updated 7/26/2007 12:24:06 PM ET 2007-07-26T16:24:06

Guests: Billy Bush, Paul Pfingst, Robert Butterworth, Negar Nosrat, Todd Bridges

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Tonight, Lindsay Lohan, the unrehabilitated and unrepentant actress, proclaiming her innocence.  Busted just 11 days after a stint in luxury rehab, less than two months after being arrested for basically the same offenses—cocaine possession and drunk driving—now she‘s on the record about her arrest with one person.  She reached out to “Access Hollywood‘s” Billy Bush.

Before we talk to “Diff‘rent Strokes” star Todd Bridges about Lindsay Lohan and his own battle with drugs and the limelight, let‘s check in with the man who got the exclusive information, Billy Bush.  Billy, thanks for coming on the program.  All right, so first of all, how did you get in touch with Lindsay, and then what did she say?

BILLY BUSH, “ACCESS HOLLYWOOD”:  Well, I‘ve known the family for a long time.  I started at “Access Hollywood” as a reporter in New York, East Coast correspondent, so I‘ve known the mother, I‘ve known the father just for the last five to six years.  So you know, this—after I interviewed Michael Lohan, the father, yesterday morning, I e-mailed Lindsay.  I happened to have her e-mail address.  I have lots of, you know, different ones.


BUSH:  And I e-mailed her, and I said, Hey, you know, what would you like to get out there?  There‘s all these blogs, there‘s all these—I mean, there‘s just so many different places that people are getting information, and it‘s such a competition to get the information out, I thought, you know, maybe there‘s something she wants to say.  That was it, Is there anything you want to get  out there?

And she sends back, Yes, I‘m innocent.  The drugs were not mine.  I didn‘t do it.  I—you know, I—my assistant‘s mother tried to run me over.  And that was it.  And after that, you know, the line went dead.

ABRAMS:  All right, we‘ve got the quote up there, Billy, from what you did.  Hang on for one sec.  Real quickly, Paul Pfingst, former California prosecutor.  What kind of defense is it that, The drugs were not mine?  As far as I know, that‘s not a particularly good legal defense.

PAUL PFINGST, FORMER CALIFORNIA PROSECUTOR:  It‘s not unless she did not know that she had them for some reason.  For example, somebody picks up a backpack that belongs to someone else and drugs were in the backpack, and the person didn‘t know they were there.  But if you know that they‘re there but they‘re not yours, they belong to your friends, you are in knowing possession, and the law that says you are guilty.  So she would have to prove not only that the drugs were not hers, but she would have to prove that she did not know that she possessed them.

ABRAMS:  Billy, do we know where she is tonight?

BUSH:  Don‘t know exactly where she is tonight.  I know last night, there were a bunch of reports that she was, you know, back at Promises, the Malibu rehab that she was—the Chateau Marmont, a nice fancy hotel she likes to stay at.  But last night, she spent the night at her lawyer‘s house, Blair Berk.  And if she‘s still in LA, she‘s probably there.  I know her mother was trying to get her to go back East, to get out of Los Angeles and try this on the East Coast.

ABRAMS:  You talked to her mother, right?  And is that what she told you?

BUSH:  Yes.  Her mother said, you know, We‘d like to, you know, get her to come to the East Coast, which, you know, is not a bad idea.

ABRAMS:  Any thoughts, Billy?  I mean, you mentioned this a moment ago, this rumor she‘s back in rehab.  But as far as you know, is that what she‘s planning to do?  Because a lot of, you know, legal and PR people are saying the best thing she can do is immediately go back into rehab.

BUSH:  Yes.  I don‘t believe she‘s in rehab right now.  I think that they‘re making that next decision on where to go.

ABRAMS:  And you did a piece, an interesting piece on “Access” tonight about whether these kind of celeb rehab centers work.  You interviewed a bunch of people, including the guy who helped create Promises, et cetera.  You know, what‘s the sense you get?  I mean, look, you‘re dealing with these kind of celebrities all the time.  You‘re also following them if and when they have to go to rehab.  Does it work?

BUSH:  You know, the guy who is the owner of Wonderland—yes, he was also one of the co-founders of Promises—made an interesting point, and that was it doesn‘t matter where they—he said—his point was they all work.  Betty Ford works, Promises works, Wonderland, works.  It lies within the individual, and you got to hit a personal bottom.  And doesn‘t matter which place you‘re in, when you hit that personal bottom, that‘s when recovery starts to work.  He says recovery has begun for her.  She‘s in recovery right now because 80 percent of people in recovery relapse.

You know, I talked to Daniel Baldwin, too, on the show.  Here‘s a guy who‘s been in and out of rehab nine times.  And he used to—you know, the reason why he would go many times, knowing full well he would smoke crack on the way to rehab and then smoke it on his way home when he got out—was to send a message to studio executives that he was still viable, employable.  So you know, I think it‘s—any one of these places (INAUDIBLE) especially celebrities here, Dan, they—you know, there are people inside selling their stories, selling stories about these celebrities in there.

ABRAMS:  Before I play a piece of sound from Lindsay Lohan in an interview, which I think is really particularly insightful in retrospect, let me bring in psychologist Dr. Robert Butterworth.  All right, Dr.  Butterworth, look, we‘re hearing a lot about these centers.  Danny Bonaduce was on the show last night, saying a tiny percentage of these rehab visits actually work.  What‘s your sense?  I mean, is your sense that these places can actually work?  Is it worth it for Lindsay Lohan to go back?

ROBERT BUTTERWORTH, PSYCHOLOGIST:  I think what they need to do is we need to take these celebrities and put them in a little town in Iowa, where, when they get out of rehab, they‘re not, like, looked upon as goddesses and nobody can say no, and the entourage let‘s them do what they want to do.  The problem is not rehab.  The problem is when they get out in this town, nobody will say no.  You‘re famous.  You don‘t want to get thrown off the entourage.  Nobody will say no.  And these people are left alone at their own resources, and they get in trouble over and over and over again.

ABRAMS:  So bottom line, is it worth it for her to go back into rehab?

BUTTERWORTH:  It‘s worth it for her to go back into rehab, but I think she needs to assign somebody that has a cell phone with a little speed dial to the police and say, Lindsay, if you take a drink and you go to a bar, we‘re going to push the speed dial because rehab has to stay with her, and we know with alcoholism, it‘s the only disease that when you have it, you don‘t think you do.

ABRAMS:  And...

BUTTERWORTH:  Denial is so thick...

ABRAMS:  And that was the point—

BUTTERWORTH:  ... that you don‘t‘ change your behavior.

ABRAMS:  That was the point of that ankle bracelet.  I guess, in theory, her lawyer was supposed to be watching her.

Let me play this.  This is a piece of sound from Lindsay Lohan on the “Today” show, talking to Matt Lauer.  It‘s from a couple years ago, but talking about the issue of partying.


MATT LAUER, “TODAY”:  When the subject of partying comes up, you don‘t apologize for...

LINDSAY LOHAN, ACTRESS:  I hate that word!

LAUER:  Oh, what‘s a good word?  Celebrating, going out with your friends, hanging out in clubs?  I don‘t know how to—I‘m 47 years old.  I don‘t have the term for it anymore.

LOHAN:  I don‘t hang out in clubs as much as they say I do.  I go out with my friends and I go to get dinner, and sometimes I go dancing.  That‘s relaxing.

LAUER:  But I was going to say you shouldn‘t have to apologize for a certain amount of that.

LOHAN:  Oh, I‘m not apologizing.  Now I‘m defending myself, which I said I shouldn‘t do.


ABRAMS:  Let me do this.  Let me bring in real quick on the phone Negar Nosrat.  She saw Lindsay Lohan the day before she was arrested, hours before, actually.  Lohan had been shopping at her Beverly Hills boutique called Envie.  She took one of the last photos before Lindsay was arrested.

Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  All right, so...


ABRAMS:  ... this is some hours, probably 10 hours or so before she was arrested.  What was she doing?  Was she acting normal?

NOSRAT:  She was very normal.  She looked really beautiful.  She came in the store.  She was in great spirits.  She was very alert.  She was shopping and really enjoying her time.

ABRAMS:  And was she with the—do you know, was she with her assistant?  Because there‘s a lot of talk about some fighting or quitting that went on with her assistant.

NOSRAT:  Yes, she was with her assistant, Jenny (ph), and also another friend of hers, another lady, a young girl that seemed to be her friend.  But Jenny, as well, she was very courteous, very pleasant.  They were all of them very, very pleasant, courteous and very well mannered.

ABRAMS:  All right, Billy Bush, I got to ask you this.  what is the

deal with this assistant?  I mean, there‘s all this talk about her chasing

the mother of her assistant.  I mean, what exactly happened?  What was the

did her assistant just quit?

BUSH:  I can‘t tell you exactly what happened.  I wasn‘t there.  But here‘s what we have.  We think that, you know, Lindsay was at this party in Santa Monica, a birthday party, and something happened with the assistant.  Whether she quit or whether she got fired, there‘s, you know, two people on either side saying different things.  But she was terminated or terminated herself and then wanted to leave, called her mom.  Mom came to get her, and then they took off.  Lindsay then chased after them.  I think she was—you know, when she released in that e-mail to me that, you know, Her mom tried to run me over, maybe it was as they were leaving, and so she chased after them, you know, to get it right.  I‘m not exactly sure, and I have to be honest about that.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  This is what the Santa Monica Police Department said about what happened, why they got there, et cetera.


LT. ALEX PADILLA, SANTA MONICA POLICE DEPARTMENT:  When officers arrived, they detained the parties involved in the argument.  One of those parties turned out to be Lindsay Lohan.  After officers conducted their initial investigation, they determined that she was driving her vehicle under the influence.

She was arrested for driving under the influence and transported here to the Santa Monica jail.  While in the jail, officers found in her possession a small amount of cocaine.


ABRAMS:  Paul Pfingst, it seems pretty clear the authorities are saying that there was an argument going on, right?

PFINGST:  That‘s pretty clear.  What is really surprising, Dan, is that if she has a lawyer, her lawyer would have told her, Do not say anything at this point.  So it‘s shocking to me at this stage that she is making any comments about what happened that night.  I would think her lawyer is pulling his or her hair out, at this point.

ABRAMS:  The amazing thing to me, Billy, is that the allegation is that she had the cocaine on her as she enters the police station and doesn‘t get rid of it.

BUSH:  Yes, I mean, you know, it seems that she may not have known it was there.  I don‘t know.  It seems very odd to me to have it in your pocket, especially given what she‘s gone through in all this time.  You know, to have—to be carrying it at all would be—and why not—I mean, when the cops are coming up, grab it and throw it somewhere, just left it there—why would she leave it there?  I don‘t know.

ABRAMS:  Paul Pfingst, any theories?

PFINGST:  She‘s drunk.


PFINGST:  It distorts your judgment.


PFINGST:  It just distorts your judgment.  When you‘re involved with alcohol, people understand—all of us understand that people who have a high blood alcohol level don‘t make rational decisions.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Dr. Butterworth, I assume that you don‘t need a big psychological analysis to figure that one out, huh?

BUTTERWORTH:  Yes, no, but I know—I‘ve been watching the media all day, and I know she‘s being trashed.  And I was saying to myself, What could she do to salvage her life and her career?  And if she just came out and said, Listen—a lot of young people know what she‘s going through because they have problems—if she said, Hey, listen, I have an alcohol problem, I have a drug problem, and I‘m going to try to get help, people would really kind of reach out to her, rather than all this stuff, It‘s not my problem, I don‘t have this, I don‘t have that.  She still has a chance, but I wonder if she‘ll take it.

ABRAMS:  Billy Bush, final thought on that?  Is she going to take it?

BUSH:  Dan, this is conflicting story for me to cover, I‘ll be honest with you.  I have three daughters, and it would break my heart if any one of them were in this situation.  So you know, I—we have to get the information out there.  At the same time, I feel very badly for this girl because she‘s—she‘s lived out here since she was 17, and her parents allowed her to come.  Her father has admitted some fault in his past.  But the parents, I think, you know, as well-intentioned as they may be, are to blame here.  I mean, it‘s just that simple.

ABRAMS:  And I think we‘re going to hear that from our next guest.  Billy Bush, it‘s a good story.  You‘ve been following it closely, one of the best in the business.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Paul Pfingst, as always, we appreciate it.  Dr. Butterworth, as always.  And Negar Nosrat, thank you for coming on.  We appreciate it.

Coming up, former “Diff‘rent Strokes” star Todd Bridges weighs in on Lindsay.  He‘s had his own serious drug problems in the limelight.

Plus, that Connecticut family brutalized in their home, the daughters allegedly raped, the house set ablaze.  We‘re learning more about the past of the accused.  At least one of them came from a seemingly privileged background, but both had long rap sheets.

And later, in case you need one more reason to quit smoking, we‘ll show you what happened to a guy who stopped to buy cigarettes during a high-speed chase with police.



LOHAN:  The only thing you can do is just turn (ph) yourself (INAUDIBLE) people, know what the truth is and the people that you care about know what the truth is, and that‘s really all that matters.  The more you try to deny these things and the more you try to defend yourself, they say that you‘re trying to hide something.  And you know, it‘s just so strange.


ABRAMS:  We‘ll see if she takes her own advice from a couple of years ago.

Someone else who knows a lot about this topic of Lindsay Lohan, what she‘s going through.  “Diff‘rent Strokes” actor Todd Bridges did countless stints in rehab centers after his TV show ended in 1986 (INAUDIBLE) been charged and later acquitted of shooting a drug dealer after a cocaine binge.  Todd Bridges joins us now.  Todd, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

TODD BRIDGES, FORMER CHILD STAR:  No problem.  First of all, let me just say that it‘s been 14 years since I‘ve done drugs or alcohol.

ABRAMS:  Congratulations.  Congratulations.

BRIDGES:  Thank you.  And also, you know...

ABRAMS:  What do you make of this?  What do you make of Lindsay?

BRIDGES:  Well, what I make of it—first of all, we have to look at all the elements that are involved in it.  First of all, like with me—I don‘t blame anybody but myself.  It was a choice I made.  Stupid mistakes.  I decided I‘d—I did what I wanted to do, and I paid the price for it.

I think in Lindsay‘s situation, she‘s young and she‘s caught up in a situation that she has to get out of.  It‘s—you know, it‘s a dangerous situation because you have people around you who are yess-ing you all the time and not really, you know, telling you the truth.  In my situation, my mother always told me the truth what was wrong with me, I just didn‘t take her advice.  I did what I wanted to do.

ABRAMS:  And I saw you said, Todd, at one point, that you blame her parents to some degree.

BRIDGES:  Well, I‘ll tell you this.  I—well, with my mother and my father—my father was a raging alcoholic.  Thank God my mother wasn‘t, and that‘s why I was able to make it back because I had a good leap to really be able to see.

Right now, I don‘t really—I can‘t say it‘s her parents or not, but it‘s somebody in her life who‘s not giving her the right direction.  But see, that‘s why I also—well, I‘ve in development right now with a series which is—is to help people like Lindsay, is what I‘m going to do.  I got a team of a group of me and a couple other people.  We‘re going to get together and really teach people how to get sober and how to find themselves.  Right now, Lindsay is lost and she doesn‘t know who she is, and...

ABRAMS:  So what does she do?  I mean, if you‘re advising her right now—you say you want to...


ABRAMS:  You want to create the TV show where you and other people are going to go in and help her.  If you‘re—if she comes to you, she says, Todd Bridges, I‘m a mess.  I know you were a big star.  You had it all.  You blew it a lot on drugs, et cetera.  What do I do?

BRIDGES:  Well, first of all, what we have to do is sit down and she has to learn to be quiet.  That‘s A.  And learn not to take her own advice but take our advice.  First of all, you get rid of all your other friends around you.  You get rid of every single body (ph) person who‘s in your life right now who is—maybe they are a harm or could not be a harm because you need all new people in your life.

She needs a road, which is AA, a program based—spiritual-based program—God, Christ, like what I used and what many other people in my program use.  She needs influential people, people with sobriety, people who can tell her how to go, where to go and what to do.  If she follows her own rules, which she‘s been doing for the last couple of months—this is why she keeps screwing up.

But I‘ll tell you this.  I did six rehabs before I got it right also. 

And I‘m not afraid to admit that.  It takes—sometimes it takes that...

ABRAMS:  Well, why did it take...


ABRAMS:  People who‘ve never been there, Todd, don‘t understand why it would take six.  If it‘s supposed to work, and it does work, apparently, in your case and many others—but why does it take so many times?

BRIDGES:  Because we keep thinking we can do it ourselves, and that‘s the thing.  We—we feel like, There‘s no way this drug can beat me.  There‘s no way it take control of me.  But what happens is it takes control of us.  It completely consumes our life.  It becomes who we are.

I mean, for her just to get out of rehab and end up, you know, drinking again, which she was drinking—you know, and the thing I learned about the police department, the police only did their job to me, you know?  The bottom line is, yes, they harassed me.  They did some things they shouldn‘t have done to me.  But they did their job.

If I was drinking and using drugs and they pulled me over, I deserve to go to jail.  If I‘m not—today, when they pull me over today, it‘s—you know, I look at them and I breathe and I‘m fine, and they can search my car, they‘re not going to find anything.

I think it‘s humorous that she said that the drugs was in her pocket and it wasn‘t hers.

ABRAMS:  Yes, I was going to ask you about that.

BRIDGES:  That‘s very funny.  And I—believe me, she probably didn‘t remember she had it, and that‘s what happens.  There‘s been plenty of times they found an eightball in my car, I didn‘t know it was mine.  I‘d forget that I‘d had it there.  And (INAUDIBLE) because the cop found it before I did.


BRIDGES:  And you know, I was upset at that.  But you know, the bottom line is she can get her life together.  And her career is not over.  That‘s the great part about the entertainment business.  The great part about that, we love comebacks.  If Lindsay gets herself together, she‘ll go right back working.  She has a new movie coming out anyway, so she‘ll be fine.

ABRAMS:  What do you make of this particular—there‘s a lot of talk about these sort of celebrity rehab centers, Promises, et cetera.  Is there a difference between these and sort of hardcore places?

BRIDGES:  Yes, I agree.  The rehab I went to was not a celebrity rehab.  The rehab I went to was a very tough program.  And what it was is, actually, we—I spent 17 months living in Sober Living.  I had some very influential people come to me, my sponsor and some other people, come to me and tell me to stay in Sober Living, to not go back to my house, not go back to my same friends.

And that worked for me.  I spent 17 months, and I was able to actually

I actually took a job working at a hospital.  I got out of show business for, like, three or four years completely.  I didn‘t want anything to do with it.  I took a job at a hospital and took a job as a plumber‘s apprentice.

And I tell you what.  I‘m 14 years sober today.  My career is back in

full swing again.  I‘m right now negotiating with a series that‘s actually

it‘s actually a reality series that‘s going to help people finally—you know, a reality show that‘s going to help people, which is going to be really great, really tune people‘s lives in in finding themselves, not just celebrities, but we‘re going to deal with everybody, people in the streets.  You can write us letters, and we‘re going to be able to come to your house and find you and talk to your kids and find them a program and get them better help.

I think in Lindsay‘s situation, there‘s several ways we can help her. 

And I really hope that someone gets to her before it‘s too late...

ABRAMS:  All right...

BRIDGES:  ... before my protege—like, Dana Plato ended up passing away, and which is awful.

ABRAMS:  Yes, that was a woman, one of your co-stars on...

BRIDGES:  Yes, and it was pretty sad.

ABRAMS:  ... on “Diff‘rent Strokes”  All right...

BRIDGES:  But she—three days before she died, she told me she didn‘t have a problem like I did.

ABRAMS:  Oh!  All right.  Todd Bridges, hey, look, it‘s good to see you clean and sober.  Good luck with the...

BRIDGES:  Thank you.  Appreciate it.

ABRAMS:  Good luck with your reality show.

BRIDGES:  And don‘t forget to watch me on “Everybody Hates Chris” Monday nights at 8:00 o‘clock.

ABRAMS:  There it is, there‘s the plug, “Everybody Hates Chris.”

BRIDGES:  You better believe it.

ABRAMS:  Todd, thanks for coming on.

BRIDGES:  Thank you for having me.

ABRAMS:  Coming up: new information emerging about two men accused of brutally killing a Connecticut family after breaking in their home, holding them hostage, allegedly raping the girls and then setting the house on fire.  We‘ll also look at these suspects‘ lengthy criminal backgrounds.  Why were they out of prison in the first place?

But first, a Republican senator asking the tough questions of the administration suddenly identified as a Democrat on Fox News.  It‘s hilarious or scary, depending on how you view it, and it‘s next in “Beat the Press.”


ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press, our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.  First up: At Fox News, they‘ve been known on occasion to restate administration talking points, using terms like “cut and run,” for example, to describe troop reduction in Iraq, a phrase used by some Republicans and apparently by Fox News writers, who forgot they aren‘t always writing for hosts willing to toe the party line.


ALAN COLMES, “HANNITY AND COLMES”:  That was a scene at last night‘s Democratic presidential debate, as Senator Joe Biden continued to press his cut and run strategy from—oh, I wouldn‘t call it cut and run, but some would because there seems to be a debate...


ABRAMS:  Oops!  Got to be a little more careful when you slip in the propaganda.

Next up: On that same theme, it seems in the minds of some at Fox, if someone attacks the administration, they‘ve got to be Democrats, right?  So when Republican senator Arlen Specter asked tough questions to Attorney General Gonzalez yesterday, that suddenly makes him a Democrat, right?


SEN. ARLEN SPECTER ®, PENNSYLVANIA:  The chairman has already said that the committee is going to review your testimony very carefully.


ABRAMS:  If he‘s questioning the administration, he must be a Democrat!

Finally, over on “Good Morning America,” my good friend, Chris Cuomo, was describing how to keep your home safe from intruders, and he offered up this gem.


CHRIS CUOMO, “GOOD MORNING AMERICA”:  Something as simple as cactus.  Sounds simple, right?  You know, Oh, they wouldn‘t care about that, but they do.  They think about these things.


ABRAMS:  Come on, Chris.  That cactus us is going to help prevent an intruder from opening the window?  Come on!  I told him I was going to (INAUDIBLE)

Still ahead: Florida parents turn their son in to police after they discover a dead girl in his closet.


911 OPERATOR:  Is she awake?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, no.  She‘s—I think she‘s dead.

911 OPERATOR:  Is she cold to the touch?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  Yes, I think so.  I—I‘m pretty—pretty distraught over this whole thing.


ABRAMS:  Yes, but the dad first called a lawyer before calling 911.

Plus, new details in another grisly crime, a Connecticut family brutalized and murdered by two long-time criminals.  That‘s the accusation.  Now prosecutors are deciding if they‘ll seek the death penalty.  One of the suspects was once called a calculating predator by a judge.  So why were they recently granted parole?



ABRAMS:  Tonight we‘re learning some disturbing new details about the suspects in a horrible crime in a small town in Connecticut.  The two men who allegedly invaded the home in the middle of the night, held the family hostage, reportedly raped the daughters, brutalized all of them and eventually killed three of the four after a seven hour ordeal each had extensive criminal records and were out on parole.

A judge who sentenced the younger suspect for prior offenses called him a quote “cold calculating predator.”  The older suspect who is reportedly on suicide watch tonight had 23 disciplinary actions while in prison but was paroled anyway.

NBC‘s Lee Cowan has details.


LEE COWAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  The men accused of the triple murder are by any definition, thugs.  This 26-year-old Joshua Komisarjevsky and 44-year-old Steven Hayes.  Both have robbery rap sheets stretching back years.  But nothing they‘ve been caught doing before was as violent as the crime they‘re now accused of committing.

BONNIE DILLEMETH, NEIGHBOR:  This is like something out of a really bad movie.  I didn‘t think people could be this mean and cruel.

COWAN:  The victims were the Petits, a picture-perfect family of four living in a picture-perfect Connecticut neighborhood.  They were asleep when the attackers broke in.  Police say they held the prominent doctor and his wife and their two children hostage, beating the for hours.  At least one of the girls was sexually assaulted.

The suspects forced Mrs. Petit to a nearby bank to withdraw several thousand dollars.  Investigators say the men then returned to the home and set it on fire.  Mrs. Petit was found dead on the ground floor.  The bodies of her daughters were found bound and burned upstairs.  Dr. Petit escaped, badly beaten but alive.

(on camera):  Both of the suspects were out on parole, deemed not violent enough to warrant any treatment despite the fact that a judge had previously called the younger of the two a cold calculating predator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Guys like that don‘t belong in civilization.

COWAN (voice-over):  They are two men seemingly unable to get their lives back on track, who now stand accused of taking the lives of nearly an entire family.  Lee Cowan, NBC News, New York.


ABRAMS:  Tonight, there‘s obviously serious outrage over why these guys were out on the street.  My take is this is one of the most brutal gruesome crimes I‘ve ever seen.  I‘ve covered a lot.  These thugs wanted to inflict every kind of injury possible on this family, humiliation, pain, ultimately death.  This is the sort of case that will change laws.

The Connecticut State Board of Pardons and Paroles said today, quote, “I don‘t think the state let this family down at all.  The crime was one of the worst I‘ve ever seen but I don‘t think there was any flaw in the decision making.”

Well, if there wasn‘t, then maybe the criteria need to be changed.  Before we talk about the suspects backgrounds, let‘s talk about the much more important for now and that is joining me on the phone is Reverend Steven Volpe, the Petit family‘s pastor.  He visited Dr. Petit in the hospital today.  Reverend, thank you very much for coming on the program today.  We appreciate it.  Tell us, how‘s Dr. Petit doing.

REV. STEVEN VOLPE, VICTIMS‘ PASTOR (on phone):  Dr. Petit is obviously devastated but he is recovering physically but emotionally it‘s going to be some time.

ABRAMS:  Is he speaking?  Is he able to communicate, etc.?

VOLPE:  Yes, he is speaking and able to get around somewhat.  They expect a full recovery.  As I said, physically.

ABRAMS:  So he still remembers the details, etc., of what happened.

VOLPE:  I believe he does.  That‘s something we have not touched on.

ABRAMS:  What did you talk to him about?

VOLPE:  We‘re talking about the support that we are giving him and his family.  The support that we had for them because of the love that we had for the Petit family.  We‘re talking about healing and the days ahead.  And we talking with family and trying to—we‘re talking with family and trying to get them through this tragic and traumatic time as well as we possibly can.

ABRAMS:  Look, in a lot of these cases you hear things about the family or people who have been harmed in cases.  In this case, it is so clear from listening to people who knew this family what a good family they were and the good deeds that they did in the community.  For example, tell us if you will a little bit about his wife.  She was involved in so much community service.  This is someone who was suffering from multiple sclerosis, correct?

VOLPE:  Yes, she was.  Since, I think, Haley was in fourth grade.  For some time she‘d been suffering with this but you‘d never have met a more giving and caring person.  This is the kind of person who, as a nurse, serving in a private school here in Cheshire, the Cheshire Academy who would get up and out of her own home bed and come back to school at 11:30 at night to sit with one of her students for an hour or more until they were feeling better.

This is the kind of person Jen was.  A church leader here.  A Sunday schoolteacher.  She was always bright and smiling.  And always had a kind word for everybody that she met.  I don‘t think she had a bad word to say about anyone ever.

ABRAMS:  And very close with her daughters as well, right?

VOLPE:  Absolutely.

ABRAMS:  As was Dr. Petit.

VOLPE:  Yes.  Yes, Dr. Petit and Jen both exampled a way of life where faith came first to them and they were able to live their faith out in their lives.  And that was evidenced in how they raised their daughters and the turned out jus the same way following in their parents‘ footsteps, this way of giving and care for others came out of a deep faith that they had in God.

ABRAMS:  Reverend Volpe, I can tell you that while most of America did not know the family the way you did, many tears have been shed around this country for the family, and we just wish Dr. Petit as best of thoughts that we can possibly offer to him.  Thank you very much for taking the time to come on the program.

VOLPE:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let‘s get into the law here.  Talk about the thugs who were allegedly responsible for that.  Clint Van Zandt joins us.  MSNBC analyst, former FBI profiler.  Clint, this is the kind of case that changes laws.  People like me and people around the country get very angry when they hear about the rap sheets these guys had.  Let‘s talk first about this guy Hayes, 36 convictions on larceny, burglary, passing bad checks, marijuana possession, escape from custody, handgun theft, 23 disciplinary actions while in prison.  That‘s an overview.  We‘ll put up more specifics as we continue the segment.

This other guy Komisarjevsky started robbing houses apparently when he was 14, 18 burglary and larceny convictions.  Faced charges in Virginian, New Hampshire, Connecticut.  Was viewed as a minimum security offender, minimum violence history.

You were a profile, right?  You were the guy that went to that said tell us who this guy is or what may happen next.  How do you go about better ensuring that guys like this aren‘t out?

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER:  Well, a number of things, Dan, number one, these guys are the poster boys for sociopaths, psychopaths, depending whether you think they are made or born, antisocial personality disorder.  About four percent of the U.S. population may carry that but almost everybody in prison for a significant crime carries that same type of label on them.

So Dan, for me—I‘m trying to characterize evil, trying to tell you about a person who has no conscience, who has no care about anyone else.  And why did they go after this family, Dan?  I think because this family represented everything these two guys weren‘t.  This family represented what these guys hated.  They were good, decent, loving, caring people who were loved by their community.  Everything that was the exact opposite with these two men.  And they went for it, Dan - and I don‘t want to engage and get deeper in psychology than I should.  But when you talked about how they were punished them and they were punished for hours, I think the two guys felt they were getting back at society for every wrong they feel society has done them.

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you this, Clint.  One of the guys we just showed apparently had a somewhat privileged background.  When I say privileged, meaning his family, broader family, grandparents, etc., pretty well known.  Lived a good wealthy life.  Does that come into play?

VAN ZANDT:  No, not necessarily.  If you‘ve got this personality disorder—realize, Dan, I think you said he had like 20 for burglary and you and I know that burglaries are one of the least solved crimes.  Maybe 10, 20 percent of burglaries are solved.

So if they had him for 20 he may have done 100, he may have done 150 burglaries.  We‘re just seeing the tip of the iceberg with what they were actually charged with when we look at these type of crimes.  These were two career criminals who bound together somehow almost like the DC snipers did back in 2002.

ABRAMS:  They apparently melt in a halfway house.  Clint Van Zandt, stick around, we‘ll check in with you later on a much lighter story.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, parents turn in their adult son after they discover he‘s apparently hiding a dead woman‘s body in the closet.  The authorities said he was raped and killed but why did the dad wait and call an attorney before calling 9/11?  Later, a phone machine breaks down in Oklahoma City, and a congressman like it‘s spring break on Capitol Hill, and a bandit takes a smoke break on a high-speed chase from police.

We‘ll break down the day‘s big “Winners and Losers” coming up next.


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Sorry about that technical error we had in the last segment.  Moving on, a Florida father made a gruesome discovery in his son‘s closet Friday.  Twenty-six year old Jason Shenfeld has been locking his bedroom every time he left, refusing to give his mom his bed sheets.  That prompted his father to enter the room.  He found the body of 18-year-old Amanda Buckley stuffed in his closet among sheets and clothes.

Shenfeld told his father she died of a drug overdose and he panic.  But evidence at the scene including duct tape, a rope and a used condom paints a very different picture.

Reporter Marcy Gonzales with our NBC affiliate WPTV in West Palm Beach has the 922 call placed by Shenfeld‘s father after discovering Amanda‘s body, but also after he spoke to a lawyer.


DISPATCHER:  911 emergency, do you need a paramedic?

JOHN SHENFELD, FATHER OF MURDER SUSPECT:  Yes, uh, no, I want to report a drug overdose.

DISPATCHER:  Who had a drug overdose?

SHENFELD:  Pardon?

DISPATCHER:  Who had a drug overdose.

SHENFELD:  Oh, this girl.

DISPATCHER:  Is she there with you?

SHENFELD:  Yes.  She‘s in my son‘s room.

MARCY GONZALES, WPTV CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Investigators claim that nervous 911 call was made by Jason Shenfeld‘s father after he discovered Amanda Buckley dead, not of a drug overdose as his son claimed, but from strangulation.

DISPATCHER:  This is your daughter?

SHENFELD:  No, this is not mine.  It‘s somebody else.  It‘s my son and he‘s just scared and oh, Jesus, I don‘t know what to tell you.

GONZALES:  Investigators say 18-year-old Buckley, a softball star and recent Palm Beach Gardens High School graduate was found inside Shenfeld‘s bedroom closet Friday evening.

DISPATCHER:  When was the last time she was seen?

SHENFELD:  Well, it‘s like she was here yesterday and her car was parked here and she was supposedly sleeping in my son‘s room and I guess he got panicky because she passed away and so she I guess passed away yesterday and I found out just about an hour ago.

GONZALES:  In that hour, investigators say Shenfeld‘s father talked to his son, visited his lawyer and then called 911.

DISPATCHER:  Is she awake?

SHENFELD:  Oh, no, I think she‘s dead.

DISPATCHER:  She cold to the touch.

SHENFELD:  Yeah.  Yeah.  I think so.  I‘m pretty distraught over this whole thing.

GONZALES:  Neighbors say Shenfield‘s parents are still devastated by what they‘ve seen, their sadness for Buckley‘s family and by what their son, charged with murder, could now face.

SHENFELD:  It‘s just like my whole life is over now.


ABRAMS:  This is Ben Bolan of the “Palm Beach Post” who broke this story.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.

All right.  Tell us a little bit more about the details here.  The father is saying on the 911 call there that he believes it was a drug overdose.  The evidence doesn‘t seem to point towards that, correct?

BEN BOLAN, “PALM BEACH POST”:  No, in fact, a toxicology report has not come back yet but police have determined there was no evidence of drug use found at the scene.

ABRAMS:  We‘ve just laid out according to “Palm Beach Post,” the items that were found in the backpack in the closet.  Duct tape, a pair of balled up panties.  Strands of long hair, blue and white rope.  A used condom, a belt and razor.  All that information was found—how did you get that information?

BOLAN:  That was just part of the report and the main thing to focus on was found in the garbage bag was duct tape and rope.  As you know, you mentioned, the cause of death was strangulation.

ABRAMS:  I think that information came from some sort of search warrant affidavit in connection with the case that you guys found.

BOLAN:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  Any other details now about the way the case is moving forward?  The prosecutors, they filed murder charges, right?

BOLAN:  Yes, absolutely.  First-degree murder, sexual assault and first imprisonment.  He had his first appearance was on Sunday morning.  It was very brief, last about a minute.  The judge said he found probable cause and said he‘d leave it at that.  I believe the grand jury is supposed to meet starting Tuesday and the trial should get going after that.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Ben, thanks a lot for coming on.  Appreciate it.

This is far from the first time Jason Shenfeld has been in trouble with the law.  About eight months ago two women told police he sexually assaulted them at his North Palm Beach home.  Prosecutors in that case declined to file charges against Shenfeld, saying they couldn‘t prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Joining us, an attorney for one of those women, Randy Berman.  Mr.  Berman, thank you for coming on the program.  Tell us what it was your client say happened to her?

RANDY BERMAN, FORMER ACCUSER‘S ATTORNEY:  Well, she indicated she was attacked and raped.  Brought her case to the police and then to the state attorney and ultimately the decision by the state attorney was to drop the charges.

My understanding is that it was dropped because of inconsistent statements between the two girls.  But as you know, in almost every case where there‘s eyewitness testimony there‘s going to be disparity in the witness statements.  So that shouldn‘t be the do all and the end all as to why the case didn‘t proceed.

ABRAMS:  They said he had a long knife in that case?

BERMAN:  Correct.

ABRAMS:  They said that he had drugged them, they awoken to find he was naked or they were naked.  He was dragging them along with a knife threatening them with a pit bull?

BERMAN:  And bound as well.

So at this time my client is distraught about what happened to Miss Buckley.  She is angry about what happened to her and didn‘t happen as far as prosecution and she‘s feeling guilty now about the fact that her story wasn‘t convincing enough or believable enough and she feels somewhat responsible.

ABRAMS:  Let me bring in Brian Gabriel.  He is the attorney for Jason Shenfield.  He was the one who got the call before the 911 call was made.

Thank you very much for coming on the show.  I appreciate it.  Before I ask you about that, based on the evidence at the scene—I assume this is going to be a tough case to defend.

BRIAN GABRIEL, JASON SHENFELD‘S ATTORNEY:  It‘s most certainly going to have its challenges.  We haven‘t received any of the real evidence or reports yet and we‘re awaiting rulings from the grand jury and then obviously discovery is going to continue from that point on.

ABRAMS:  Is the defense going to be based on the father‘s 911 call where he says he believed there was a drug overdose?

GABRIEL:  Until we get all the evidence, it‘s hard to formulate when the defense is going to be.

ABRAMS:  Let me play a piece of the father‘s call and let me ask you a question.


SHENFELD:  It‘s terrible.  I don‘t know what to say.  My wife and I don‘t know what to do.

DISPATCHER:  I understand.  All right.  We‘ll have a unit on the way. 

You‘re pretty sure she‘s gone, there‘s no reason for CPR or anything.

SHENFELD:  Yeah, she‘s .

DISPATCHER:  I understand.  I‘m sorry to hear of this predicament.

SHENFELD:  I just don‘t - it‘s like my whole life is over.  I don‘t know what to say.  I don‘t know what to do.

DISPATCHER:  We‘re going to send some people to help you out.  We‘ll be right there.


ABRAMS:  Mr. Gabriel, why do you think he called you before calling 911?

GABRIEL:  I don‘t know exactly why he decided to see me before that.  Obviously when I did speak with him he was extremely emotional.  He was distraught.  It took 10, 15 minutes to be able to really get him to be able to speak with me to where I could understand exactly what he was saying and what the situation was.  I clearly then told him we need to contact the authorities and did exactly that.

ABRAMS:  All right.  We‘ll follow this case.  Randy Berman and Brian Gabriel, thanks a lot, appreciate it.

GABRIEL:  Thank you.

BERMAN:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a round-up of the day‘s “Winners and Losers” including a bank robbery suspect who literally decided to take a cigarette break on camera during a high speed chase with police.  I guess you can guess what category he falls under.


ABRAMS:  It is time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 25th day of July, 2007.

Our first loser, wacky Republican Congressman Gary Miller, who got a wild and crazy on the house floor Monday, sporting a kooky a Hawaiian shirt and slippers.  Aloha congressman.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The proper attire of drugs in the chamber is business attire, which includes both coat and tie for the gentleman.


ABRAMS:  Our first winner, wacky summer Santa‘s.  Who knew they had an annual congressional meeting where red and white hats are required apparel?  The never naughty but slightly kooky group of 100 plus supposedly gathered to discuss toys and reindeer fees.


WILL FERRELL, ACTOR:  Who the heck are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Were you talking about?  I‘m Santa Claus.

FERRELL:  No, you are not.


ABRAMS:  Our second loser, a fire retardant system in Oklahoma City out of control.  Foam was sent flying and spilling out of airplane hangars.

The second winner?  Fiery hot pop star Beyonce who lost control at a concert Tuesday and spilled down a flight stairs at a concert, but quickly regained her composure and continued with the show.

But the big winner of the day—giant Humboldt squids, which at successfully invaded California waters.  But this seven foot sea creature known as the “Red Devil” is playing on the local fish making these not so swift sea monsters prime catch.

And our big loser of the date?  A not so swift bank robbery suspect who got caught by local police after he stopped for a pack of smokes.

Yes, Salvador Montenegro was being chased when he stopped at a convenience store.  As a result, police caught up with this dopey devil a few minutes later.

Smoking and the bandit.  Quickly let‘s bring back Clint Van Zandt who knows about the criminal mind.

Clint, any explanation?

VAN ZANDT:  You‘ve got to love guys like him.  I went up with his brother once about 15 years ago, aircraft hijacking, we got all the passengers off.  He said he‘d had a bomb but he wanted a cigarette.  We put a pack of cigarettes on top the FBI car.  The guy looked out the door once, twice, came down the steps and the SWAT team jumped and thumped him.  It was all over with.  Thank God for nicotine addiction.

ABRAMS:  My goodness.  Clint Van Zandt.  Thanks a lot.

VAN ZANDT:  Thank you, Dan.

ABRAMS:  That is all the time we have for tonight.  Up next, the “Doc Bloc”, “Secrets to Tell.”  Thanks for watching and see you tomorrow.



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