Guests: Steve Cohen; John Q. Kelly; Richard Parton; Shannon Nowlan; Chris Pixley; Darren White;
RITA COSBY, HOST: Good evening, everybody. Tonight, the mother of the groom who vanished from his honeymoon cruise shows me the room where he grew up and desperately wants answers from the cruise line. It‘s an interview you will not see anywhere else.
And convicted killer Erik Menendez talks to me from prison, explaining why he and his own brother killed their parents.
But first, some late-breaking details out of Aruba tonight. LIVE AND DIRECT has learned that authorities are about to re-question the three main suspects in the case of missing Alabama student Natalee Holloway.
Joining me now on the phone is a special adviser to the Aruban government, Steve Cohen. Steve, when could this happen?
STEVE COHEN, SPECIAL ADVISER TO ARUBAN GOVERNMENT: Well, I think the sequence of events is fairly simple. Joran will be arriving back in Aruba in the next 24 to 48 hours. It is expected that he will be re-questioned somewhere in the next 10-day period. I doubt that they will bring him back for questioning immediately, but it will be in that period. And also, it is expected the Kalpoes will also be brought in for questioning.
I do want to make the distinction for you and your audience between questioning and rearrest. This is a questioning procedure that Chief Dompig is going to go through with them because as they‘ve analyzed the timeline, they‘ve found some other discrepancies and they want to review these discrepancies with the three suspects.
COSBY: Hey, Steve, what are those discrepancies exactly?
COHEN: Well, I think it‘s mostly timeline discrepancies, Rita. As you look at their testimony and their interrogations of where they were at different times between 1:30-something in the morning and between 3:30 in the morning, these are very important two or three-hour blocks that the investigators want to review in detail. I can‘t go much further than that because, obviously, we don‘t want to give away the nature of the interrogation.
By the way, the attorneys of these boys are aware that questioning was likely to occur within the next few week periods. So this is not a surprise to anyone.
COSBY: Although it‘s interesting, the time. We heard it might be coming, but now this is the first time we‘re hearing when it‘s going to happen. Incidentally, Steve, it just crossed the Associated Press wires, I‘m being told, that Joran has returned to the island, they said today. So Joran Van Der Sloot apparently just returned to the island. That‘s crossing the Associated Press wires that he met with his parents at the airport and left without speaking to reporters, but that he is back in Aruba. So that‘s good that her will be at least available for that re-questioning.
Steve, I want to show a comment, first. Let me roll this, if we could. This is Chief Gerold Dompig, the police chief there in Aruba. This is what he said to me last month when we talked about the boys.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEROLD DOMPIG, ARUBAN DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF: I still believe that these boys have been lying. They‘re still lying. And everybody knows that by now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: That, of course, was the police chief talking to me last month here on the show. You know, Steve, as we hear that, is this a voluntary questioning or involuntary?
COHEN: Well, they can be compelled to come back because they continue to be suspects. Remember that when Joran was allowed to go begin school, that basically, the suspect characteristic had not been waived, nor has it been with the Kalpoes, so...
COSBY: I guess what I‘m asking you is, Can they lie under oath? That was a distinction you and I talked about the other day.
COHEN: Yes, I think it‘s important to clarify all this, is that if they‘re under oath and they lie, that could be felonious. If they‘re involved in an interrogation and they lie, if the result of that lie leads to something that‘s a felony, obviously, that could be prosecuted. But it‘s not like the United States. If you lie to a federal agent, that‘s a felony, like Martha Stewart did to an FBI agent.
COSBY: Will they be under oath, Steven, in this new series of questioning?
COHEN: Well, the interrogation is not really an under-oath procedure to the way it would be in our court if you were under oath in front of a judge. It does not have the same sense of urgency and the same weight as it would. However, they have specific questions to ask them along the timeline, and as Dompig said, he‘s certain that there‘s discrepancies in what they said and he wants to see if he can clear them up. That‘s not to say that even if they‘re not cleared up and they are—if they were still lying, that that‘s going to lead to a felony count.
COSBY: Right. Steve, if you could stick with us because I want to bring in—this is the new attorney for the Holloway family, John Q. Kelly. John, of course, represented a lot of high-profile clients, including the family of Nicole Brown Simpson in the civil case against O.J. Simpson, and of course, son that. A lot of folks remember that well. And also, we have with us on the phone, Natalee‘s father, Dave Holloway, who joins us on the phone from his home.
John, let me get your reaction to this breaking news that now the suspects, as we just heard from Steve, probably in the next 10 days, will be re-questioned.
JOHN Q. KELLY, ATTORNEY FOR NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S FAMILY: That‘s terrific. It shows some progress. But once again, I wish the family or myself would not hear it through the media and be the last ones to know, that we‘d be kept in the loop by the media and the journalists and the Strategic Communications Task Force and be privy to some of this information.
COSBY: Let me get Dave Holloway. Dave Holloway, your reaction to the news that the three suspects are going to be re-questioned in the next 10 days?
DAVE HOLLOWAY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S FATHER: Well, that is good news they‘re going to be re-questioned. Of course, the question I have now is, Are they going to watch and see if they all get together and get all their stories straight now? You know, it‘s good to see that they give them all advance notice and tell them exactly what they need to know and what they need to be questioned on.
COSBY: Yes, Steve, how can you guarantee that they‘re not going to sort of try to combine their stories, like they did that very first night, when they got caught in that first lie?
HOLLOWAY: Well, there‘s not any guarantees. I mean, they already have notice now, so, you know...
COHEN: I don‘t think there are guarantees of any of it. And as I said, this isn‘t something that just came up. I mean, the attorneys knew for some time the likelihood that these boys would be brought back for questioning. I think it‘s a little silly to expect that the attorneys wouldn‘t have briefed them anyway. And again, of course, the attorneys will be with them for any interrogations. They cannot speak during interrogation, but they can take breaks and inform their clients.
COSBY: Is that something that John Q. Kelly could play a role in, you know, so we can get the family representative involved, Steve?
COHEN: No, I don‘t—unfortunately, I don‘t think. And I know that John, of course, is after very good purposes for the family. I just think that this is part of the process that is a closed process by the inspectors involved in the interrogation. I do think, though, that we‘re at a point now where it‘s very important that Mr. Kelly and the Holloways be able to reinsert themselves into communication with either Karin Janssen or Chief Dompig on a confidential basis, so that they can, in fact, know what‘s going on.
I think we‘re all hoping that we can sort of put away to the acrimony of the last months and just get down to all of us putting our energy on both sides of this issue because I think we‘re all on the same side, and to try to get as much faith and power together to solve this case.
COSBY: John, are you concerned that, as we just heard, at least right now, this is questioning not under oath, so they could technically lie again under Aruban law. What concerns you the most, John?
KELLY: Well, the suspects are not going to be under oath, and there‘s no repercussions for lying once again. And certainly, the element of surprise has been lost, too. But you know, as Steve pointed out, I‘m sure they‘ve themselves and the attorneys have known this day was going to come at some point, and I just hope that law enforcement rises to the occasion down there and finds a way to get the answers the family so desperately needs.
COSBY: And Dave Holloway, what concerns you the most? And what question, if you had them in front of you, what would you ask?
HOLLOWAY: Well, you know, I know the timeline is important. And certainly, I would ask them about any other people that may be involved, such as the father. You know, he‘s no longer a suspect, and I‘m wondering if he could be interviewed as a witness now.
COSBY: Real quick, Steve. You got a two-second answer. Will the father come in, Paulus Van Der Sloot?
COHEN: He could be brought in—he could definitely be brought in either voluntarily or he could be brought in again as a suspect, if that is the case...
COSBY: Is that in the plan?
COHEN: ... if they thought he could.
COSBY: Is that the plan?
COHEN: No, I don‘t believe that is in the plan.
COSBY: OK, guys, thank you very much. Steve, we do appreciate it. John Kelly, I‘m glad to hear that these guys are coming back in. And Dave, our prayers are going to be with you, too, during this holiday season. Thank you all very, very much.
So what should authorities look for when they re-question these three boys now with this new news, especially now that we know that Joran is back in Aruba? Is it possible to tell whether or not someone‘s lying just by the sound of their voice? Well, a piece of technology is putting that idea to the test. One voice analyst listened to an interview from suspect Joran Van Der Sloot that aired on American television, and he has big-time doubts about Joran‘s story.
Joining me now is layered voice analyst Richard Parton. He‘s the president of a company simply called V. Richard, how does this technology work? I see you sitting in front of the screen there.
RICHARD PARTON, LAYERED VOICE ANALYST: We work off the frequencies of the voice. From frequencies, we can tell the psychological parameters of the speaker, his willingness to talk, his concentration levels, how much he‘s thinking, if he‘s thinking from his memory or his imagination. We can see his emotional states. We can tell how many things he‘s deciding to hide from us.
At this point right here, he thought of about two different items he decided to withhold from us and tell us. You can also see his deception rate.
COSBY: Let me play a little chunk, and I‘m going to get to you analyze it. This is when Joran talked about the night that Natalee disappeared. He also addresses that allegation that the three suspects raped her. Here‘s what he had to say?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORAN VAN DER SLOOT, SUSPECT IN NATALEE HOLLOWAY DISAPPEARANCE: Well, yes, I kissed with her, but neither me, Deepak or Satish ever had sex with her, and no one ever—ever said otherwise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: Richard, what did you take from that?
PARTON: Well, when he said, “Yes, I kissed with her,” those were
inaccurate statements, you know, which would indicate that there was
something a little bit more involved with the kissing. But we were very
fortunate because he also mentioned Deepak and Satish‘s name also, and that
and that they didn‘t do anything, and that in itself came in as an inaccuracy. So we know for a fact now-...
COSBY: That‘s by the vibrations?
PARTON: From the frequency. We look at about 120 different parameters of the voice‘s frequency, and what we come up with is what we call the DNA of thought.
COSBY: Let me...
PARTON: So we are very precise.
COSBY: Let me play another chunk. This is about the night that Joran met her and about his feelings about Natalee. That is what he had to say before.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAN DER SLOOT: I didn‘t have any feelings for her because I didn‘t know her at all. I just—the feelings I had for her were because she was attractive. I thought she was very outgoing. She came to me. She was the one that talked to me. She asked for me to dance with her, which I didn‘t even do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: And what did you carry away from that, Richard?
PARTON: Number one, she didn‘t approach him. The most that she did was come into his field of vision. He was accurate when he said he didn‘t have any feelings for her. From this and other statements that he offered on that meeting with Natalee, the nearest thing we can find that can describe his feelings for her was akin to prey. He did not see her as a person. He did not see her as particularly—she was attractive, but not in an emotional sense but more in a—in a physical qualifying sense.
COSBY: And Richard, how do you know that this maybe just is an innocent boy who‘s nervous and that he comes across that way in the sound waves and the frequencies?
PARTON: The technology that we have analyzes the person from the situation, the ambient stress that they‘re in at that moment. Basically, you can be defusing a nuclear bomb, and we could calibrate you in that stress situation and tell if you‘re lying about touching the red wire or the black white. So the Ambient stress at the moment is irrelevant to us.
COSBY: Interesting stuff. Richard, thank you. Love to have you back on again. Fascinating technology.
And we‘re going to continue, of course, following all the developments
in Aruba. The new word, Joran Van Der Sloot back on the island of Aruba
and the new details that we just heard, that he and the two boys will be
re-questioned. We‘re going to keep following this case for you.
And still ahead, a lot more. The mother of a young woman—young man, rather, who vanished on his honeymoon cruise is telling me what she really thinks happened to her son. We‘re going to take you inside George Smith‘s childhood home.
And convicted killer Erik Menendez is talking from prison. Find out what he has to say about the night that he killed his own parents. Plus, you‘re going to hear what his wife has to say about being married to a famous inmate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can‘t imagine my life without him, so I will stand by him and fight for what is justice.
COSBY: And now to a LIVE AND DIRECT exclusive in the disappearance of George Smith. He‘s the missing honeymooner who disappeared during a Royal Caribbean cruise back in July. For the first time, George‘s family took me inside the home where he grew up. His mother gave me a firsthand and very emotional look at his room and shared with me the special memories that it holds for all of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(INAUDIBLE) this is his room?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my son‘s room. Mind you, he‘s been gone for a while now. This is his desk. This is his bed. He left when he was 18 to go away to college. And he came back and forth, you know, throughout the holidays. There‘s a nice picture of him there.
COSBY: When was that taken?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was taken actually on a cruise ship, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
COSBY: A different cruise?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A different cruise, yes.
COSBY: How long ago was that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was about three years ago, when we went to Greece.
COSBY: He‘s a handsome man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He‘s a very handsome man.
COSBY: This is supposed to be George?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That‘s supposed to be George, but it looks like
it doesn‘t look—it looks like (INAUDIBLE) but it doesn‘t look like George, not at all.
COSBY: This is George and his sister.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, that‘s George and his sister.
COSBY: And this over here is George and his father.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That‘s George and his father, and this is...
COSBY: This is from the local newspaper, “The Greenwich Times.”
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That‘s the local newspaper when they were doing some kind of promotion, 70th-year promotion.
COSBY: How long have they been working together?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two years. Just over two years, yes.
COSBY: How wonderful was that for you to have father and son together?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I loved it. I loved it because when I‘d go down there, the two of them would be down there working together. And I thought, Oh—he was away at college. He went to Boston to work. But now he‘s home and he‘s here, and we‘re all together again. And it was wonderful.
COSBY: And obviously, it was a well-known store in town...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, a very well known store.
COSBY: ... in Greenwich?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very well known store, yes. Yes. Very—the two of them were very well known.
COSBY: And worked hard together (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, worked very, very hard together, came home at night very, very tired. Very, very tired.
COSBY: It sounds like George—I was looking at some of the books here. And here‘s a winemaster (ph). So he was studying...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, he was studying the wines...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was really, really getting into the wines. He was pretty good at it, actually. He was very, very enthusiastic in it, interested in it. He really was interested in the wine business. See, here‘s a wine course he took, a complete wine course. He did—he was really into it, and he was really looking forward to the future of working with the wine store.
COSBY: What is this? This is looks like a...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His little bracelet...
COSBY: ... birth notes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That‘s his little bracelet when he was born.
And this is Greenwich Hospital, and it says, “I‘m a boy.”
COSBY: He was here for almost two decades.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes. And then he came back to live. After he left Boston, he came back here to live for a year before he started working with -- (INAUDIBLE) worked with my husband, and so he lived here for a year and he moved out after a year. But we loved having him. We loved having him home. You know, they say they come back. He came back, but we loved it.
COSBY: Also you have some yearbooks over here, too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes.
COSBY: Where‘s his—where‘s George?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: George is here.
COSBY: It says, “All men are great in their dreams. Reality just narrows in the competition.” And at the end, he says, “Thanks, Mom, Dad and Bree. The legacy continues.” So he‘s—he‘s honoring you. Even in high school, he was talking about you, which is a nice thing, right? You were very close. He‘s a handsome young man, too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Handsome and nice.
COSBY: The memories, huh?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, lots of memories! I mean, thank God we have good memories because loads of families don‘t have good memories. We have good memories. And here you see we have a lot of trophies. He‘s got his trophies here and he has his numbers here, perhaps in college and...
COSBY: He was quite an athlete.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, he was, but he didn‘t give it 100 percent. He just wasn‘t—he wasn‘t really a jock. He could have been, but he wasn‘t.
COSBY: What is that from, over here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That‘s when he played, you know, local—
Glenville (ph), the Mavericks.
COSBY: Which one is he?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is him here, I think, in the big tackle. Yes. He loved that. He did that all the way through, and then he played in high school. And I think he played for two years, two-and-a-half years in high school.
This is my son at Greenwich High School. And one day I was in here, and I found that he had his father‘s pin, as well, in here.
COSBY: This is from his fraternity in college?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is from his fraternity, yes, in Babson College.
COSBY: He obviously loved the social life there, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, he did. He loved the social life there. And in fact, three of them just came down now. They were groomsmen in his wedding, and they just came down to meet with us. And they are devastated, they‘re absolutely devastated by what‘s happened to him.
COSBY: Does it make it more difficult as time goes by?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It‘s more difficult as time goes by because we‘re not getting any answers! That‘s what is making it really difficult because sometimes, I think maybe he survived and maybe he‘s out there and he needs us. But then, you know, I think, Oh, God, how could he survive that, and I really think that he‘s gone. And when that comes to you it really comes to you with a belt.
But you just have to go on and get answers. When we get answers, I think we‘ll be stronger. And people say, you know, As time goes on, it gets easier. But you know what? As time goes on, it gets harder. I find it just gets harder and harder because—look at that smile! I mean, my God, we‘re such a small family and we were so close. But we will get answers. We will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: And let‘s hope that they do. We‘re going to have much more of my interview with the Smith family tomorrow. I was able to sit down with the whole family in a very candid conversation. They even revealed that they think George‘s wife, Jennifer, has not told them everything she knows. Here‘s a sneak peak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Are you satisfied that you‘re getting all the information from her, you as a family?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we‘d like to have a little more.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to have a little bit more from her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She hasn‘t given us totally everything that I think she possibly knows.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But I think she has stated that the FBI has requested that she keep certain things from that evening quiet. So you know, that could be the reason why we don‘t have...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. And I think the truth will come out eventually.
COSBY: But that‘s going to be troubling, too, as a family. This is someone who came into your family. You deserve to know. It‘s your son.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It‘s difficult. It does make it difficult.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s made it hard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It‘s made it very hard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: And the Smiths are going to have much more to say about the case and who they think may be involved and why they told me that they believe that their son was murdered. We‘re going to show you a riveting interview tomorrow night right here on LIVE AND DIRECT.
And sadly, George Smith is not the only person who mysteriously disappeared from a cruise ship. Chris Caldwell was on a cruise with his fiancee back in July 2004. On the last night of their voyage, Chris went missing after gambling at the ship‘s casino. He was never heard from again.
And joining us now is his sister, Shannon Nowlan, who joins us to talk about this case. You know, Shannon, your brother was on the cruise with his fiancee. What does she say happened to him? What was the last thing that she heard of?
SHANNON NOWLAN, BROTHER WENT MISSING ON CRUISE SHIP: She basically said that she went to bed at about 2:00 in the morning and told him that she was going to go pack, and he said that he would join up with her later. She later woke up at about 7:00 in the morning and realized that he hadn‘t come to the cabin. So she went to the crew and let them know what was going on. But first, she looked for him in a couple of places and then let the crew know what was going on, and then they did a search from there.
COSBY: Now, there was a bartender who said he saw your brother at 3:30 in the morning, said that he was intoxicated. Has that witness provided any more information on what may have happened?
NOWLAN: Not to my knowledge. I don‘t even know if that witness has been questioned by the FBI or anything along those lines. We‘ve had no contact at all with Carnival regarding the case.
COSBY: Now, how have they treated you? Because, you know, when I talked to the Smith family—and you‘re going to see this tomorrow—they were so angry. They even played—you know, we heard a recording that the cruise line—it was a different cruise line, of course, in their case—but it was a very sort of nonchalant, non-emotional response from the cruise line, talking to this poor family who‘s looking for their missing son. In the case of your brother, how did Carnival cruise line handle it?
NOWLAN: They have done absolutely nothing. They have not contacted my family in any way, shape or form. I called them about...
COSBY: Not at all?
NOWLAN: Not at all. I called them about three weeks after my brother died and to get some information about the death certificate, because I had no idea where to even start, whether I should get it in Virginia or Florida, where he passed. And I called four separate times and finally got a representative who would call me back after leaving messages. (INAUDIBLE) My name is Shannon Nowlan. My brother, Christopher Caldwell, went overboard on one of your cruise ships. Please call me back. I have some questions about how to obtain a death certificate.
When I actually got in touch with one of the representatives, one of the very first things she said to me was that the majority of people who go overboard either commit suicide or accidentally fall overboard from being drunk. And so I immediately, of course, was upset by that. And then we basically played phone tag for the next week or so, and then I just gave up and went and hired a lawyer.
COSBY: I want to show—this is—in fact, we contacted Carnival and they gave us a statement. I want to show it. It‘s pretty similar to what they said to you, it sounds like, on the phone. But they said to us, quote, “Throughout Carnival Cruise Lines‘ 33-year history, there has never been a man overboard incident that was suspected to have been the result of foul play. We‘re extremely sorry for the Caldwell family‘s loss and extend our sincere condolences.”
Shannon, why do you believe that it wasn‘t suicide or that he may have just fallen overboard? Why do you suspect it‘s foul play?
NOWLAN: I don‘t necessarily suspect that it‘s foul play, but the problem that I have is that there‘s no way for them to know what happened. There are no surveillance cameras in the area in which he went overboard. And therefore, there‘s no way for them to say whether he committed suicide or whether he fell overboard or whether somebody robbed him and pushed him overboard. There‘s no way for anyone to know that. And for them to make that statement without any kind of proof is—it just seems absurd to me.
COSBY: Absolutely. Very good point. So the bottom line is, you want some answers and you want to know what happened to your brother.
COSBY: Shannon, thank you very much. I hope this helps bring attention to it. Thank you.
NOWLAN: Thank you.
COSBY: And still ahead, everybody, there‘s an all-points bulletin out right now for hundreds of pounds of explosives. Who could have taken the dangerous loot? And do they have sinister plans?
And next, my interview with convicted killer Erik Menendez. Wait until you hear what‘s been going on between him and his brother and what he has to say to his wife, who he met while he was behind bars. It is all coming up.
COSBY: And after a decade behind bars, Erik Menendez is now speaking out about the horrific murder of his own parents, which he committed with his older brother, Lyle. In a rare jailhouse interview, he told me why he now regrets the murders. We‘ll have my conversation with Erik Menendez in just a minute. But first, how he got in prison in the first place.
COSBY (voice-over): August 1989, Jose and Kitty Menendez were at home in their Beverly Hills mansion when they were brutally murdered by their own sons, Erik and Lyle.
DISPATCHER: Who was the person that was shot?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mom and my dad.
COSBY: At first, the shocking crime baffled police. The Menendez family seemed to have it all, million-dollar homes, athletic and ambitious sons. Kitty was a former beauty queen and Jose a wealthy Hollywood executive who was close with some of the biggest stars around.
SYLVESTER STALLONE, ACTOR: He was a true cornerstone of the company, which I loved.
COSBY: No one seemed to believe that the brothers could be guilty of such a heinous crime. But just a few months after the murders, Erik confessed to his therapist. The brothers were soon arrested, and their trial turned into a media circus, which played out live on national TV.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They can‘t explain this away.
COSBY: On the stand, the brothers claimed they suffered years of sexual and physical abuse by their father.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He raped me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My dad had been molesting me.
COSBY: But prosecutors argued the brothers had plotted the brutal murder so they could spend their parents‘ money, buying fancy cars and even real estate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These defendants have lied throughout; they are lying now.
COSBY: The brothers‘ first trial ended in a deadlock. But a second jury didn‘t buy their defense. They were both convicted of first-degree murder. They are now behind bars, serving life sentences without the possibility of parole.
COSBY: And Erik Menendez spoke with me from his maximum-security prison in California. We talked about his years behind bars and his claims that he deserves now a second chance.
Erik‘s side of the story is being told in a brand-new book, written by his wife, Tammi, called, “They Said We‘d Never Make It.” I started by asking Erik about his older brother and former co-defendant, Lyle. I wanted to know how much of a relationship that they have now, since they‘re both locked up for life.
ERIK MENENDEZ, CONVICTED OF KILLING PARENTS: We have not seen each other or actually spoken to each other in 10 years.
COSBY: And why is that, 10 years?
R. MENENDEZ: They will not—the prison system is keeping us apart. We fought to be together, and we are not allowed to be together. And they won‘t tell us why.
The last time I saw him was at 3:00 in the morning when they chained us up and put us in separate vans. And they didn‘t even tell us they were going to separate us. And the next thing I knew, I never saw him again.
COSBY: What would you say to your brother, if you could see him after 10 years?
R. MENENDEZ: That I love him, and that I miss him, and that our bond that we‘ve shared will never diminish, will never go away, no matter the passage of time. Even if I never see him again, I will always love him.
COSBY: Why did you kill your parents?
R. MENENDEZ: I was terrified. I thought I was going to die. I mean, it wasn‘t a little bit of fear. I‘ve never been so scared in my life. And it may sound nuts now, even 15 years later. But I remember the horror I felt at that moment. And I‘ll never forget the sense of dread that I was about to die.
COSBY: Why did you think you were about to die?
R. MENENDEZ: Because of everything my father had told me in my life. I mean, my father, he would sit me down and describe to me what the inside of my head would look like after he finished killing me.
I remember one time I was almost 13 and I—my dad found me after I tried to run away. And he slammed me up against the tree and told me the next time I even tried, that he would kill me.
And I don‘t know if it‘s possible be to describe the fear you feel when someone has molested you. It‘s this sense of panic. And it was—there was a sense of dread that I—it‘s almost impossible to translate to you unless you‘ve experienced it.
COSBY: How bad was the sexual abuse that you say you experienced?
R. MENENDEZ: It was—I was raped. I was raped many times in my life by him. And, you know, it‘s something that I‘ve been able to talk about more after the trials, since the trials, with Tammi. She‘s really been my inspiration and being able to be open with her.
But before the actual trials and getting arrested, you know, I told one person, Andy, my closest friend, my first cousin. But other than that, I had never spoke about it, because of the humiliation and shame. I thought that I‘d brought it on myself.
COSBY: How much do you regret killing your own parents?
R. MENENDEZ: It‘s something—it‘s my real prison. People think that, you know, the prison is my punishment. Whether I was in prison now or not in prison now, I live with it every day of my life.
It‘s not something that you ever get over and you ever deal with, emotionally, killing two people that you love, that I loved. I mean, these are my parents. I loved them.
No matter what happened to me, it‘s something that‘s innate. The child loves his parents. And I certainly did. And it‘s something that I would go—I‘d give anything to be able to go back in time and undo it. And when I die, it‘s almost going to be a relief that I don‘t have to live with it anymore.
COSBY: Erik, how tough is it, because people are always going to remember you as one of those two boys who killed their parents?
R. MENENDEZ: It makes me sad. It‘s something that I‘m going to have to live with. But it makes me sad because, ultimately, who I am is much more than that.
And it‘s not an act that I condone. And I wish that I could undo it. I still get letters from people saying that they were molested, they wished they had done that. And I write to them and say, “No, you don‘t. This is the worst possible thing you could do. And you‘re so lucky that you don‘t act out in your—you know, in your rage or your fear or your panic, that you held back and, hopefully, went on to heal in life.”
COSBY: Erik, what do you think about this book written by your wife?
R. MENENDEZ: It‘s the only book that‘s ever told the true, untold story about me, what I did, and really the secrets I‘ve never talked about in my childhood and prison. And I‘m proud of Tammi for standing up for people and standing up for me.
COSBY: What do you think is the biggest secret in the book that‘s coming out that people are learning about you?
R. MENENDEZ: I think who I am is probably the biggest secret in the book. There‘s been so much misconception in the media about who I am, my personality, just my beliefs, who I‘ve developed into as a person, and my childhood, and how I feel about what I did. And this book exposes the truth for the first time.
COSBY: Why do you think you deserve another chance? I know you filed for appeals before.
R. MENENDEZ: I‘m not a killer. I never was. It‘s not who I am.
COSBY: But you killed your parents?
R. MENENDEZ: That‘s true, but I‘m not a murderer. You know, it‘s—
I didn‘t do this crime because I‘m a bad person or for whatever reasons that have been put out there. I panicked and I reacted in the worst imaginable way.
And that‘s true, but I‘m no murderer. I think that life‘s sacred, especially because of for what I did. I now hold life as ultimately sacred. And I would never, ever harm anyone or anything ever again.
COSBY: And when we come back, what does Erik‘s wife think about her husband‘s confessions of guilt and also love? And how did they meet behind bars?
And we‘re following a developing story, missing explosives. Who would want to take hundreds of pounds of dangerous bomb-making ingredients? What could they be used for? Stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
R. MENENDEZ: I love her more than anything I‘ve ever loved in my entire life. She is my great love. She‘s not just my best friend. She‘s my soul mate. And thank you for allowing me to find a way to heal and forgive myself. I love you, baby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: And that was convicted killer Erik Menendez sending a message to his wife. Tammi Menendez is the author of a new book called, “They Said We‘d Never Make It,” about her life with Erik. Today, I spoke with Erik‘s attorney, Chris Pixley, about plans to appeal the murder conviction. And I asked Tammi how it felt to hear her husband‘s words to her.
TAMMI MENENDEZ, WIFE OF ERIK MENENDEZ: It kind of makes me teary-eyed.
COSBY: I can see.
T. MENENDEZ: Yes, so, it‘s very sweet. And, you know, he is very sweet. And, you know, it makes me kind of teary-eyed and cry, so...
COSBY: Why‘d you write this book? It is a fascinating book. Why now?
T. MENENDEZ: It was time to basically tell the story, the real story, the true story of what Erik went through growing up and how he came to terms with what he did that night, August 20th, and what he dealt with in the home. And the real Erik is revealed in the pages of the book, and not speculation, not somebody that the media has portrayed.
COSBY: The name of the book is appropriate. “They Said We‘d Never Make It.”
T. MENENDEZ: Right.
COSBY: You know, a lot of people are saying, how can you have a relationship with someone who‘s behind bars right now for life? How tough is that?
T. MENENDEZ: It‘s very difficult. It‘s very difficult. Monday through Friday, it‘s very difficult. On the weekends...
COSBY: No conjugal visits, right? You can‘t have any intimacy.
T. MENENDEZ: No, just a kiss when you come in, a kiss when you leave. You can hold hands. And that part of it is very difficult and people don‘t understand.
I think when they read the book—I‘ve got a lot of e-mails from people that have read the book, and they understand when they read it. You know, it‘s hard to sum it up in a brief moment, but...
COSBY: Well, I was talking to your daughter. You have a 10-year-old daughter.
T. MENENDEZ: Right.
COSBY: And she goes and visits him. And she was saying, yes, she plays soccer with him at the prison. So they can have—there is a relationship. You just can‘t have any physical relationship.
T. MENENDEZ: Exactly. It‘s emotional. And it‘s, you know, within those hours on the weekends. That‘s what it boils down to. And he calls. And, you know, if I‘m having a bad day and he calls and I talk to him, then I feel a lot better when I talk to him.
COSBY: How‘d you meet Erik to begin with?
T. MENENDEZ: I met him when I saw the first trial. My heart went out to him, what he was going through on the stand. I felt sorry for him. And I decided to write him one letter. And if he wrote back, he did. If he didn‘t, that‘s fine. And he did, about a month later.
COSBY: And then you got married. How long after that?
T. MENENDEZ: It was ‘99. I started writing to him—I think it was ‘93. And we‘ve been together and doing well ever since, so...
COSBY: How often do you visit him? And what are those visits like?
I mean, he‘s at a maximum-security prison.
T. MENENDEZ: Maximum-security prison, it‘s very difficult. It‘s very intimidating when you go into a maximum-security prison. It‘s very sad, emotionally, to see the families there that get turned away that can‘t see their loved ones. It‘s very sad when the kids have to leave their dads, you know, their brothers.
You know, so it‘s—but, as far as the visits with Erik, you know, we have very emotional visits. And she has—my daughter has fun with him and plays soccer, like you said...
COSBY: On the yard...
T. MENENDEZ: On the yard? It‘s a very small yard.
COSBY: Do you worry about your daughter being in that environment?
T. MENENDEZ: The visiting room is very safe. And that‘s what she sees walking through there, because the inmates know that that there‘s nothing—I‘ve never seen an incident in the visiting room. And so there‘s nothing. It‘s like a big cafeteria, and there‘s other kids there. She loves other kids, so she has fun, you know, there.
COSBY: And I know you‘re hoping to see more of him, because, Chris Pixley, you‘re working on an appeal. What‘s the basis?
CHRIS PIXLEY, ERIK MENENDEZ‘S ATTORNEY: Well, Rita, we‘ve got five issues that were accepted by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. We are going to be taking those five issues onto the U.S. Supreme Court.
To understand the appeal, you really have to understand the backdrop. And to just boil it all down, people often forget that the second trial for Erik and Lyle Menendez started just six days after O.J. Simpson was acquitted. This was a time period, too, when the L.A. county district attorney had just lost the McMartin case, which was the largest child molestation case in the state‘s history.
So L.A. County in general, the L.A. County district attorney‘s office, certainly had a black eye. And you also had a judge on the bench presiding over the Menendez trial who had also presided over the Rodney King debacle. So he knew firsthand how disastrous and unpopular a verdict can be. And you have this confluence of events that led, in the second trial, to the defense just simply being gutted.
COSBY: And, Chris, when could it go before the Supreme Court? How soon?
PIXLEY: Well, we‘ll be filing our petition for writ of cert sometime in the next 60 days. And then you are probably looking at the October calendar in 2006.
COSBY: You know, and, Chris, it‘s a tough place. You‘ve gone to visit Erik. You know, prison‘s a very violent place. But there was a murder there not too long ago, right?
PIXLEY: There was. I mean, there are times that we‘re not—in fact, we were out to see him just about six weeks ago. And, yes, there was an inmate that was murdered just a few cells down from Erik by his cellmate.
You know, people, I think, fail to understand. There certainly is a certain amount of lore in society about how violent the prison system is and yet we really don‘t understand it, you know, the gangs, and the guards, and the general heaviness that hangs in the air is the least of it.
When you‘re in a maximum-security prison with people who are life-sentenced, they have nothing to lose. And when you‘re somebody like Erik Menendez, you know, a famed person, you‘ve got a big bull‘s eye on your back.
COSBY: You know, Tammi, you‘ve got to worry about him. And do you think he‘ll ever be free?
T. MENENDEZ: I‘m hopeful. But the Ninth Circuit really, you know, made him and me lose a lot of hope. And you know, you have to realize that I know his issues are very strong, and he‘s had the best attorney that could possibly be. So it should have been overturned. And I‘m very upset about that.
COSBY: And as you say in the book, are you going stand by him no matter what?
T. MENENDEZ: Oh, I am. I can‘t imagine my life without him. So I will stand by him and fight for what is justice.
COSBY: And for more information on the Menendez case and for excerpts of Tammi‘s new and very revealing book, you can log onto their website at ErikMenendez.com.
And still ahead, everybody, there‘s an all-points-out bulletin tonight, right now looking for crooks who stole a lot of explosives, hundreds of pounds. Is there a sinister reason behind this? That‘s coming up.
COSBY: An all-points bulletin out tonight for some potentially deadly explosives stolen in New Mexico. Four hundred pounds of military-grade plastic explosives have vanished from a storage facility. This includes 150 pounds of sheet explosives, 20,000 feet of detonation cord, and 2,500 detonating devices. The explosives were kept in a storage facility in Bernalillo County near Albuquerque.
Sheriff Darren White joins me now LIVE & DIRECT with the very latest.
Sheriff, have you gotten any leads on this?
SHERIFF DARREN WHITE, BERNALILLO COUNTY, NM: Well, we‘ve gotten some calls, Rita, but one thing we‘re not doing is we‘re not sitting on our hands. We have detectives right now, teams of detectives out across this region, shaking the bushes and trying to generate some leads on their own, as well, so things are moving along.
COSBY: How concerned are you, Sheriff?
WHITE: I‘m very—you can‘t—Rita, this is serious. You know, this material in the hands of the wrong person could—and especially someone with evil intentions—could prove to be very, very destructive and deadly. So we‘re very, very concerned. And because of that, we‘re doing everything in our power to try to recover this material and find whoever is responsible for taking it.
COSBY: Do you have any ideas, Sheriff? I mean, are we looking at terrorists? Are we looking at someone domestic? Are we looking at kids fooling around, which we hope that it‘s something less sinister, of course?
WHITE: Well, Rita, because we don‘t have much information, I think it would be inappropriate to rule anything out. So I think it‘s really clear, by all the agencies that are currently involved in this investigation, that we‘re taking it very seriously. We‘re not ruling anything out. And we‘re doing everything we can to get this stuff back into custody and make is safe and secure.
COSBY: You know, Sheriff, I know this isn‘t your job, but I was stunned to see just sort of the lack of, you know, supervision of these areas, particularly which were housing these explosions and detonation cords.
No surveillance cameras, no guards on duties, yet they met the ATF guidelines. And then I just heard a little bit before the show that there‘s actually a sign—there it is, “Danger: Never Fight Explosives, Fires”—in other words, “Hint, hint, we got maybe explosives inside.” It‘s kind of shocking just sort of the lack of oversight there.
WHITE: You know, Rita, when I first saw that sign a couple of days ago, I had to scratch my head because I had to ask myself, “Was this a warning or an invitation?”
We‘re very concerned about the lack of security that was contained at this site. You have to also understand that the man who is running this facility was in complete compliance with the federal regulations. Well, that needs to be a clear indication that we need to change some federal regulations and tighten up the security at these facilities.
And I‘m being told tonight that this may be the largest theft of explosives in our country. So, you know, we‘ve got great concerns.
COSBY: Wow, that‘s very significant, if, indeed, that‘s the largest theft. Sheriff, real quick, I know we‘ve just got a couple of seconds left. You‘ve got a reward out there, and you also have a number for folks to call, if they have any information at all. Please let us know about both of those.
WHITE: Right. Right now, the ATF and the FBI are offering a $50,000 reward. If anybody has any information, it‘s important to point out that this is not a local story anymore. There was a five-day span from when this was actually discovered missing and last seen secure. So this material could be anywhere in this country.
If you have any information we ask that you call 505-843-STOP. That‘s our local crimestoppers number.
COSBY: Great, Sheriff. And, again, everybody at home, the number is 505-843-STOP. If you have any information, please do call that. And, Sheriff, thank you. Please keep us posted and let us know what we can do. Thank you.
And when we come back, everybody, another APB, this much, a much lighter one, it‘s for a four-legged escapee. It‘s video “Caught by Cosby.” It‘s quite interesting, as you can see. And it‘s coming up.
COSBY: Well, a police dog apparently did not like the sight of these unusual criminals running down the streets of Montville, Ohio, a group of horses. Two officers worked to herd the horses off the road and back into their home pastures. It took four hours to get them back to home. The owners say they‘re thankful that no one was hurt.
And that does it for me on LIVE & DIRECT tonight. I‘m Rita Cosby.
Now to “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.”
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