updated 8/5/2005 12:25:33 PM ET 2005-08-05T16:25:33

Guest: Mary Fulginiti, Mickey Sherman, Stephanie McEver, James Walker,
Charles “Choc” Harris, Michael Crye, Paul Reynolds, Beth Holloway Twitty

MONICA CROWLEY, GUEST HOST:  Breaking news out of Aruba tonight.  A stranger approaches Natalee Holloway's mother on a beach.  Could the story she tells help to solve the mystery of what happened to Natalee Holloway? 

Plus, new information in the case of the American groom who went missing on his honeymoon cruise.  We are going to have the inside scoop on the investigation that may now be focusing on three men seen with George Smith IV on the night he vanished. 

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.

CROWLEY:  Good evening, everybody, and welcome to the program.  I'm Monica Crowley, in for Joe tonight. 

What happened to the missing groom George Smith IV?  It's a mystery that so many much us have been talking about.  And, tonight, for the first time, we will go inside the investigation into who authorities are now focused on.  It's a SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY exclusive you won't want to miss. 

But, first, a woman approaches Natalee Holloway's mom and shares a chilling story about prime suspect Joran van der Sloot.  Could it hold the key to the case?  We are going to talk to Beth Holloway Twitty about that in just a moment. 
Let's go first, though, to NBC's Michelle Kosinski, live for us in Aruba. 

Michelle, you interviewed a new witness today.  Tell us about that witness, and what did you learn? 

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Monica. 
Right.  This witness has been known for a couple of weeks, but this is the first time he has been willing to sit down and really tell what he says he saw in the landfill three days after Natalee disappeared.  He says, midday, he sees a guy digging a hole there.  The witness says he thought that was strange.  He left, but kept watching from a distance, about 150 feet. 

He says, sometime later, he sees three guys drive up in a white pickup truck, men that he says he later recognized to be the suspects in this case.  He described that truck in detail, said it was a dual cab, Nissan, descried what was in the back of the truck.  He says he sees these men take out a big bag, and, with the wind blowing, he says, inside that bag, he could see blonde hair, the upper part of a woman's body, and that her skin was purple. 

He says these men bury it, drive away, that there were two other cars that seemed to be involved.  And this witness insists that he is telling the truth, and these searchers believe him.  They say his story doesn't change.  He's credible.  He swears that what he saw is real.  In fact, yesterday, he submitted to this voice stress analysis that a P.I. here on the island has been using.  The searchers say he seems to have passed that clearly.

So, they believe him, and they intend to stay in that landfill searching until the end of the weekend—Monica. 

CROWLEY:  New developments in this case every single day.  NBC's Michelle Kosinski
live in Aruba—Michelle, thank you so much. 

So, who is this new witness who was so anxious to talk to Natalee's mom?  Earlier today, I spoke with Natalee's mother, Beth, and Paul Reynolds, Natalee's uncle. 
Beth began by telling me about a mysterious woman who approached her. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, MOTHER OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY:  Well, this is a young beautiful blonde tourist from New Jersey, and she has had an encounter with Joran van der Sloot.  And it was in April of '05 at Carlos 'n Charlie's. 

CROWLEY:  Why do you think she came forward now, Beth? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  You know, I—you know, I think it's just a matter of time before other—other young girls will begin to do this.  I am quite certain now, with her recount of events of the night in April of '05, that there are probably numerous others.  If you want me to describe some of the details of that night, I'd be glad to. 

CROWLEY:  Yes, please.  Please, Beth, tell us specifically what this witness told you about her particular encounter with Joran. 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Well, I think it—and, as I describe it, it becomes clearer to me that Joran and Deepak and Satish have a pretty good long history together, and I think they also—you know, I know it's been a well—true of the well established predatory type behavior. 

You know, he enters Carlos 'n Charlie's—and something I think is unique about this is, Joran is able to enter it on the left side, vs. the right side, which I believe you have to have an I.D. presented at the time.  On the left side, you must get a special privilege.  I don't know if it's a VIP card, or I don't know what a person might have to enter the establishment on that side. 

He comes into the bar.  Of course, it's getting close to closing time. 
Tends to be his pattern.  Approaches this group of three tourists.  Immediately—you know what is so unusual about this is, as he is approaching them, he also takes them around Carlos 'n Charlie's.

And it was so remarkable how he knew everyone and everyone knew him, from giving this grip handshake to all the guys, to kiss on the cheeks to the girls, actually points out Deepak and Satish Kalpoe sitting on the same bench, bar stools, or seats, that they are seated in the picture that has been all over international media.  So, that must be their little roost, as they're in Carlos 'n Charlie's having Joran work for them. 

You know, he leans over the bar is able to order of four shots of 151, three for the girls, one for himself.  You know, he has an open tab to where he just leans over, and the bartender presents them, lines them up.  These girls had no idea what 151 was.  And it makes me think now, you know, I am certain that's the shot he was buying my daughter right before closing time, or shots of—it was a shot of 151.  I know he bought her at least one shot. 

You know, these girls don't even know what that is.  And, you know, another friend of Joran's is coming up to him during that time with the girls.  And it's a short guy, dark-headed, light-skinned, has to stretch and reach his arm around Joran, and is almost as if to sell Joran, speaking of how rich he is, and just really promoting Joran.

And also, as he is pointing out Deepak and Satish, he is referring to them as his gambling buddies, buddies, and ones that he plays poker with on a regular basis. 

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY:  Beth, did you get a sense from—did you get a sense from talking to this new witness that Joran and his cronies essentially had a wing man set up, where they would approach a group of girls, some tourists, and it would sort of be bad cop/good cop, where they would set them up with drinks and then try to seduce them? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Absolutely.  Deepak and Satish were the wing men, and Joran was on the front line as the bait, seeing what he could pick up for the night, absolutely. 

CROWLEY:  Beth, did this...

(CROSSTALK)

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  And he was very...

CROWLEY:  Did this new witness just witness Joran and his cronies on one night, or was this over a series of nights? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  This was one night, one encounter with him, just so happened to be her last night on the island. 

CROWLEY:  Let me ask you, how credible do you think this witness is, Beth? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  I think she is absolutely credible, absolutely.  I sat down and spoke with she and her mother.  And I—she recounted every event, 100 percent credible, absolutely. 

CROWLEY:  And I also understand that she has photographs.  What are these photos of? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Yes, she has a photo of Joran with one of the girls that he was meeting with that night.  It was one of the three girls.  It was not her herself, but one of her friends. 

CROWLEY:  Now, Beth, do you believe that this girl—did she indicate to you in any way, shape or form that she herself had some sort of romantic relationship with Joran? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Oh, she absolutely did not, absolutely.  That did not happen. 
You know, he was very persistent and kept trying to get trying to get the girls—trying to get these girls, their cell phone numbers, where are you saying, but, you know, they just—they didn't give it out to him.  You know, he was encouraging them to continue the party on from that—from Carlos 'n Charlie's, since it was closing early that night at 12:00 a.m. due to a fight that had broken out the night before between some high school students and some local Aruban students at Carlos 'n Charlie's, and to a cafe, Bahia, Bahia—it's B-A-H-I-A- -- upstairs.

You know, and it was just so just really—he was working it hard to see what he could—that he could get out of there that night. 

CROWLEY:  Beth, you mentioned that Joran was buying Natalee or was observed buying other girls, at least, shots of 151, very high-octane alcohol.  Did this witness mention to you—did she give you any indication that she had accepted one of these shots, or that any of the other girls who did perhaps blacked out?  I mean, is there any indication of Rohypnol, the date rape drug, in any of these cases? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  You know, this—I have never experienced 151.  I don't—it must be horrific.  I don't even think they could—they couldn't even, I'm finish it. 
I mean, they had no idea what—the shot that he was ordering.  He leaned over the bar.  And this was between he and the bartender that readily lined up these four shots of 151.  You know, I don't think that they could drink this—this shot. 
I don't—it must be pretty—pretty stout and unbelievable. 

CROWLEY:  Beth, I also understand that you had requested a meeting with the prosecutors today to impart all of this information to them.  Were you able to get that meeting? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  No, I was not.  So, I am hoping that that will happen
tomorrow, which is Friday.  I would really like to do it before we settle in for the weekend. 

CROWLEY:  You know, Beth, are you getting the impression that you are getting the
brush-off?  I mean, this is such a huge and crucial case for the Aruban authorities, and for them not to take an audience with you today, to me, seems quite outrageous. 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Well, I just got back on the island late yesterday afternoon.  So, you know, hopefully, we can have a meeting.  But it will just be within 24 hours.  So, I am so hopeful about having one tomorrow. 

CROWLEY:  Beth, talk to me about your contact with the FBI.  How is that going?  Are they being very cooperative with you?  Are they sharing information? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Oh, absolutely.  I am so grateful that they have involvement, absolutely.  And, you know, if I need to, I can call—I can call one of the FBI agents 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they will answer the phone.  So, that is not a problem. 

CROWLEY:  Paul Reynolds, let me bring you in.  You are Natalee's uncle.  And you and I have talked to this program before.

Thirty days from today, the Aruban courts have to decide whether or not to prosecutor Joran or to set him free.  What do you want to see happen over the course of the next month? 

PAUL REYNOLDS, UNCLE OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY:  Yes. 
Well, I want to see the authorities doing just what Beth is doing.  She is going out and talking to people.  She is talking to witnesses.  She is allowing people to come forward with information that gives her an idea about what was occurring that night, other nights, and gives us an idea about what was happening.  And the authorities can continue to do that with numerous other people. 

CROWLEY:  Paul, you...

REYNOLDS:  Friends of theirs. 

CROWLEY:  Yes, you have been on the island for quite a while here.  What is your sense of how this investigation is going?  The prosecutor took a vacation at the height of this case.  What is your sense about how they are proceeding with this investigation at this point in time? 

REYNOLDS:  Well, it's actually improved from what it was before.  We had problems before.  We had concerns about some of the things that were happening.
But, you know, the face of the investigation has changed.  But, you know, this is no time to slow down.  There are many people that need to be interviewed.  Witnesses can—can continue to come forward.  And this information will allow us to understand what happened and, in the end, find Natalee. 

CROWLEY:  Beth, how angry are you at how this investigation has been proceeding?  It seems to me, based on what you have been telling us every night, that you are essentially spearheading this investigation, that you have been corralling the witnesses, you have been canvassing the island, you have been talking to all of these people.  You must be just incredibly frustrated at this point. 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Well, you know, I don't think I was alone in this at the beginning.  I think everyone in the world that has been watching has been frustrated. 
But, you know, Paul and I really saw a turnaround, as early as maybe a week-and-a-half ago.  And, you know, we really saw a push forward.  So we are just hoping that that will continue and that they will pursue these individuals and these witnesses with urgency and aggressiveness, because the clock is ticking.  I mean, we have to act with urgency now. 

CROWLEY:  Speaking of the clock, Beth, my understanding is that Joran van der Sloot turns 18 on Saturday.  When you are under 18, under Aruban law, you are allowed to have your parents visit you once a day.  There are some people who have suggested that Joran's father, who is a prominent legal authority on the island, has been visiting him every day, essentially coaching him. 

Once he turns 18 on Saturday, that changes, and the parent can only visit him once a week.  Are you—are you hopeful at all that perhaps that might lead to a break in this case, where investigators might be able to crack him? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Oh, absolutely. 

Joran van der Sloot, absolutely no way does Paulus need to be continually visiting his son.  You know, I haven't gotten to speak with Natalee since May 26.  There needs to be no more contact with the two of them when he turns 18.  And, also, I am really concerned about any information that Paulus may try to deliver to Joran's attorney, that he can deliver it to him while he's in jail.  That's a huge concern of mine still. 

CROWLEY:  Well, 30 days from today, the Aruban courts have to make a decision on Joran van der Sloot.

And, Paul and Beth, I want you to know that our thoughts and prayers are with you today.  Thank you so much. 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Thank you. 

REYNOLDS:  Thank you. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY:  Coming up next, the disappearance of honeymooner George Smith.  We have heard from people close to the story about how the investigation has been handled.  And, tonight, the cruise lines respond exclusively through its top representative.  That's coming up next. 

Then, we go inside the investigation of this case, and we will have new information about what authorities believe may have happened that night in a news night.

SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, you are not going to want to miss it.  Stick
around/

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY:  Another SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY exclusive.  We take you inside the investigation into what happened in the moments before this blood appeared beneath the missing honeymooner's cabin. 

Stick around.  Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY:  Does this photo show the blood of George Smith, the Connecticut groom who disappeared from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship while on his honeymoon July 5?

For the past two weeks, we have heard from passengers and others close to this story who have shared tales of what happened when the young groom vanished and how the investigation has been handled since then.  Tonight, the cruise line responds. 
I'm joined now by Michael Crye.  He is president of the International Council of Cruise Lines.  And he is here after we invited Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines to come on the show. 

Michael, welcome. 

MICHAEL CRYE, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF CRUISE LINES:  Good
evening.  Thank you for having me. 

CROWLEY:  Well, thank you for being here. 
Tell me, based on what you know so far and what you have heard from the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, was there a crime that was committed on that boat that day? 

CRYE:  I think the answer to that is—lies with the law enforcement authorities, as well as—as well as the people that were on board that evening. 
There are certainly some suspicious circumstances deserving of a criminal investigation, and that's what the Royal—the Federal Bureau of Investigation is actively involved in today. 

CROWLEY:  Do you believe there was a crime that was committed? 

CRYE:  I choose to respect the integrity of the FBI investigation and their processes and their procedures, and not speculate on the case at this time. 

CROWLEY:  Well, we have witnesses who say that they saw the cruise line staff—quote—“scraping blood off the balcony awning” about 7:00 in the morning.  We also have another witness who said that he heard a—quote—“horrific thud” coming from the vicinity of Mr. Smith's cabin at about 4:00 in the morning. 

Now, Royal Caribbean said that they called authorities at 9:30.  That seems like an incredible amount of time between the initial thud and then the report of scraping of blood off that awning to the time that the authorities actually called law enforcement to come in.  Is that your understanding of the timeline? 

CRYE:  Well, actually, I don't have the exact details of the timeline. 
I can tell you that, when Royal Caribbean determined that Mr. Smith was missing—and they had been informed, as I understand it, by passengers that there appeared to be a substance on that overhang—they immediately informed all of the officials that were appropriate for that specific situation.  They contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the American Consulate, the Turkish authorities, the Greek
authorities, as well as the Bahamian authorities, and they responded immediately. 

Also, we have very significant industry protocols that are involved here, that were followed, as I understand it, by Royal Caribbean, to a T.  Those involve securing the scene and following the directions of the law enforcement officials.  If the law enforcement officials want to do their own forensic investigation, they do so.  If they instruct the cruise industry, security officials to do so, they do so. 

In this case, my understanding is that the Turkish officials immediately undertook to do the forensic investigation, and that all of the scenes, the cabin, as well as the overhang, were preserved until the Turkish authorities released the scene sometime later that day, well later in the afternoon. 

CROWLEY:  Michael, how do you explain that we have had some witnesses who say that, when they got up for breakfast that morning, they saw the cruise line staff cleaning up blood, and just on this particular awning?  It wasn't like it was housekeeping or the general crew that were cleaning all of the awnings.  They were cleaning this one particular awning.  And that suggests to the average person that perhaps the cruise line was engaged in some sort of cover-up.  What do you say to that? 

CRYE:  Well, I would say, if anyone, if anyone here has—any one of your listeners, anybody that was involved in this, has any information that they can provide in this particular case, they should contact the FBI and let them know. 

The FBI is coordinating the investigation.  We should not continue to
· we should respect the integrity of the investigation and also respect people that are involved here who are in bereavement, who are in pain.  And we should respect that investigation and assist the Federal Bureau of Investigation in following through and completing the investigation, so we can bring it to a close as quickly as possible. 

I mentioned before some of the industry protocols.  We have a vast amount of experience within the Coast Guard—or within the cruise industry.  We have former Coast Guard officers, former military officers, former law enforcement officials that are company security officers.  They take these issues very seriously.  And the record of the cruise industry has been exceptional for safety and security, and we intend to make that continue.  It's a very important thing for us to do so.  And—and...

CROWLEY:  I understand how important it is, but, Michael, let me ask you, we interviewed one passenger who was in the cabin next door, Clete Hyman, and he says that when he went to express to law enforcement and the authorities about what he had heard that night, nothing was ever followed up on. 

So, do you have any proof that Royal Caribbean itself followed those protocols?  Do they keep logs?  Do they keep any sort of systematic identification of what they have gone through in terms of their own investigation? 

CRYE:  I believe that Royal Caribbean has turned over all kinds of information, of various types, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as the Turkish authorities. 

Interestingly, I read a—I read a write-up in a West Coast newspaper today that said Mr.—the persons that were in the cabin next door provided a statement that day and provided several additional statements later on in the cruise and actually provided a report at the end of the cruise that was, in fact, taken by the law enforcement authorities. 

So, I think there's some conflicting information out there.  And that's why I believe that it's important for us to maintain the integrity of the investigation, to cooperate fully with the FBI, and to hopefully bring this whole sad occasion to a close as soon as possible. 

CROWLEY:  Michael, George Smith vanished from this cruise line one month ago today.  What do you want to tell his family about how this investigation is going? 

CRYE:  I hope that the pain that you are enduring, I hope that this whole terrible experience is—is—is brought to a close as soon as possible.  You can rest assured that the cruise industry and particularly Royal Caribbean's highest priority is to bring this to closure and to provide answers and, if, in fact, there was a criminal act that occurred, to assist in every way to ensure that the—their—the appropriate people are punished for these activities. 

CROWLEY:  Would you encourage the captain of the ship, say, to come on this program and talk about what he knows? 

CRYE:  I—I think that what's important is for none of us to speculate.  I think what's important is for us to provide the information to the appropriate law enforcement authorities, so that they can make the appropriate determinations and finalize the case as soon as possible. 

That's what Royal Caribbean has been doing.  The cruise industry's record, as far as safety and security, is one of the highest in the entire travel industry.  And people that have traveled on board cruise ships know that this is a very secure, very safe vacation experience.  They understand.  And I think it's important for us all to honor the investigative process. 

I believe Mr. Smith and his wife's family have done that so far.  And I think it's important for us all to do that and to allow this process to come to closure as soon as it can. 

CROWLEY:  Well, indeed, we all want answers to this. 
Michael Crye, thank you so much for being with us tonight. 

CRYE:  Thank you. 

CROWLEY:  And when we come back, much more on this Mediterranean mystery.  We are going to take you inside the investigation.  Where do authorities have their sights set now?  Exclusive details coming up. 

And we will also hear live from another passenger who was on that fateful cruise—her story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY:  Exclusive inside the missing honeymooner investigation. 
And, for a total change of pace, we will talk about the Jennifer Aniston love letters we won't get to see.  We are going to explain how her former friend has had a change of heart.

But, first, here's the latest news from MSNBC World Headquarters. 

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLETE HYMAN, PASSENGER ON CRUISE:  It actually reverberated in the room and on our balcony.  So, I thought maybe someone had literally fallen on their balcony or that they had thrown furniture overboard.  Because of the impact, it sounded like something very heavy.  And my first thought was maybe throwing furniture overboard. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY:  That was passenger Clete Hyman, who stayed in the room right next door to George Smith, telling SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY his story.  And, tonight, we have learned that what he heard that night could be the key to the investigation. 
Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  I'm Monica Crowley, in for Joe tonight. 

Well, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY is learning important new information about this case.  According—according to a source close to the case, investigators are now intently focused on three men seen with George Smith that night.  They went in to Smith's room.  There was some kind of altercation and Smith went overboard.  All three of these men have now been interviewed by investigators. 

And, just moments ago, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY received a statement from one of the three men now at the center of this white-hot FBI investigation.  He is California—a California man who has been interviewed at length by the FBI in this case. 

Here's what his attorney said to us tonight in a statement—quote—
“We have been cooperating with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office in their investigation of this matter and will continue to do so.  However, we have been asked by the authorities not to speak with the media while the investigation is pending and we intend to honor that request.”

Well, let's turn now live to maritime attorney Jim Walker and Choc Harris.  He is the former chief of security for Carnival Cruise Lines. 

Gentlemen, welcome to you both. 

JAMES WALKER, MARITIME ATTORNEY:  Thank you. 

CROWLEY:  Choc, let me begin with you.  I am sure that you heard our previous interview with the president of the International Cruise Lines.  Your reaction to what he had to say.  Was there a lot of tap-dancing going on there to protect the industry? 

CHARLES “CHOC” HARRIS, FORMER CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER, CARNIVAL CRUISE
LINES:  Well, you know, he is correct about the standards.  They are recommendations.  They are not requirements. 

Requirements are like what the U.S. Coast Guard requires you to do.  Recommendations are what they would to you—see do.  Training and standards like that need to be enforced and they need to be on every ship.  He talked about the qualified people.  They are at corporate office.  They are not on the ships.  They are to handle the immediate first call when an accident or an investigation needs to be conducted.  I have concerns. 

CROWLEY:  Jim Walker, what about this most recent report that there were three men who escorted George Smith back to his cabin that night because he was so drunk?  Apparently, he couldn't make it back to the cabin himself.  These three sound like they are under investigation.  I am assuming that the investigators are questioning them—questioning them quite intensely tonight. 

WALKER:  Well, we are a month past this crime, if a crime occurred. 
What we are hearing now is—is completely different than what the cruise line wanted us to believe a long time ago.  The initial press releases from the cruise line seemed to blame Mr. Smith and his wife.  And Mr. Crye, who your—who was the previous guest, he is a media relations person, whose salary is substantially paid by Royal Caribbean. 

His organization, the International Council of Cruise Lines, is funded and organized entirely by the cruise line.  He gave an interview two weeks ago where he blamed Mr. Smith and the wife. 

He says, there's nothing we can do when the passenger hurts themselves or they injure a traveling companion.  So, it's interesting now to see all the true facts finally coming out. 

CROWLEY:  Jim, apparently, there was a lot of drinking going on that night.  Do you believe that it could be possible that George Smith just drank himself into—into total intoxication and just fell overboard? 

WALKER:  No, I—well, anything is possible.  There are situations where you could have a drunken fraternity type of atmosphere on a cruise ship, and someone wants to get up and balance on a rail.  There's no evidence that that occurred.  Most of the cruise line press statements seem to always point the finger at the passengers. 

And, in this particular situation, the first press statement from this cruise line said, we have a video of him in the casino drinking.  And the reason there's a video of him in the casino is, they love to videotape their money in the casino.  But they always seem to want to blame the passengers and never to acknowledge that there are criminals on these cruise ships. 

CROWLEY:  Choc Harris, we here at SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY have exclusive audio of a message that the captain of that ship delivered to all the passengers over—over the audio system.  And here's essentially what he says. 

He says: “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.  This is Captain Michael.  May I have your attention, please?  As some of you may have noticed, we have had 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, can I say, early this morning.  We hope to have the issue resolved shortly.” 

The passengers on board the ship that have been guests on this program have said, they never got any follow-up from the captain or the crew at all.  They were promised a follow-up.  Man overboard, potential crime, and yet they never got any information.  How do you explain that? 

HARRIS:  That's typical.  You know, the first thing is, is like that's been said here.  You know, the cruise lines will interview them and start preparing their defense or preparing for litigation on their side, and they forget about coming back to the passengers, you know, a general call like that out to the passengers, and then never any follow-up on it. 

That happens, you know, quite frequently.  They forget about the basics of an investigation, would be follow up, make sure everybody had been contacted, make sure they had got statements, make sure that that had gotten turned over to the bureau, where they can conduct a very detailed investigation, which they are capable of doing. 

CROWLEY:  Well, and, also, to be fair to the other passengers, to give them the option of leaving that cruise ship on the next stop if they are given that information that perhaps a crime has been committed there. 

I want to bring in now Stephanie McEver.  She was a passenger on the same cruise as George Smith and his wife. 

Stephanie, welcome to the program. 

STEPHANIE MCEVER, PASSENGER ON CRUISE:  Thanks. 

CROWLEY:  So, did you come into contact at all with the Smiths?  Did you see them?  Did you talk to them? 

MCEVER:  I did not, but, on a cruise, you run into so many different people, you know, and you are not trying to register who you are seeing at the time.  So, very likely I could have been on even a tour excursion with them.

But, you know, I didn't even know what he looked like until I got back home, and, by then, you know, memories start to fade a little bit. 

CROWLEY:  Did you see or hear anything out of the ordinary? 

MCEVER:  Regarding the event after it happened? 

CROWLEY:  That particular night, yes, or even into the next day. 

MCEVER:  The only things that we heard that was unusual were things that people that I sat at the dinner table were—they were sharing with me.  There was an unusual amount of activity and hustle and bustle amongst the passengers, trying to figure out what, indeed, happened. 

CROWLEY:  Stephanie, how did the captain handle all of this?  I mean, we just went through the audio of the message that you all heard on the cruise ship immediately following what had happened to George Smith here.  Did the captain follow up?  Did he talk to people?  Did he take questions from the passengers? 

MCEVER:  I did hear that message.

And I remember distinctly thinking, great, I want to hear the next update.  And I know myself, I never heard that update.  I was never contacted by any cruise officials or anyone to ask, you know, if I knew anything.  So, as far as follow-up, I did not observe any. 

CROWLEY:  Now, we have talked to other passengers who have said that they saw cleaning of blood taking place, that they saw the crew trying to clean this up as they were trying to go to breakfast.  Did you see any of that taking place? 

MCEVER:  No, I did not.  I was not—I was on a deck much lower, so I did not observe that. 

CROWLEY:  Stephanie, what was the atmosphere on board that boat?  Was there a lot of drinking and gambling going on?  Were people out of control? 

MCEVER:  No, I—you know, I really didn't—it wasn't for me.  I was on with my mother.  We were on to kind of go see the sights of the world, just a mother-daughter trip. 

I have been on other cruises that have had a far more party atmosphere.  But, in general, I would say that this was a very calm, collected group.  You had a lot of seniors on this cruise.  But, so, no, I didn't observe any unusual out-of-control behavior personally, but, once again, I wasn't at the discos and the bars. 

CROWLEY:  Stephanie, did you want more information after you heard that initial announcement by the captain? 

MCEVER:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  There was so much talk at our table and with other passengers about what happened.  You know, I was eager to find out if what I was hearing was rumor or speculation or if, indeed, it was truth. 

CROWLEY:  And the mystery certainly does deepen and continues. 
Choc Harris and Stephanie McEver, thank you. 

MCEVER:  Thank you. 

CROWLEY:  Jim Walker, please stay with us, because, coming up next, we are going to take a closer look at what we have learned about that night with our all-star panel. 

We are also going to talk about the men last seen with George Smith and what's next in this investigation.  Much more to come on this story coming up next.

And, later, why one of Jennifer Aniston's former very close friends has changed his mind about something he was going to do with her love letters. 
Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY:  The new information revealed tonight brings up a lot of new questions about what happened in the moments before this blood stain appeared beneath George Smith's cabin. 

To talk about that, let's bring in our all-star legal panel.  With me tonight, defense attorney Mickey Sherman, former federal prosecutor Mary Fulginiti, and maritime attorney Jim Walker.

Welcome to you all.  Nice to see you. 

MICKEY SHERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Hi, Monica. 

CROWLEY:  Mary, what are your instincts telling you here about what happened?  Is this a missing-persons case, a suicide or a murder mystery? 

MARY FULGINITI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Well, you know, it's a little too soon to tell, but it certainly seems like it's more than, say, an intoxicated person falling, you know, overboard here.  I mean, there was blood that was found, not only on the balcony below his room, but inside of his room, on his own balcony. 

And there was witnesses, obviously, that said that they had heard arguing.  They heard a thud.  They heard furniture moving.  So, it appears that, clearly, there is some suspicious and/or foul play that might have occurred.  But, you know, until they get the test results back, they are going to methodically go through this and try to figure out and confirm that it is his blood.  That's step number one, and then determine exactly what did occur that evening by interviewing as many witnesses as they can who saw or heard what occurred. 

CROWLEY:  Mickey Sherman, apparently, the investigation is now focused on these three guys who apparently brought George Smith back to his cabin in a wholly intoxicated state.  We have a statement from one of these guys' attorneys.  And I would like to pull it up. 

Can you guys pull it up on the screen for me?  Here we go, exclusively to
SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, by the way: “We have been cooperating with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office in this investigation of this matter and will continue to do so.  However, we have been asked by the authorities not to speak with the media while the investigation is pending.  And we intend to honor that request.”
Mickey, what does this tell you about this investigation?  Are these three guys already lawyered up? 

SHERMAN:  I'm sure they are lawyered up, and there probably are spokespeople
lawyered up as well.
But, you know, I—it doesn't tell us what they are saying.  I mean, we are hearing it, I think, second- and third-hand.  And they have been told and instructed by the U.S. Attorney's Office, quite appropriately, not to make any comments to the media or anybody else.  So, I am a little skeptical about whether or not the story that we are getting, these two guys, the Russian guys, blah, blah, blah, whether or not that's extremely accurate, if we are not hearing it directly from them or seeing statements that have been given to authorities. 

You know, in these kinds of cases—as I always say, the big cases bring out the big nuts, but they also bring out an enormous amount of speculation.  And everybody wants to get into the act.  So, I would reserve any real hard scrutiny about whether these statements hold water until we see what they actually said and how they hold up against the statements and the investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office. 

CROWLEY:  Yes, Mickey.  And, apparently, some of these statements have big holes in them, that there are discrepancies in these guys' stories.  Two of these guys live in New York.  One lives in California.  He is the one whose attorney's statement we put up on the screen there.

So, do you think that investigators maybe are questioning them independently, trying to piece together something, and are seeing big discrepancies in what they have to say? 

SHERMAN:  Yes.  I mean, and that's standard procedure.  You know, that's what we saw in Aruba, not too effectively.  It's what is done in any competent investigation. 
But, again, it just sounds too pat in a story.  Two Russian guys, I mean, you know, that's a play on the fact there was always those two black guys who committed every particular crime in the world, from putting Susan Smith's kids in the ocean to everything else.  So, before we start labeling these guys as the bad guys, I would really want to see exactly what the United States attorney comes up with. 
I think statements that are not extraordinarily official are very suspect. 

CROWLEY:  Jim Walker, the wife in this case apparently is keeping quiet here.  She did give one statement, at least at the onset of this investigation.  Do you think the wife could be a target? 

WALKER:  Well, she hasn't been excluded. 
I would doubt that she killed her husband during their honeymoon.  You know, she lost her husband during this cruise.  She was in Turkey.  I think it's understandable for her family to want her to come back to the United States.  And, once she has counsel, she is not going to be giving any kind of press releases of any—of any type. 
CROWLEY:  Jim, apparently, there was also a lot of gambling going on, on board this ship, George Smith gambling like crazy, and winning some big money here.  Do you think perhaps this could have been a robbery? 

WALKER:  It's possible. 
There are robberies on cruise ships.  There are all types of crimes on cruise ships.  There are date rape drugs being given to passengers by crew members and other passengers.  There's rapes and sodomies.  A robbery is a possibility.  I don't have any facts to substantiate that or to exclude that. 

You know, the unfortunate thing is, we are now a month down the road.  Your ICCO representative talked about this potential crime being reported to Turkey, to Greece, to the Bahamas, to the U.S. Consulate, and to the FBI.  Yet, after the Turkish people went on and looked at the crime scene, they opened the cabin up.  They didn't wait for the FBI.  They didn't wait for the Bahamian representatives or the U.S. Consulate.  That really prejudiced an honest and open and expeditious investigation into this potential crime. 

CROWLEY:  Mary, as a prosecutor, how do you build a case like this?  We have witnesses saying that members of the ship's crew were cleaning the blood as early as 7:00 in the morning, crime scene contaminated all over the place.  How do you build a case based on a contaminated crime scene, plus no body and no confession? 

FULGINITI:  Yes, you know, look it, they are starting from, you know, ground zero here. 

They clearly—I mean, it's very difficult when you don't—we are used to seeing crime scenes where the police come in immediately, clear off the area, tape it off, and then conduct their examination, if they can, as accordingly—and methodically as possible. 
You don't always have that scenario, and, unfortunately, it appears that they don't have that scenario here.  So, they are going to do the best that they can with what they have.  The blood is going to be critical, obviously, to determine that it's his blood . And the body, this is like the case in Aruba.  It's very difficult to build cases.  I mean, you can certainly circumstantially build a case, potentially, when you have a missing body or a missing person. 

But to pursue a murder charge, if that's where they are headed, it's not unprecedented, but it's clearly an uphill battle. 

CROWLEY:  Mickey, how do you deal with a violent crime aboard a cruise ship?  This is essentially a floating island.  It is self-contained, oftentimes in international waters.  I mean, prosecutors or investigators must look at this and throw their hands up.  They are up against all kinds of disadvantages. 

SHERMAN:  And there are so many competing interests, as was pointed out earlier. 
The cruise line, even though we would like to believe that they want to do as diligent an investigation as possible, they got a stake in this deal.  They want their business to continue.  They don't want to get sued, and they want to certainly appear like they are doing everything right. 

Yet, there's reports that they did not consciously covered up the crime scene, but kind of sanitized it, maybe for the benefit of the passengers, but to the detriment of this investigation.  You know, one of the things I find interesting is that the stories that have come out, all are consistent with the innocence, or the apparent innocence, of both young people here, both George Smith, as well as his wife. 

CROWLEY:  Well, many more questions to be asked. 
Mickey Sherman, Mary Fulginiti, and Jim Walker, thank you so much for your time tonight. 

SHERMAN:  Yes. 

CROWLEY:  And SCARBOROUGH will continue to dig deeper into this case. 
Joe is going to have all the latest tomorrow night. 

We're coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY:  Next, why you won't be able to buy Jennifer Aniston's love letters. 
And don't forget, check out Joe's morning read.  You can find it at Joe.MSNBC.com.
We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY:  And America is still feeling the shockwaves from Jennifer Aniston's tearful tell-all about her marriage to Brad Pitt, with the possible exception of Michael Baroni, a California attorney who was apparently planning to use eBay to auction off old love letters he says were penned by Aniston back when she was 15.  Baroni claims he and Aniston had a summer fling in 1984, and that he is still holding onto a handwritten love letter and a birthday card written on—get this—toilet paper. 

Baroni says he wanted to auction the items for financial reasons.  But after receiving—quote—“word from one of Jennifer's representatives that she didn't want me conducting the auction,” he has decided to keep the goods and cancel the sale. 
How much did Baroni think the juvenile jottings of Jennifer were worth?  Well, the minimum bid was $100,000.  Some friends, indeed. 

Well, that's all the time we have for tonight.  Be sure to watch “Imus” tomorrow morning.  His guests include journalist Mike Barnicle.

Got something to say?  Of course you do.  Drop Joe an e-mail at Joe@MSNBC.com.
We'll see you tomorrow in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  I'm Monica Crowley, in for Joe.  Have a great night. 

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