDY: OK.

ABRAMS: I’m not asking about the intention.

KENNEDY: Sure.

ABRAMS: I’m asking about the law.

KENNEDY: Well and the law is as it is. They are not permitted to be in the area that is specifically the playground area...

ABRAMS: But how do they know? I mean...

KENNEDY: Well...

ABRAMS: ... if they don’t know that there’s a school within 1,000 feet, do they have an argument? I mean can’t there be a way to say, look, you can’t be, as you say, hanging out...

KENNEDY: Yes.

ABRAMS: You can’t be loitering.

KENNEDY: Sure.

ABRAMS: You can’t be seen walking — I mean isn’t there a way to do this?

KENNEDY: I believe there is. And the ordinance on the books I believe covers just that. And I do not agree with the ACLU that this is not appropriate. I think it’s necessary. And I think, again, you know, they opposed it from the beginning before even looking at the language.  And you know the city has been slapped with a lawsuit and again, you know, this is not anything against the ACLU. There are things they’ve done that I respect.

But I think on this one I just disagree. And at the end of the day, you know, I think we have to realize that law enforcement officers or others who may use this will use it as a tool so that they have the opportunity if they’re concerned about someone who is hanging out in a park to be able to ask them those questions and tell them they can’t be there.

ABRAMS: Jake Goldenflame, look, you’ve been on this program before and you’ve said you are still attracted to young boys, all right...

JAKE GOLDENFLAME, CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER: Yes.

ABRAMS: ... and comments like that — and you’ve said look, you have this firewall that you can put up, et cetera, that helps you control your so-called urges and you say the most important thing is effectively to know who these people are, to keep an eye on them, for them to keep an eye on each other, et cetera. All right. So with all that in mind, I think you could probably understand why the people of Indianapolis would say, I don’t want to risk it. I don’t want Jake and the other guys hanging around anywhere near places where kids are.  GOLDENFLAME: Well, you know, Dan, I just finished a speaking tour inside a state prison and inside a mental health facility where sexually violent predators are being treated, and in both of those places part of the message that I give to the men is that if you want to really practice recovery when you get out, you must show some sensitivity to the community’s sensitivities. You must voluntarily relinquish any right you may have to go to places where people would be concerned about your being there.

You’d never see me in a children’s park. You’d never see me going to a place where there are a lot of children hanging around. I wouldn’t go there. I’d find other places to go for my recreation. Not because I fear I might, you know, lose control and go berserk. I think I’m well past that. But I don’t want my community concerned. At the same time, I sympathize with the cause that the ACLU has identified here, that this law has been written so broadly that it’s going to keep people from doing innocent things that are necessary as part of their continuing recovery in the community, such as going to a job or going to a church or going to a polling place to vote. I think that’s the defect in the law.

ABRAMS: Isn’t it true, Ms. Kennedy that if the distance is 1,000 feet — let me read from the law — it’s number one. It should be unlawful for any person deemed to have been an offender against children to be within 1,000 feet of a public playground, recreation center, bathing beach, swimming or wading pools, sports field or facility when children are present unless such person or persons are accompanied by an adult person who is not also required to register.” I mean you know when you start saying a recreation center, a bathing beach, I mean they can’t drive through either, right?

KENNEDY: Well, again, that goes back to, you know, using just reasonable judgment in enforcing this. I mean this is not the intention, to stop someone who’s happening to drive by and I think we know that.

(CROSSTALK)

KENNEDY: Bottom line is I think...

ABRAMS: That’s not an answer...

KENNEDY: ... that’s being used as a reason...

ABRAMS: That’s not an answer...

KENNEDY: No, it is an answer...

ABRAMS: ... as to the constitutionality of a law...

KENNEDY: I think it is an answer. Because the bottom line is we’ll have to see if anyone has been affected in that way and I’ll tell you that I would be well surprised if anyone is...

ABRAMS: Wait. When you’re evaluating the constitutionality of a law, you see how many people have been affected by it?

KENNEDY: Well, you do have to have a plaintiff that has standing and who has, you know, suffered some sort of impact...

ABRAMS: And they can say I’m not allowed to drive.

FALK: There are plaintiffs today who are — whose work — whose employment is within the 1,000-foot area. If they go to work, they are violating the law. It’s as simple as that...

ABRAMS: You know, Mr. Falk, I’ve been, I don’t know if the word is impressed, but I’ve been struck by the fact that the ACLU has not challenged more of these laws. I mean am I right that because you would think that the ACLU would be all over the country saying any time there are any restrictions on these sex offenders, we’re going to challenge them.  Have you guys been challenging all of the restrictions on sex offenders around the country?  FALK: Well, I think we’re well aware of what the law is and we’re well aware of the fact that communities have passed certain legislation, which has been upheld. But the problem with this piece of legislation is it goes much further than anything ever attempted before.  ABRAMS: But the position — but Ms. Kennedy makes a fair point and that is that in a way the ACLU can’t be trusted on this. And what I think she’s saying — and I’ll say it for a lot of people — the viewers we get - - they’re basically saying you guys oppose any restrictions on convicted sex offenders after they’ve served their sentence. And so to hear you guys complaining about it now, well you know what, it goes in one ear and comes out the other.

FALK: Sure. Well I don’t think that’s true. And again, we have to look at this particular piece of legislation...

ABRAMS: But again, but it also goes to the credibility of the ACLU in filing these kinds of lawsuits.

FALK: Well but again, let’s look at this legislation. You are not able to drive through Indianapolis now if you are a sex offender. You could be driving from Illinois to Ohio, you come in through the interstate system in Indianapolis, you are going to violate the law, and that seems to be excessively broad and unconstitutional.

ABRAMS: Jake, how do you walk the balance here between keeping guys like you away from kids and allowing people to at least go to work?

GOLDENFLAME: Well, here in California, what I’ve asked our legislature to do is create felony trespass laws on the site instead of around or near or trying to describe people walking past. I think that you could have a valid felony trespass law, for example, on school grounds with an exception of course, where a person who has a child that’s actually attending that school.

ABRAMS: Wait. Wait. Wait...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: I think some people wouldn’t even be happy with that kind of exception either, right?

GOLDENFLAME: Well, here’s the point. We do have people, one of them is a plaintiff in this case, and there’s another gentleman that I know in Illinois who was convicted of a sex offense as a juvenile.

ABRAMS: Right.

GOLDENFLAME: It was over 20 years ago. He’s not a problem anymore as far as anybody can tell he and has custody of his two daughters. There’s a plaintiff in this case who has custody I believe of a 7-year-old child who’s been through counseling. There are to the public’s surprise a number of us who have been in recovery long enough that the authorities and the CPS people, the Children Protective Services people have said yes...

ABRAMS: Yes.

GOLDENFLAME: ... we can have custody of our children. And we have to take them to school. If we have grandchildren, we have to take them to school. That’s a narrow exception that says sure, you have the right to go there and leave but we don’t want to find you hanging out there.

ABRAMS: All right. You know, look, this is a tough balance to walk here.

GOLDENFLAME: I know. Yes.

ABRAMS: Kenneth Falk, Melina Kennedy, Jake Goldenflame, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

FALK: Thank you.

ABRAMS: Breaking news in the case of a Clemson student strangled with a bikini top. Police are getting ready to release a picture of the person they believe killed Tiffany Souers.

Plus, grandparents under arrest for allegedly placing a hit on their own grandchildren.

And five weeks after a tragic car accident, a family finds out their daughter is actually alive while another learns the daughter they thought had survived is dead. We ask the coroner how it happened.

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

Police need your help finding Paul Tipper. He’s 26, five-eleven, 150, was convicted of lewd and lascivious acts with a child, hasn’t registered his address with the state. If you’ve got any information on where he is, Vermont wants to hear from you, 802-244-8727. Be right back.

(NEWS BREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS: We’re back with breaking news in the case of murdered Clemson University student Tiffany Souers. Police are now saying they have a photograph of the alleged suspect and of his vehicle. NBC’s Michelle Hofland was at a police press conference that has just wrapped up and joins us now. That is a huge development, Michelle.

MICHELLE HOFLAND, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Huge development. We’ve been waiting all day to hear something on this case. Hadn’t heard it at all. Then just a couple minutes ago, the county solicitor or district attorney here in Greenville, South Carolina, he stepped in front of a courthouse with all the cameras just a few minutes ago and told us that they have a photograph of the person that they believe killed Tiffany Souers last Friday.

They describe it as a candid — a photograph that was taken candidly in a transaction that was — and that it is in connection with the victim.  That is how they describe the photograph. They said it is not readily identifiable but he has some identifiable traits that someone who knows him would be able to pick him out. The truck, they said that it belongs to the perpetrator or they believe it belongs to the perpetrator.

They’re going to show that to us tomorrow. Also they say tomorrow they’re going to release a profile of this man. They say that they have a profiler who has gone through all the information that they’ve learned on this case and they have some identifiable traits, some characteristics for this person. So tomorrow, we don’t know when, they’re going to release all this information and they’re asking the media both locally and nationally to get this information out as soon as possible so they can track down this killer.

ABRAMS: And we will do that, Michelle, as soon as we get that. But let me just understand — they were saying they have a picture of this guy engaging in a transaction with Tiffany, meaning it could be like them at an ATM machine or something like that?

HOFLAND: He didn’t say with Tiffany. He said in a candidly taken photograph in a transaction and that it is connected to the victim.

ABRAMS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 

HOFLAND: So I don’t know exactly what he is saying there, OK?

ABRAMS: OK. All right. Michelle Hofland, thanks very much. This is very interesting and an important development in connection with this case.

HOFLAND: Yes, it is.

Joining me now is Clemson University student Rachel Sullivan who lives in the same complex where Tiffany was murdered, former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt, and DNA expert, professor at John Jay College of criminal justice, Larry Kobilinsky. All right. Look, Rachel, since you’re the one who lives there, is this a relief to you that they have some idea of who may be behind this?

RACHEL SULLIVAN, LIVES IN APT. COMPLEX WHERE SOUERS WAS MURDERED:  Yes, it actually is a relief to me to know that they may have the person and that they have a picture of them and that we may be able to find them.  And I’m sure it’s definitely helping the family out too to bring closure to the case. And I’m just — it brings a lot more relief to me.

ABRAMS: How far is your apartment from Tiffany’s?

SULLIVAN: My apartment is in the same building. I live to the left of her apartment up two floors.

ABRAMS: OK. And have there been any problems with safety or security in the building before?

SULLIVAN: Nope.

ABRAMS: Clint Van Zandt, this is a big, big development, the fact that they — I don’t quite understand what they’re talking about. Do you have any speculation...

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well...

ABRAMS: ... guesses as to what kind of picture they may have?

VAN ZANDT: Yes, it would only be...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN ZANDT: ... speculation on my part, Dan.

ABRAMS: Hang on. Let me let Clint talk about that, Rachel. Hang on.

SULLIVAN: OK.

ABRAMS: Go ahead, Clint.

VAN ZANDT: Yes, it would be speculation like you, Dan. Number one, I think the ATM was good. Number two, let’s say she bought gas or bought food at a 7-Eleven and they have the surveillance cameras in a 7-Eleven showing her and somebody taking special interest in her. But, you know, one of the things a profiler is going to be offering is pre-offense and post-offense behavior. When you have a crime like this, what does the killer do before he commits the crime and especially how does he act afterwards?

This is behavior that he can’t change now. It’s already over with.  So I think tomorrow they will be rolling this behavior out, this limited photograph of the potential suspect and of his car. And whoever this guy is, he is really on the hot seat right now. Now’s the time for him to be calling law enforcement and surrendering before they’re breaking down his door.

ABRAMS: Larry, what does it mean when they’re saying they’re going to be able to create a DNA profile? It means that even if his DNA is not on file, they may still be able to tell some characteristics, right?

LARRY KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC EXAMINER: Well, yes and no. Dan, I mean, if they have evidence, biological evidence perhaps, there was a rape. We don’t know what — whether there was a rape or not. We should find that out imminently. But there would be a vaginal swab. There would be semen or there could be saliva. That would be sufficient to create a genetic profile. Certainly that’s important.

ABRAMS: What does that mean? What does that mean that it helps you create a genetic profile?

KOBILINSKY: Well, we have the technology now to study one’s genetics at 13 different locations in the human genome. And they would create very much like a signature or a Social Security number, they would be able...

ABRAMS: But if you don’t know who it is, let’s assume...

KOBILINSKY: That’s correct.

ABRAMS: ... that his DNA is not on file, you can still use that to say it’s more likely the person is African American or more likely X, Y and Z, right?

KOBILINSKY: Well, yes, there are — there is a technology called SNP technology where you can determine one’s ancestry. But I wouldn’t say that that is happening. That’s kind of more of an exotic kind of procedure. It might give you a hint as to one’s background, but I think the nuclear STR is what is routinely done, will give a genetic profile. If he’s not on the database already, once they have a suspect, they’ll be able to check it and verify it that there’s a match or not.

ABRAMS: And if they do not have DNA at the scene, then...

KOBILINSKY: Well, again, Dan, there could be evidence on the body or at the crime scene or in the dumpster. Remember, her clothing may have important evidence. It may have been dropped in the dumpster. That may be what they looked at.

ABRAMS: Clint, yes, you were agreeing with that?

VAN ZANDT: Yes, Dan, you know the FBI has the DNA in a national database of about three million people. And, you know, Larry knows this far better than I, but you can also get what’s called contact DNA potentially. When the killer grabbed this bikini top and wrapped it around the victim’s throat, if he had a hard enough death grip on it, we could have — we could have trace evidence, we could have skin that would be sloughed off on that bikini top that technicians could also pull off.

ABRAMS: Rachel, have the authorities there been reassuring people who live in this very same apartment complex, you know, don’t worry, it’s not some strangler effectively on the loose?

SULLIVAN: They’ve been saying that we’re — you know, we’re safe and we shouldn’t be worrying too much and just to go about our daily lives, but I still don’t feel comfortable being there even though they say that. And they say that and you’re — and some people do feel secure and safe there, but for me being in the same building, I just — I don’t feel comfortable.  I’m very nervous there.

ABRAMS: Have you moved out or are you still there?

SULLIVAN: I still have my lease there right now.

ABRAMS: Yes.

SULLIVAN: I’m staying with family right now in Greenville...

ABRAMS: Yes.

SULLIVAN: ... so I’m going to be moving in with somebody else for the summer to see if they find the person or not and then I’ll decide from there if I want to stay there...

ABRAMS: Yes, I mean I can understand why you’d be, you know, why you’d be concerned. It’s scary stuff.

SULLIVAN: Yes.

ABRAMS: Clint, how can they be so confident at this point that they have an actual photograph of someone they believe is responsible?

VAN ZANDT: Well, you know, yesterday, Dan, we heard on your program that Michelle reported that police have behavior actions and things that have taken place after the fact that are helping them to identify a suspect. You know, the cops — you know realize, this central South Carolina where she lives, this only has a 10-person police department, but they’ve brought in county, state, federal, so they have a very large task force working.

They’ve got a lot going. They have other type of offenses that have taken place in the area. So, you know, I hope their level of confidence is very high and tomorrow when we see this picture, we also will see this guy with handcuffs.

ABRAMS: And let me...

KOBILINSKY: Dan, could I just add one thing?

ABRAMS: Let me — go ahead — quickly, yes.

KOBILINSKY: If they have a picture of him at an ATM machine with a credit card, that’s not good enough because he can say he found this card and used it.

ABRAMS: Oh, yes. Yes. Yes.

KOBILINSKY: So it’s just not enough.

ABRAMS: But, you know, look, it’s still enough to say that this person is a suspect, right?

KOBILINSKY: The DNA will lock it in.

ABRAMS: Yes, but — here’s what they said about the DNA yesterday at the press conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB ARIAIL, GREENVILLE CTY. SC PROSECUTOR: It will be a DNA profile.  It may turn out that it’s her DNA profile. Hopefully it will turn out that it is more than one DNA profile that we can begin to work towards. We are, I can assure you we have collected DNA profile — DNA samples of other people in this case. So it’s not like we’re waiting to get a profile back and then start collecting every chance we get to get some. We’re getting it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS: All right. Well it does sound like they’re making some real progress there. Again, they have announced that they are expecting to release a photograph of someone they believe is a suspect in connection with Tiffany Souers’ murder and they may actually have a car identification as well. It’s big news. Rachel Sullivan, good luck, Rachel. Stay safe.

SULLIVAN: Thank you...

ABRAMS: Clint Van Zandt, Larry Kobilinsky, thanks for coming on the program.

VAN ZANDT: Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS: Coming up, grandparents under arrest for ordering a hit on their own grandchildren. Their daughter-in-law joins us next. She was also targeted.

And one family believed their daughter survived a car crash; another thought their daughter had died. Five weeks after the crash, it turns out it was the other way around. We’ll talk to the coroner.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS: Coming up, grandparents under arrest for trying to execute a hit on their own grandchildren. Coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS: We’re back. Two Florida grandparents charged with trying to hire a hit man to kill their own grandkids. According to police, Robert and Versie Jackson tried to have their daughter-in-law, her children, who are also their grandchildren, and the family dog killed. The motive? So no one would be able to testify against their son in a sexual abuse and rape case. The couple went to a motel to seal the deal, give the hit man their $100 down payment.

Turns out the man waiting for them was an undercover deputy. Their son, Jason Jackson, allegedly drummed up the murder-for-hire plan from behind bars, was counting on his parents to make it happen. He’s been in jail since November, charged with multiple counts of sexually abusing his daughter and stepdaughter, even raping one of them at gunpoint.

Joining me now is Karen Jackson, who Robert and Versie Jackson allegedly tried to hire a hit man to kill. And on the phone, Sergeant Christie Mysinger with the Florida’s Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Thanks to both of you for coming on the program. Appreciate it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

ABRAMS: Karen, this is such a horrible, horrible story. How did you find out that your own husband had tried to hatch this plan?

KAREN JACKSON, IN-LAWS TRIED HIRING HIT MAN TO KILL HER: Well, law enforcement came to see me at my house on the 18th, which he thinks is our anniversary. It’s just kind of an odd day I thought for him to hatch a plan to kill me and the kids. And they came and told us he had gone to an inmate, given him a diagram of our home. Basically advised us that we needed to leave the house until they were sure that that was the only person he had contacted.

ABRAMS: And are the kids all right?

JACKSON: They’re OK.

ABRAMS: Yes. Yes.

JACKSON: They’re — we’re getting through this the best way we can.  It’s very sad for my little one to know that her grandparents and her father wanted her dead.

ABRAMS: But I assume these are also some of the same children who your husband is now accused of raping, right?

JACKSON: Yes. Yes, sir.

ABRAMS: And did you have — I mean, did you have any sense that your husband was going to try and do something to prevent this case against him from happening?

JACKSON: I was afraid for our lives in the beginning, when this first came out that — when my daughter had come forward and said that my husband had raped her for four years because he ran. He escaped and no one could find him. And I was very fearful for him coming back and just killing all of us and maybe going to Canada or something. But once he was in jail, I wasn’t — you know, I wasn’t as afraid, but I still knew my in-laws were not in jail and they’re — they’ve always been capable of doing anything, as we see.

ABRAMS: Yes.

JACKSON: Yes.

ABRAMS: Sergeant, how did you all get tipped off to this plan?

CHRISTIE MYSINGER, LAKE COUNTY, FL SHERIFF’S OFFICE (via phone):  Well, we originally came about the information from with inside the jail that Jason was attempting to locate someone to act as an assassin or who could point him in the right direction to hire a hit man to murder his wife and three children.

ABRAMS: Do you think that anyone else may have been involved?

MYSINGER: At this time, the investigation is still ongoing. We don’t know how many people he talked to before we got the information so we are looking into that aspect of it. At this time though we’re, you know we’re pretty confident that our arrest of both parents and the plot against the family has definitely nipped it at this time.

ABRAMS: And so grandma thought she was giving $100 to a hit man that was some sort of down payment on these executions?

MYSINGER: As she called it, it was a token. She realized that there was more money to come and she said — stated in the — during the incident that her son Jason had told her it would cost about $400. And the $100 deposit was just a token.

ABRAMS: I don’t mean this — I don’t — I mean this question seriously and I ask you for psychological reasons, do you know why they included the dog in this? I mean there seems to be this motive to keep the kids from testifying, to keep his wife from testifying. Was there any reason that he had also asked that the family dog be killed?

(CROSSTALK)

MYSINGER: I actually have no idea why they wanted to kill the dog as well, but the dog was mentioned. Unfortunately, you know, in the 15 years of law enforcement that I’ve been here, this is the most shocking case.  We’ve never seen anything like this, where grandparents would actually want to harm their innocent grandchildren to cover up crimes that their son committed.

ABRAMS: Karen, I’m sorry, you wanted to get in?

JACKSON: Well, just about the dog. My husband has always hated the dog. So I can only think just to get that last little “it” in, you know?  If he’s going to kill me and the children, then of course he’s going to kill the dog. I just can’t — it’s unfathomable to me that a man that professed to be such a good father and love the children, loved me, could number one, commit the sexual crimes he’s done, but now even go as far as to kill them all and include my son.

I mean, the witnesses, yes. My children are going to witness against him. I’m a witness against him. But my son isn’t. My dog isn’t. I mean just — it’s really sick. It’s really sick.

ABRAMS: This must be so hard for you.

JACKSON: It’s very hard for me. And I don’t know that I’ll ever feel safe until — I mean I don’t know. You know, how do you get over something like this? I was listening to your other conversation, though, about the ACLU thing regarding sexual offenders, letting them out, and there’s no cure for sexual offenders, which is the sad part about this. You — what do you do with them?

ABRAMS: Yes.

JACKSON: What do you do?

ABRAMS: Karen, good luck. Please, your — our thoughts and prayers are with your whole family. This must be so hard on your kids.

JACKSON: It is. Thank you.

ABRAMS: Sergeant, thank you very much for taking the time.

MYSINGER: You’re welcome. Thank you.

ABRAMS: Coming up, five weeks after a tragic car accident, a family finds out their daughter’s actually alive. Another learns the daughter they thought had survived is dead. We’ll ask the coroner how it happened, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS: A case of mistaken identity of the worst kind, a mistake that left one family thankful, the other devastated.

NBC’s Kevin Tibbles has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEVIN TIBBLES, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A tragic mix-up of identities, following a deadly Indiana crash that killed five.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tragedy upon tragedy.

TIBBLES: Two young women, both blonde, both students at Taylor University, were riding in a van on April 26, when it collided with a tractor-trailer. Eighteen-year-old Whitney Cerak was pronounced dead.  Twenty-two-year-old Laura VanRyn survived, but remained in a coma or at least that’s what the authorities believed. As she started to recover, the VanRyn family sensed something was wrong.

BRUCE ROSSMAN, SPECTRUM HEALTH SYSTEMS: The VanRyn family came to us with concerns. We then started the process of dental identification.

TIBBLES: It was then discovered they had been misidentified, she was not their daughter but Whitney Cerak. On the family’s blog, the VanRyns write our hearts are aching as we have learned that the young woman we’ve been taking care of over the past five weeks has not been our dear Laura, but instead a fellow Taylor student of hers.

RON MOWERY, GRANT COUNTY, IN CORONER: In one sense, it has torn us apart and yet another sense, it has brought this community together like I’ve never seen it.

TIBBLES: In her hometown of Gaylord, Michigan, the grave of Whitney Cerak sits in a local cemetery, as her family now rejoices that their daughter is alive and grieves with the VanRyns.

Kevin Tibbles, NBC News, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS: Joining me now on the phone is Rob Mowery, who you just saw in that piece. He’s the Grant County, Indiana coroner. Thanks very much for coming on the program. All right, explain to us, if you can, how this happened.

MOWERY: The accident was a multiple death crash investigation. Upon our arrival, we learned that the victim, Whitney Cerak, was believed to be Laura VanRyn. That victim was transported to a Fort Wayne medical facility, with the identification of Laura VanRyn. Once we realized that - - or were told that the family had come to the hospital in Fort Wayne, and confirmed that identity, we continued to investigate those victims who were decedents.

The identifications, the purses, and much of the personal effects were strewn about the accident scene, to the extent it made it very difficult for the first responders to collect that information. Believing that the Cerak girl was in fact Laura VanRyn, we were accompanied at the hospital by EMS personnel, by representatives of the Taylor University staff, who assisted us in doing picture I.D.s of those victims that they saw and were around on a daily basis. The Cerak girl was identified as Laura VanRyn at the crash scene.

ABRAMS: Well, that’s what I was going to ask you about. Do you know why? I mean I can understand why they would have difficulty identifying based on the extent of the injuries, but do you know why they were brought in with the — it sounds like level of certainty that they had identified the people correctly?

MOWERY: No, I think the contributing factors were that at the time that they — the Cerak girl was airlifted to Fort Wayne, it was believed by those first responders that that identification did in fact match her. The VanRyn girl at the morgue was identified from a picture I.D., as that being Whitney Cerak. It’s — there’s a striking resemblance between the two, but of course we did not know that at the time. But it’s just been a very tragic and unfortunate situation.

ABRAMS: Yes.

MOWERY: Something that in the 30-plus years I’ve been involved in public service, I’ve never experienced anything like this.

ABRAMS: Ron Mowery, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.

Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS: We’re out of time. Some people are asking why I’m not wearing a tie today. It is not some new style or new effort on the program. I forgot my tie at home. I wasn’t happy with the ones I had here.

“HARDBALL” is up next.

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


Guest: Joe Morgan, Annetta Nunn, Elizabeth Artz, Melina Kennedy, Kenneth Falk, Jake Goldenflame, Rachel Sullivan, Clint Van Zandt, Larry Kobilinsky, Karen Jackson, Christie Mysinger, Ron Mowery>

DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, new details about the harrowing gunpoint abduction of a 34-year-old Alabama attorney. Police rescued her nine hours later at a hotel with her arms and legs bound.

The program about justice starts now.

Hi, everyone. First up on the docket, she is safe. Thirty-four-year- old family law attorney Sandra Eubank Gregory is with her family today, a day after she was abducted at gunpoint at about 8:30 a.m. in a parking lot outside her apartment complex. This security camera shows Sandi opening the door to her boyfriend’s Lexus SUV as a gunman approaches and forces her into the vehicle.

We now know much more about the harrowing nine hours until she was rescued. Shortly after she was kidnapped, Sandi was forced to stop at three different banks — presumably to take out money — then early in the afternoon, taken to this housing project. The Lexus she was abducted in found abandoned there at about 1:00 p.m., then a tip from an informant.  Just over four hours later, authorities were forcing their way into the room at a Comfort Inn hotel in Homewood, Alabama. The door opened. They took the man down.

Sandi was lying on the floor between the bed and the wall. Her wrists and ankles bound with a telephone cord, a sheet covering her body. She was beaten. We’re now learning that fortunately her injuries were not serious.  Thirty-five-year-old Dedrick Grim (ph) was taken into custody. Court records show he has an extensive record of robbery convictions.

Birmingham police Chief Annetta Nunn joins us now, as well as Joe Morgan, III, attorney and friend of Sandra Gregory, who last saw Sandi last night at the hospital. Thanks to both of you for coming on the program.  We appreciate it. First and foremost, Joe, how’s she doing?  JOE MORGAN, III, FRIEND OF SANDRA GREGORY: She’s doing well. By all reports, she’s alive. That’s the best thing we can say.  ABRAMS: How badly bruised was she?  MORGAN: That, I’m not sure of. She was still doing a lot of police interviews yesterday evening and so we wanted to give her all the time she needed, obviously. But all — excuse me — all reports are she’s doing well.

ABRAMS: Have you gotten a chance to speak to her at all?

MORGAN: I have not, sadly enough. I can’t wait until I get the chance but I know she’s got other priorities today.  ABRAMS: All right. Chief Nunn, tell us how you ended up at this Comfort Inn hotel? It seems there was a lot of good police work here.  What led you there?  ANNETTA NUNN, BIRMINGHAM, AL POLICE CHIEF: Well, we received a call from a citizen when the incident happened and we pulled and reviewed the tape and we were getting information throughout the day and each time we got leads, or detectives developed leads, they were followed up on until eventually we ended up at the Comfort Inn.

ABRAMS: Did a citizen say I think I’ve seen the man who abducted that lawyer I saw on TV?

(AUDIO GAP)

ABRAMS: Chief, can you hear me? OK. Let me do — let me go back to Joe Morgan a little bit. Joe, tell me, at least in terms of the friends and family that you’ve gotten a chance to speak to, what is the sense there about the prognosis for the future? Is she going to go back to practicing law?  MORGAN: Oh, I know her well enough to know she sure will. I’m surprised she wasn’t right at it first thing this morning. But given the circumstances, I’m glad she was not. She’s tenacious. She’ll be back at it hard and she’ll do a good job. The sad thing is, among the friends and family members both at court and in her personal life, most of us are attorneys and we know how these cases usually work out. And we were all just gravely concerned for her. And it worked out well.  ABRAMS: Chief Nunn, I think you can hear me now. We apologize for that.  I was asking you about the reason that you ended up at the — at this particular hotel. Did someone call in and say I’ve seen him, I’ve seen the guy, I’ve seen that woman. They’re here at this hotel.

NUNN: Well, we know that our detectives developed some leads so exactly how it came in, I wouldn’t be at liberty to say right now. But they ended up at the Comfort Inn hotel.

ABRAMS: Do you have any sense of how he got from the housing project, which is apparently miles away, where the car was left, to the hotel?  NUNN: Well, we believe that he had someone to probably take him there. That is under — that part is under investigation as well. And further details will be released as the detectives get ready to take this case to the district attorney’s office.  ABRAMS: All right, Chief Nunn, congratulations. It seems that there was a lot of good police work here. Thank you very much for coming on the program. Joe Morgan, thank you.

Elizabeth Artz from our Birmingham station joins us now, WVTM. All right, Elizabeth, maybe you — the police chief obviously has to be a little circumspect in terms of what they know and what they can say publicly. Can you give us a sense of how it is that at 1:00 they find the car, the Lexus car at that housing project and then about four hours later they’re at the hotel?  ELIZABETH ARTZ, WVTM-TV REPORTER: Well, unfortunately, you heard what the chief had to say and we’re not getting much more information out of her ourselves. What we are hearing is that a tip did lead authorities from one location to the other. We do also know that yesterday federal marshals were being led to several different hotels before they actually got to that hotel in Homewood, where Ms. Gregory was found alive and OK.

So I know that there were some conflicting reports yesterday with the marshals. But we’re not really getting much more information today. We do know that it was a tip that led them to finding Ms. Gregory, but again we’re not getting much more information ourselves.

ABRAMS: What about the moment that they get there? There was some indication initially that he may have opened the door. It seems that the door was opened. Do you know exactly what happened the moment they reached that door?

ARTZ: Well, we actually shot video of them, you know, banging in the door using the typical police techniques where they break the door down.  And what happened after they got inside, I’m not sure. I was not witness to that myself. So we do know that Ms. Gregory was led from one part of the hotel to another, where she was taken out the back.

She was not led directly out of the door, so we did not get good sight of her. We couldn’t see what her condition was like. We didn’t get any video of her leaving the hotel room. She was protected and guarded and taken out a different entrance of the hotel at that time.

ABRAMS: All right. Elizabeth Artz, thank you very much for taking the time. Appreciate it.

ABRAMS: Coming up, a group of convicted sex offenders want to be able to go to city parks, playgrounds and pools and they’re suing. We’ll talk to the ACLU lawyer who filed suit and to a convicted sex offender.  And Clemson student Tiffany Souers buried today as police say they’re close to creating a profile of the person who strangled her with a bikini top.  Plus, grandparents charged with hiring a hit man to kill their own grandchildren and their daughter-in-law along with the dog. The woman police say they were trying to kill is with us.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS: Sex offenders are fighting back in court. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of six convicted offenders. It’s an effort to strike down an Indianapolis ordinance that finds convicted offenders against children or — quote — “sexually violent predators” who come within 1,000 feet of public playgrounds, recreation centers, swimming pools, sports fields and other facilities when children are present. The ordinance makes an exception for sex offenders who are accompanied by an adult who hasn’t been convicted of any of those crimes.

The fines start at $600 for a first offense, 1,000 for a second and $2,500 for each additional violation within the same year. The Indiana chapter of the ACLU says enforcing the ordinance amounts to banishing sex offenders and claims it’s unconstitutionally vague. It violates the plaintiff’s right to intrastate travel, prevents them from exercising their right to vote and religious freedom, is fundamentally irrational and arbitrary, and punishes people already convicted of a crime.

Kenneth Falk is the legal director of the ACLU’s Indiana chapter.  Melina Kennedy is the former deputy mayor of Indianapolis. She helped propose the city ordinance that’s at issue and is running for prosecutor in Indiana County, which includes Indianapolis and Jake Goldenflame is a convicted sex offender and author of “Overcoming Sexual Terrorism: 60 Ways to Protect Your Children From Sexual Predators.”

All right, let me start with you, Ms. Kennedy. The ACLU is basically saying this doesn’t make any sense. They’re saying that these sex offenders don’t even know it half the time when they’re passing by these schools. And they’re saying it just doesn’t make any sense. What do you make of it?

MELINA KENNEDY, CANDIDATE FOR MARION CTY. PROSECUTOR: Well I think the clear intention is to make sure that the sexual violate predators who are on the sex offender registry are not hanging out in the play areas of parks where children are present. And so, you know the intention is you know someone walking by a park or whatnot. It’s to make sure that someone who has that kind of a history isn’t hanging around in the play area of a park...

ABRAMS: Right. Regardless of what the intention is, what the ACLU is saying is the law that’s on the books doesn’t make any sense.

KENNEDY: Well, I think it makes perfect sense and frankly, I have to say I’m kind of surprised that this has blown up to this level. It’s really not that much to ask someone who’s on the sex offender registry not to be able to be in the play area of a park when children are present. And I really don’t think that that’s asking too much. I think there’s a big concern from people and families in this community that someone who has that kind of history may be in the play area of a park for not very good intentions.

And the bottom line is I think that the city county council in passing this tried to make sure and think through and how this could actually be implemented and I think would be very willing to have talked through the way the ordinance is structured with the ACLU rather than been slapped with a lawsuit.

ABRAMS: So basically you’re saying — it sounds like you’re willing to concede that there’s some problems with the law.

KENNEDY: I don’t think it’s vague actually. I don’t agree with that.  And the lawyers for the council who have looked at this think it’s not vague. Again, it’s crafted in a way that it specifically says that it’s the play areas of the parks and so that the person who’s on the sex offender registry can’t be there. And, you know, I don’t think we should expect that this is going to be a situation where someone who happens to be walking by is going to be stopped. But what happens is if someone is hanging out in the park and that causes someone a concern, at least it gives a tool to the neighborhoods or to the law enforcement to be able to ask if they are on the registry and do something about it.  ABRAMS: Kenneth Falk, look, you know the position you’re taking in this case is not going to be popular but that’s — you know, your job is not to do what is popular, it’s to do what you guys think is the right thing legally. How is this law different from all the laws around this country that prevent sex offenders from getting close to kids?  KENNETH FALK, ACLU INDIANA LEAL DIRECTOR: Well, this law is unique in that it prevents people from being within 1,000 feet of certain designated areas. And the problem is, if you look at a map of Indianapolis, it’s virtually impossible to travel in and around or through Indianapolis even on the interstates without violating the law. I have clients — we have plaintiffs who are not able to go to work because their employment is within 1,000 feet of a playground. We have people who can’t vote. There are more than a 100 precincts here in Marion County, which is Indianapolis, which are in schools, which are within 1,000 feet of playgrounds.

People can’t vote. People can’t go to church because they’re within this 1,000-foot restriction. It’s so broad that it really does affect a banishment. These people have now been told that there’s nowhere they can go within the city without violating the law.  ABRAMS: Let me read from the ACLU lawsuits — this is number three — Ms. Kennedy. There’s no way for a person to know if he or she is passing within 1,000 feet of a playground open to the public, recreation center, bathing beach, swimming or wading pool, sports field or facility. What of that?  KENNEDY: Well, I guess one thing I’d like to point out too it’s not that this doesn’t have any sort of precedent. I mean there are restrictions in other context that are similar. And in fact, I think the 1,000-feet requirement actually came from other requirements that are unrelated. And so that’s not new and necessarily out of the blue. But what I would say to that is, again, you know, the intention here is to make sure that someone who’s convicted of a sexually violent...

ABRAMS: I know what the intention is.

KENNEDY: OK.

ABRAMS: I’m not asking about the intention.

KENNEDY: Sure.

ABRAMS: I’m asking about the law.

KENNEDY: Well and the law is as it is. They are not permitted to be in the area that is specifically the playground area...

ABRAMS: But how do they know? I mean...

KENNEDY: Well...

ABRAMS: ... if they don’t know that there’s a school within 1,000 feet, do they have an argument? I mean can’t there be a way to say, look, you can’t be, as you say, hanging out...

KENNEDY: Yes.

ABRAMS: You can’t be loitering.

KENNEDY: Sure.

ABRAMS: You can’t be seen walking — I mean isn’t there a way to do this?

KENNEDY: I believe there is. And the ordinance on the books I believe covers just that. And I do not agree with the ACLU that this is not appropriate. I think it’s necessary. And I think, again, you know, they opposed it from the beginning before even looking at the language.  And you know the city has been slapped with a lawsuit and again, you know, this is not anything against the ACLU. There are things they’ve done that I respect.

But I think on this one I just disagree. And at the end of the day, you know, I think we have to realize that law enforcement officers or others who may use this will use it as a tool so that they have the opportunity if they’re concerned about someone who is hanging out in a park to be able to ask them those questions and tell them they can’t be there.

ABRAMS: Jake Goldenflame, look, you’ve been on this program before and you’ve said you are still attracted to young boys, all right...

JAKE GOLDENFLAME, CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER: Yes.

ABRAMS: ... and comments like that — and you’ve said look, you have this firewall that you can put up, et cetera, that helps you control your so-called urges and you say the most important thing is effectively to know who these people are, to keep an eye on them, for them to keep an eye on each other, et cetera. All right. So with all that in mind, I think you could probably understand why the people of Indianapolis would say, I don’t want to risk it. I don’t want Jake and the other guys hanging around anywhere near places where kids are.  GOLDENFLAME: Well, you know, Dan, I just finished a speaking tour inside a state prison and inside a mental health facility where sexually violent predators are being treated, and in both of those places part of the message that I give to the men is that if you want to really practice recovery when you get out, you must show some sensitivity to the community’s sensitivities. You must voluntarily relinquish any right you may have to go to places where people would be concerned about your being there.

You’d never see me in a children’s park. You’d never see me going to a place where there are a lot of children hanging around. I wouldn’t go there. I’d find other places to go for my recreation. Not because I fear I might, you know, lose control and go berserk. I think I’m well past that. But I don’t want my community concerned. At the same time, I sympathize with the cause that the ACLU has identified here, that this law has been written so broadly that it’s going to keep people from doing innocent things that are necessary as part of their continuing recovery in the community, such as going to a job or going to a church or going to a polling place to vote. I think that’s the defect in the law.

ABRAMS: Isn’t it true, Ms. Kennedy that if the distance is 1,000 feet — let me read from the law — it’s number one. It should be unlawful for any person deemed to have been an offender against children to be within 1,000 feet of a public playground, recreation center, bathing beach, swimming or wading pools, sports field or facility when children are present unless such person or persons are accompanied by an adult person who is not also required to register.” I mean you know when you start saying a recreation center, a bathing beach, I mean they can’t drive through either, right?

KENNEDY: Well, again, that goes back to, you know, using just reasonable judgment in enforcing this. I mean this is not the intention, to stop someone who’s happening to drive by and I think we know that.

(CROSSTALK)

KENNEDY: Bottom line is I think...

ABRAMS: That’s not an answer...

KENNEDY: ... that’s being used as a reason...

ABRAMS: That’s not an answer...

KENNEDY: No, it is an answer...

ABRAMS: ... as to the constitutionality of a law...

KENNEDY: I think it is an answer. Because the bottom line is we’ll have to see if anyone has been affected in that way and I’ll tell you that I would be well surprised if anyone is...

ABRAMS: Wait. When you’re evaluating the constitutionality of a law, you see how many people have been affected by it?

KENNEDY: Well, you do have to have a plaintiff that has standing and who has, you know, suffered some sort of impact...

ABRAMS: And they can say I’m not allowed to drive.

FALK: There are plaintiffs today who are — whose work — whose employment is within the 1,000-foot area. If they go to work, they are violating the law. It’s as simple as that...

ABRAMS: You know, Mr. Falk, I’ve been, I don’t know if the word is impressed, but I’ve been struck by the fact that the ACLU has not challenged more of these laws. I mean am I right that because you would think that the ACLU would be all over the country saying any time there are any restrictions on these sex offenders, we’re going to challenge them.  Have you guys been challenging all of the restrictions on sex offenders around the country?  FALK: Well, I think we’re well aware of what the law is and we’re well aware of the fact that communities have passed certain legislation, which has been upheld. But the problem with this piece of legislation is it goes much further than anything ever attempted before.  ABRAMS: But the position — but Ms. Kennedy makes a fair point and that is that in a way the ACLU can’t be trusted on this. And what I think she’s saying — and I’ll say it for a lot of people — the viewers we get - - they’re basically saying you guys oppose any restrictions on convicted sex offenders after they’ve served their sentence. And so to hear you guys complaining about it now, well you know what, it goes in one ear and comes out the other.

FALK: Sure. Well I don’t think that’s true. And again, we have to look at this particular piece of legislation...

ABRAMS: But again, but it also goes to the credibility of the ACLU in filing these kinds of lawsuits.

FALK: Well but again, let’s look at this legislation. You are not able to drive through Indianapolis now if you are a sex offender. You could be driving from Illinois to Ohio, you come in through the interstate system in Indianapolis, you are going to violate the law, and that seems to be excessively broad and unconstitutional.

ABRAMS: Jake, how do you walk the balance here between keeping guys like you away from kids and allowing people to at least go to work?

GOLDENFLAME: Well, here in California, what I’ve asked our legislature to do is create felony trespass laws on the site instead of around or near or trying to describe people walking past. I think that you could have a valid felony trespass law, for example, on school grounds with an exception of course, where a person who has a child that’s actually attending that school.

ABRAMS: Wait. Wait. Wait...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: I think some people wouldn’t even be happy with that kind of exception either, right?

GOLDENFLAME: Well, here’s the point. We do have people, one of them is a plaintiff in this case, and there’s another gentleman that I know in Illinois who was convicted of a sex offense as a juvenile.

ABRAMS: Right.

GOLDENFLAME: It was over 20 years ago. He’s not a problem anymore as far as anybody can tell he and has custody of his two daughters. There’s a plaintiff in this case who has custody I believe of a 7-year-old child who’s been through counseling. There are to the public’s surprise a number of us who have been in recovery long enough that the authorities and the CPS people, the Children Protective Services people have said yes...

ABRAMS: Yes.

GOLDENFLAME: ... we can have custody of our children. And we have to take them to school. If we have grandchildren, we have to take them to school. That’s a narrow exception that says sure, you have the right to go there and leave but we don’t want to find you hanging out there.

ABRAMS: All right. You know, look, this is a tough balance to walk here.

GOLDENFLAME: I know. Yes.

ABRAMS: Kenneth Falk, Melina Kennedy, Jake Goldenflame, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

FALK: Thank you.

ABRAMS: Breaking news in the case of a Clemson student strangled with a bikini top. Police are getting ready to release a picture of the person they believe killed Tiffany Souers.

Plus, grandparents under arrest for allegedly placing a hit on their own grandchildren.

And five weeks after a tragic car accident, a family finds out their daughter is actually alive while another learns the daughter they thought had survived is dead. We ask the coroner how it happened.

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

Police need your help finding Paul Tipper. He’s 26, five-eleven, 150, was convicted of lewd and lascivious acts with a child, hasn’t registered his address with the state. If you’ve got any information on where he is, Vermont wants to hear from you, 802-244-8727. Be right back.

(NEWS BREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS: We’re back with breaking news in the case of murdered Clemson University student Tiffany Souers. Police are now saying they have a photograph of the alleged suspect and of his vehicle. NBC’s Michelle Hofland was at a police press conference that has just wrapped up and joins us now. That is a huge development, Michelle.

MICHELLE HOFLAND, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Huge development. We’ve been waiting all day to hear something on this case. Hadn’t heard it at all. Then just a couple minutes ago, the county solicitor or district attorney here in Greenville, South Carolina, he stepped in front of a courthouse with all the cameras just a few minutes ago and told us that they have a photograph of the person that they believe killed Tiffany Souers last Friday.

They describe it as a candid — a photograph that was taken candidly in a transaction that was — and that it is in connection with the victim.  That is how they describe the photograph. They said it is not readily identifiable but he has some identifiable traits that someone who knows him would be able to pick him out. The truck, they said that it belongs to the perpetrator or they believe it belongs to the perpetrator.

They’re going to show that to us tomorrow. Also they say tomorrow they’re going to release a profile of this man. They say that they have a profiler who has gone through all the information that they’ve learned on this case and they have some identifiable traits, some characteristics for this person. So tomorrow, we don’t know when, they’re going to release all this information and they’re asking the media both locally and nationally to get this information out as soon as possible so they can track down this killer.

ABRAMS: And we will do that, Michelle, as soon as we get that. But let me just understand — they were saying they have a picture of this guy engaging in a transaction with Tiffany, meaning it could be like them at an ATM machine or something like that?

HOFLAND: He didn’t say with Tiffany. He said in a candidly taken photograph in a transaction and that it is connected to the victim.

ABRAMS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 

HOFLAND: So I don’t know exactly what he is saying there, OK?

ABRAMS: OK. All right. Michelle Hofland, thanks very much. This is very interesting and an important development in connection with this case.

HOFLAND: Yes, it is.

Joining me now is Clemson University student Rachel Sullivan who lives in the same complex where Tiffany was murdered, former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt, and DNA expert, professor at John Jay College of criminal justice, Larry Kobilinsky. All right. Look, Rachel, since you’re the one who lives there, is this a relief to you that they have some idea of who may be behind this?

RACHEL SULLIVAN, LIVES IN APT. COMPLEX WHERE SOUERS WAS MURDERED:  Yes, it actually is a relief to me to know that they may have the person and that they have a picture of them and that we may be able to find them.  And I’m sure it’s definitely helping the family out too to bring closure to the case. And I’m just — it brings a lot more relief to me.

ABRAMS: How far is your apartment from Tiffany’s?

SULLIVAN: My apartment is in the same building. I live to the left of her apartment up two floors.

ABRAMS: OK. And have there been any problems with safety or security in the building before?

SULLIVAN: Nope.

ABRAMS: Clint Van Zandt, this is a big, big development, the fact that they — I don’t quite understand what they’re talking about. Do you have any speculation...

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well...

ABRAMS: ... guesses as to what kind of picture they may have?

VAN ZANDT: Yes, it would only be...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN ZANDT: ... speculation on my part, Dan.

ABRAMS: Hang on. Let me let Clint talk about that, Rachel. Hang on.

SULLIVAN: OK.

ABRAMS: Go ahead, Clint.

VAN ZANDT: Yes, it would be speculation like you, Dan. Number one, I think the ATM was good. Number two, let’s say she bought gas or bought food at a 7-Eleven and they have the surveillance cameras in a 7-Eleven showing her and somebody taking special interest in her. But, you know, one of the things a profiler is going to be offering is pre-offense and post-offense behavior. When you have a crime like this, what does the killer do before he commits the crime and especially how does he act afterwards?

This is behavior that he can’t change now. It’s already over with.  So I think tomorrow they will be rolling this behavior out, this limited photograph of the potential suspect and of his car. And whoever this guy is, he is really on the hot seat right now. Now’s the time for him to be calling law enforcement and surrendering before they’re breaking down his door.

ABRAMS: Larry, what does it mean when they’re saying they’re going to be able to create a DNA profile? It means that even if his DNA is not on file, they may still be able to tell some characteristics, right?

LARRY KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC EXAMINER: Well, yes and no. Dan, I mean, if they have evidence, biological evidence perhaps, there was a rape. We don’t know what — whether there was a rape or not. We should find that out imminently. But there would be a vaginal swab. There would be semen or there could be saliva. That would be sufficient to create a genetic profile. Certainly that’s important.

ABRAMS: What does that mean? What does that mean that it helps you create a genetic profile?

KOBILINSKY: Well, we have the technology now to study one’s genetics at 13 different locations in the human genome. And they would create very much like a signature or a Social Security number, they would be able...

ABRAMS: But if you don’t know who it is, let’s assume...

KOBILINSKY: That’s correct.

ABRAMS: ... that his DNA is not on file, you can still use that to say it’s more likely the person is African American or more likely X, Y and Z, right?

KOBILINSKY: Well, yes, there are — there is a technology called SNP technology where you can determine one’s ancestry. But I wouldn’t say that that is happening. That’s kind of more of an exotic kind of procedure. It might give you a hint as to one’s background, but I think the nuclear STR is what is routinely done, will give a genetic profile. If he’s not on the database already, once they have a suspect, they’ll be able to check it and verify it that there’s a match or not.

ABRAMS: And if they do not have DNA at the scene, then...

KOBILINSKY: Well, again, Dan, there could be evidence on the body or at the crime scene or in the dumpster. Remember, her clothing may have important evidence. It may have been dropped in the dumpster. That may be what they looked at.

ABRAMS: Clint, yes, you were agreeing with that?

VAN ZANDT: Yes, Dan, you know the FBI has the DNA in a national database of about three million people. And, you know, Larry knows this far better than I, but you can also get what’s called contact DNA potentially. When the killer grabbed this bikini top and wrapped it around the victim’s throat, if he had a hard enough death grip on it, we could have — we could have trace evidence, we could have skin that would be sloughed off on that bikini top that technicians could also pull off.

ABRAMS: Rachel, have the authorities there been reassuring people who live in this very same apartment complex, you know, don’t worry, it’s not some strangler effectively on the loose?

SULLIVAN: They’ve been saying that we’re — you know, we’re safe and we shouldn’t be worrying too much and just to go about our daily lives, but I still don’t feel comfortable being there even though they say that. And they say that and you’re — and some people do feel secure and safe there, but for me being in the same building, I just — I don’t feel comfortable.  I’m very nervous there.

ABRAMS: Have you moved out or are you still there?

SULLIVAN: I still have my lease there right now.

ABRAMS: Yes.

SULLIVAN: I’m staying with family right now in Greenville...

ABRAMS: Yes.

SULLIVAN: ... so I’m going to be moving in with somebody else for the summer to see if they find the person or not and then I’ll decide from there if I want to stay there...

ABRAMS: Yes, I mean I can understand why you’d be, you know, why you’d be concerned. It’s scary stuff.

SULLIVAN: Yes.

ABRAMS: Clint, how can they be so confident at this point that they have an actual photograph of someone they believe is responsible?

VAN ZANDT: Well, you know, yesterday, Dan, we heard on your program that Michelle reported that police have behavior actions and things that have taken place after the fact that are helping them to identify a suspect. You know, the cops — you know realize, this central South Carolina where she lives, this only has a 10-person police department, but they’ve brought in county, state, federal, so they have a very large task force working.

They’ve got a lot going. They have other type of offenses that have taken place in the area. So, you know, I hope their level of confidence is very high and tomorrow when we see this picture, we also will see this guy with handcuffs.

ABRAMS: And let me...

KOBILINSKY: Dan, could I just add one thing?

ABRAMS: Let me — go ahead — quickly, yes.

KOBILINSKY: If they have a picture of him at an ATM machine with a credit card, that’s not good enough because he can say he found this card and used it.

ABRAMS: Oh, yes. Yes. Yes.

KOBILINSKY: So it’s just not enough.

ABRAMS: But, you know, look, it’s still enough to say that this person is a suspect, right?

KOBILINSKY: The DNA will lock it in.

ABRAMS: Yes, but — here’s what they said about the DNA yesterday at the press conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB ARIAIL, GREENVILLE CTY. SC PROSECUTOR: It will be a DNA profile.  It may turn out that it’s her DNA profile. Hopefully it will turn out that it is more than one DNA profile that we can begin to work towards. We are, I can assure you we have collected DNA profile — DNA samples of other people in this case. So it’s not like we’re waiting to get a profile back and then start collecting every chance we get to get some. We’re getting it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS: All right. Well it does sound like they’re making some real progress there. Again, they have announced that they are expecting to release a photograph of someone they believe is a suspect in connection with Tiffany Souers’ murder and they may actually have a car identification as well. It’s big news. Rachel Sullivan, good luck, Rachel. Stay safe.

SULLIVAN: Thank you...

ABRAMS: Clint Van Zandt, Larry Kobilinsky, thanks for coming on the program.

VAN ZANDT: Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS: Coming up, grandparents under arrest for ordering a hit on their own grandchildren. Their daughter-in-law joins us next. She was also targeted.

And one family believed their daughter survived a car crash; another thought their daughter had died. Five weeks after the crash, it turns out it was the other way around. We’ll talk to the coroner.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS: Coming up, grandparents under arrest for trying to execute a hit on their own grandchildren. Coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS: We’re back. Two Florida grandparents charged with trying to hire a hit man to kill their own grandkids. According to police, Robert and Versie Jackson tried to have their daughter-in-law, her children, who are also their grandchildren, and the family dog killed. The motive? So no one would be able to testify against their son in a sexual abuse and rape case. The couple went to a motel to seal the deal, give the hit man their $100 down payment.

Turns out the man waiting for them was an undercover deputy. Their son, Jason Jackson, allegedly drummed up the murder-for-hire plan from behind bars, was counting on his parents to make it happen. He’s been in jail since November, charged with multiple counts of sexually abusing his daughter and stepdaughter, even raping one of them at gunpoint.

Joining me now is Karen Jackson, who Robert and Versie Jackson allegedly tried to hire a hit man to kill. And on the phone, Sergeant Christie Mysinger with the Florida’s Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Thanks to both of you for coming on the program. Appreciate it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

ABRAMS: Karen, this is such a horrible, horrible story. How did you find out that your own husband had tried to hatch this plan?

KAREN JACKSON, IN-LAWS TRIED HIRING HIT MAN TO KILL HER: Well, law enforcement came to see me at my house on the 18th, which he thinks is our anniversary. It’s just kind of an odd day I thought for him to hatch a plan to kill me and the kids. And they came and told us he had gone to an inmate, given him a diagram of our home. Basically advised us that we needed to leave the house until they were sure that that was the only person he had contacted.

ABRAMS: And are the kids all right?

JACKSON: They’re OK.

ABRAMS: Yes. Yes.

JACKSON: They’re — we’re getting through this the best way we can.  It’s very sad for my little one to know that her grandparents and her father wanted her dead.

ABRAMS: But I assume these are also some of the same children who your husband is now accused of raping, right?

JACKSON: Yes. Yes, sir.

ABRAMS: And did you have — I mean, did you have any sense that your husband was going to try and do something to prevent this case against him from happening?

JACKSON: I was afraid for our lives in the beginning, when this first came out that — when my daughter had come forward and said that my husband had raped her for four years because he ran. He escaped and no one could find him. And I was very fearful for him coming back and just killing all of us and maybe going to Canada or something. But once he was in jail, I wasn’t — you know, I wasn’t as afraid, but I still knew my in-laws were not in jail and they’re — they’ve always been capable of doing anything, as we see.

ABRAMS: Yes.

JACKSON: Yes.

ABRAMS: Sergeant, how did you all get tipped off to this plan?

CHRISTIE MYSINGER, LAKE COUNTY, FL SHERIFF’S OFFICE (via phone):  Well, we originally came about the information from with inside the jail that Jason was attempting to locate someone to act as an assassin or who could point him in the right direction to hire a hit man to murder his wife and three children.

ABRAMS: Do you think that anyone else may have been involved?

MYSINGER: At this time, the investigation is still ongoing. We don’t know how many people he talked to before we got the information so we are looking into that aspect of it. At this time though we’re, you know we’re pretty confident that our arrest of both parents and the plot against the family has definitely nipped it at this time.

ABRAMS: And so grandma thought she was giving $100 to a hit man that was some sort of down payment on these executions?

MYSINGER: As she called it, it was a token. She realized that there was more money to come and she said — stated in the — during the incident that her son Jason had told her it would cost about $400. And the $100 deposit was just a token.

ABRAMS: I don’t mean this — I don’t — I mean this question seriously and I ask you for psychological reasons, do you know why they included the dog in this? I mean there seems to be this motive to keep the kids from testifying, to keep his wife from testifying. Was there any reason that he had also asked that the family dog be killed?

(CROSSTALK)

MYSINGER: I actually have no idea why they wanted to kill the dog as well, but the dog was mentioned. Unfortunately, you know, in the 15 years of law enforcement that I’ve been here, this is the most shocking case.  We’ve never seen anything like this, where grandparents would actually want to harm their innocent grandchildren to cover up crimes that their son committed.

ABRAMS: Karen, I’m sorry, you wanted to get in?

JACKSON: Well, just about the dog. My husband has always hated the dog. So I can only think just to get that last little “it” in, you know?  If he’s going to kill me and the children, then of course he’s going to kill the dog. I just can’t — it’s unfathomable to me that a man that professed to be such a good father and love the children, loved me, could number one, commit the sexual crimes he’s done, but now even go as far as to kill them all and include my son.

I mean, the witnesses, yes. My children are going to witness against him. I’m a witness against him. But my son isn’t. My dog isn’t. I mean just — it’s really sick. It’s really sick.

ABRAMS: This must be so hard for you.

JACKSON: It’s very hard for me. And I don’t know that I’ll ever feel safe until — I mean I don’t know. You know, how do you get over something like this? I was listening to your other conversation, though, about the ACLU thing regarding sexual offenders, letting them out, and there’s no cure for sexual offenders, which is the sad part about this. You — what do you do with them?

ABRAMS: Yes.

JACKSON: What do you do?

ABRAMS: Karen, good luck. Please, your — our thoughts and prayers are with your whole family. This must be so hard on your kids.

JACKSON: It is. Thank you.

ABRAMS: Sergeant, thank you very much for taking the time.

MYSINGER: You’re welcome. Thank you.

ABRAMS: Coming up, five weeks after a tragic car accident, a family finds out their daughter’s actually alive. Another learns the daughter they thought had survived is dead. We’ll ask the coroner how it happened, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS: A case of mistaken identity of the worst kind, a mistake that left one family thankful, the other devastated.

NBC’s Kevin Tibbles has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEVIN TIBBLES, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A tragic mix-up of identities, following a deadly Indiana crash that killed five.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tragedy upon tragedy.

TIBBLES: Two young women, both blonde, both students at Taylor University, were riding in a van on April 26, when it collided with a tractor-trailer. Eighteen-year-old Whitney Cerak was pronounced dead.  Twenty-two-year-old Laura VanRyn survived, but remained in a coma or at least that’s what the authorities believed. As she started to recover, the VanRyn family sensed something was wrong.

BRUCE ROSSMAN, SPECTRUM HEALTH SYSTEMS: The VanRyn family came to us with concerns. We then started the process of dental identification.

TIBBLES: It was then discovered they had been misidentified, she was not their daughter but Whitney Cerak. On the family’s blog, the VanRyns write our hearts are aching as we have learned that the young woman we’ve been taking care of over the past five weeks has not been our dear Laura, but instead a fellow Taylor student of hers.

RON MOWERY, GRANT COUNTY, IN CORONER: In one sense, it has torn us apart and yet another sense, it has brought this community together like I’ve never seen it.

TIBBLES: In her hometown of Gaylord, Michigan, the grave of Whitney Cerak sits in a local cemetery, as her family now rejoices that their daughter is alive and grieves with the VanRyns.

Kevin Tibbles, NBC News, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS: Joining me now on the phone is Rob Mowery, who you just saw in that piece. He’s the Grant County, Indiana coroner. Thanks very much for coming on the program. All right, explain to us, if you can, how this happened.

MOWERY: The accident was a multiple death crash investigation. Upon our arrival, we learned that the victim, Whitney Cerak, was believed to be Laura VanRyn. That victim was transported to a Fort Wayne medical facility, with the identification of Laura VanRyn. Once we realized that - - or were told that the family had come to the hospital in Fort Wayne, and confirmed that identity, we continued to investigate those victims who were decedents.

The identifications, the purses, and much of the personal effects were strewn about the accident scene, to the extent it made it very difficult for the first responders to collect that information. Believing that the Cerak girl was in fact Laura VanRyn, we were accompanied at the hospital by EMS personnel, by representatives of the Taylor University staff, who assisted us in doing picture I.D.s of those victims that they saw and were around on a daily basis. The Cerak girl was identified as Laura VanRyn at the crash scene.

ABRAMS: Well, that’s what I was going to ask you about. Do you know why? I mean I can understand why they would have difficulty identifying based on the extent of the injuries, but do you know why they were brought in with the — it sounds like level of certainty that they had identified the people correctly?

MOWERY: No, I think the contributing factors were that at the time that they — the Cerak girl was airlifted to Fort Wayne, it was believed by those first responders that that identification did in fact match her. The VanRyn girl at the morgue was identified from a picture I.D., as that being Whitney Cerak. It’s — there’s a striking resemblance between the two, but of course we did not know that at the time. But it’s just been a very tragic and unfortunate situation.

ABRAMS: Yes.

MOWERY: Something that in the 30-plus years I’ve been involved in public service, I’ve never experienced anything like this.

ABRAMS: Ron Mowery, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.

Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS: We’re out of time. Some people are asking why I’m not wearing a tie today. It is not some new style or new effort on the program. I forgot my tie at home. I wasn’t happy with the ones I had here.

“HARDBALL” is up next.

The Abrams Report each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET

Copyright 2006 MSNBC and Voxant Inc.

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