updated 8/4/2005 10:45:07 AM ET 2005-08-04T14:45:07

Guest: Rick Santorum, Joe Tacopina, Pam Bondi, Bill Stanton, Richard

Blumenthal, Paul Reynolds, Beth Holloway Twitty

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Now, tonight, new charges from Natalee Holloway's mom, as the angry mother returns to Aruba with both barrels blazing.  She is going after investigators and talking about how the Dutch boy duped her daughter the night she vanished. 

Then, the missing American groom.  Four weeks later, the bloody cruise investigation goes on overdrive in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, another exclusive interview tonight, as we talk to a passenger who heard stories of bloody discoveries aboard that cruise ship.  And we are going to ask, what happened?

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, only common sense allowed.  

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, welcome to the show. 

You know, the mystery around honeymooner George Smith IV continues to grow by the minute.  Reports from an Italian press agent reveal facts surrounding an alleged rape, sex on tape, three mysterious Russian men, and what many are saying tonight was an out-of-control cruise. 

And, also, the runaway bride, Jennifer Wilbanks, back in the news, a developing story tonight, as we learn that her wedding, the wedding that she ran halfway across the country to avoid, is on again and set for next week. 

But first, shocking new details about what may have happened the night that Natalee Holloway vanished in Aruba.  Natalee's mom is with us again, and she is angry.  She is angry about what she learned on her home—on her trip back home to Alabama.  And, you know, she talked to a lot of people that were there that night, witnesses that the government should have talked to earlier that told her what really happened when Natalee left Carlos 'n Charlie's.  We are going to hear from Beth Twitty in just seconds. 

Meanwhile, in Aruba, Joran van der Sloot was grilled once again by Dutch authorities for a second straight day.  And sources tell us that he is now talking, but not saying much so far that's going to help investigators find Natalee. 

And, also, Deepak Kalpoe showed up at a hearing today, where his attorney and Joran's also challenging the FBI's involvement in this case.  Results of that hearing are due tomorrow.  Of course, we will bring you all that information as we get it.

But today, Natalee's mother, Beth, came back to Aruba after a short visit home to Alabama.

And, earlier tonight, I had a chance to talk to her about—and also to Natalee's uncle, Paul Reynolds.

And Beth began by telling me a remarkable story about her trip back home to Birmingham. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, MOTHER OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY:  Well, when I sat down to talk with them, you know, I had a couple of things in mind.  I really just wanted to get a clear picture of Joran that night.  I wanted to get—you know, we had a lot of information about the Excelsior casino, but Carlos 'n Charlie's, really wasn't clear to me, and I was trying to figure out and put the pieces together. 

And, you know, I know that, when it came closing time, I think that was a real—you know, I will just jump to that.  That was a—that was a real piece that had been bugging me since I had been on the island, and—but I now understand how, when closing time occurs at Carlos 'n Charlie's that night, it was a mass exodus, and cabs were lining up one after the other, and the kids were leaving and jumping in the cabs.

And our daughter, Natalee Holloway, she felt she was getting in an Aruban cab with an Aruban cab driver.  There is no way that my daughter, no way she knew that she was getting in a car with Deepak and Satish Kalpoe, two of Joran's best and best friends, that—that they gamble together, they drink together.  She had no idea of what was about to happen to her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But she didn't know that.  She didn't know that.  And obviously you have talked to these friends of Natalee's, witnesses in this case.  And you have gotten angry, haven't you?  This is making you very upset tonight by what you have learned. 

(CROSSTALK)

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Yes, it is.  But you know what?  But it's such a huge revelation, and it's great that we are learning this.  So, it just proves—and what Paul will tell you—and that was just a few witnesses that I was able to get to in the short amount of time that I was in the United States.  Just think of the countless witnesses that are still yet to be interviewed that we can get so much—so much more of a clearer picture of exactly what happened that night. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Beth, this is what I don't understand.

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  And lots of details. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, this is what I don't understand, Beth.  As you know, I went to school at University of Alabama, have a lot of friends in Mountain Brook, a lot of friends in Birmingham.

And through contacts, I spoke with somebody that knew Natalee, that was with Natalee on that night, and I learned the story that Joran actually tried to approach her two times in the bar that night.  Both times, she pushed him away.  And then, the second time, Joran actually hit her with a closed fist.  And I asked this young man, why aren't you getting this story out there?  And he just kind of shrugged. 

Why haven't the Aruban investigators gone after these students, gotten the information they needed to piece together what happened the night Natalee disappeared from Carlos 'n Charlie's?

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  You know, obviously, I can't answer that.

But I know one thing.  If they will question these students, and not only those students, but if the witnesses here on the island, too—there are numerous here, but, you know, I don't—I don't have any idea why that has not been brought forward.  But I know that it was a brief—a brief encounter that she was with him anyway.  I just—I don't know why. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But you believe, though, that he tricked her into getting into a cab with the Kalpoe brothers?  She didn't know there was a connection between Joran and the Kalpoe brothers.  She believed that he was taking her to a cab to go home, right? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  And, actually, to return her to the Holiday Inn, definitively.  There is no way Natalee Holloway would have gotten in a car with Satish Kalpoe and Deepak Kalpoe and Joran van der Sloot if she would have thought that they were anything other than an Aruban cab driver taking her home that night.  There's no way she would have done that. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And that's what her friends who were with her, though—her friends that were with her that night, that's what they are telling you, right? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Oh, yes. 

And, also, another detail is, you know, it explains Natalee's, you know, trust when she was—somebody had said she had waved to somebody or yelled Aruba as she was leaving.  Well, you know, Natalee had been here for four days.  And every cab is different in Aruba.  I mean, they're minivans.  They're two-door cars.  They're four door cars.

And probably at time of the morning, she was not—you know, it just makes me sick, and it makes me so angry that they were able to do that to her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, obviously, anybody that's not been down to the Caribbean may not understand, but cabs literally are.  They are unmarked vans.  They are unmarked sedans.  They are unmarked station wagons.  Very easy to get confused and shoved into one of these things if you don't know exactly what you are doing. 

Paul, I want to ask you about your investigation.  You have stayed down there.  You have gone there like a good brother, helping your sister out.  Tell me, what have you learned about the Kalpoes, about this investigation, and about the fact that we have talked about it time and time again, that the authorities have not been giving all that they need to give to solve this case?

PAUL REYNOLDS, UNCLE OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY:  Well, you know, we have talked about this for weeks, and we have had serious problems with the investigation in certain things.

But, you know, what I have really learned this week is that the investigation has to continue.  There's many, many people need to be interviewed.  Many witnesses need to be found.  We are having witnesses and people come forward already.  They are feeling more secure.  They are feeling safer, with the change in the attitude of the investigation.

And it's so important, just like Beth was talking to the kids at home.  You know, talk to the kids here at the school, their friends, their acquaintances, and even the family friends, the father's friends, his business acquaintances.  There's so much that you can learn by an intensive investigation.  And that's what we need. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Paul, do you believe there was a cover-up, and do you believe, though, that, because of the pressure of you, your sister, Natalee's family, the American media, that they may be starting to break down and start investigating a bit more aggressively? 

REYNOLDS:  Well, we have seen a change in—there's actually a change of personnel in the investigators, and we are seeing a change in their attitude and their responsiveness. 

We have had those concerns.  But we're—you know, we are trying to work with the authorities now.  We think that they are headed in the right direction, but we can't slow down.  You know, this is not the time to slow down.  It has to continue to intensify and bring these people in that may have knowledge and find out what happened. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Beth, I just want to ask you a couple personal questions.  How do you continue on every day? 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, you go up to Birmingham.  I know you had to be exhausted.  I know, again, without anybody telling me this, just know you had to break down going back in that house, just being exhausted.  How do you get yourself back up?  How do you get back on the plane?  How do you go down to Aruba, roll up your sleeves, and continue the fight for justice, when most parents would just be exhausted, curl up in a fetal position, and go to sleep for a month? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Oh, you know, they wouldn't.

And it was easy for me.  And the reason why is, I went and I sat in Natalee's room Saturday night for just a few minutes, and I gathered all the strength I need, because I realized that Natalee Holloway has not slept in her bed since May 26, but Paulus van der Sloot has slept in his bed every night since.  And Deepak and Satish Kalpoe have slept in their beds every night since July the 4th.  And it was easy for me to gather strength and come back. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Talk about it, if you could, when you walked through that door.  Was it something that you were dreading?  What were your emotions as the door swung open and you went there and looked around in your daughter's room? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  I did not—I did not want to go home, first.  I wanted to—I just did not think it was necessary.  I just couldn't see it.

But everybody really thought that would be the best thing for me to do, and they were exactly right.  And I just gathered strength from it.  I mean, her community is just incredible.  And there were bows everywhere on every mailbox, on every store front.  I went to the prayer wall.  And, you know, it just made it easier for me to open that door and stay in the home and gather enough strength to return. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It strengthened you, then, walking into her room, sitting down?  You were able to do that? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Absolutely.  Absolutely. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, last night, we had a mother on and a father on whose daughter was lost in Jamaica in 2000.  And they—they told me that this happens more often than not.  The only thing that separates Natalee's case from their daughter's case and other people's cases is the fact that you have been fighting so hard to keep this out front. 

Is there a part of you—obviously, you are fighting for Natalee, but is there a part of you also that recognizes that you are shining a light on a recurring problem that has caused so much pain and anguish for families all across America and the world whose children disappear in the Caribbean every year? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  You know, I just—I can't—I can't take that.  I cannot say it's me.  And it's not, because the amount of support that we have gotten, it's just been incredible.  And I am hoping that, if anything, we have all learned and I have learned how I can even be a more active participant in helping other people. 

I mean, before, if I—I would see people going through different tragedies in magazines or in the media, and I didn't know how to be—I didn't know how to be an active participant or anything that I could do that could make a difference.  But I have certainly learned that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you think you have moved the...

(CROSSTALK)

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  From everyone who has shown me how to do it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you think you have moved the investigation along? 

Have you seen a change in this investigation since you have come back? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Oh, I think we saw a change in the investigation probably last—a week ago Monday, and we were really encouraged.  And I am encouraged for Holland.  I am so grateful for their involvement and for the officials who have made that possible. 

You know, I think now we just need to gain a lot of momentum and act with a sense of urgency, so we can address these witnesses and get all these specific details, because it just makes the picture so much clearer when we do. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thanks a lot, Beth. 

Thank you, Paul. 

We greatly appreciate it.  And, as always, know that our prayers are going to be with both of you all and also with your family, as this search moves forward. 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Thank you. 

REYNOLDS:  Thank you. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  I will tell you, it's just so unbelievable that the authorities did not go to the source, talk to Natalee's friends, talk to the students any more than they did about what happened the night she disappeared.  Unbelievable. 

We are going to keep following this, because, tomorrow night, of course, we are going to be talking about how the clock is ticking.  Dutch authorities, Aruban authorities are going to have to make a decision.  Do they prosecute this guy, Joran van der Sloot, or do they let him go?  I will tell you what.  He is starting to talk.  Possibly, possibly, we will have some cracks in the case coming up in the next few days.  And, when we do, we will get you up to date with it. 

Now, when we come back, new details in the case of the missing honeymooner George Smith.  Tonight, exclusive.  We take you on board to hear the voice of the captain when he informs passengers that something has gone terribly wrong on board. 

Plus, we talk live to somebody who was on that ship, and he has some incredible details.  Also, breaking news tonight in the story that captivated America.  The runaway bride has apparently set a date to walk down the aisle. 

Friends, we will tell you about that and a lot more.  It's a big night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Stick around, because we got a lot more to come. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up next, we are going to be talking to Connecticut's top cop about the investigation of the missing honeymooner lost in the Mediterranean, also going to be talking to a passenger on board about a shocking, bloody discovery. 

That's when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back. 

We have new information on the mysterious disappearance of honeymooner George Smith.  Tonight, we take you on to the cruise that day he vanished.  SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY has obtained exclusive tape of the ship's captain telling passengers how something has gone terribly wrong. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CAPTAIN:  Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.  This is Captain Michael. 

May I have your attention, please?  As some of you may notice today, we have been a bit of unusual activity on board the ship.  The crew and I have been working with the local authorities and some guests on board to investigate whether a person may have gone overboard last night or, I can say, early this morning.  We hope to have the issue resolved shortly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And then the captain went on to talk about where the ship was going next and what time the sun would set. 

Now, we have been trying to get answers about the disappearance of George Smith.  The cruise line, of course, is tightlipped, as is the FBI, who is investigating the case.

But with me now to talk about it, the attorney general of Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal. 

Mr. Attorney General, thank you so much for being with us tonight.

I've got to start with the first question.  Are you convinced that a crime did, in fact, occur on that ship the night that George Smith IV disappeared? 

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, CONNECTICUT ATTORNEY GENERAL:  I think given the circumstances, as federal authorities have said, these facts are so unusual and so suspicious that the working hypothesis has to be that a crime occurred.

But let me emphasize, as the state attorney general, this investigation is a federal one.  It's the FBI, the U.S. Attorney, the Department of Justice, and what I tell you really is based, as much as anything, on public reports and my own experience as a former United States attorney who has some experience working in foreign investigations.

And here, I think we have facts that indicate that a crime has to be investigated, even if eventually everyone is exonerated. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mr. Attorney General, we are showing right now next to you video of the bloody outline of somebody that fell.  Most people believe George Smith IV.  Certainly, all the evidence points that direction.  And yet, we find out that the cruise line, immediately after this discovery, shocking discovery occurred, cleaned up the site, contaminated the crime scene, wiped it out. 

Again, you have investigated these type of incidences in foreign jurisdictions.  What can you do once that happens to prosecute a case?  I am not talking about you specifically, but the FBI or any other law enforcement authority?

BLUMENTHAL:  The FBI, which is conducting a very vigorous investigation, will do, I think, everything possible to retrieve and maintain and preserve whatever forensic evidence, like blood stains, may be available.

And my understanding is that Turkish authorities, at least, have asked for blood samples from the family.  So, they may have preserved some of this evidence.  But, obviously, preserving evidence, retaining the crime scene and the change of custody is vital to any successful prosecution, whether it's abroad or in this country.

In circumstances where the crime may have occurred abroad, it's complicated by lack of competence and maybe dedication on the part of other authorities.

(CROSSTALK)

BLUMENTHAL:  But our hope is that there will be a successful conclusion to this investigation. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It certainly appears that there has been a lack of competence, or, obviously, a willing desire to get rid of the evidence. 

I want to ask you, though.  Of course, you are the attorney general, not just for the groom, but also for the bride.  A lot of people out there pointing fingers at the bride tonight, thinking that she may have been responsible in some way for the murder.  Do you have any information you can pass along to us about whether that's the case or whether she may be exonerated in the coming weeks? 

BLUMENTHAL:  The blunt truth is that I don't have that information.  I don't know that federal authorities do or don't. 

But I believe, knowing the federal authorities involved, that they will reach as prompt a conclusion as possible.  And everybody's thoughts and prayers go out to the entire family, to Jennifer Hagel, to the Smith family, because, obviously, this tragedy is a horrific one that touches all of us.  And I know that federal authorities are very, very sensitive to the family's concerns. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mr. Attorney General, are you getting pressure from anybody in Connecticut to move forward and be aggressive on this case in any way you can?  Obviously, the FBI is involved.  Your authority would be secondary.  But do you have constituents that are asking you what's going on here and what you can do to help? 

BLUMENTHAL:  Being from Greenwich, which is where the Smith family resides, and being from Connecticut, as the top elected law enforcement official there, certainly, we have been contacted by constituents who are concerned.  And their hearts go out to this family.  They want a prompt, vigorous investigation, because a lot of people do believe that there was a crime. 

But what I tell them, and very truthfully, what I believe is, that federal authorities, the FBI, are very intensively working on this investigation.  And they ought to have confidence that those authorities in the Department of Justice will work with whatever they can find in Turkey or Greece on this ship, wherever the evidence is, to bring it to a successful conclusion. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Richard Blumenthal, attorney general for Connecticut, thank you so much for being with us tonight.  We greatly appreciate it. 

BLUMENTHAL:  Thank you, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now let's bring on our all-star panel to talk about this mystery. 

We have got criminal defense attorney Joe Tacopina.  We have Pam Bondi, Florida prosecutor, and Bill Stanton, former NYPD detective. 

Joe, let me begin with you.

I start with the question I asked the attorney general.  Do you have any doubt in your mind at all that a crime occurred on this ship the early morning of July the 5th

JOE TACOPINA, TRIAL ATTORNEY:  Look, Joe, obviously, I have no doubt whatsoever, at the very least, people knew what happened to Mr. Smith, and someone is not coming forward. 

And, you know, the evidence that we have read about—now, we are going on published reports.  The FBI has not shared their information with us.  And, certainly, when you are dealing with foreign authorities—and, as a former prosecutor, I can tell you, it's never easy to share information with overseas jurisdictions.  You have a situation here where we don't know what all the evidence they have gathered is, but, if you look at that photo you have on your—on your screen, Joe, there's no question that something happened.  Some people knew about it. 

And the evidence—if nothing else, the fact that that spot that you just saw there, Joe, was cleaned up and wiped away and a potential crime scene was contaminated is in and of itself a crime.  But I don't think there's any question that a crime has occurred here.  It's just a matter of whodunit. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  It looks like a crime, also looks like a cover-up by the cruise line.

But we are going to be talking about that and a lot more with our panel when we return.  We are also going to be talking about a passenger who was on that cruise and also talk about an alleged rape, sex on tape, three mysterious Russian men, and what many are saying was an out-of-control cruise line, plus, a bloody discovery by the cleaning crew. 

Also, Senator Rick Santorum in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tonight.  We talk about his war on words with Ted Kennedy and how he may have blamed Ted Kennedy and John Kerry for the sex scandal abuse in the Catholic Church in Boston. 

Lots more in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, our next guest is going to take you on board the night George Smith IV disappeared, going to talk about what he saw, what he heard.  And, also, we are going to be talking about a bloody discovery, and its not what you might think. 

All that and a lot more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns, but, first, here's the latest news you and your family needs to know. 

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Here comes the bride.  Yes, that's right.  Georgia's Jennifer Wilbanks, the runaway bride, is set to run again.  She sets her wedding date.  And we are going to see when that's going to be, and we will tell you how we tracked it down.

Plus, Senator Rick Santorum is here tonight.  And we are going to ask him about his attack against Ted Kennedy. 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Those stories coming up. 

Now another SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY exclusive in the case of missing honeymooner George Smith.  He was a passenger on that cruise and his name is Jeff.  He is with us now by phone from California. 

Jeff, thank you very much for being with us tonight.  We greatly appreciate it. 

I want to start by asking you about what you learned from the cleaning staff on the cruise regarding Mr. Smith's room. 

JEFF, CRUISE PASSENGER:  I guess, after the fact, Joe, we heard that -

·         from the person that had worked on our side of the ship, same level, that the person that had been attending to that room had gone in and I guess discovered blood in the room and then alerted the officials on the ship. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Did they describe the blood in that room? 

JEFF:  I guess—you know, she didn't get very graphic.

But she said there was blood in the room, blood on the balcony, and we had heard there was blood, like a bloody handprint on the balcony rail. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So—and we had heard before there was—again, in the room, there was a lot of blood all over the place, and that she didn't actually want to go back in the room.  Is that right? 

JEFF:  Well, yes.  I guess not only the person that discovered the blood, but also even our own maid had said she didn't even want to go back on a balcony after that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Because of the shocking discovery, yes. 

Tell me about what you saw on the cruise.  You obviously saw police officers there.  Give us some insight about what happened, about the disappearance, about the investigation, from what you saw. 

JEFF:  Well, I guess the first thing we heard about the incident was the captain's announcement.  We were at dinner that evening, and two families with some boys with us, older boys.  And the captain made the announcement.  The boys weren't at the table.  And our initial thoughts were, we were kind of shocked that the captain had been so blunt, given that there were younger children on board. 

But then we assumed it was probably a suicide or an accidental, you know, falling over the rail.  And then our teenage boys showed up, and they had heard more information.  They had heard that it was a suspected murder, and there was blood, and it was a newlywed couple.  They had already learned a whole lot more than the captain had shared with us.

And so, then, when I heard that there was actually blood in the room, I remembered that, earlier in the day, at 1:00, roughly when I came back to the ship, there had been three officers that looked like local policemen from the area, not from the ship's staff, that were wearing what looked like clean room suits, you know, like head-to-toe coverage, including their heads, like they were going into a crime scene. 

And so, this was on the ninth floor elevator of the lobby, when they were conferring with one another.  And my initial thoughts at the time had been that it might be drug-related because of that part of the world.  But later, when I realized that there had been some kind of a crime, I kind of put the two things together and realized they had been there for that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Will you give us—give us a perspective of how this ship—I mean, we have been showing this picture, obviously, what appears to be the bloody outline of somebody on the ship.  How high up did the levels go above that awning where somebody, and many believe Mr. Smith, fell to his death? 

JEFF:  Oh, it's a very short distance.  It's only like two floors.  And the awning itself was like semisoft.  So, in my opinion, no one fell and injured themselves to bleed like that.  That's not even possible.

SCARBOROUGH:  So, you couldn't—from where you saw his room and the awning, the blood had to be on him before he hit that awning? 

JEFF:  Oh, absolutely. 

And, yes, well, let me also share with you that I was in basically the same room on the opposite side of the ship, so—and I have, you know, I have taken pictures.  We obviously sat on the rail.  We were on the ship for 12 days.  So, we know what the distance was.  And there's no way in the world someone could have sustained those kinds of injuries in the fall. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That's fascinating. 

You know, there are a lot of reports coming out.  We have had some people on this show that have told us that this was an out-of-control cruise.  Italian reports talk about a sex tape, an alleged rape, three Russian men being taken off the ship, spoken to.  Others are saying those three Russian men were the same that were seen with George Smith the last night before he vanished. 

Anything peculiar about this cruise before you heard about the disappearance of George Smith?  Was it an out-of-control cruise, from your perspective, or did everything seem to be normal? 

JEFF:  Up until the point that the captain made his announcement, we really hadn't noticed much out of the ordinary.  But, after that, we noticed a number of things.  For one thing, we saw police in our—on our level in our hallway, when we had never seen them before.  We saw police sort of scanning the ship at times, when we had never observed them before. 

Now, we might have been made more sensitive, but I don't think so.  I mean, they definitely appeared to be looking for people at different times.  And, as far as, you know, being a rowdy cruise, it's—that's not the nature of that particular cruise line.  They are not normally that rowdy.  But there were quite a lot of events that occurred.  I have to agree with you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Jeff, thank you so much.  We greatly appreciate you being with us tonight and providing us insight. 

If you can, stay with us.  In a minute, we are going to have you back to talk with our panel about the investigation, about what happened that night, and how an alleged rape and three strange men could be connected to this investigation. 

But, right now, we are more than three years away from the next presidential election, but some favorites are already emerging from both parties.  Hillary Clinton leads what promises to be a long list of Democrats.  On the Republican side of the aisle, a name being mentioned by political pundits and oddsmakers is Rick Santorum.  He is a senator from Pennsylvania, elected to the Senate in 1994.  He's the father of six children and the author most recently of “It Takes a Family.”

Senator Santorum is with us live tonight from Philadelphia. 

Senator, thanks a lot for being with us.  Greatly appreciate it. 

Obviously, many people have drawn parallels between the title of your book and the title of Senator Clinton's book “It Takes a Village.”

SEN. RICK SANTORUM ®, PENNSYLVANIA:  Well...

SCARBOROUGH:  Intentional? 

SANTORUM:  Well, intentional in the sense that it really is a challenge to the way the liberals view society, vs. the way I think most Americans view society, which is a society that's built from the bottom up, from the foundation of the family, community and local organizations, churches, playing a very key role, and that our public policy and our culture should be around—around nurturing families and stronger two-parent, intact families as the ideal, not the only thing, but as the basis of building a strong society, as opposed to the village, which is not the community, but more like the government and the experts and the elite dictating to us how to run our lives. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Rick, have you heard from Hillary yet about this one? 

SANTORUM:  We had a little exchange in the hallway, not really to—amount to much, other than she was reasserting her stance that it's the village, not the—not the family. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, she has moderated.  She has become more conservative, but she still believes it takes a village.  Well...

SANTORUM:  Has she moderated?  I haven't noticed that in her voting record. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, that's what she is saying.

SANTORUM:  Ah.

SCARBOROUGH:  And that is what pundits are saying. 

A lot of pundits are also saying, you are in trouble in Pennsylvania. 

I remember talking to you when we were both in Congress, though...

SANTORUM:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  ... the year before your last reelection, and a lot of pundits were saying, you are in trouble. 

SANTORUM:  In trouble, yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  They believe that you are a right-wing freak, you're a manic, you're a Neanderthal.  There's no way you can carry Pennsylvania.  What do you know that they don't? 

SANTORUM:  Well, what I know is that I work very hard and try to be accountable.  And I think—and you had this quality when you were in the House, Joe.  You had the character to stand what—to say what you believed in and to be accountable to the people that you represented. 

And, you know, in Washington, that is seen as—that is seen as, you know, incorrect or almost a mistake, that you would be foolish enough to actually go out and tell people what you believe and why you believe it and actually put it on paper for your opponent to actually do opposition research on you. 

You know, to me, I think the people of Pennsylvania respect somebody -

·         and I give them more credit than maybe my opponent and the Democrats do for actually wanting someone who has ideas and is proposing solutions to problems that confront the country. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Rick, let's talk about your war of words with Senator Ted Kennedy.  This is something you wrote a few years ago, but recently defended. 

“It is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm of the Catholic Church sex abuses scandal.”

This is what Senator Kennedy had to say last month: “Senator Santorum has shown a deep and callous insensitivity to the victims and their suffering in an apparent attempt to score political points with some of the most extreme members of the fringe right wing of his party.”

Senator, you believe that Kennedy and Kerry could have done more during the abuse scandal.  Talk about that. 

SANTORUM:  Well, first—first off, I don't know why I was trying to score—I mean, Ted Kennedy brought this issue up.  This was a three-year-old article, which I listed several things before that comment about the problems within the church.  And I listed that as one of them, as did, by the way, Robert Bennett in the Bennett report, Robert Bennett, the liberal Democrat, in the Bennett report that the church commissioned to investigate this scandal. 

What I said was that I was actually out there writing articles.  I was actually out there in the front lines trying to take on this scandal, which deeply offended me and many members of the church, which—which I happen to belong to.  And, yes, I wanted to get to the bottom of it.  Yes, I talked to cardinals and bishops and many others and was very active and vocal in trying to make changes within the church. 

But the point I tried to make is, we have done lots of searches in trying to figure out whether Senator Kennedy or Senator Kerry, for that matter, both of whom criticized my comments, said anything at the time or were out there trying to do anything to try to deal with this problem.  And our searches came up with nothing. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Now, Senator, they have demanded—Senator Kennedy, especially, has demanded apology.  I know he is a big fan of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Would you like to apologize to him tonight? 

SANTORUM:  I would just say that—to Senator Kennedy that, you know, what I said back in 2002 on the principle was right.  Should I have focused in on Boston in particular?  Probably should have mentioned other cities, other cities in which the promiscuity of the '60s and '70s and since then have affected the culture.  It's not just been Boston.  It's been other cities.  But it is a problem. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you, Senator.

The book, again, is, “It Takes a Family,” not to be confused with “It Takes a Village.”  “It Takes a Family,” by Senator Rick Santorum.  Don't be surprised if he proves all the political pundits wrong again next year in 2006. 

Thanks a lot, Rick.  Greatly appreciate it. 

SANTORUM:  Thank you, Joe.  You bet. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up next, we go back to our coverage of the missing honeymooner.  Is there an Italian connection that could break this investigation?  How a tale of sex on tape and several Russian-speaking passengers could factor into it. 

And also, she's back, the runaway bride.  Will she walk down the aisle?  We've got the latest on this developing story in a little bit. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back. 

Now to a developing new angle in the cruise ship mystery of missing honeymooner George Smith. 

Let's talk to our panel about it, criminal defense attorney Joe Tacopina, Pam Bondi, Florida prosecutor, and Bill Stanton, former NYPD private detective. 

Bill, let me bring you in here.

First of all, we keep hearing about these three Russian men.  There's an Italian newspaper talking about a sex tape, an alleged rape, and the woman who was part of that talking about how these three Russian men were last seen with George Smith in his room.  How in the world—if these guys go back to Russia, do you have any chance at all of tracking them down, of conducting this investigation? 

BILL STANTON, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR:  Well, Joe, you are saying it. 

You know, I couldn't say it better myself. 

This investigation is going from bad to worse.  And, as the esteemed Joe Tacopina said earlier, the authorities should be held accountable on this cruise ship, because they sanitized so much of the forensic evidence.  I mean, they should be brought up on charges for tampering with evidence, and they very well might have set the possible killer or killers free, because this is going to be very hard to prosecute. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Pam Bondi, you are a Florida prosecutor.  You deal with cruise ships, obviously.  Crimes happen there.  Impossible to prosecute a murder like this, an alleged murder? 

PAM BONDI, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR:  Very, very difficult, Joe.  And what Bill just said, the crime scene was the entire ship, and especially that cabin.

And that's now gone.  It's completely contaminated.  So, yes, I think that makes it very difficult, especially when they knew their passengers were international, from all over the world.  I mean, they had—granted, it was several hundred people, but they had a limited number of suspects there all on that boat.  And they let them go.  So, yes, I think it's going to be very, very difficult without a confession. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Pam, what would happen if this incident happened in the state of Florida?  You had a bloody hotel room, blood all over the place, from what our last guest said.  You had this blood on the awning, and somebody went in and cleaned it up.  Let's say a Marriott Hotel—I am just throwing that out—cleaned up a room in a crime scene like this.  What would happen to them? 

BONDI:  If they cleaned it up to cover evidence a crime, because they didn't want it to look bad for Marriott or their hotel chain, they could very well be charged with tampering with evidence. 

That's a crime in the state of Florida.  You know, I am just glad the FBI is involved in this case and the federal United States authorities now, so, hopefully, they can get something done.  But yes, it's a crime, absolutely, to tamper with evidence. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Joe Tacopina, you have worked both sides, defense side, prosecution side.  I would guess, as a defense attorney, this would be a great case to defend against whatever client you may have to represent, because, again, you have got a crime scene that's totally been contaminated. 

TACOPINA:  Well, aside from a crime scene that's been totally contaminated, Joe, you also have a moving crime scene. 

I mean, this is not going to be an easy case to piece together.  You have a moving crime scene.  You have international passengers who have since dispersed.  This is going to be an incredibly tough case to prosecute locally.  And you make—you want to make the parallel to the Aruba investigation, I mean, we are at a grave disadvantage when we want to bring our criminal justice system abroad, because, clearly, one thing I think we are learning, unfortunately for the victims and the victims' families in these cases, is that other countries don't play by the same stringent rules. 

I mean, in Aruba, the big criticism was that, for 10 or more days, the suspects in this case were able to roam free and sort of get their stories together and do whatever they needed to do with the evidence.  In this instance, a crime scene has been literally washed away.  The potential witnesses have not been sequestered or talked to, but yet have dispersed to their own countries. 

I mean, this is going—short of a confession, Joe, in this case, this might be one of those 35 percent of homicides that wind up being unsolved. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Bill Stanton, let me ask you something. 

Let's say you are working for me.  I am the commissioner.  I bring you into my office.  I say, listen, don't—I don't want no for an answer.  You go out.  You find these Russian guys.  You bring them here.  We are going to bust them. 

What's the first thing you do? 

STANTON:  Well, I would say, Commish, you're not going to...

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Not going to happen. 

STANTON:  Well, it's going to happen, but I am going to have to kidnap these guys, and you are going to have to hire Joe Tacopina to defend me, because it's just not going to happen.  You can't do it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Pam, Pam Bondi, same thing.  Is it just absolutely hopeless?  If somebody comes into your office and says, I want you to prosecute this case, find the murderer, what do you do? 

BONDI:  Well, yes, I think, unless our investigators are going to be willing to commit a crime and kidnap these people, like Bill said, it's virtually impossible, Joe. 

I mean, even the employees on the ship, probably many of them are long gone by now.  The whole thing is just—it's really ridiculous. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, Joe, it's just a hopeless case.  I mean, we are sitting here tonight.  There ain't no way they are going to be able to find these—get these three Russian men, or even, let's say—many people are talking about the wife, just because you always point fingers at the spouse.  Even if it's her, the crime scene is contaminated.  There's no way you convict her, is there? 

TACOPINA:  Well, again, unless—unless, Joe, a witness, a co-conspirator, someone who was acting in concert with the people who committed this crime comes forward—which is always a possibility.  I mean, people crack all the time down the road. 

So, I don't really chalk this up to game over yet.  FBI is involved.  As a former prosecutor, I can tell you that this government, the United States, is putting their full forces behind this investigation.  So, I don't think it's game over just yet. 

I think, clearly, what we don't know is what the FBI does know.  We don't know all they know, and we know that a lot of witnesses they have spoken to have been gagged.  So, this puzzle may yet be solved, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Joe Tacopina, Pam Bondi and Bill Stanton, greatly appreciate you being with us tonight. 

Now, if you thought you had enough of the runaway bride, here we go again, the runaway bride shopping, this time, shopping for wedding presents.  Let's hope they have a refund policy at Pottery Barn.

We will tell you all about it when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Will she or won't she?  Only the runaway bride knows.  And look at that wedding gown.  It's just—there's something about stripes that brings out the best in Jennifer Wilbanks.  We will be answering the question, has she set a date?

That and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Will she or won't she?  The runaway bride may be running to the altar. 

Some are saying that tonight, and that Jennifer Wilbanks and her jilted fiancee, John Mason, have registered at Pottery Barn for an August the 12th wedding, much of which is still available for purchase.  At the top of John and Jen's greet—greet guests with two simple words, “Go Dawgs.”  While the date that is listed online is August 12, Wilbanks' camp tonight is telling us they have been shopping and updating the registry, but the exact date has still not been set. 

But, if you are feeling generous, you can spring for the $1,500 dining room table.  Worried she's going to run again, since she won't even set a date?  Well, maybe you better be safe by buying a $9 serving utensil and not losing your shirt, should that midnight bus to Vegas start looking pretty good for Jennifer Wilbanks once again.  “Go, Dawgs”?  Well, I would say, roll, Tide.

That's all the time we have for tonight.  We'll see you tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

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

END   

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