updated 6/20/2005 8:02:44 AM ET 2005-06-20T12:02:44

Guest: Lincoln Gomez, Ruben Trapenberg, Mike France, John Coffee, Eddie DePaula, Julia Renfro, Clint Van Zandt

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, police in Aruba make another arrest in connection with the disappearance of missing teen, Natalee Holloway. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  A party boat D.J. now is the fourth person being held.  Natalee‘s mother says she expects more arrests to be made before the case is solved.  We hear from her and get details on the latest suspect. 

And another major CEO found guilty.  A jury convicts former Tyco chief, Dennis Kozlowski.  Now he‘s facing up to 25 years for looting the company including having the firm pay for some extravagant parties. 

Plus, a jewelry storeowner fights back against an armed robber, takes him down but decides not to shoot.  We talk with the brave storeowner about his harrowing experience all caught on tape. 

The program about justice starts now. 


ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket tonight, a new arrest in Aruba in connection with the missing Alabama teenager, Natalee Holloway.  Police there have detained Steven Gregory Croes, a 26-year-old party boat D.J.  He joins three suspects detained since last Thursday, a Dutch teen and son of a judge in training on the island, Joran Van Der Sloot and Surinamese brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe. 

According to Aruban authorities, Croes is—quote—“suspected of being involved in Natalee‘s disappearance.”  She was in Aruba celebrating her high school graduation.  She‘s been missing for 18 days, last seen in the early morning hours of May the 30th.

Joining me now with the latest from Aruba is NBC‘s Martin Savidge.  So Martin, do we know whether this latest suspect was arrested because the three boys who are now being detained provided information that led to his arrest? 

MARTIN SAVIDGE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  We don‘t know, Dan.  We don‘t know at this particular point.  All we know is that authorities moved in very early, around 6:20 this morning and it‘s the fourth arrest.  And all of these arrests have occurred at the crack of dawn. 

As you pointed out, he‘s a D.J. on the party boat, Tattoo.  You know what these party boats are.  They‘re like catamarans or other party boats that people like to go out and have a good time while they are on vacation.  We also know that he was originally from the island of Caracal (ph), lives in Aruba with his grandparents and finally that he was a witness in this case as of a few days ago. 

In other words, he must have been talking previous to authorities, but now he has gone one step further and he is under arrest and apparently a suspect now in this case, and as we say, brings it to four.  So that‘s what we know about this to the moment. 

Let me tell you a couple of other things that have taken place.  We‘ve been telling you over the past couple of days about Mr. Van Der Sloot, that is the father, Paul, of Joran Van Der Sloot, how he has been seeking to get access to his son.  He was denied because he is an attorney.  That has now been cleared away.  He is allowed to visit his son according to a court ruling and in fact, he has already done so today. 

And finally, those three suspects, previous, before the one today arrested, are in court at this very moment.  A judge doing the routine of going over the charges against them trying to determine whether it is valid to continue to hold them.  We expect to hear something before the day is out—Dan. 

ABRAMS:  And Martin, they get reviews every eight or 10 days.  What is it—they are entitled to have a review as to whether it‘s still legitimate to hold them every how many days? 

SAVIDGE:  It‘s every eight days.  It‘s always before the same judge.  But, the level, the bar of measure, gets to be higher and higher for authorities each time.  In other words, you know initially you may come at them with statements you have from witnesses.  Now you must, as the case gets farther along, as more time passes, authorities have to be able to present more and more evidence in order to justify holding the suspects.  There has been some talk that perhaps one or more could be let go, based upon that yard stick. 

ABRAMS:  I want to ask you another question in a second, but I want to play a little piece of sound from Natalee‘s mother.  She talked about having met Joran Van Der Sloot, that Dutch teen, who is now considered one of the prime suspects in connection with her daughter‘s disappearance.  Here is what she said today. 


BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S MOTHER:  He did approach me and with his attitude, very condescending, very arrogant.  He seemed to be somewhat powerful and there very limited communicative exchanges.  That was the impression that I got in that brief, brief moment. 


ABRAMS:  Martin, how did the suspect approach Natalee‘s mom? 

SAVIDGE:  Well, essentially what it was is that the family arrived here immediately after they heard that their daughter had gone missing and they went off to begin trying to track down the last people that were known to be with her daughter.  So looking for Joran Van Der Sloot was a name they already had from the other young people that had been on the trip. 

And what they had done is they went to the house and basically wanted to talk to him.  But of course...


SAVIDGE:  ... his parents were there and other people were there.  So this was a very brief initial meeting, and that is the sort of snap judgment made by a mother who is worried desperately about her daughter.  So...


SAVIDGE:  ... is it a fair assessment of what Joran Van Der Sloot is really like?  No.  But it is an interesting snapshot taken...


SAVIDGE:  ... at a very interesting time. 

ABRAMS:  And I think we can all understand why she has some animosity towards this guy right now.  Martin thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

Speaking of Natalee‘s mother, she‘s played a very prominent role in the search for her daughter, going door to door with pictures of Natalee, asking locals and tourists to help in finding her, pleading for answers.  Now want to hear a little bit more from Beth Holloway Twitty today in her own words. 


TWITTY:  We need answers now.  We need answers and we need them soon.  But yes, yes, and everyone is working in a collaborative effort.  That has been established.  That now with us moving forward as we are, now we should be moving to answers.  I think there are several individuals with the answers. 

Where is my daughter?  Get the answers, where is she?  They know what, they know who, they know where, they know when, they know how and they know why.  So I want them.  I want the answers. 

Each day is so incredibly difficult.  But as I have said, you know, I have a strong faith and belief in trusting God and with all of the supporters, that is what getting me through each day and it‘s really getting me stronger each day.  It‘s getting me stronger each day to where I feel like I am just beginning. 


ABRAMS:  You can understand her frustration.  I mean there are these three guys who are in custody, now four, and supposedly they were the last ones to see her.  And now they still can‘t find her.  They still don‘t know what is going on? 

Joining me now an attorney in Aruba, Lincoln Gomez.  Mr. Gomez thanks very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  All right, let‘s talk law. 


ABRAMS:  Let‘s talk law a little bit here.  So you got these three guys who were detained, they‘re back in court, basically arguing to a judge to let them go.  Let‘s deal with them first.  How does it work in Aruba?  What do they basically have to say?  What would they have to show?  What would the prosecutors have to show to keep them detained now? 

GOMEZ:  Well the prosecutor will keep saying and arguing over and over again that it is in the best interest of the investigation to keep these three suspects in custody so they can continue with the investigation.  The defense counsel will argue over and over again then that is no longer necessary, and that their clients, they are not a flight risk, they can go home, and that they will continue and—to cooperate with the investigation if need be, but that they should know longer be deprived of their freedom. 

ABRAMS:  Am I being cynical if I look at what‘s happened and I look at it in the following way—you have two security guards who were the first ones who were arrested.  They‘ve been released because apparently, at least it seems, they had nothing to do with this.  These three people who were the last ones to see her were initially considered witnesses. 

After 11 days, they are arrested.  Now we have a fourth person being arrested, a D.J.  We‘re hearing that some of the three may end up being released.  I mean it sort of seems like they‘re just kind of throwing everything against the wall and seeing if something might stick. 

GOMEZ:  I don‘t think that‘s accurate and maybe you are being cynical.  The investigation is going on.  They have—they started with two security guards.  They went on to three kids.  They have done some searches.  Now there are more witnesses.  There are additional suspects.  I think the investigation is moving along. 

And one of the main reasons why in our system the defense counsel that are involved are not given all the information all the time is to protect the integrity of the investigation.  I think that‘s the main job of the prosecutor right now to protect the integrity of the investigation and to make sure this investigation can continue. 

ABRAMS:  And the investigation continues with these people behind bars.  So you think that they‘re going to finally get some answer?  Would you expect that in the next few days this case would be cracked? 

GOMEZ:  I mean now that a fourth suspect is detained, you must understand that they will probably have to go back and cross-reference and validate the different statements and evidence at hand.  So it could take a few days more before something is resolved or unless we got a big break in the case. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Lincoln Gomez thanks very much.  This is important, the legal side of this, and it is important to understand that we do have a different system than do they.  And they do put people away, hold them there, as they investigate.  So the question that a lot of people are asking is you know are—is the family getting all the information available? 

Is this investigation on track?  Let‘s check in again with the spokesperson for the Aruba government, Ruben Trapenberg.  Thanks for coming back on the program.  We appreciate it.  So I was just talking...


ABRAMS:  ... to Mr. Gomez about the way the investigation has been proceeding.  We‘re hearing from Martin Savidge that a couple or some or one of the people who are in custody now may soon be released.  Now there is this fourth person coming in.  Is this a typical investigation in Aruba where a couple of people are coming in, they‘re put in jail, then they are released because they weren‘t involved.  You got three more people arrested.  Maybe one or two of them gets released and they keep sort of arresting people and it‘s become sort of a rotating investigation that way? 

RUBEN TRAPENBERG, SPOKESPERSON FOR THE ARUBAN GOVERNMENT:  No, he just gave you an explanation of that possibility.  That is possible at this point, but if the investigation has led to these three guys, the chance for them being released at this point I think is very, very small.  Remember, that these three boys point the finger at the two former guys or indicated that it might have been them.  That‘s why the arrests were made on them. 

So what we don‘t get to hear are the details of the investigation and that makes it difficult for us to evaluate what‘s ongoing.  It appears to us that there is not much happening, but that‘s the Dutch legal system, that‘s the way it works.  It‘s different, but on the local level I can tell you from the press that I worked in quite a number of years, we don‘t hear details at all in any case. 

ABRAMS:  Do you not know?  I mean you said we don‘t know and I know you can‘t talk about it.  But you don‘t know what is happening in the investigation or you can‘t talk about what is happening in the investigation? 

TRAPENBERG:  From the government point of view, the minister of justice and the prime minister are involved of the progress in the investigation.  They don‘t hear details and—until a later date.  At this point they are just kept abreast of the progress that is made in the case.  And there is reason to be confident in the system and that it‘s working. 

ABRAMS:  Right.

TRAPENBERG:  The prosecutor‘s office has given us the reassurance that progress is being made in this case.

ABRAMS:  How many law enforcement officials are working on this case? 

I mean give us a sense of the sort of the big picture here. 

TRAPENBERG:  The spokesperson of the police gave an idea about few days ago and he said it was close to 100 people because...


TRAPENBERG:  ... he had different teams working.  There‘s—yes, there are teams that go out, checking out the leads.  There‘s a teams that‘s doing the search.  There‘s a team directing the investigation, so it‘s quite a number of people. 


TRAPENBERG:  And the reason is because it‘s something that has national priority.  There was a carnival parade, mid-year parade to happen this Sunday.  That has been postponed for now.  We‘re not even looking at that because...


TRAPENBERG:  ... it would have taken police off of what they were doing to, you know to have...

ABRAMS:  Yes...


ABRAMS:  ... very quickly...

TRAPENBERG:  ... that‘s been moved...

ABRAMS:  Very quickly, I‘m out—I‘m almost out of time -- 100 out of how many? 

TRAPENBERG:  Out of, I think, the force is around 500.  I‘m not sure, but that‘s the figure I have heard in the past. 

ABRAMS:  OK.  Ruben Trapenberg, once again thank you for coming back on the program.  Appreciate it.

TRAPENBERG:  Thank you, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  We‘ll have more on the search for Natalee later in the hour. 

Coming up, the CEO, pretty well known, who used company funds to pay for this suaree, found guilty today.  Looting millions from the company, former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski now facing up to 25 years—sweet bathing suits.

And a jewelry storeowner fights back against an armed robber—this is unbelievable—takes him down.  We‘ve got the tape, and we‘ve got the owner who‘s there fighting off that guy. 

Plus runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks speaks out for the first time about why she ran away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I am a perfectionist and I want everything perfect.  And that was the hard part for me. 


ABRAMS:  We‘ll get a look at Katie Couric‘s exclusive interview with Wilbanks and her fianc’.

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



ABRAMS:  A big victory today for prosecutors in the fight against corporate greed.  Two former Tyco executives found guilty of stealing more than $600 million from their company in corporate bonuses and loans.  The names of the executives Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz aren‘t familiar to you, you might remember this video, toga, toga in Sardinia, Italy cost $2 million as part of a weeklong 40th birthday party for Kozlowski‘s wife. 

Prosecutors said half of it was paid for with company—every time I see this video, and I see those little you know weenie bikinis and everything that are being—anyway—he also spent $6,000 on this shower curtain for a Tyco-owned apartment in Manhattan.  Kozlowski, Tyco‘s former CEO, was found guilty of conspiracy, fraud and falsifying business records. 

His former CEO, Mark Swartz, found guilty of grand larceny, securities fraud and also falsifying business records.  They‘re facing up to 25 years behind bars.  Just two in a list of former top executives now facing some hard time.

Joining me now is Mike France, attorney and senior writer for “BusinessWeek” magazine, who covered the trial, and Professor John Coffee, teaches corporate law at Columbia Law School.  Gentlemen thanks for coming on the program. 

All right, Mr. France, what was it that did it this time?  I mean when they spoke to the jurors in the last case, where the judge declared a mistrial, it seemed that they weren‘t impressed with that video of the party, et cetera.  They said that it didn‘t really matter to them.  What do you think did it in this case? 

MIKE FRANCE, “BUSINESSWEEK” SENIOR WRITER:  Well you know I think you can actually overanalyze these cases somewhat.  At some level, the first case really came down to the fact that you had somewhat of a rogue juror, just one, and the other jurors really would have convicted the both of them.  So I think that was part of it.  I think it‘s also true though that the prosecutors made some tactical changes.  Basically they just stopped boring the jury.  They ran a very, very long case and they put in a lot of extraneous material, and I think that probably also helped. 

ABRAMS:  Did they—let‘s be clear—did they steal money?  I mean we talk about it, but let‘s sort of put it in truly lay terms.  They were using company money for their own use and that‘s the equivalent of stealing money, right? 

FRANCE:  That‘s exactly what it was.  It‘s not as if they were not finding some cash somewhere and take—in the facility and walking out with it.  But they wound out getting a whole lot more money than they ever could have if they‘d had to physically grab dollar bills. 

ABRAMS:  Did he think he was going to acquitted do you think? 

FRANCE:  Well I think he had no idea.  I think anytime any defendant finds himself in front of any jury with this type of evidence they have to be concerned.  Certainly, he must have been happy by the way the first thing turned out and he also spoke on his own behalf.  So perhaps he felt a little more confident the second time around.  But anybody who thinks they can predict what‘s going to go under those circumstances I think is deluded...

ABRAMS:  Before I go to Professor, Coffee, did his own testimony hurt him? 

FRANCE:  Well my understanding is that his own testimony really did hurt him. 


FRANCE:  Because it really exposed him to cross-examination, and he simply had no good explanation for how it‘s possible, for instance, that he couldn‘t be aware of an additional $25 million on his tax return. 

ABRAMS:  Right.  All right, Professor Coffee, let‘s talk big picture here.  It seems like every one of these big CEOs who are going to trial are eventually getting convicted. 

JOHN COFFEE, COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR:  That‘s what is happening in New York at least.  You can now take four very complicated, long-lasting business trials involving evidence of accounting, evidence of corporate procedures, evidence that sounded like it was beyond the ability of some juries to comprehend, and in Adelphia, in the Quattrone case, the WorldCom case and now in Tyco...


COFFEE:  ... we‘ve gotten four convictions.  It at least shows the prosecutors can convict when they are well prepared. 

ABRAMS:  Well let me ask you about this, all right.  Let‘s go through those cases that you mentioned.  I want to compare them to what‘s happening in some of these—quote—“celebrity trials”.  I mean because these are the celebrity trials of the business world. 

All right, so we‘ve got WorldCom CEO, Bernie Ebbers convicted of masterminding an $11 billion fraud.  Adelphia Communications founder John Rigas, convicted of conspiracy, bank fraud and securities fraud.  Former investment banker Frank Quattrone, convicted of obstruction of justice.  Four former Merrill Lynch and one Enron executive convicted of conspiracy and fraud. 

And yet Michael Jackson acquitted on child molestation, conspiracy and giving alcohol to minors.  O.J. Simpson acquitted of murder.  Sean P. Diddy Combs acquitted of having a gun.  And Robert Blake acquitted of murder. 

Is there anything we can read—I mean is this—is the bottom line that jurors just may not like these corporate CEOs and they might like these celebrities? 

COFFEE:  Well first of all, I don‘t think most of these jurors knew who were these defendants were until the first day of the trial.  It may be well known to the business press, but Mr. Kozlowski or Mr. Quattrone were not names known to the average person riding the New York subway whereas Michael Jackson is.

Secondly, I‘ve got to say that the evidence was substantially weaker in the Michael Jackson trial.  There was a debate between whether he was a molester or whether the accusers were extorters and I think the jury couldn‘t make up their mind and decided to give the benefit of the doubt, as they should, to the defendant. 

ABRAMS:  I didn‘t think I was going to have Professor Coffee doing Michael Jackson analysis, I love it.  All right, let me ask you, Martha Stewart then, she was sort of—she sort of walks the line here.  She was convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and lying.  She is someone who the jurors would have known, right?

COFFEE:  Certainly was and she was convicted and also a case that involved some complexity.  So I said there were four major cases in New York and you‘ve added that there has been a fifth major case in New York, all of them involve convictions.  

ABRAMS:  See, you know I have to tell you, to me the difference between Martha Stewart and some of these criminal cases is in a way, the real question with Martha Stewart was should she have been charged at all.  And I think—and I‘ve said publicly on this show before that I think she probably wouldn‘t have been charged had she not been Martha Stewart. 

But once she was charged, it was so clear she was guilty because it was so easy to understand.  I mean lying is something that‘s easy to understand.  In a lot of these other cases, even Robert Blake, you know was there the proper intent?  With Michael Jackson, there were some gray area, et cetera.  In the actual evidence in the Martha Stewart case, the way she was going to get off was by somehow these jurors believing that she shouldn‘t have been charged at all. 

COFFEE:  Well you‘re right.  I think that was a case that once she decided to go to trial and not to settle early she had very little chance on the factual issues.  In contrast, the complexity of either the Tyco case, the Adelphia case or WorldCom could have totally confused jurors that didn‘t try hard.  What you‘ve seen here is juries that work for 10 or 11 days evaluating the evidence, and I think they behaved as exemplary juries. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Professor Coffee, finally, how much time, as a practical matter, are Kozlowski and Swartz facing now? 

COFFEE:  OK.  This is in state court not federal court, so the prosecution says 25 years, but there is parole in New York and there is much more discretion in the sentencing judge.  I think as a practical matter the sentencing judge here may well sentence them to something like 10 or 12 years and they might serve something like five or six years.  That would be consistent with New York‘s state sentencing practice.

ABRAMS:  Mike France and Professor Coffee, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

Coming up, a jewelry storeowner fights back after an armed robber tries to hold him up.  Guy—look, that guy had the gun—the other guy gets it.  It‘s all caught on tape.  We‘re going to talk to the jewelry storeowner in a minute. 

Plus, more on the search for missing Alabama teen Natalee Holloway. 

And a day after—two days after Terri Schiavo‘s autopsy shows her husband was right about her medical condition, Florida Governor Jeb Bush launches another investigation or at least gets them to launch another investigation into what happened 15 years ago.  Why can‘t he just admit he was wrong?  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, amazing videotape—a jewelry storeowner turns the tables on a would-be armed robber.  It‘s all on tape.  He joins us after the headlines. 


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  In this next story the tape says it all.  Thursday morning, Pinecrest, Florida jewelry storeowner, Eddie DePaula, who‘s behind the counter, a guy later identified as Derek Smith (ph) comes in and pulls a gun on him.  Smith jumped over-the-counter.  You can see Eddie fought back.  It wasn‘t too long before his nephew, Mike, who just happened to be visiting heard what was going on and rushed from the back to join in.  Eddie got the gun.  The police were called.  Smith is now behind bars.  Eddie DePaula, the man you see there on the tape, we‘re going to show you a little bit more of that, joins us now by phone.  Wow!  Eddie...

EDDIE DEPAULA, STOPPED STORE ROBBERY (via phone):  How are you doing? 

ABRAMS:  I‘m good.  How are you doing?

DEPAULA:  I‘m doing all right today, Dan...

ABRAMS:  Yes.  You‘re feeling all right?  I mean you‘re rolling around there for a while.  I mean it really looked like you guys were going at it. 

DEPAULA:  We sure were, Dan and you know I‘m still a little nervous about what happened.  It happened so quickly.  We didn‘t even get a chance to think about it.  We just reacted to the situation. 

ABRAMS:  And let‘s be clear, that‘s a loaded gun, right? 

DEPAULA:  Absolutely.  It went off twice. 

ABRAMS:  Tell me about that. 

DEPAULA:  Well when we first start struggling, when I‘m trying to push, get the gun away from him, it gets—he shoots, it hits the back of the wall there where those round showcases are...


DEPAULA:  ... and then as I get the gun from him, he‘s attacking me, and I shoot him—I shoot a warning shot at the ground toward his foot. 

ABRAMS:  Wow.  So those were the two shots that went off.  So, all right—so this guy jumps over and the first—your first reaction was not to put your hands up, your first reaction was you went after him. 

DEPAULA:  Yes, it was.  I saw the video and I couldn‘t believe what I did. 

ABRAMS:  Really? 

DEPAULA:  Absolutely, I didn‘t.  You know, my first instinct is always to just—hey we‘re fully insured, let them take the jewelry and leave. 

ABRAMS:  So what happened?

DEPAULA:  I don‘t know.  Something within me just said this isn‘t happening today. 

ABRAMS:  Now your nephew who we see there...

DEPAULA:  Yes, Mike. 

ABRAMS:  ... Mike, he just happened to be—meaning you usually work alone, right? 

DEPAULA:  Well no, we have three employees but they‘re on vacation this week, so Mike was there working with me for this week.  And he is a little bigger and stronger than they are, so it‘s fortunate that he was there. 

ABRAMS:  But I‘ve got to tell you—I mean even at the very—so were you ever thinking about actually shooting him? 

DEPAULA:  Absolutely not.  I never thought about it.  Unless we had to, but it didn‘t come to that.  You know we could restrain him until the police arrived, that‘s what we wanted to do.  We didn‘t want to endanger our lives anymore...


ABRAMS:  How were you able to call the police?  I mean it seems that both of you were struggling with him for a while.

DEPAULA:  I was able to sneak back to the back room and press our silent panic button...


DEPAULA:  ... and then while we were struggling I saw a customer outside wave a signal saying we‘re calling the police. 


DEPAULA:  So we were just trying to hold on until the, you know, the Calvary arrived. 

ABRAMS:  I assume you‘ve never had an attempted robbery before, right? 

DEPAULA:  No, my family and I we‘ve been in the jewelry business for over 20 years.  You know we‘ve had a little bit of theft, but never anything like this. 

ABRAMS:  And if another—if this had been another member of your family you were watching on the videotape, you would have said to him you‘re crazy. 


ABRAMS:  Why didn‘t you just give them the jewels, right? 

DEPAULA:  That‘s right.  I would have slapped him on the head and called him stupid. 


ABRAMS:  Eddie, I‘ve got to tell you, it‘s brave—look—that‘s the moment.  When he jumps over, he‘s got the gun pointed in your face and you literally go to tackle—right there—Eddie, after you get him on the floor, is the first thing you went for the gun?  Meaning, you guys are rolling, is the first thing you did go for the gun? 

DEPAULA:  I was able—absolutely.  The first—the only thing on my mind was get the gun away from him and we will be OK.  And I was able to overpower him and push the barrel of the gun away from the direction of myself and my nephew. 

ABRAMS:  Wow.  Eddie, it‘s great to see you‘re safe.  Thanks for coming on the show.  We appreciate it. 

DEPAULA:  Thank you, Dan. 


Coming up, police in Aruba arrest another suspect in connection with Natalee Holloway‘s disappearance.  We‘ve got a live report coming up next. 

Plus, runaway bride, Jennifer Wilbanks, in her first interview, tries to explain why she did what she did. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That night and that moment, it really became a life or death decision for me. 


ABRAMS:  More of that interview coming up after the break. 

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


ABRAMS:  Coming up, another suspect under arrest in Aruba in connection with missing Alabama student, Natalee Holloway.  We‘ve got a report coming up next.



ABRAMS:  We‘re back with more on the developing story out of Aruba.  There has been a new arrest in connection with the disappearance of Alabama teen, Natalee Holloway.  Joining us with the latest from Aruba is Julia Renfro, editor-in-chief of “Aruba Today”.  Thanks very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.

All right, do we know that this latest suspect, this party boat D.J., do we know that the three guys who are in custody now provided some sort of information that led to his arrest? 

JULIA RENFRO, “ARUBA TODAY” EDITOR:  Well, of course the police haven‘t given any official statement as of that, but what we‘ve found out ourselves is that there is a relationship or friendship between the two brothers and the party boat D.J.

ABRAMS:  What more do you know about the party boat D.J.? 

RENFRO:  You know, I‘ve known him for quite a while and he‘s just a friendly guy and somebody who has never been in trouble.  And wow, he knows how to pump up the volume. 

ABRAMS:  So you know this guy? 

RENFRO:  You know, just from being on the boat, being at different events at different parties.  He‘s a popular guy. 

ABRAMS:  Bottom line, does everyone on the island, I mean is it small enough such that you know a little bit the three other men who are under arrest as well? 

RENFRO:  Well, it‘s a small enough island to know enough about everybody.  Do I know them personally?  No.  But have I heard about them?  Yes.  And from my position in the newspaper, we‘re always covering all of the wonderful things that happen on Aruba and you know, they have good reputations. 

ABRAMS:  What kind of parties—I mean for those who don‘t know what kind of parties they have on this kind of boat, what are you—what kind of parties are they? 

RENFRO:  Well, it‘s mostly for tourists.  Of course, the locals enjoy it quite a bit as well and you know a couple of hundred people jump on one of these boats and they make a lot of noise, and it‘s great because it‘s out on the water and it doesn‘t really affect anybody at all, the noise.  And a lot of music, a lot of dancing, and a lot of fun. 

ABRAMS:  Do we know whether Natalee was ever on the boat? 

RENFRO:  No, we don‘t know that, but I‘m pretty sure that she was not. 

ABRAMS:  So it‘s just about the relationships between him and two of the men in custody? 

RENFRO:  Right.  It‘s, you know, you can only speculate on what it could be.  I don‘t think that anyone is pointing fingers at this point, but it could just be just as simple as a phone call at some point in time, the day before, the day after, who knows. 

ABRAMS:  How big a deal is this in Aruba, this investigation? 

RENFRO:  This is enormous.  This is the biggest thing—in the 15 years that I‘ve lived here this is the biggest thing that has ever happened to Aruba. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Julie Renfro, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  We appreciate it. 

Joining me now MSNBC analyst and former FBI profiler, Clint Van Zandt. 

Clint, I‘ve been asking this question primarily of people on Aruba...


ABRAMS:  ... and they‘ve been very defensive and I don‘t know that it‘s a fair question, but let me throw it out to you. 


ABRAMS:  Are you concerned about this investigation?  Meaning these two guys, these two security guards who were arrested, they‘re released. 


ABRAMS:  You have these three other guys were the last ones to apparently have seen her.  They weren‘t arrested for 11 days.  Martin Savidge reporting that one, at least one of them may be released.  Now you have a fourth person being arrested.  I mean is it fair for me to ask is this investigation moving on course? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, the only thing I can even hope for, Dan, is that it‘s what I‘ve heard maybe, these three guys, they were originally suspects, but the police were cagey enough to put a GPS device on their car, to wiretap their cell phones and leave them on the street on the off chance that either the vehicle or the phone conversations...

ABRAMS:  Right.

VAN ZANDT:  ... would lead them to Natalee.  If that‘s true, good for the cops, they did a good job.  It was a calculated risk, but you know, had they found her it would have been worth the risk.  If that‘s not true, it‘s horrible that they left these three guys on the street all this time to put their story together, to dry-clean the car, to get rid of evidence. 

And now we‘ve got this fourth jambalaya boat operator who comes up.  I mean I‘ve been on those boats.  It‘s a lot of people, many times underage, drinking rum punch and getting themselves you know far more intoxicated than they should because they haven‘t drank like that before. 

ABRAMS:  Clint—I don‘t picture you, Clint, as the type to be on the Tattoo. 

VAN ZANDT:  You haven‘t seen my with my sunglasses and hat on...

ABRAMS:  All right...

VAN ZANDT:  ... Dan...

ABRAMS:  All right...

VAN ZANDT:  ... that‘s another environment. 

ABRAMS:  Fair enough.

VAN ZANDT:  All right.

ABRAMS:  Let me play a little piece of sound—this is from Natalee‘s uncle yesterday talking in general about the investigation. 



MICHAEL PARTEN, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S UNCLE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you know I don‘t think we‘ve heard the correct version of this story yet, but hopefully in time it will be revealed. 


ABRAMS:  Clint, I‘ve got to tell you, I‘m kind of surprised that if these guys are the right guys, that they haven‘t provided anything that has led to a body or led to an alive Natalee. 

VAN ZANDT:  Yes.  You know, Dan, this is, as you and I know, this is whole another environment.  We‘re used to people like in the D.C. sniper case where the chief of police it seemed every 15 minutes stood up and made a press release.  I mean the Aruban police, especially the Dutch, this is not the way they prosecute a crime.  I mean they‘re not even quick to give up the names of suspects. 

So my best-case scenario is that there is a lot going on behind the scene, that there are good Dutch cops who have come in that are helping.  That the FBI has got the ears of the investigators and that they are listening.  And that they‘re building, building, you know the building blocks of a case that you as an attorney and I as an investigator want to see so they‘ve got an air tight case.  This better not be a mysterious disappearance, nobody knows what happens, let‘s go on with one happy island...


VAN ZANDT:  ... because that island is not going to be happy. 

ABRAMS:  No and I think they realize that.  I mean I think that‘s why they‘re taking this so absolutely seriously is because they realize that the future of tourism on Aruba could depend on their success in this investigation. 

VAN ZANDT:  Their whole economic future is riding on this...


VAN ZANDT:  ... investigation right now. 

ABRAMS:  Clint, good to see you.  Thanks for coming back. 

VAN ZANDT:  Thanks for having me Dan.

ABRAMS:  Now to runaway bride, Jennifer Wilbanks.  She hid from the cameras last month when she was found in Albuquerque, New Mexico days after leaving her fianc’ and 600 wedding guests back in Georgia.  But now she‘s speaking out for the first time in an exclusive interview with NBC‘s Katie Couric.  Her fianc’ John Mason by her side, she explains why she ran. 


JENNIFER WILBANKS, “RUNAWAY BRIDE”:  It was stressful because I am a perfectionist and I want everything perfect.  And that was the hard part for me. 

KATIE COURIC, “DATELINE NBC”:  Let‘s move on to the night of Tuesday, April 26.  Around 8:30 that evening you told John you were going to go out for a run.  You don‘t run together, so you were going out by yourself. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I had just gotten back. 

COURIC:  You had just gotten back from...


COURIC:  So tell me about that night. 

WILBANKS:  First of all, that night my running had absolutely nothing to do with this wonderful man sitting right here beside me.  With what we have just said, I mean it would be so simplistic to break all this down and say that it was you know, break it down into certain things.  Oh I had cold feet, I was stressed out.  There was pressure.  But you know, that is just a very small part of it.  It‘s a little bit more serious than that.  That night in that moment, it really became a life or death decision for me. 


ABRAMS:  I don‘t understand what she‘s talking about, but I‘m sure we‘ll get some answers.  Watch Katie‘s entire interview with Jennifer Wilbanks on “Dateline NBC” Tuesday night at 8:0 Eastern, 7:00 Central.  I‘m going to watch.  I want more answers. 

Coming up, rather than just admit he was wrong about Terri Schiavo after an autopsy supports her husband, Florida Governor Jeb Bush wants to launch another investigation into what happened to her 15 years—it‘s outrageous.  It‘s my “Closing Argument” coming up.


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—the shameful inability of those who were wrong about Terri Schiavo to just admit it or at least just let it go away.  I was hardly surprised when an autopsy of Terri‘s remains backed up the claims of her husband, Michael Schiavo, that Terri had been in a persistent vegetative state.  Her brain half the size of what it once was. 

They found therapy would have done nothing to improve her condition.  And

she was blind so she could not have seen her relatives as her parents had

claimed.  The handful of doctors who supported the parents were, as the

vast majority of the medical community suspected, either wrong or colored

by faith. 

But now rather than concede, her parents‘ attorney and now Florida Governor Jeb Bush, are trying to change the subject by continuing to malign Michael Schiavo who spent the first few years after Terri first collapsed caring for her full time, even studying to become a nurse.  Governor Bush has convinced a local prosecutor to investigate what initially caused Terri to fall into a coma in 1990.  They suggest Michael Schiavo waited before calling 911.  The evidence? 

Well, there really isn‘t any apart from the fact that Michael‘s rough estimates of the time of her collapse have varied slightly over the years even though he‘s always maintained he called 911 immediately.  Nothing new.  And yet the governor wrote the cause of her injuries is more in doubt than ever.  That‘s a quote.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Why?  Because the autopsy provides no information as to what actually caused Terri to collapse?  Because it rules out certain theories like that Terri was beaten as some of the parent supporters have alleged? 

The medical examiner said that no one will ever know for sure, so that‘s the reason to spend more tax dollars on another investigation?  I guess it‘s enough to allow the Florida governor to change the subject away from the fact that this autopsy shows he was wrong.  That he already wasted taxpayer dollars by acting on the faulty premise that Terri could be rehabilitated.  Now I have no problem with her parents arguing that they wanted to care for Terri.  Courts have found that was not what Terri would have wanted but that‘s a legitimate issue.

It was resolved.  If the nation wants to debate on whether it‘s—quote—“barbaric” to allow anyone to remove a feeding tube from a loved one, let‘s have it.  But this is not and never was about a case about a woman who was taken off life-support in a way any different from thousands of other Americans.  Enough.  If they won‘t apologize to all the doctors and others they‘ve improperly derided, than at least they should just drop the subject. 

Coming up, your e-mails and my interview with Michael Jackson‘s attorney, shocker, some of you liked it.  Others didn‘t.


ABRAMS:  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night my interview with Michael Jackson‘s attorney Tom Mesereau, his first lawyer-to-lawyer interview since Jackson was found not guilty on all charges. 

Terry Hart in Glen Burnie, Maryland, “That was a great interview with Tom Mesereau.  You did the best job and the questions were great.”  Well thank you.

But Samantha in New Jersey asks, “I‘m sitting here outraged at your interview with Mr. Mesereau.  Why didn‘t you challenge him when he made the statement that none of the prosecution witnesses were credible.”

Look Samantha, I could have had a discussion about the minute points in this case but first of all, I didn‘t think it would be a great interest to anyone apart from a handful of true Jackson case watchers.  And I assure you he would have had answers to support his theory that none of the prosecution witnesses were credible. 

Santa Monica, California, Norman Hensley.  “Your interview with Tom Mesereau was outstanding.  Your questions were to the point and insightful.  You did it with class.”  Thank you Norma.

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

“OH PLEAs!”—forget until death do us part.  For one couple in Fargo, North Dakota, it‘s more like let sleep do us part.  Disgruntled wife DeAnn Miller-Boschert just wanted to catch some Z‘s early Thursday morning.  Apparently her husband‘s snoring was keeping her from some shuteye. 

Miller-Boschert tried to get her husband to sleep on his side, ended upturning his sweet dreams into a living nightmare.  Frustrated with the snoring and sleep deprived, Miller-Boschert first tried pouring water on him.  When that didn‘t wake him up, she allegedly stabbed her hubby in the arm twice with a pen.  Surprise, he woke up. 

Husband not seriously hurt, left the house and called the police from a convenience store at 4:00 a.m.  Police arrested 45-year-old Miller-Boschert and charged her with simple assault.  Any cellmate of hers better watch out. 

That does it for us tonight.  Have a great weekend.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.

See you next week.


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