msnbc.com
updated 6/5/2006 9:53:06 PM ET 2006-06-06T01:53:06

Guests: Pam Bondi, Georgia Goslee, Yale Galanter, Louise Pennell, Clint Van  Zandt and Steve Emerson

DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, Duke University brings back its lacrosse team. Was there really an issue about whether the team should be permitted to play next year? Come on.

The program about justice starts now. Hi, everyone. First up on the docket, Duke University president, Richard Brodhead, announced that men’s lacrosse will be back next season, choosing not to penalize the team for the still unproven allegations of rape hanging over the heads of three team members. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD BRODHEAD, DUKE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: After the district attorney announced his indictment of a third player in the middle of the month of May, however, he exonerated the other 44 team members of criminal charges. This is, of course, a very significant change.  (END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS: Yes, so is there really an issue? Joining me now criminal defense attorney Yale Galanter, Florida assistant district attorney Pam Bondi, and former prosecutor Georgia Goslee. Thanks to all of you for coming on the program. Appreciate it.

All right. Pam, is there even an issue here about whether he should have brought back the lacrosse team?  PAM BONDI, FLORIDA ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Dan, I don’t have a problem with it at all. I mean I think he — I think the school suspended them initially. I think most universities in this country wouldn’t have done that. I think that shows that Duke cares more about academics than athletics, and I don’t have a problem with it at all. I mean, three players are charged, not the entire program. I think they should have been suspended initially because of the underage drinking and again I think...  ABRAMS: Oh, come on — wait. Wait. You’re going to start suspending every student on campus if they’re caught for underage drinking, period.  Any student caught underage drinking suspended from school.

BONDI: Dan, I think this was an entire team. I think they had, you know, the dancers at the party. That’s uncontroverted. I think they were all drinking. And the ones who are older knew the younger ones were. And I think that, you know, you look up to the lacrosse players. They’re role models at the university. I think... ABRAMS: Oh, come on...

BONDI: Oh, Dan...

ABRAMS: They’re role models at the university?

BONDI: ... you know what I think...

ABRAMS: Everyone’s blowing this out of proportion as if the lacrosse team are somehow heroes on the campus. I mean I went to Duke and the bottom line is I can tell you lacrosse players don’t walk around campus as heroes. They walk around as every other students do.

BONDI: But, Dan, I think this makes Duke look better in my opinion.  I think it shows Duke is a school about academics. I don’t think most universities would have suspended a program for a semester.

ABRAMS: Oh, I think they would. After the pressure they were getting under, there was this sort of perfect storm of everything that was coming together at the time. But now, Georgia, look, I know every time you’ve come on the program, you’ve presumed that these guys are guilty and that’s OK. There have been cases where I presume people are guilty before the trial...

GEORGIA GOSLEE, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I don’t presume that they’re guilty, Dan.

ABRAMS: ... as well. Of course you do. Of course you do...

GOSLEE: I do not. No, I do not...

ABRAMS: ... based on the things you’ve said on this program.

GOSLEE: Well, listen, I can speak for myself and trust me, I do not presume that they’re guilty. What I said clearly is that I believe that the young lady was raped...

ABRAMS: OK.

GOSLEE: ... and I believe the president was wrong when he said...

(CROSSTALK)

GOSLEE: ... made the statement that all of the other team members have been exonerated.

ABRAMS: OK, wait...

GOSLEE: This case is not over.

ABRAMS: Wait. You presume she was raped, right?

GOSLEE: Yes, yes.

ABRAMS: OK. So, therefore, you’re presuming that she’s telling the truth about what happened.  GOSLEE: I presume that she was raped.

ABRAMS: By somebody.

GOSLEE: By somebody, yes.

  ABRAMS: And that’s based on — even though we learned recently from the medical report that there was no vaginal or anal tearing.

GOSLEE: No, that was the defense’s spin...

ABRAMS: No, that’s the discovery.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: That’s a fact.

GOSLEE: Well, let me ask you this then. Let me ask you, Dan, if she — if there were no vaginal tears, what was the basis of the indictment for the original medical examination...

ABRAMS: That’s a great...

GOSLEE: ... her examination was consistent with...

ABRAMS: That’s right. That’s right...

GOSLEE: ... forcible rape.

  ABRAMS: The uncertified nurse, who is about to be certified as a nurse when she did the examination, determined that based...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: That’s right. Based on the woman’s account, based on redness in the area, et cetera, she concluded that there was a rape. Fine. Look...

GOSLEE: Well, a forcible rape...

ABRAMS: ... she may have believed that.

GOSLEE: ... which is different than a rape. A forcible rape.

ABRAMS: That’s right. That was her — that’s right. That was her assessment. But now we learn it really wasn’t as bad as we thought it was going to be in terms of the medical report.

GOSLEE: Well I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that.

ABRAMS: All right. So you think...

GOSLEE: Because that’s still the defense’s spin.

ABRAMS: Wait. It’s a defense spin that the medical report just says that there was no tearing. GOSLEE: Well, there must have been some really significant...

ABRAMS: I know. Everyone wants to believe that. I know it. I know it, Georgia...

GOSLEE: I don’t want to believe anything...

ABRAMS: I know you and the rest of the people...

GOSLEE: Nifong would not have indicted...

ABRAMS: ... want to get these guys, want to believe...

GOSLEE: ... these guys, Dan...

ABRAMS: ... that there’s something else out there.

GOSLEE: Listen. No, he would not...

ABRAMS: You’re praying there’s something else out there.

GOSLEE: ... have indicted these guys. He’s not a neophyte prosecutor.

ABRAMS: I don’t care...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: ... how long he’s been doing it. He can still be wrong.

GOSLEE: I’m not saying that. You could be wrong. We could all be wrong.

ABRAMS: No. Yes. That’s fine. But I don’t have the power of someone’s freedom in my hands. That’s the difference.

GOSLEE: That’s because you decided not to be a prosecutor, Dan.

(CROSSTALK)

GOSLEE: You could still be that.

ABRAMS: That’s right. Instead I’m a talking head. I am irrelevant.

GOSLEE: OK.

ABRAMS: I don’t matter...

GOSLEE: No, you’re very relevant...

(CROSSTALK)

GOSLEE: You’re very relevant.

ABRAMS: But he does matter.

GOSLEE: Of course, it’s choices we make.

ABRAMS: All right. Yale, let me get back to the issue of the lacrosse — we’ll get back — because I want to talk to Pam about this issue, about the charges being dropped. But this issue about the lacrosse team coming back next year, you’re talking about a new class of freshmen coming in. The notion that they were going to somehow suspend the team again for another year to me seems absurd. (CROSSTALK)

YALE GALANTER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, there’s no shot. I mean first of all, Dan, you know, my sources tell me that the juniors — last year’s juniors, next year’s seniors, are probably the best crop of lacrosse players that have been at Duke in 20 years. They think next year’s team is going to be a championship team.

ABRAMS: Yes, so what, OK, all right. So what...

GALANTER: The whole idea, Dan that this team was suspended in the first place, I think you put it very accurately, it was the perfect storm.  Because if the president of the university knew that, one, it was an escort with a prior record, a history of mental problems and had made these accusations 10 years ago...

ABRAMS: Yes.

GALANTER: ... and didn’t follow through, if he knew that was the only evidence against these three lacrosse players, does anybody really think that this team would have ever been suspended? Of course not.

ABRAMS: Yes and I’ve got to tell you...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: I’ve got to tell you...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yale...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: From listening to — Pam Bondi...

GALANTER: Dan, it’s great when Georgia comes in and says that the defense is spinning, these are court filings, it’s public record.

GOSLEE: Nonsense, nonsense.

GALANTER: It’s sworn to...

ABRAMS: All right.

GOSLEE: ... nonsense.

GALANTER: It’s part of the report.

ABRAMS: All right, but...

GALANTER: It’s not nonsense.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: ... Pam Bondi, after listening to the president of Duke today, it seems clear to me that he is looking now at the evidence as well as at the broad issues surrounding what do we do if someone is charged with a crime, et cetera. I think that the university is being forced to say, wow, after looking at the evidence in this case it’s no longer as clear as we thought it was that these young men raped someone or that there was a rape at that house at all. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That’s absurd.

BONDI: And he says that in his press...

ABRAMS: Yes.

BONDI: He says that in his press statement. I don’t agree with that. I agree with Georgia that I firmly still believe a rape occurred.

(CROSSTALK)

BONDI: But put that rape aside, Dan.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And since when...

ABRAMS: Wait.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: Hang on, Georgia. I’ve taken Georgia on. What — apart from an inconsistent account from her, what are you basing it on? BONDI: Dan, the medical evidence shows that it is consistent with a rape.  Hopefully there’s toxicology.

(CROSSTALK)

BONDI: We don’t know toxicology yet. Hold on.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: Wait. Wait...

(CROSSTALK)

BONDI: They drew blood...

ABRAMS: Wait. Wait. Yale, hang on...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: Hang on.

BONDI: Hold on, Dan.

ABRAMS: The toxicology is a non-issue in this case. The D.A.’s already said that. It’s not going to be an issue.

BONDI: We’re not going to have blood, then, down the road.

ABRAMS: We’re not going to have anything that’s going to show that she was on some sort of drug or not on a drug at the time.

BONDI: OK. OK.

ABRAMS: Period.

BONDI: I’ll put that aside.

ABRAMS: Non-issue. OK.

BONDI: What we have are her two positive identifications of these guys.  The third one she didn’t...

(CROSSTALK)

BONDI: ... say she was 100 percent. Hold on, hold on...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: You’re so sensible on this program...

BONDI: ... DNA...

ABRAMS: ... so many times. You’re really going to ignore all of the other evidence that’s come to light in this case?

BONDI: Hold on. I’m not saying it’s a good case. I’m not saying it’s a strong case.

ABRAMS: It’s a terrible case.

BONDI: But her DNA ends up — his DNA ends up under her fingernail...

ABRAMS: Wait. It’s not under...

BONDI: ... in the trashcan?

ABRAMS: It’s not under.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: It’s not under. It’s not under.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: Wait. Wait.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: It’s not under.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: It is on...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: ... on a fingernail.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: You guys are making stuff up now.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: Hang on, hang on, hang on. You guys are making stuff up.

BONDI: You don’t have transfer that way.

ABRAMS: That’s fine...

GOSLEE: Dan...

ABRAMS: Fine. You can tell me there’s no transfer based on the fact that her fake fingernail is found in the garbage can at his own home, you can argue to me...

BONDI: Right.

ABRAMS: ... that there might not be DNA transferred at all, even a tiny bit, on to her fingernail, fine. You want to make that argument, fine.  But don’t tell me it was found under her fingernail, because it wasn’t. Go ahead, Yale.

GALANTER: Look, eight days after this incident occurred she was brought into the police station, she was shown a photo pack, and she couldn’t identify anybody.

ABRAMS: This is — here’s what...

GALANTER: Two weeks after that...

ABRAMS: Here’s what the university president said.

GALANTER: Two weeks after that she identifies a guy who has an ironclad alibi.

ABRAMS: I know.

GALANTER: I mean she couldn’t be more wrong.

ABRAMS: This case — I’ve called for the D.A. to drop the charges. I’m going to call for it again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It won’t happen.

ABRAMS: I’m going to invite him back on the program. Here’s — oh I know it won’t happen...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not going to happen. It won’t happen.

ABRAMS: That doesn’t mean it’s the right thing. Here’s the president of the university again, saying what I think is him saying — and I credit him for it, because I hope he’s looking at the evidence in the case. Here he is talking about...

GOSLEE: He’s not even qualified to look at the evidence in this case.

ABRAMS: Oh, so he shouldn’t make any judgments about anything.

GOSLEE: He can make a judgment, but he’s not a lawyer, he’s not a judge.  He’s not the trier of...

ABRAMS: He’s the president of Duke University. He does not have anyone’s freedom in his hands. He has merely the decisions to make about the university. And here’s what he said about his university. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRODHEAD: Rape is an abomination and if the allegations in the indictment were to prove true, these students would deserve severe punishment for a heinous act. If, however, it is determined that the allegations are false, then these students themselves will have been the victims of a very serious injustice, which will deserve stern condemnation of its own. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS: Yes. See, I think that that’s a little bit of a different tone than we’ve seen in the past from the president of the university and...

BONDI: I agree with that.

ABRAMS: Yes and I think that’s because a lot of new evidence has come forward. Yale, talk to Pam for a moment about the issues — she was bringing up the possibility of toxicology. I know you’ve had a chance to look at all the discovery in the case. What do we know about the toxicology?  GALANTER: There is none.  ABRAMS: How do you know?  GALANTER: There just is no — well, on the rape treatment report, first of all, the in-training nurse checked a box that said that they weren’t doing any toxicology. Clearly, Dan, if there was a tox report...

ABRAMS: They’d have to turn it over by now.

(CROSSTALK)

BONDI: Right. Right.

GALANTER: The defense doesn’t have it. Mike Nifong doesn’t have it.  The medical records show that no blood was taken from the complaining witness...

BONDI: OK. OK, Yale.

GALANTER: There is no tox. There isn’t going to be any...

ABRAMS: Go ahead, Pam.

BONDI: OK, I thought blood was taken. I agree with you. That hurts tremendously if blood wasn’t taken. If blood was taken, they can still do a toxicology.

ABRAMS: Yes.

BONDI: Blood doesn’t have to be refrigerated. But I agree. That hurts tremendously, especially because her recollection, because they said she appeared to be drunk and it would help so much if they had...

ABRAMS: Right.

BONDI: ... toxicology to back up the fact that she was raped.

ABRAMS: Georgia, do you think...

BONDI: So that hurts.

ABRAMS: Georgia, do you think that they shouldn’t have reinstated the lacrosse team for next season?

GOSLEE: Well, you know, it troubles me a little bit, because it looks like it’s business as usual and that we’re putting a higher priority on the health and safety...

ABRAMS: Do you think they shouldn’t have reinstated the lacrosse team for next season?

GOSLEE: I think they should not reinstate the Duke lacrosse team for next season.

ABRAMS: Really?

GOSLEE: Yes, I think they should not because it is sending — what message do you send to youngsters...

ABRAMS: I’ll tell you the message...

GOSLEE: and what message...

ABRAMS: Here’s the message it sends. It sends, let’s see, the D.A. has said 43 people on the team are not going to be charged with any crimes and they are going to be presuming — the university is going to presume the three innocent, and, therefore, they’re still going to be suspended from school and the rest of the guys can play lacrosse. That’s the message that’s being sent.

GOSLEE: And listen to this, Dan, and listen to this. All of those gentlemen that were in that house that night when that rape occurred, somebody else knows something. It said that they are exonerated...

ABRAMS: Yes. I’m glad you haven’t made a decision...

GOSLEE: The investigation is still going on.

ABRAMS: Remember — wait. Wait. A minute ago you were saying you hadn’t made a decision about whether there was a rape in the house.

GOSLEE: No, I’ve said — I clearly — I’ve always said I think there was a rape in...

ABRAMS: Oh, in the house.

GOSLEE: I’m saying the other gentlemen...

ABRAMS: OK.

GOSLEE: ... in that — other guys in that house that night knows something.

ABRAMS: Right.

GOSLEE: And they may be withholding evidence.

ABRAMS: Well, no, look...

GOSLEE: And this investigation is still going on.

ABRAMS: ... there is no question, if there was a rape in that house that night, you are right, there is no question that other people know something about it.

GOSLEE: And the investigation is still going on.

ABRAMS: Right. Well the problem is that unlike her story, their story has been consistent from day one. I mean that’s the big problem she’s got.

GOSLEE: It doesn’t — listen, you know one of the problems, Dan, let me just say this, with all due respect to you and Yale and any other man who’s listening, men and women think differently. We’re made up differently, we respond differently.

ABRAMS: Right.

GOSLEE: And simply because you can’t itemize every single detail in fact after she’s gone through hysteria...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Georgia...

GOSLEE: ... doesn’t mean that she’s telling a lie.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: Wait. That’s called...

GALANTER: The complaining witness said...

ABRAMS: That’s called...

GALANTER: ... that Kim Roberts was in the bathroom with her.

ABRAMS: That’s called pulling the gender card.

GALANTER: And when Kim Roberts was questioned...

GOSLEE: It’s not a gender card...

(CROSSTALK)

GOSLEE: It’s the truth, Dan.

ABRAMS: All right. Look, I should also — I mean I think that there may have been a blood sample taken. Yale, you were saying there was no blood, I think they may have taken a blood sample...

BONDI: OK, Dan, then they can still analyze it...

ABRAMS: ... but there is no result.

GALANTER: No, no, no.

ABRAMS: Go ahead, Yale.

GALANTER: They took an initial screen to determine whether or not there were any illicit drugs in her or alcohol. They did not do a toxicology report for the date rape drug.

ABRAMS: But Pam is saying...

GALANTER: That’s what occurred.

ABRAMS: ... that if they’ve got a blood sample, they could still take it. They could still do a test at a later time.

BONDI: Dan, it happens all the time...

ABRAMS: Yes.

BONDI: ... right, when you have a blood sample, so that’s — I’m counting on that.

ABRAMS: You’re counting — all the people who want to believe that these guys are guilty are counting on a lot happening in the future.  They’re counting on...

BONDI: But, that’s true, because we don’t know a lot.

ABRAMS: No, because but you would agree, Pam, most of the times in these cases before an indictment prosecutors don’t have to count on a lot of things to come forward. They don’t have to count on witnesses...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: ... who are later going to come forward or count on blood that’s going to come back and help their case. They usually have it before the indictment, Pam.  (CROSSTALK)

BONDI: Dan, I’ve said that from day one.

ABRAMS: Hang on. Let me let Pam respond. Yes, go ahead.

BONDI: Dan, I’ve said that from day one. I think they were too fast to charge them. I’ve always said that. I think he was reactive, but I think...

ABRAMS: Yes.

BONDI: ... he believes he has a case, and that’s why we’re hoping there is more, because he did charge these three young men.

ABRAMS: My producer just told me that I’m breaking a sweat, so...

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS: I don’t know.

BONDI: Get him, Georgia.

ABRAMS: You know...

(LAUGHTER)

GOSLEE: Another point...

ABRAMS: All right. I’ve got to wrap it up.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: Ten seconds, Georgia. Yes.

GOSLEE: OK, I was going to say when the medical examiners had this young lady in the — when they were doing the rape examination...

ABRAMS: Yes.

GOSLEE: ... if they thought she was drunk, if she appeared to be intoxicated, it seems to me they might have drawn blood to make that determination...

ABRAMS: Yes. Well...

GOSLEE: ... and not just the subjective opinion of a police officer...

ABRAMS: Yes...

GOSLEE: ... who was probably biased anyway.

ABRAMS: I know. I know. You guys are hoping. A lot of hope on the part of people who are thinking that they’re guilty. Hoping...

GOSLEE: Hope on your side as well.

ABRAMS: Yale, Pam, Georgia, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.

Coming up, Olivia Newton-John’s ex-boyfriend reportedly sighted in Mexico. That’s right. The same guy who supposedly disappeared after a fishing trip last year. His body has never been found. Now we are asking again could he have faked his own death?   And a horrible case of mistaken identity. We’ll hear from the boyfriend in that case coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS: We’ve got news to report in a missing person’s case we’ve kept an eye on for the better part of the past year. When Olivia Newton- John’s ex-boyfriend, Patrick McDermott, seemed to vanish in an overnight fishing trip last July, speculation ran wild. Did he fall overboard by accident? Was he murdered? Did he commit suicide?

And we asked did he disappear possibly because of recent financial problems. Well, the Australian newspaper “The Daily Telegraph” has been investigating McDermott’s disappearance and is reporting four sightings of the man in Mexico over the past three months, leading many to believe McDermott may have faked his own death.

He left on a fishing trip June 30 from San Pedro, California. The first two sightings came about three months ago around Todos Santos, Mexico, where he also reportedly spent the last month they say with a blonde woman who appeared to be northern European, according to the paper.  And less than two weeks ago McDermott was allegedly spotted at a bar in Cabo San Lucas by a San Diego businessman who said McDermott seemed suspicious.

Joining me now Louise Pennell, correspondent with Channel 7 Australia and former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt. You can read Clint’s column, “A Profiler’s Perspective” on our Web site, abramsreport.msnbc.com. All right, thanks to both of you for coming on the program.

All right. Louise, how credible are these sightings?

LOUISE PENNELL, CHANNEL 7 AUSTRALIA: Well, Dan, if you believe the journalists that have been down in Mexico for the last several days, I guess these sightings are credible. No, we don’t have photographic evidence that Patrick McDermott is down on the Baja Peninsula, but these people seem to be quite confident that Patrick McDermott was in fact in Cabo as little as six days ago.    As you said, there have been four confirmed sightings, mainly from bar owners or the owners of resorts down there. The latest one, as you said, was from a surf camp owner who said he had stayed the night at the surf camp in a beach shack with a woman in her 30’s. They left the next morning in a green camper van. And my colleague, who’s down there at the moment, said last night a bar owner had said that he saw Patrick McDermott in his bar just six days ago.  ABRAMS: And this is from “The Daily Telegraph.”

In Cabo San Lucas, San Diego businessman John Brown is sure he saw McDermott in the Baja Cantina bar about May 26. Shown a photograph of McDermott, Mr. Brown said I’ve seen this guy. I’m positive it’s him. He was sitting on the corner of the bar by himself, drinking beer. Mr. Brown said McDermott told him he was working on a private fishing boat, but planned to lead tours to waterfalls outside Cabo. But Mr. Brown said McDermott acted suspiciously when he said he was interested in a tour and asked McDermott for a business card. He wouldn’t give me a card and said he was planning on keeping fishing for a while.

You know, Clint, the problem is that in a lot of these cases, these definitive sightings are often not quite as definitive as they seen.

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Yes, this is sometimes like looking for big foot, Dan. You know, we know eyewitness identification is notoriously bad. And, you know, memories — you know you show somebody a photograph. I remember as an FBI agent I took my credentials out one time and showed them, you know FBI, and the person looked at them and said, no, I’ve never seen that guy before.

You know, so it just depends how people are going to react to a photograph. All that said and done, could this be him down there? Of course. You know, Cabo is a nice place to spend the last nine months when you’re trying to stay out of financial trouble.

ABRAMS: Yes. And he is a guy, though, who is — you know, he’s pretty unique looking. I mean — I don’t mean that in a good or bad way.  I just mean...

VAN ZANDT: Yes.

ABRAMS: ... he’s got a distinctive look to him that might make him more identifiable.  VAN ZANDT: Well, you could, but you know that’s one of the tricks.  When you want to drop out of sight, you really change some habits. You know if you’re a smoker, you quit smoking. If your hair is black, you change it to red. You wear glasses, you get a whole different type of shoe. And the other thing is if you’re traveling alone, find yourself a traveling companion.

People are looking for a single person. If you’re traveling with somebody else, you don’t stand out in a crowd. So if it’s him, he’s doing all the right things to not be seen.

ABRAMS: Louise, is this still a story that is being followed very closely in Australia in terms of where he is?

PENNELL: Dan, absolutely. I mean, obviously, he’s connected with Olivia Newton-John. They were together for nine years. Olivia Newton-John is the sweetheart of Australia, and she came out publicly twice in the last year to talk about her grief. It was a very public, obviously, grieving period for her, both on Australian television and on American television.  ABRAMS: Here’s the timeline of the night that he went missing.

June 30, 10:00 p.m., this boat that he was apparently on, bought a ticket for it, departs the marina, picks up live bait; 11:00 p.m., they set off on a five and a half hour trip to San Clemente Island; at 5:00 a.m., the passengers wake and they eat and they fish; 2:00 p.m., heads back to the marina; some passengers sleep on the ride back; 7:30 p.m., stops for fuel; 8:30 p.m., arrives at the marina; the passengers depart and he’s not there.

But, Louise, there is evidence that he had made a purchase on the boat, right, that would indicate that he was on the boat near the end of the trip.  PENNELL: Well, this is a key piece of information that we didn’t know before. For starters, the boat stopped before it docked at the San Pedro marina. It stopped to refuel, which is a time where Patrick McDermott could quite easily have got off the boat. On June — I’m sorry — on July 1 he actually paid for his galley bill. So he was sort of reported missing on June 30, and yet, we see that he paid his $10 galley bill on July 1.

Now, it was just basically a tick by his name. Whether someone just did that to say that he paid, who knows. But I think the key piece of evidence is the fact that the boat stopped before it docked at the San Pedro marina.

ABRAMS: Yes and Clint, he had 132,000 insurance policy, $1,000 in monthly child support, 25,000 credit card debt, 15,700 owed to department stores, $3,089 an outstanding car payment. I mean we want to be careful about not sort of soiling this guy, who may have suffered...

VAN ZANDT: Yes.

ABRAMS: ... an unfortunate death, but those are factors you have to take into consideration.

VAN ZANDT: Yes and, you know, the statistical probability, too Dan.  In a recent year 41,000 adults in California of their own volition decided to drop out of sight, 83 percent of that 41,000 did it because they wanted to move on with their life, they wanted to go somewhere else. Maybe it’s 41,001.  ABRAMS: When you go on those cruises you go on, Clint, you’ve got to keep your eyes peeled for those people, right?

VAN ZANDT: You’ve got to keep your eyes peeled and watch out for the crewmen, Dan, when you’re standing saying I’m king of the world...

ABRAMS: Yes. Yes.

VAN ZANDT: ... over the front of the deck, be careful.

ABRAMS: Exactly. Yes, I can just see like Clint would like some big like Burger King like crown on you know yelling like with like just his bathing suit on. Anyway...

VAN ZANDT: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

ABRAMS: Right.

VAN ZANDT: Yes, I want you to hold that in your mind, Dan, OK?

ABRAMS: Louise and Clint — Clint is going to stick around. Louise, thanks a lot for coming back on the program. We appreciate it.

PENNELL: Thank you.

ABRAMS: Now to that horrible case of mistaken identity we brought you last week. Over 2,000 friends and family members of Laura VanRyn held a memorial service yesterday to say goodbye to the 22-year-old who was mistakenly thought to have survived the car crash. She died April 26 when a truck hit a van from Taylor University killing four students.

Due to a mix-up at the coroner’s office, Laura VanRyn’s family believed the swollen bandaged woman in the hospital was their daughter.  Last week the family learned she’s really 19-year-old Whitney Cerak, another passenger in the van, who was initially thought to have died. Now Laura’s boyfriend of three years, Aryn Linenger, spent weeks at her bedside praying for her recovery, and yesterday he spoke about the events and the mix-up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARYN LINENGER, BOYFRIEND OF LAURA VANRYN: Many of you today are probably wondering how a man could date a girl and love a girl for three years and not know that it was her. I ask myself that same question today and for the last 40 days of my life. Sometime in May I want to share with you what I said writing in my journal. I said you sat up today, Laura, and you had both eyes wide open for the first time.

It’s crazy, your eyes look all blue right now, but usually you have that awesome greenish tint in them. Still, never a doubt in my mind that it wasn’t her. I saw her hands, her feet, her complexion, and I couldn’t believe that it wasn’t her. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS: The family of the crash survivor, 19-year-old Whitney Cerak, updating her progress on a Web site originally started by Laura’s family, she’s out of the hospital going through speech and physical therapy or getting visits from her friends. The VanRyn family says they will continue to pray and rejoice for Whitney’s life and progress.

All right. Coming up, police crack a major terror ring in Canada, arresting 17 suspects they say were planning to attack high profile Canadian sites with three times the amount of explosives used in the Oklahoma City bombings. More arrests could be on the way.

And police searching for the man who killed a Clemson University student with her bikini top, we’ve got the latest in that story. They got hundreds of tips after they released a picture of the suspect from an ATM surveillance camera.

Our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose,” our effort to find missing offenders before they strike. Our search today is in Virginia. Police would like your help finding Arthur Bennett.

He’s 53, five-nine, 195, was convicted of indecent liberties with a child, has not registered his address with the state. If you’ve got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Virginia State Police, 804-674-6750. Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)  (NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE MCDONNELL, ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE: This investigation is not finished. We will be following every investigative lead we have to the — to its conclusion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS: The biggest terrorist investigation north of the border still ongoing there and in six other countries, including the U.S. Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other security forces searching for more suspects in what’s alleged to be a plot to build massive bombs to target key government and civilian landmarks in Toronto. More than 400 heavily armed police swooped down on communities in and around Toronto Friday night, 17 arrests, 12 adults, ages 19 to 43.

Five suspects under 18, their ages withheld. Members of the group, some of them met at a mosque and in Internet chat rooms had been under surveillance since autumn of 2004. Mike McDonnell is with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCDONNELL: This group took steps to acquire components necessary to create explosive devices using ammonium nitrate, which is a commonly used fertilizer. Three tons of ammonium nitrate was ordered by these individuals and delivered to them. It was their intent to use it for a terrorist attack.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS: Some of the alleged terrorists in this case also are said to have connections with two suspects under arrest in the U.S. and possibly others overseas as well. Steve Emerson, terrorism analyst, who’s been tracking Muslim extremists’ activity for years. Thanks a lot for coming back on the program. Appreciate it.

All right, first let me ask you this. And we’re talking a lot about this issue of building the fence, immigration with Mexico, all these problems about the poorest Mexican-U.S. border. When it comes to Islamic extremism, is Canada more of a problem?

STEVE EMERSON, TERRORISM ANALYST: Well certainly in terms of hosting extremists, Canada is probably more Islamic extremist than any other country — western country, with perhaps the exception of the United States, as has been testified to by Canadian government officials. The fact of the matter is that Canada, because of its very weak immigration policies — I say weak, in other words, they encourage immigration, it’s multi-culturalism, and they have incredibly liberal asylum policies, radical Islamic dissidents, I say “dissidents” in quotes are able to get citizenship or at least alien status there with virtual impunity, and sometimes they come down south of the border as was evidenced in the 1999 (UNINTELLIGIBLE) plot.

ABRAMS: And two of the suspects in this case had actually been you know picked up and arrested in Canada for smuggling guns into the U.S., right?

EMERSON: Actually, they were picked up for smuggling guns from the U.S. into Canada...

ABRAMS: OK.

EMERSON: ... which is sort of a cross — a reversal of what we would think would happen. But certainly you’re right that Canada has been, you know, traditionally thought of, and I think with justification, as sort of a staging ground for attacks potentially against the U.S. Here in fact, they used it as a staging ground for attacks against their own country.

  ABRAMS: Any U.S. connection in these arrests?

EMERSON: There’s definitely a U.S. connection. The two students from Georgia, one of whom was arrested in New York, the other one in Georgia in April, were ones that traveled up to Canada, associated with the same conspirators, actually attended jihad training camps in southern Ontario and conspired on the Internet to carry out, or at least train for carrying out attacks. Those attacks would have been carried out in the United States by those two students. ABRAMS: You know, Steve, a lot of the time with these — quote — “terror arrests,” a lot of them have turned out to be minor players or people who, you know, four levels down the road thought that they might do something or said they might do something. It sounds like this one was really in the planning.

EMERSON: This one was in the planning. And also, Dan, it’s a textbook case of intergovernmental cooperation. There is at least six countries involved, all of whose intelligence services were doing surveillance and other types of collection of intelligence on these particular suspects, particularly in their host countries as well. So they really work well together.

And the fact of the matter is law enforcement always has a problem.  When do you arrest? Because you want to catch them as close to carrying out the act of terrorism without jeopardizing the security of the host residents. And, therefore, they move now, I think we’re going to start seeing a lot of new evidence come out against them as they go into court proceedings and have to mandate — and are mandated to disclose the evidence by virtue of the prosecutions that they are mounting.

ABRAMS: Steve Emerson, as always, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.

EMERSON: Sure, Dan.

ABRAMS: Coming up, someone came forward and says I think I know who strangled the Clemson University student with a bikini, and I knew her. So why are police dismissing the tip? The latest coming up after the break.

And later, President Bush renews his call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages. Can you say political pander? It’s my “Closing Argument.”

Your emails, 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, a woman comes forward and says I believe that I know who strangled Tiffany Souers, the Clemson University student, with a bikini and this woman knows Tiffany well, so why are police dismissing the tip? The details after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS: More than 200 tips pouring into investigators working on the murder of Tiffany Souers, the Clemson University student strangled with a bikini top just over a week ago. On Friday authorities released these photos of a suspect taken when he repeatedly tried to use Tiffany’s bank card at an ATM machine, his face obscured by a bandana. It looks like he knew he’d be photographed. And these photos show a car like the one police believe the killer was driving, a light to medium colored Chevrolet two- door SUV. Police have interviewed about 50 men and believe the crime was sexually motivated. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think it’s his first murder, and the first murder was not a planned murder, perhaps, it was a sexual assault or an aggressive sexual act encounter gone bad, and that’s why we believe he is somewhat consumed and will alter his behavior pattern. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS: Among the 200 tips police received came one from a woman who worked with Tiffany at a local charity. She suspects a local married man who she said had been inappropriately forward with Tiffany and behaving inappropriately towards women there.

Joining me now is NBC’s Michelle Hofland in Greenville, South Carolina and former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst Clint van Zandt. All right.  Michelle, first let’s sort out this woman.

I know the police are discounting it. First explain to us what it is that she’s saying. Why did she think that this guy may have been responsible? MICHELLE HOFLAND, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, the police have been asking people to look out for, remember somebody who has been acting inappropriate toward women, and this woman says that this particular man who was coming into the resale shop, consignment shop where Tiffany was working, he kept coming in, and he was harassing her, and sexually harassing some other people and it was inappropriate.

And not only that, but she says that he may have a vehicle that is similar to Tiffany’s. And all of a sudden about two weeks before she was murdered, he stopped coming in. So that’s what she told police. We understand the police have interviewed her a number of times and also interviewed this man. What they tell us right now, he’s off their list.

ABRAMS: All right...

HOFLAND: He’s not a suspect at this time. ABRAMS: That’s what I wanted to ask you. So she’s — you know because we were talking about having her on the program and you said to us, hey, wait a sec, I’ve been talking to the authorities here and they’re making it real clear that they ruled this guy out. How have they ruled him out?

HOFLAND: They’re not saying exactly how they ruled this guy out.  They are not giving us that information right now, but they say...

ABRAMS: Isn’t it DNA, Michelle?

HOFLAND: You know what? I don’t know. But they have told us that they have taken DNA from a number of suspects or a number of people that they have interviewed and that they’ve interviewed about 50 men right now in relation to this case. And they have taken DNA, so maybe that’s why they’ve ruled this guy out. I’m not sure. They’re not saying.

ABRAMS: OK. Clint van Zandt, why do you think — I mean is it likely — I mean if they’re going to say, look, you know back off this tip.  This is, you know, not our guy, they’ve got to have some pretty good reason to say that. VAN ZANDT: Yes, very much so, Dan. As you suggest, it’s got to be DNA, it’s got to be fingerprints, or it’s got to be a rock solid alibi.  You know we’re nine days since her murder and three days since this information was released. And I am really surprised that between the car and the profile, demographic profile of the believed offender, that this guy hasn’t been found, but as you and I talked Friday, they’re identifying every car that might fit the description of this car in the state of South Carolina.

They’re going out and finding those cars one by one. So that takes some time. So we’ve got to give them the time to do that. But tips like this, you’ve got to run on the ground. Somebody has got some information, some behavioral aspect of someone who may have approached her that’s going to lead to her killer. ABRAMS: Michelle, do we know, and you may not know the answer to this question, but do we know if the authorities believe that Tiffany knew the person who attacked her? HOFLAND: You know, they told us they do not know if she knew him or not. They don’t know if she perhaps had seen him lurking around that apartment complex before the night that she was killed. They really don’t have any idea. But then talking with some of her friends, they said that anyone who knew this woman, because she was such a kind, gentle, thoughtful person, that if anyone knew her, that they could never harm her...

ABRAMS: Yes.

HOFLAND: ... so they don’t think that she knew him.

ABRAMS: But you know, Clint, when I say know, I mean, for example, this woman is saying that he used to come by...

VAN ZANDT: Knew of her...

ABRAMS: Yes, knew of her, doesn’t mean...

VAN ZANDT: Sure.

ABRAMS: ... it had to be a good friend of hers, right? I mean in these kinds of cases, often it will be someone who had seen her, who — right?

VAN ZANDT: And it could very easily be — you know let me speculate right now. It could be someone, whoever came to her apartment that night, may not have had murder on his mind. He may have just tried to push a social agenda far too far. But, you know, whoever he is and whoever you are, you went too far, and this is a time, you know, you need to go to the authorities.  ABRAMS: All right. Here’s what the D.A. said about the motive and the person involved.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB ARIAIL, GREENVILLE COUNTY, SC PROSECUTOR: As we view it, this is an aggressive act by an individual. It may be that she knew him, she didn’t know him. But somebody that was sexually aggressive and whether or not it was a sexual assault, I can’t answer that at this time. But that’s what we think this was. And as a result, there’s no indication it was a robbery or a break-in or a burglary or any of that thing to steal stuff.  It’s an indication to us that it was a sexually-motivated crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS: Michelle, do you get the sense that the authorities feel like they’re closer to cracking this case today than they were even on Friday?

HOFLAND: Well, just a few minutes ago I spoke with the county solicitor’s office and they said that they’re getting a lot of really good leads. They said that they’re confident. They feel good. They have a lot of information. They hope to track this guy down. I said OK, so when, next couple of days or so? And she said no, we can’t say exactly when, but they do feel very confident.

ABRAMS: You know, Clint, you and I talked about this before, but I would be — I will be stunned if they don’t find this guy within the next week based on the evidence that they have.

VAN ZANDT: Absolutely, Dan. Whether this guy specifically targeted her or whether she was a victim of opportunity, wrong place, wrong time, this is still someone who knows the community, who knows that apartment complex, who knows his way around. This is someone in that town. This is a local resident that the police have to find. There are other people out there who have suspicions who this guy is, we just have to match them and the police up and this case will be solved.  ABRAMS: All right, Clint Van Zandt, Michelle Hofland, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

VAN ZANDT: Thank you.

ABRAMS: Coming up, President Bush renewing a call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. He knows it’s going to fail, so why is he doing it?

And later, some of you challenging me on the facts of the Scott Peterson case after my somewhat sarcastic “Closing Argument” Friday night about his family and friends who are asking everyone who thinks he’s guilty to answer 20 questions. Your response is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument” — talk about political pandering, I really can’t believe President Bush is renewing his call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, an amendment he knows will and certainly should fail. Now, remember, you can oppose gay marriage and also oppose the radical and unnecessary step of amending the Constitution.  No question, the vast majority of Americans oppose same-sex marriages, so most states will not and do not authorize it.

In fact, it’s only permitted in one state now. End of the issue. Let the states sort it out for themselves rather than having the federal government dictate what they can and can’t do on this. Today the president used all the right code words, activists and overreaching judges, San Francisco, and warned of the impending doom when every municipality in the country will soon be forced to accept the perverse choices of the few when it comes to same-sex marriage. Come on. Almost all legal scholars agree no state is obligated to enforce a same sex marriage from another state.

There’s even a federal statute on the books to ensure that remains the case. The Constitution was designed to avoid popularity contests. And if this is an issue so fundamental, as the president claims, an issue that requires the Constitution be amended for only the 17th time since 1791, should we be suspicious that he’s leading the charge now, now that his poll ratings are sinking? It seems even many who support the amendment are sensing a fair-weathered friend in the president who suddenly needs support from the base and knowing it won’t pass the White House surely sees this as a risk-free nod to certain constituents.

The Constitution has been amended to create a better, more accurate voting system, to ensure equal rights, to better delineate who does what in the government. Our forefathers predicted efforts like this when they made the Constitution that difficult to change. You need two-thirds of both the House and the Senate, followed by three-quarters of the states. This is the issue that justifies tinkering with our jealously-protected Constitution. This amendment won’t pass, it shouldn’t pass, and the sanctity of our Constitution will be maintained.

Coming up, family and friends of Scott Peterson are challenging those who think Peterson is guilty to answer questions about the case. Some of you now challenging me, saying I don’t know the facts. I respond after the break.  (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS: I’ve had my say, now it’s time for “Your Rebuttal.” A few of you propose some leads in the Tiffany Souers’ case after police released ATM surveillance photos of the man suspected of strangling the Clemson student with a bikini top.

Misty from Kentucky, “I wonder how the suspect expected to use the ATM without a pin number. Could he have known her well enough to guess possible combinations?” Maybe.

Terry Stricker, “I see that in the photo of the suspect at the ATM he appears to be holding the card with his knuckles. Maybe he’s done this before.” And on my sarcastic “Closing Argument” about Scott Peterson’s family and friends challenging those who think Peterson is guilty to answer questions about the case, Jane Hamilton from Naples, Florida, “I’d suggest that you educate yourself about the facts of this case. Your sarcastic comments indicate you know very little about this and are just repeating what you have heard from others.”

Gosh, Jane, I wish I had been down there, you know, covering the story and then the trial. Oh, wait. I was. I’ll take the criticism that maybe I know too much about the Scott Peterson case. Not too little. Alice Auch from Helena, Montana, “You mentioned that Scott Peterson said to Amber his wife was dead. That’s not true. He told her he lost his wife. If you can believe a woman who was not even sure who the father of her child was.”

Nice try, Alice. Unfortunately for you Peterson admitted on tape he had said it and then acknowledged he was talking about her being dead.

Those of you who want to continue defending Scott Peterson and others are welcome to write to our Web site, abramsreport@msnbc.com. Please include your name and where you’re writing from. “HARDBALL” is next.

Watch “The Abrams Report” each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET

Copyright 2006 MSNBC and Voxant Inc.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,