updated 10/25/2005 9:30:55 AM ET 2005-10-25T13:30:55

Guests: Steve Fabian, Bill Barnett, Ron Palmer, Jim Minardi, David Paulison, Pat Boyd, Debbie Boyd, George Malim, Beth Holloway Twitty, Paul Ciolino, Wendy Murphy

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  Tonight: Hurricane Wilma slices through Florida, leaving widespread destruction in her wake.  We will be live on the scene.  Plus, I‘ll talk live with acting director of FEMA.

And we‘re just learning some brand-new details in the case of a missing California woman caught on this surveillance video leaving a casino.  Some damaging evidence has just came forward linking her to a man with a violent past.  We‘re going to have all the breaking news.

And a potentially major breakthrough in the Natalee Holloway case.  Investigators are moving forward with a crucial piece of evidence we showed you here on LIVE AND DIRECT.  Plus, a LIVE AND DIRECT exclusive, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her unusual link to the Aruba mystery.  Could it be the big development that could crack this case wide open?

And we begin right now with Hurricane Wilma.  She tore through south Florida, leaving a mess from the east to the west coast.  Millions of people are without power right now, and the storm is still on the move.  We have coverage all over the state of Florida tonight.

We begin in Naples, hit hard by lots of wind and lots of pounding rain.  NBC‘s Ron Blome is live there now.  Ron, how was it at the height of the storm?

RON BLOME, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  It was pretty intense, but boy, it came in quick.  It was just about sunrise that the eyewall started to come over Naples,  and it was starting to disintegrate a little bit, but as the back of that top of the eyewall hit us, boy, the winds really kicked up.  It was roaring.  They said they had wind gusts of over 100 miles an hour down on the beachfront.  It was easy an 80-miles-an-hour gusts where we were, steady winds at 50.  And you could really hear the trees snapping and popping down, and it brought down the electric grid.

If you flew over south Florida tonight, you‘d have a hard time spotting it, notwithstanding a few TV lights, because it is dark across the southern half of the state.  About three million customers, half of the state, is dark tonight.  They‘re going to try get the power grid back up, putting it back together tomorrow.

The downtown Naples area was just a tangle of trees and just quite a mess today.  They were in this afternoon with some frontloaders, trying to push that mess out of the way.  One of the problems was that some of the banyan trees, their roots were wrapped around some water mains, and they brought the mains up when the trees toppled over.

There was more rain here than we thought we‘d get.  They were saying maybe six inches, at the most, but we seemed to have five inches in the first couple of hours of landfall, and then, of course, it raced across the state, about seven hours from one end to the other.

Residents here, though, knew they were lucky, they had dodged the big bullet.  They didn‘t have a Rita.  They didn‘t have a Katrina.  But some of the residents said they were still surprised at the intensity.  For instance, listen to Micaela Acres.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICAELA ACRES, NAPLES RESIDENT:  It was worse than I expected it.  The winds were definitely really intense, and I mean, they were sideways.  And you can see the damage of the trees, which is kind of a lot different than it was with Charley hitting here last season.  But yes, we got a lot of high winds out here that we weren‘t expecting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLOME:  Surprising high winds for them.  While she and her husband cleaned up the yard, the dogs got a chance to play, perhaps the only ones happy that their waterway was now in their front yard, and they got do a little retrieving out of water there.

The governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, made a quick tour this afternoon.  He was down here, and he was—it was an encore performance for him.  You know, he was before Capitol Hill a week or so ago, talking about the Florida model for how to deal with disaster assistance.  And when he was down here today, he was heaping a lot of praise on the officials here who had put together such an effective plan.

And of course, R. David Paulison, who I think you‘re going to talk to later, the acting FEMA director, was also doing a news conference today, trying to set the stage to say, Hey, this is different.  We‘re going to handle this pickup and this aftermath much better than the others.  Back to you, Rita.

COSBY:  Ron, thank you very much.  And we‘re going to be talking to Director Paulison in just a few minutes, everybody.

And we want to show you now where Hurricane Wilma is right now.  We have some new satellite pictures that basically give you a sense of her course.  You can see right off the coast of Florida, she‘s still a big, huge ball, huge storm.  You can still see the eye basically still there, hovering off now to the right of Florida as it has passed through the state.

Of course, Florida‘s Atlantic coast also got hit hard as Wilma passed through tonight.  There‘s a curfew in place for Broward County, and there‘s also heavy damage in nearby West Palm Beach.  That‘s where we find NBC‘s Ron Mott.  NBC—Ron Mott, how was the day there, just crazy?

RON MOTT, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, it was crazy, in a word, Rita.  Tonight, it is quite pleasant out here, in stark contrast to the weather we saw earlier today.  We got a nice, soft breeze.  It‘s very cool out here, which is really one of the silver linings, if you will, in all of this because the power is out up and down the east coast of Florida, south and central Florida, as you might imagine, over on the west side of Florida, as well.  Normally, this might be a different situation, where there‘d be a lot of humidity after this storm, but it‘s nice and pleasant, with that cold front sitting down here.  So folks are able to open up the windows and at least get some air into their condos and apartments and homes.

We are without power here at the hotel, so they‘ve given us these glow sticks so we can at least see our way around our rooms tonight.  But there is some significant damage here in the West Palm Beach area.  I want to show you some video from a church just to our south here in Lake Worth (ph), Florida.  It‘s the next community down from West Palm Beach.  A lot of folks walking back to that scene today to find their church completely leveled.  A church that had sat at the corner of Lake Avenue and A Street for some 45 years is no longer there.

The pastor of that church, just appointed back in August, says they will rebuild.  The spirit of rebuilding is already alive and well at this church.  There‘s obviously a lot of sadness, parishioners there telling us that they‘ve had weddings there and things of that nature over the years, and so they‘re sad to see that structure go.

But there‘s a lot of damage in terms of power lines that are down.  Trees are down all over the place, and so the crews will be working over the next couple of days to get the roadways open and get those power lines back up so the power can be restored here.

But all in all, considering the heavy, heavy winds that we saw here, especially the second half of this storm, probably fared pretty well here in the West Palm Beach area, Rita.

COSBY:  And Ron, I want to have you describe what it was like sort of in the thick of it.  I understand we‘ve got some pictures of you right in the middle of the storm.  I‘ve been in the thick of a lot of hurricanes, as well.  What did it feel like when the winds were really whipping earlier today?

MOTT:  Well, I‘ll tell you, I sort of joked to the crew that I

thought, looking at the radar returns, that the second half of this storm,

the western front of the storm, traditionally the weaker part of the storm

I thought we were in for a pretty light afternoon.  I want to show you some video while we were on the air earlier in the day, with just how difficult that second half, and it caught us by surprise.  Let‘s take a listen.

COSBY:  (INAUDIBLE) Ron, actually, I think we racked it up, and we did get a chance to see you there.  And we so much appreciate it.  You look a lot drier right now.  Thank you very much for joining us.  We appreciate it.

We‘re going to turn now to two south Florida mayors to assess the damage in their battered cities.  On the phone with us from Naples, Florida, Mayor Bill Barnett, and also Punta Gorda mayor Steve Fabian joins me now live.  Steve, first of all, what‘s the assessment from your area?

MAYOR STEVE FABIAN, PUNTA GORDA, FLORIDA:  Good evening.  Are you talking to me?

COSBY:  Yes, Mayor Fabian.  What‘s the assessment?  How‘s your area look?

FABIAN:  Our area looks good.  We missed the bullet.  We got a lot of wind and rain, but the cold front pushed the storm south of us.  And we look very good.  Very little damage, and everything‘s back to normal.

COSBY:  Any issues with electricity, flooding, Mayor?

FABIAN:  We had some power outage in spotty areas this morning, but we‘re back with full electricity.  Most of the businesses are closed, but we‘re—as I say, everything is fine here.

COSBY:  Oh, that‘s great to hear.  Let me bring in Mayor Barnett of Naples.  Of course, it passed just south of Naples, Hurricane Wilma.  Mayor Barnett, what about the damage that you‘re seeing tonight?

MAYOR BILL BARNETT, NAPLES, FLORIDA:  Well, you know, Rita, we‘re one of those with no electricity no water, power lines down.  Massive trees (INAUDIBLE) all over Naples.  It looks like a war zone.  We‘ll start rebuilding tomorrow, though.  And what we really need—of course, we have no food, either.  Everybody kind of forgets about that.  There‘s no—you know, with no power, no stores, and so we‘ve got probably enough for another day or so, and then we might have a real problem.

COSBY:  You know, Mayor Barnett, most of the damage is at residences, is it businesses?  And how—to what degree are we talking millions and millions of dollars?

BARNETT:  Yes, we are definitely talking millions of dollars.  You know, not structural, though, Rita.  It‘s more, you know, pool enclosures gone, a lot of roofs have just totally disappeared.  Everywhere you look, there‘s just damage from one end of the city to the other.  So it‘s going to be a very costly clean-up.

COSBY:  And Mayor Fabian, let me bring you back on camera here.

FABIAN:  Yes.

COSBY:  Where were you when the storm hit?  And what did it feel like when you were in the thick of it?

FABIAN:  Well, I was at home.  The wind was blowing quite, quite hard.  We probably had about 60-mile-an-hour winds, heavy rain.  But everything was secure, and we felt safe.

COSBY:  What‘s the mood of your residents, Mayor Fabian, right now?

FABIAN:  The mood is very good.  I just hope that the people pay attention if we do get another one, so that they don‘t get complacent because we got through this one very good.

COSBY:  You‘re right.  Mayor Barnett, what‘s the mood of your residents?  I would imagine—I know you‘re letting them back in, but they‘ve got a mess to come back to now.

BARNETT:  Well, you know, we—there‘s a curfew tonight.  Tomorrow morning, we‘ll let them come back in.  Their mood is good.  They really and truly handled it well.  You know, Wilma did one thing that nobody—no other hurricane has done for us, and it gave us plenty of preparation, Rita.

COSBY:  Yes.  You bet.  Do you feel like you were well prepared?  And are you really concerned about them coming back so soon?

BARNETT:  Yes.  But you know what?  It‘s the lesser of two evils because today, they were really, really upset that we wouldn‘t let them back in, and we just decided, Listen, we‘ll work around it.  We have some safety issues, but you know, they can really be tough when you want to go see your home and see what happened to it, et cetera.  So we—and we also have—again, you know, there‘s not much they can do.  There‘s no power.  There‘s no water.  So we‘ll just work around it and do the best we can.

COSBY:  And Mayor Fabian, as you look at other hurricanes that are still out there, you know, we‘ve got Alpha, we‘ve got a couple of others, what is the sense from your residents?  This isn‘t over yet, unfortunately.

FABIAN:  Well, right now, we‘re just saying we‘re waiting, we‘re watching, hoping that we don‘t get any more.  And our hearts go out to the city of Naples and the mayor down there.

COSBY:  You bet.  You bet.  Well, thank you, both of you mayors.  We appreciate it, Mayor Fabian, and of course, Mayor Barnett, who‘s in the thick of it there in Naples.  Thank you, sir.  Our prayers are with you and all the folks there.

And while thousands of people chose to evacuate their homes in Naples and elsewhere, many decided to stay put.  LIVE AND DIRECT on the phone right now from Naples, Florida, is local resident Ron Palmer.  Ron, why did you decide to stay?

RON PALMER, NAPLES RESIDENT:  Good evening, Rita.  I guess I‘ve lived in my house 25 years and have gone through quite a few of these.  And judging the forecast and analyzing the whole thing before it came in, we felt that the—we were hoping, at least, that the storm surge would not be the issue, and we knew the house would handle wind.  So that‘s basically why we stayed.

COSBY:  How did it handle it?  Is there any damage, as you look today?

PALMER:  Oh yes.  Severe damage.  Oh, not severe damage.  I lost my pool cage and you know, a couple of trees that I liked.  But the surge never went over my dock or the seawall.

COSBY:  Oh, that‘s good.  Now, your daughter has her own place.  She also stayed.  How is she doing?  How‘s her home?

PALMER:  Her home is no problem, a few shingles are off the roof.  She had a very—extremely large ficus tree in her backyard that tipped over.

COSBY:  Real quick, how‘d it sound in the middle of the hurricane? 

Real quick, Ron.

PALMER:  Brutal.

COSBY:  Well, I‘m glad you lived through it, and I‘m glad you and your daughter and everyone are OK.  Thank you.

Well, another area hit hard by Hurricane Wilma is Fort Myers Beach.  That‘s along Florida‘s west coast.  That‘s where NBC‘s Kristin Dahlgren is standing by live with the very latest.  Kristin, how bad is the damage there tonight?

KRISTIN DAHLGREN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, it worked to people‘s advantage here that Rita moved—or rather, that Wilma moved through so quickly.  Here‘s some of the worst damage that we have been able to find.  Now you can see that gas station over there, big canopy there came crashing down.  The winds here were very strong as they came through, and the back half of the storm was actually what did the most damage.  The front half moved through very quickly, and then those winds whipping through afterwards did the most damage here.

Pool cages, trees down, also a lot of power lines down.  But the good news tonight is that power crews were out here all day and were able to restore power here to Fort Myers Beach.  So this is one of the lucky areas that actually does have power back on.  But so many people tonight in the rest of Florida without power.  That‘s estimated to be over six million people, and it could take weeks and weeks for power to be restored back in the other parts of Florida, Rita.

COSBY:  Kristin, thank you very much, down in Fort Myers Beach.  We appreciate it.

And everybody, coming up on LIVE AND DIRECT, breaking news in the case of a California woman who vanished from a casino and was last seen on this surveillance tape.  We have learned about new evidence that now ties her to a man once charged with rape.  This story is developing.  We‘re going to bring it to you in just a few minutes.  And that‘s not all we have in store for tonight‘s show.  Take a look.

Still ahead, dramatic bombings in the heart of Baghdad, journalists targeted in coordinated, deadly attacks, all caught on tape.  Our correspondent on the ground tells us about the chaotic aftermath and why it could have been even more dangerous.

Also, a LIVE AND DIRECT exclusive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN POLK, ON TRIAL FOR KILLING HER HUSBAND:  Oh, my God!  Maybe it‘s connected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Susan Polk in her first TV interview since the murder of her attorney‘s wife.  She tells us exclusively why she thinks she could lose her murder trial because of the Vitale case.

And Wilma huffed and puffed, but it couldn‘t blow this house down.  We‘ll show you the amazing new technology that could save thousands of lives and meet the man brave enough to test it out.

He wasn‘t the only one out in the thick of it.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  As you can see, the water is just overcoming...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... sand blowing in my face...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I turned my face into it.  It stings quite a bit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is sand blowing on—in my face in (INAUDIBLE) beach.  You can see the surf is really up!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let me show you what‘s happening in terms of the gauge we‘re showing.  I‘m clocking at the moment about 40 miles per hour or so where I am.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Some amazing pictures from Hurricane Wilma.  And at least one Florida resident was ready for her.  That‘s because he lives in a house built specifically to withstand a major storm.  Jim Minardi joins me now live to tell us all about his new hurricane-ready home.

Jim, I love this story.  First of all, were you worried that maybe your home—even though this was just a category three, you know, versus a four or a five --  Were you worried that maybe you won‘t be 100 percent safe?

JIM MINARDI, BUILT A STORM-RESISTANT HOME:  I was.  You know, once you‘ve been through a hurricane like this, it‘s pretty hard to deal with the fact that you could be safe.  I didn‘t feel that way at all at first.  But now, after riding it out in this house, I really feel good about it.

COSBY:  Now, did your house get any damage at all?

MINARDI:  No, no damage at all.  It just weathered it like it was just an afternoon storm.  So—in fact, when I was inside the house, it was so quiet, I didn‘t even know the hurricane had come already, so I had to step outside.  When I stepped outside, it was deafening, so—what an improvement.

COSBY:  Yes, it‘s amazing.  We‘re showing some pictures.  This is from one of the cameras.  And the pictures we were showing earlier, everybody, those were Jim‘s house—if we can go back to those?  Those were—that‘s the damage that your house sustained from Hurricane Charley, where there was some damage.  Now we‘re showing—this is the new house—oh, this is last year‘s, rather.  Forgive me.  This is last year.  You can see the damage here.  No wonder you wanted to get this new house.  And look, this is holding up great.

I want to show some of the features.  This is for the storm-ready house.  This is great.  The windows are impact-resistant.  The frames are encased in concrete.  No wonder you didn‘t hear anything, Jim.  And exterior walls go three feet down to prevent flooding.  Roof rafters are engineered for 200-mile-an-hour winds, and each roof tile is screwed in.

Do you think you‘re be able, Jim, to handle a category five if a big one comes again there?

MINARDI:  Well, the engineers say it‘ll easily handle a category five. 

And having been through the category three now, I feel really confident. 

But you know, I don‘t want to test it out.

COSBY:  You know, it took three-and-a-half months to build it.  We‘re looking at sort of the processes and the steps, and all that stuff because, obviously—and I‘m told it was about 15 percent more cost to do this.  How did you get picked to be, you know, sort of the guinea pig for hurricanes, Jim?

MINARDI:  Well, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes came by right after Charley came through and chose our house as a poster boy, you can say, for how not to build them.  So they did a little show called “The Tale of Two Houses,” and the Bob Villa program saw it and said they‘d like to help us rebuild in conjunction with Flash.  So we all got together and decided we‘re going to build a hurricane-ready home, and here we are today.

COSBY:  Well, it is great.  And I love these pictures.  It looks like it handled it really well.  And definitely keep us posted, Jim.  It‘s terrific.  Thanks so much.

And everybody, for more information on hurricane-resistant homes like Jim‘s, you can check out the Web site for the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes at www.flash.org.

And of course, the federal government has been front row and center as emergency crews got ready for Wilma‘s wrath, this after taking, of course, a lot of hits for a delayed response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.  LIVE AND DIRECT tonight from Washington, D.C., is Acting FEMA director R. David Paulison.

Director Paulison, first of all, I‘m sure you‘re just so busy.  In fact, we appreciate you being with us.  What are your priorities tonight?

R. DAVID PAULISON, ACTING FEMA DIRECTOR:  Well, priorities, obviously, our number one is life safety.  We have urban search and rescue teams on the ground with the state of Florida urban search and rescue teams.  And we‘re searching all of those hard-hit areas in Collier County and western Broward and into Key West and the Marathon areas, like that.

COSBY:  Yes, what about the extent of the damage?  What‘s the reading that you‘re getting, Director?

PAULISON:  The damage is pretty significant.  It‘s across the entire state.  The mobile homes were hit very hard in that impact area.  A lot of roof damage.  A tremendous amount of trees down.  Pretty much from I-4 south, a lot of power outages, probably 3.5 million people without power.  So it took a pretty good swathe right across the southern part of the state.

COSBY:  You know, you talk about a big swathe.  I would imagine there‘s a lot of work for FEMA.  Where are the crews right now?  How many crews do you have out?

PAULISON:  We have crews all over the southern part of the state.  We‘re in partnership with the state of Florida.  And by the way, the state is just doing an outstanding job of organizing this whole response.  Governor Bush and Craig Fugate, the emergency manager, are fortunately very experienced in this, and they do a very good job, so it makes it easier for us.

We have urban search and rescue crews down there, like I said.  We have medical teams in Key West and in Marathon.  And we have literally hundreds of tractor-trailer loads of d and water and ice moving into the southern part of the state right now.

COSBY:  Did you get a sense of this time, particularly, everybody was so well prepared?  We had a lot of warning, of course, that this one was coming.

PAULISON:  Yes, we had a lot of warning, and it gave people time to get prepared.

COSBY:  You know, you‘re a native of Miami?

PAULISON:  Born and raised there, yes.

COSBY:  I know.  And you spent a lot of time there, you know, obviously, you know, with the fire department and everything.  How personally—I want to get your thoughts just personally, when you see the damage coming into your state, you know, it‘s got to be even more upsetting.  It hits close to home, I would imagine.

PAULISON:  Well, my home is down there.  I still have a home in Davie, which is just west of Fort Lauderdale, and my wife is down there by herself with my daughter, Beth.  And so they‘re—you know, they‘re dealing with that all by themselves, and I‘m not home.  So we have our screen enclosures down around the pool.  I‘ve lost all the trees.  So it gets very personal.  You know, when you go through that—we went through Hurricane Andrew with our home down there.  And when you deal with those types of things, you understand and you can sympathize and empathize with people who‘ve lost everything.

COSBY:  Oh, you bet.  And especially when you see neighbors and friends.  You know, you‘re a career firefighter.  I know a lot of folks in Miami, they love you well—well respected.  How did your background prepare you for this job now, being acting director of FEMA?

PAULISON:  I think coming up in the fire and emergency management system, dealing with hurricanes, dealing with disasters and understanding what happens on the ground and what needs to happen on the ground helps me make better decisions here and helps us focus our employees to do the right thing and help, you know, focus on who—the person on the ground and not necessarily on ourselves.

COSBY:  You know, as we look at, also, you know, the way things were handled with Katrina and now—and of course, the devastation across the state—if we can show some pictures of just—I mean, it really hit across the state.  What is sort of the difference in the way you think that FEMA handled things this time, versus last time?

PAULISON:  I think—you know, I haven‘t had an opportunity to really go back and look at Katrina yes.  This is a—we‘ve had four storms now since I‘ve been here in only a few weeks.  And—but one of the things we did notice is there was not a good situation awareness in Louisiana.  And we have that now.  We make sure that we have people at the state emergency management office.  We have people in the major cities across the state.  I have people in the Hurricane Center.  We partnered with the state of Florida, and we just pretty much walked hand in hand through everything.  And that helps us understand what the needs are and where we can deliver supplies and resources and where they‘re needed and where the state needs them.

COSBY:  Well, it‘s a big job.  And R. David Paulison, thank you very much, the new acting FEMA director.  And unfortunately, the sad news is, as you know all too well, the hurricane season isn‘t over yet.  So we‘re keeping our fingers crossed for and you everybody there at FEMA.  Thank you so much.

And we‘re looking at a picture, everybody, this is a satellite picture of the storm.  Luckily, off the coast of Florida, away from the director‘s home and everybody else.  But unfortunately, as we pointed out, the hurricane season is not over yet.

And still ahead, everybody, breaking news in the disappearance of Christie Wilson, last seen on a casino surveillance video.  New evidence finally may explain what happened to her and who is responsible.

And what‘s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice‘s unusual link to the Natalee Holloway case?  Plus, we‘ll tell you why there could be a major breakthrough in the Aruba investigation.  That‘s coming up on LIVE AND DIRECT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And we‘ve got some breaking news tonight in the case of a California woman who disappeared from a casino.  New evidence links the man seen in this surveillance video, Mario Garcia, to Christie Wilson.  Garcia was in court today, where a judge refused to lower his bail.

Christie Wilson‘s parents, Pat and Debbie Boyd, were also in court today.  They join me now.  Also with them is one of the lead investigators, Lieutenant George Malim from the Placer County sheriff‘s department.

Lieutenant, I want to start with you because I understand that you have learned something about the hair that was found in Mario Garcia‘s car.  Is it Christie Wilson‘s?

LT. GEORGE MALIM, PLACER COUNTY SHERIFF‘S DEPT.:  Yes, it‘s a DNA match positive for Christie Wilson.

COSBY:  One hundred percent sure it is Christie Wilson‘s, right?  So that—he‘s also always said that she did not leave the casino with him and left the casino alone.  So this does not fit what he has told you, is that correct, Lieutenant?

MALIM:  Correct.

COSBY:  This means he‘s in big trouble, I would imagine, Lieutenant.

MALIM:  It‘s looking that way, yes, and we‘re still waiting for other forensics to come back, but yes.

COSBY:  How key are the other forensics?  Or is this a pretty significant push, don‘t you think, Lieutenant? 

MALIM:  Oh, yes, very much so.  And the fact that the hair—the way it was found would be inconsistent with just the simple transfer. 

COSBY:  Where was the hair found? 

MALIM:  We‘re not releasing that right now. 

COSBY:  But it was in the car, right? 

MALIM:  Yes, where it was located or how it was located when we found it is inconsistent with the transfers. 

COSBY:  Let me bring in Debbie and Pat.  You know, Pat, you‘re an investigator.  I know you‘re not working on this case, but you‘re a seasoned investigator yourself, Detective, hearing that that hair found in an unusual place in the car, or where it‘s found, maybe in the back seat or the trunk, obviously not in a “normal,” quote, spot, based on what the lieutenant was just saying, this is pretty damning, don‘t you think, for this man? 

PAT BOYD, CHRISTIE WILSON‘S STEPFATHER:  Very much so.  I think the videotape, just by itself, saying that she went back inside, to me, was the most damaging—we obviously know that.  So this is all very damaging. 

COSBY:  Debbie, are you now hoping that things are honing in, that you‘re going to get some answers soon, and maybe he‘ll crack, now that he knows that forensics are not on his side? 

DEBBIE BOYD, CHRISTIE WILSON‘S MOTHER:  I hope so.  And I also think that today, the fact that his bail was not reduced, has him spinning a little bit.  And I hope that, in and of itself, is enough to motivate him to start talking a bit more. 

COSBY:  Lieutenant, I understand he‘s now a suspect and, unfortunately, now it‘s a homicide investigation.  Have you gotten evidence that such a crime has occurred? 

MALIM:  Well, with the time that‘s gone by and no activity on any of Christy‘s accounts, as well as no calls to family or friends, and also with the evidence that we‘ve spoken about, yes, we‘re treating this as a homicide investigation now. 

COSBY:  Debbie, if Mario Garcia or his attorney are watching right now, what do you want to say to them? 

D. BOYD:  Good luck.  Prosecution will—justice will prevail in the end. 

COSBY:  And I also hope you‘re encouraging him to talk, because, boy, anything could help at this point, right, Pat? 

P. BOYD:  All we want is if he‘d just please give us the location of our daughter.  That‘s all we want, just our location of our daughter. 

COSBY:  Do you believe he knows where she is for sure, Pat? 

P. BOYD:  No doubt in my mind. 

COSBY:  And, Debbie, do you believe the same thing? 

D. BOYD:  Absolutely. 

COSBY:  Well, both of you he is watching tonight.  We pray that he helps and cooperates.  And, I think, obviously, you have a lot of leverage on him now, Lieutenant, now that you‘ve got this hair match.

All of you, thank you very much.  We‘re going to stay on this case through thick and thin, whatever you need, both of you.  Thank you very much. 

Well, is the State Department getting involved in the search for missing Alabama teen Natalee Holloway?  Well, the answer could be yes.  This weekend, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Natalee‘s mom during a trip to Birmingham, Alabama. 

This comes as those tapes of suspect Deepak Kalpoe have now finally arrived in Aruba.  And the deputy chief of police there says he‘s sending the tapes to Holland to be checked out.  And, if they‘re legitimate, this case could move forward in a big way.  He could soon have to haul Deepak Kalpoe back in for questioning. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEROLD DOMPIG, DEPUTY POLICY CHIEF OF ARUBA:  We are going to contact the lawyer, because we first wanted to process the tapes.  And I feel that at the point, the moment we have authenticated the tapes, the lawyer will have to visit us at the police station, along with his client. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And LIVE & DIRECT tonight is Natalee‘s mom, Beth Holloway Twitty, joining me now. 

You know, Beth, we just heard from the deputy chief saying, if these tapes are authentic, he‘s handing them off to Holland.  He‘s got the tapes now.  Do you believe he‘s soon going to be pulling all the boys back in for questioning? 

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, MOTHER OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY:  Oh, we certainly hope so.  And, Rita, we think that Dompig—we were welcome him in on the case early on.  I think everyone remembers.  I think it was around June 5th when Van Der Straaten was removed from the case for Prime Minister Oduber.

You know, of course, we were just saddened when he was quickly removed off, because we think that he was probably going to have an answer early on before Van Der Straaten ever would have implicated those three suspects. 

COSBY:  No, and he seems like he‘s on it.  I agree with you, Beth.  He seems, you know, determined, especially now he‘s got this tape.  And if he can prove clearly, it says they‘re telling two different stories.  Do you think this is going to be the leverage?  Are you optimistic? 

TWITTY:  Well, I think it certainly will help.  I think it takes several different angles to, you know, get some things moving in the investigation.  And I know that Dompig also is questioning for FBI involvement.  And so I‘m just hoping, with a combination of things to come, that it will happen. 

COSBY:  You bet.  And, you know, of course, the chief has to cast a wide net, talk to everybody, pull all the pieces, sort of almost, you know, start from square one in many ways.

But he said he wants to also talk with you.  He told us that he wants to talk with you about your last conversations with Natalee.  Also wants to talk to Natalee‘s friends to see, just to see if there was something there, any clue, anything.  How do you feel about that, Beth? 

TWITTY:  Oh, well I think that that‘s huge, because that was something that we as a family had done, with just the foundation of the investigation, and that‘s getting the statements together and, you know, my original statement had been altered.  We don‘t know by whom. 

And so we know that that is something that I will do next week, is to give my statement again.  And I think that it just builds a foundation of the investigation that, you know, we all know, in the beginning, the prosecuting attorney just had an unwillingness to ever have a proper investigation. 

COSBY:  You met with essentially the most powerful woman in the world yesterday, Condoleezza Rice.  How did that meeting go?  We have a picture, an exclusive picture of the two of you guys.  How was it?  And it‘s got to be uplifting for you. 

TWITTY:  Oh, I‘ll tell you, Rita.  It was just an absolute honor and a privilege for me to even get to speak with Condoleezza Rice.  And, you know, she had been involved early on. 

I had heard from Prime Minister Oduber during that first week on the island that she had made a phone call to him.  And, you know, I think that there were concerns expressed early on that this investigation was not going in the right direction.  And so I know her involvement was there early on. 

COSBY:  Do you plan to go back to Aruba soon?  And are you ready? 

TWITTY:  Yes, I‘m ready, and I will go next week.  And my brother, Paul Reynolds, and I will go together.  And just like I said, just want to make sure that all the statements are correct. 

COSBY:  Well, Beth, we are rooting for you 110 percent.  You let us know whatever you need.  We‘re going to be following this closely, my friend.  Thank you. 

TWITTY:  Thank you, Rita. 

COSBY:  Thank you, Beth. 

And joining me now is former sex crimes prosecutor Wendy Murphy and also former homicide investigator Paul Ciolino. 

Paul, let me start with you.  First of all, it‘s got to help to have the secretary of state saying, “I‘m going to be looking at your case” to continue that. 

PAUL CIOLINO, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR:  That‘s big juice, when the secretary of state calls.  There‘s no question about it.  And...

COSBY:  Is that going to be big juice on the Aruban authorities? 

That‘s got to have an impact on them. 

CIOLINO:  Oh, I think it will be, yes. 

COSBY:  How so? 

CIOLINO:  Well, you have the secretary of state of the United States calling down and asking for assistance and requesting, you know, things of a very investigative specific nature to be done.  I‘m sure they‘re going to respond to it favorably. 

COSBY:  I would believe so.

And, Wendy, you know, I mean, it‘s pretty stunning to see that the secretary of state getting involved in a missing persons‘ case, right?  This is pretty unusual. 

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  Yes, I mean, I think that it‘s code for, “You‘d better do something meaningful or we will start thinking about economic sanctions.”  Maybe not, you know, boycotting outright, but the secretary of state means something. 

That‘s political power.  That‘s the promise of political leverage.  And I know that Aruba cares about losing the money from this country.  So I hope they will sit up and take notice and that this is a meaningful step. 

COSBY:  Well, clearly, the deputy chief is taking notice of these tapes, this comment from Deepak Kalpoe, especially his comments about having sex with Natalee, saying maybe he knows where the body is.  There‘s some interesting things in that interview. 

I want to show you a comment.  This is, first of all, from the chief, and get your reaction. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOMPIG:  It can give us, you could say, say something about the personality of these person we are talking to.  So it always works against that person in front of a judge. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And that‘s what the deputy chief told our Dan Abrams earlier tonight.  You know, Wendy, he‘s essentially saying, “Look, you can‘t convict the fact that maybe he‘s saying one thing now to a TV crew,” this polygraph expert Jamie Skeeters, and something different to police.  But it certainly questions this guy‘s credibility, right?  They could use this as leverage, right, Wendy? 

MURPHY:  Well, no doubt about it that this guy‘s a liar.  But we‘ve got gobs and gobs of lies from these guys.  So I‘m sure if that‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  And now you‘ve got some more.  Now you‘ve got some tape, don‘t you think? 

MURPHY:  Yes.  Yes, we do.  And it certainly does add to our suspicion, with regard to his credibility.  Frankly, I think what they‘re going after here, Rita, is leveraging the possibility of a rape prosecution. 

Remember, the most important thing Deepak has said with his big mouth was that they all had sex with her.  Well, guess what?  If she was as under the influence as we‘ve also heard was true, that‘s a crime.  You cannot have sex with someone who‘s too intoxicated to consent. 

And I‘m not talking about sex with a buzz.  We all understand everyone might like sex with a buzz.  I‘m talking about so drunk that you cannot make a knowing, intelligent decision to have sex. 

And if that‘s what he said on those tapes, he could be prosecuted for rape.  And guess what?  Then that‘s when the deals start getting made.  If you don‘t roll on your end, with regard to the murder, we will throw you in the can for rape. 

COSBY:  All right.  That‘s going to have to be the last word.  Thank you, both of you. 

And in fact, deputy chief on our show said, “Yes, don‘t rule out other charges coming,” so you might be right on the money there, Wendy.  Thank you very much. 

And still ahead, everybody, a massive fireball in Baghdad captured in dramatic pictures.  We‘ll head to Baghdad for the very latest about massive security concerns there tonight, especially for journalists there covering the war.  It‘s incredible.  Look at these pictures. 

Also, reaction to my exclusive interview with embattled Congressman Tom DeLay and his comments about the CIA leak investigation.  What advice does he have for Karl Rove?  Some great comments, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  A horrifying day of violence in Iraq today.  Suicide bombers targeted two Baghdad hotels popular with journalists and also contractors.  NBC‘s Richard Engel joins us now live, joins us with the latest—Richard? 

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Rita, this attack was clearly designed to grab headlines.  The insurgents bombed the place where they knew television cameras would be rolling. 

The Iraqi government, for the last several days, has been praising itself, praising its security forces for having organized a referendum that went off almost without any violence.  This may have been the insurgents‘ way of saying that they are back, they can attack, and they can attack high-profile targets, and that‘s what they did in Baghdad tonight. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ENGEL (voice-over):  The blast was so powerful, it could be seen, heard and felt all over Baghdad, one of three in a carefully executed ambush.  The assault began just before dawn in the square where 2 ½ years ago Saddam‘s statue was torn down. 

Suddenly, a security camera caught a suburban filled with explosives.  The goal, to crack through the 15-foot concrete walls encircling the Palestine and Sheridan Hotels, home to western journalists and one of the most fortified compounds in Baghdad. 

Minutes later, another bomb.  An SUV packed with explosives and ball-bearings.  Then a suspicion truck, a huge cement mixer tried to sneak through the breach made by the first blast and drive up to the hotels.  But U.S. troops fire on it. 

The truck backs up, trying to get closer to the hotels.  U.S. troops keep firing.  And then the truck explodes, a massive fireball. 

Less than 50 yards away, in the car with its hazards lights flashing, was NBC‘s Baghdad Bureau Chief Carl Bostic and his security team. 

KARL BOSTIC, NBC NEWS BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF:  Right now, we‘re trying to stay together.  We‘re not moving.  We‘re not getting out of the car.  We‘re trying to negotiate with the police.  And it‘s a very, very tense situation. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ENGEL:  A senior U.S. military commander tells NBC News that an American machine gunner likely set off the truck bomb before it could get any closer to the two hotels and cause many more casualties. 

The Palestine Hotel complex, Rita, has long been a magnet for the frustration and anger of the insurgents, in particular since it was at that square right in front of the Palestine where those famous images were captured of the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein.  That sent a message:  The end of Saddam‘s regime. 

Seems that tonight the insurgents were using the same square to send a message of their own, that they‘re back after a quiet period following the referendum—Rita? 

COSBY:  Richard, thank you very much. 

And now to the CIA leak, which is all about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction.  The White House is on pins and needles this week, as the Bush administration awaits possible indictments against two other top aides, Karl Rove and also Scooter Libby.

In an exclusive interview with former House Majority Tom DeLay, who is now facing charges of his own on money laundering and conspiracy, I asked him what he thinks will happen with the CIA leak investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER:  The investigation is ongoing.  Whatever happens will happen, and Karl Rove will have to deal with it.  The president will have to deal with it. 

I know Karl Rove.  I know that he‘s never intentionally violated the law.  I also know, though, these investigations, because I‘ve been dealing with them.  It can always sully your reputation, because sometimes these overactive investigators, when they find nothing wrong, then they try to find something else, like perjury or obstruction of justice, just so that they can have something. 

COSBY:  If Karl Rove or Scooter Libby is indicted, should they step aside, as you did? 

DELAY:  No, that‘s up to the president.  You know, I don‘t think they will be indicted.  But they serve at the will of the president, and the president will have to make that decision. 

COSBY:  What advice would you give to Karl Rove, who is going through the same thing as you? 

DELAY:  Well, depend on your faith.  That‘ll get you through. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And joining me now to talk more about the potential indictments is my pal, the host of “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY,” Joe Scarborough. 

Joe, do you agree with Tom DeLay?  Do you think that no indictments are going to come this week?  Or what do you expect?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST:  I don‘t agree with him at all.  I mean, the “New York Times” is reporting tonight—this is stunning, Rita—the “New York Times” just put it on the wires a couple of minutes ago that Scooter Libby, who‘s at the center of this investigation along with Karl Rove, Scooter Libby got his information on Valerie Plame‘s identity from where?  The vice president of the United States.

Where did the vice president of the United States get the information on Valerie Plame‘s identity?  Get this, Rita:  From the then-director of the CIA himself, George J. Tenet.

This CIA leak investigation is going to explode into a full-blown crisis for the White House tomorrow morning, when this news flashes across the front panel of the “New York Times” and just about every other newspaper in America.  This story is about to get extraordinarily hot for the White House. 

COSBY:  It definitely is going to crack wide open, especially if it goes to Cheney and Tenet.  It‘s going to be just incredible to watch, all the tentacles.

Joe, thank you very much.  I know you‘re going to have a lot more on your show in just about 12 minutes from now.  Thank you so much. 

And still ahead, everybody, on LIVE & DIRECT, exclusive reaction to the murder of Pamela Vitale, the wife of attorney Daniel Horowitz.  Reaction coming from his most prominent client, Susan Polk, who is accused of murdering her own husband.  That‘s coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK PIPE, DYLESKI‘S FORMER CLASSMATE:  He had a really white face and stuff like that.  And I think he wore, like, black lipstick.  And he just walked around, and everybody was like, “Oh, my God.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

COSBY:  Well, the kid that he‘s talking about is 16-year-old Scott Dyleski.  He‘s set to be arraigned this week for the murder of Pamela Vitale. 

Vitale‘s husband, high-profile defense attorney, Daniel Horowitz, is the lead counsel in the Susan Polk murder trial.  Susan Polk is accused of stabbing her husband to death.  Polk met with her husband when—met him when she was just 14 and he was her therapist. 

Well, the mistrial was declared last week, in the wake of Horowitz‘s wife‘s murder.  Susan Polk exclusively told us how she felt the mistrial might affect her own case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN POLK, ACCUSED OF MURDERING HUSBAND:  I am concerned about the delay.  I mean, there isn‘t—I think it‘s an erroneous myth that the defense—it‘s always better for the defense to delay.  That is not true. 

And I would say just the opposite, that it‘s always better, just about always better to go to trial as soon as possible, especially if you‘re innocent. 

I think that that, when this thing happened to Mrs. Horowitz, we thought, “Oh, my God, maybe it‘s connected to the case and to the people my husband was seeing,” some of whom were some very disturbed people. 

I think what Mr. Horowitz made clear in the opening statement is that I met my husband when I was 14.  That‘s something I‘ve kind of been in denial about.  I think he just—he had a problem.  And I think he liked young girls.

And that was his—you know, that was a real problem.  What he did, as I recall, is he would give me a cup of tea when I went in, and then, next thing I‘d know, I‘d look at the clock and the time was gone. 

And, in retrospect, years later, what I recall—and by then, we‘d been married for almost 20 years, that he‘d hypnotized me. 

We married when I was 24.  He then changed overnight.  He became extremely demanding, issued within the first week of marriage kind of a list of demands about how he expected me to behave, and house to be kept, and just the rules of the road.

And it was so scary, the transformation, how he was suddenly talking in this very angry voice and calling me names that I told him I was going to leave, I was going to go home to Mom.

And then he, at that point, threatened to kill me, and said I could never leave, and beat the crap out of me, and raped me.  But when I remembered the hypnosis, I turned to him, and I said, “I can‘t live with you anymore.  My God, you hypnotized me.” 

And the look on his face was like a veil coming down.  And he said, “You‘d better think about that.  You‘d better think about the consequences.  There will be consequences, you know.  You better think about the consequences to the children.” 

And he said it in such a way that it was more than just, you know, divorce consequences.  And, in time, he became more explicit. 

At first, I backed off, but then when he became—just that physical violence escalated, and he was just all over me.  Just towards the end, it was like all the time. 

I have a lot of faith in people, in their intelligence and their compassion, but as to whether that means a jury will bring in a not guilty verdict, maybe not, you know?  But I think we have to sometimes measure our victories by other standards, you know? 

Actually winning in court, yes, that would be lovely, to be vindicated that way, but I think that some people have made up their minds already, you know, that they‘ve looked, and they‘ve heard what I have to say, and they‘ve heard my son, and they believe in me.

And so, if I lose at trial, I may have won in another arena.  And so, at some point, I feel I‘ll be vindicated.  I really hope that, but I can‘t count on that.  So I have to take whatever comes my way. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Susan Polk, talking about her case.  We‘ll be right back with more LIVE & DIRECT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  That does it for me.  Now let‘s go to Joe. 

Joe, some stunning developments in the CIA leak investigation, right?

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  Thanks a lot, Rita.

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