Guest: Warren Riley, Phin Percy, Robert Jenkins, Larry Kaye, Jack Hickey,
Clete Hyman, Mark Gagan, Gloria Allred, Brian Oxman
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, GUEST HOST: Good evening, everybody. Rita is off tonight. I'm Jane Velez-Mitchell.
Tonight, the cryptic letter delivered to a man who works to find missing people, including Natalee Holloway. Is the letter from his own daughter's killer? And the shocking case of a porn actress on the run. Wait until you hear who cops say she seduced.
But we begin tonight with a New Orleans man shot dead by police, and it is all caught on tape. Officers opened fire after the victim repeatedly refused to drop his knife. Police say they felt threatened, despite surrounding the man and trying to subdue him with pepper spray. This is the first deadly shooting since New Orleans reopened in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In just a few moments, I will talk to the man who shot that very dramatic videotape.
But first, the New Orleans police chief is breaking his silence for the first time tonight. Chief Warren Riley is live on the phone with us right now for an exclusive interview. Thank you so much for joining us.
CHIEF WARREN RILEY, NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT: You're welcome.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I have to start out with—I guess a lot of people are simply wondering why this man had to die. Why didn't the police just incapacitate him?
RILEY: Why didn't we incapacitate him?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Shoot him in the leg, for example.
RILEY: Well, I think our officers gave him—our officers gave him every opportunity and every option to put the weapon down. We used force other than our weapons, as it relates to using the mace, which had no effect on the subject. Officers were extremely patient, giving him verbal instructions numerous times, until the person (INAUDIBLE) actually raised the knife and lunged at a police officer, at which time he was shot.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I don't want to sound like I'm second guessing because it's easy to ask questions sitting in a chair here. You're out there in the field. A lot of people are wondering why not shoot him in the leg, or for example, taser guns? I understand that your department, the officers do not carry taser guns. Why not?
RILEY: Well, first in answer to your question about shooting him in the leg—I think, nationally, the vast majority of federal, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies train to shoot to for center mass (ph). It is simply done because, historically, it has been proven, if you go back 20 years, where officers have, in fact, shot people in the arm or in the leg and the officer was subsequently killed by that same person. So training—actually, we're trained to shoot for center mass. We're trained to incapacitate the person, to reduce their ability to inflict any additional harm on anyone.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, this video looks like there are so many officers there. We've gotten a lot of conflicting reports. How many officers were there exactly? How many shots were fired? How many officers fired those shots? And what's happened to the officers who actually fired?
RILEY: Well, we had 16 police officers on the scene. Three police officers fired their weapons. Nine rounds were actually fired at the subject.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So what's happened to the officers who fired the rounds?
RILEY: Well, those three officers have been reassigned, pending the investigation, an internal review.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, if do you an internal review, could you change your mind and decide, Hey, they didn't have to do this, and could they be disciplined?
RILEY: Certainly. I mean, that's what the investigation is for. It is to determine if the officers did, in fact, do everything that was necessary prior to using deadly force. Was the action necessary at the time? And that's what the investigation will reveal.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What's the...
RILEY: But our preliminary—preliminary indications, based on the video that you all saw and the account of numerous witnesses, numerous witnesses who have come forward, stating the police did everything that they could and that that subject left them no choice.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Chief, what's the morale and what's the mentality of the officers on your force right now? Obviously, this is a city in crisis, and they are in crisis, as well. They're people, and they're suffering through the stress, as well.
RILEY: Well, I think the morale—all things considered, that things are going relatively well. Our morale is good. You know, you have some officers that you can see little effect. Things are very good for them. Then we have some officers that are not as upbeat as some. But you know, we all suffered different amounts of disruption in our lives, as it relates to our homes, finances and family. I mean, this catastrophe is far beyond what anybody who's not here can imagine.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It certainly is. And I have to raise a troubling question. We all know that the New Orleans Police Department has sort of a history, a reputation of excessive force and corruption. And during Hurricane Katrina, some of the officers left their posts. And then there was this other beating that happened in the wake of Katrina, that one you're looking at right now. And there were officers who were fired. What's going on with the New Orleans Police Department? Do changes need to be made?
RILEY: Well, you know, what's going on in New Orleans is not unique to any urban police force. We all have times such as this. I mean, you can go back a few years ago, when it was New York. You can go back to when LA had their problems, and other places. It's not unique to a urban city. It's how we deal with them and how we correct issues that are negative.
When you look at the Bourbon Street incident, we took swift and decisive action.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right...
RILEY: It was clear that something had to be done to change that and to change the mindset. NOPD is going in a new and a positive direction. We are encouraging our officers to be as professional and as courteous as possible. However—however—if you look around this country, numerous major cities have buried police officers over the last four weeks. I mean, I think you all are aware of that. And certainly, this situation, had an officer attempted, to tackle this gentleman, who was a very large gentleman, we could have had an officer seriously injured.
But every option was given to Mr. Hayes. I'm very sorry for—I feel sorry for his family. But I also feel sorry for the police officers who have to go through this and their families who have to deal with this, as well.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is stressful all the way around. And I want to thank you, Chief, for taking the time to answer questions and coming on our show. We do very much appreciate it. Thank you, sir.
RILEY: Well, thank you. Thank you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, I want to bring in the man who videotaped that police shooting. Phin Percy is LIVE AND DIRECT tonight from our NBC News bureau in New Orleans. You are a professional photographer. What made your instincts kick in and decide to roll that camera?
PHIN PERCY, TAPED NEW ORLEANS SHOOTING: Well, I am staying with my father on St. Charles Avenue, which is—after Katrina and the flooding,has become, basically, the main thoroughfare for New Orleans, so it's not unusual in the course of a day to have numerous police cars and fire trucks and EMS units going by, lights and sirens. And with a news instinct, regardless of the time of day, I usually take a look out the window to see if maybe something going on nearby, and...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, you looked out the window. What did you see?
PERCY: Well, I looked out the window after I heard a police car pull up and screech to a halt. And it was—Mr. Hayes, as he's been identified, was backing up St. Charles Avenue with both his arms up, flailing, with a cordon (ph) of maybe a dozen New Orleans police officers with their weapons drawn, as you can tell from the video, preceding along, following Mr. Hayes as he worked his way up St. Charles Avenue.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, one of the things about all this is that we don't actually have the video of the shooting itself. I understand, at some point, you decided to get a better shot, ran downstairs. And is that when the shots rang out?
PERCY: Right. I actually had no choice but to go downstairs. They left the view of my window. I'd say I was shooting from the window for maybe two or three minutes, and then when they left my field of view, I ran downstairs. And as I was approaching St. Charles Avenue, I heard numerous shots and knew that the gentleman had probably been shot.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Phin, excellent work. Please stand by. I want to bring in another eyewitness to the shooting in here, New Orleans attorney Robert Jenkins, with us now. You happened to be there. You're an attorney. What exactly, precisely, did you see as this confrontation escalated?
ROBERT JENKINS, EYEWITNESS TO SHOOTING: Well, what I saw was that the police department—the police officers were surrounding Mr. Hayes. He was backing up, like a slow-moving procession. They were yelling at him to drop the knife, to get on the ground. He refused. He was yelling back. He was very agitated, somewhat aggressive. They were telling him to get on the ground and drop the knife. He wouldn't do so.
He would move left. They would move left, trying to get him to comply. At some point, they hit him with a large amount of pepper spray, and it didn't faze him. In fact, what I could see, it looked like he went into his pocket, got a towel or something and wiped it off, and just kept going like it never, ever happened.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So do you think...
JENKINS: There were times...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... the shooting was justified, from what you saw?
JENKINS: Well—well, let me tell you like this. That's up to the police department to make that determination, but I can tell you that I felt that the police, even prior to the shooting, was very restrained. They took great patience to try defuse the situation. He just was not, you know, complying.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, apparently, the crowd just went wild after the shooting occurred. There was a crowd there, wasn't there?
JENKINS: Right. There was—there was a lot of people coming outside, and a lot of people were outside. After the gunshots rang out, many in the crowd started yelling, you know, They didn't have to shoot him, they could have shot him in the leg, and things of that nature. But at this point, you have to understand they're down at the other end of the block, and they're out of the view of a lot of people in the crowd.
But I can tell you, prior to the shooting, they did everything they could to defuse this, to end the situation, and he just was not going to have it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, you are a criminal defense attorney. You deal with people in crisis. Any explanation for why this man did not listen, why he did not respond to the pepper spray, why he didn't lie down on the ground, as instructed? I mean, was he in a state of shock? We understand there's a lot of people in New Orleans right now who are depressed. They come home, they find out all their belongings are destroyed. They're literally walking up and down the street in a suicidal state. Could that be this case?
JENKINS: Well, I don't think it's literally like they got people in a suicidal state like that. I really don't know his state of mind. I just know that from this particular case, I can honestly tell you that he just was not complying. New Orleans is not in a situation where people are suicidal, walking down the street...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, actually, sir, the suicide rate is higher than normal, and that is according to a report in “The New York Times” today. It's gone up.
JENKINS: Yes, but what you're saying is that—what you're—the way you made it sound is that you can walk down the street and about one out of three people walking down the street are suicidal because of the hurricane. I'm only talking about what I saw as related to this incident. Now, I know nothing about his mental state. I have no idea about it. I can only tell what you I saw, and I can tell you that he just didn't comply with the officers' request.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you so much, sir. And I have a quick question for Phin. What was it like to observe this? I mean, this was ultimately a man who died. Is this a very surreal thing to watch unfold even from behind a camera?
PERCY: Absolutely. I think it's surreal to film it. I think it's surreal to watch it. It's a terrible thing. I don't know anyone that's not sorry about the outcome, particularly the officers involved. I've had a lot of questions from friends about the justification of the shooting. No one ever mentions, except for the chief moments ago, what these officers go through. It's got to be tough.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to thank both of you very much for taking the time to talk to us. And all we know about that man is he's 38 years old. His name has not been released, pending notification of next of kin. Thank you both once again.
Also tonight, we are on the case of a suspected serial rapist who escaped from prison. Tonight, we can tell you that Reynaldo Rapalo has been caught, and he is back behind bars. We have learned that cops found him last night after a tip from someone who saw Rapalo in their Miami neighborhood. Rapalo and another inmate escaped a week ago by climbing through a vent in the ceiling. Today, a Miami judge ordered him held without bond at a jail different from the one where he escaped.
Still ahead: The hunt is on for a porn actress accused of unspeakable crimes with a minor. Details on that and a whole lot more coming right up.
Still ahead: A sick joke or a letter from a killer? Find out why a man who works to find missing people like Natalee Holloway may have gotten a big clue in the death of his own daughter.
And the search for answers in the case of missing honeymooner George Smith. His family blames the cruise line. But is that fair?
And Michael Jackson and his kids. They hit the malls overseas as Jackson gets hit with allegations of kidnapping his own kids. It's coming up.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now to a high-profile missing persons case, the search for George Smith, who vanished from his honeymoon cruise this summer. In a candid interview, Rita Cosby talked to his mother, father and sister about their unanswered questions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BREE SMITH, GEORGE SMITH'S SISTER: The extent of the blood that was in the cabin, as well as the blood on the overhang, and also the fact that the FBI is still spending millions of dollars on my brother's investigation almost six months later—if it was an accident, the FBI would not be spending all its resources on my brother's case, when there's terrorism and a lot of other concerns that they could be focusing on.
RITA COSBY, HOST: What do you believe was the basis for the murder?
MAUREEN SMITH, MOTHER OF GEORGE SMITH: We don't know.
BREE SMITH: No.
MAUREEN SMITH We really don't know, and that's why we're trying so hard.
GEORGE SMITH, SR., FATHER OF GEORGE SMITH: There's a lot of theories out there, and you know, robbery and...
BREE SMITH: We don't know.
MAUREEN SMITH We don't know.
GEORGE SMITH: Who knows? There's a lot of rumors going around, you know, something about large amounts of money and winnings in the casino and...
COSBY: One of the theories, as you pointed out, was that maybe he won a lot of money, was maybe bragging about his winnings maybe in the casino, and he was a target because folks knew on the ship that he had some money with him. Is there anything in his nature that would lead to you believe he was a braggart, that maybe he would be a little show-boating?
BREE SMITH: No, he wouldn't—he wouldn't brag, I don't think. But you know, he wouldn't necessarily have to brag. If people saw, you know, him winning, he wouldn't need to say a word. But we can't comment on any motive because we honestly don't know.
MAUREEN SMITH: We don't know.
GEORGE SMITH: We're looking for answers ourselves.
COSBY: Is it possible that it had something to do with Jennifer, who was also partying?
BREE SMITH: We also don't know. You know, it's very possible. We just don't have the information.
COSBY: Were they big partiers?
BREE SMITH: They were on their honeymoon. You know, they were drinking, but they didn't have to drive. I think that's one of the reasons why people go on cruises. You don't have to worry about having a few drinks and then getting in a car. And you know, generally, in the past, people have felt safe and not realized that they need to be on guard on these ships. But I think that's one thing that my brother's, you know, murder has brought into attention, the fact that you can't let your guard down. You have to be aware of your surroundings, and, you know, be careful if you have a few too many drinks because someone could take advantage of you on these cruise ships.
MAUREEN SMITH: That's what Royal Caribbean like to push, intox—they were intoxicated. That's all they kept saying. But you know what? They're the ones that push the drinks.
GEORGE SMITH: And they're the one that throws the bar (ph) under the door with the big—the big bill at the end of the cruise.
MAUREEN SMITH: They push those drinks on you. And you're in the casino, and if you're gambling, those drinks are flowing freely. And this is what they do. And then they turn around and they say “intoxicated,” you know, like it's a dirty word.
BREE SMITH: You shouldn't die because you've had a few drinks.
MAUREEN SMITH: You shouldn't be murdered because you drink.
BREE SMITH: And I think that that's a very easy scapegoat for Royal Caribbean to claim it was an accident because he had a few drinks. But the facts are that the FBI is still investigating. And I think that, usually, the cruise lines are successful in saying that it's a suicide or an accident, but because of the physical evidence in my brother's case, unfortunately...
GEORGE SMITH: They couldn't cover it up.
BREE SMITH: ... for them, they could not cover up this crime.
MAUREEN SMITH: Had there not been an overhang and my son went right into the water, we could have—they could have cleaned that room up very nicely.
GEORGE SMITH: It would be another statistic.
MAUREEN SMITH: And it would be another statistic, another suicide overboard.
COSBY: Is it possible that he got drunk and went overboard on his own?
MAUREEN SMITH: No.
BREE SMITH: No.
GEORGE SMITH: Totally impossible.
BREE SMITH: Impossible.
COSBY: Why do you rule that out?
MAUREEN SMITH: There was so much blood.
GEORGE SMITH: Because of the fight.
MAUREEN SMITH: There was so much blood in the room. There was...
GEORGE SMITH: The violent fight—you know...
GEORGE SMITH: ... fall overboard.
BREE SMITH: If you've been drinking, your legs are what give out first. You can't get over a four-foot railing if you're not standing very well.
MAUREEN SMITH: There was a violent fight, and there were voices heard out on the balcony, and foreign voices. And then they were heard in the cabin. And there was lots going on on that ship.
COSBY: Josh, one of his attorneys, I remember seeing on one of the shows, the boy from San Diego—one of his attorneys was sort of suggesting, Well, maybe George was suicidal. Maybe he jumped overboard.
MAUREEN SMITH: He retreated that—retracted that the next day, though.
BREE SMITH: Yes.
MAUREEN SMITH: That was brought right back. You know, you're going to hear so many things.
BREE SMITH: And a lot of people say things to protect themselves.
MAUREEN SMITH: Yes. Yes.
COSBY: Was he depressed? Is there any possibility he would have taken his own life?
BREE SMITH: No. No. No possibility.
MAUREEN SMITH: I have photos of him his last day and...
GEORGE SMITH: How could you go on a cruise and spend $10,000 and be depressed?
MAUREEN SMITH: I have photos of him. We have photos of him in Mikonos, and you could not meet—my God, he looked so happy.
GEORGE SMITH: He was having such a great time, and he was just looking forward, you know, to everything.
COSBY: What a lot of people wonder is, you know, it was a honeymoon, and yet we've heard stories that George was upstairs gambling, Jennifer was over here drinking...
MAUREEN SMITH: This is what you do, though.
COSBY: What kind of a honeymoon...
MAUREEN SMITH: You know, they...
COSBY: ... does that sound like to you?
MAUREEN SMITH: They lived together for two years.
GEORGE SMITH: Three.
MAUREEN SMITH: Three.
GEORGE SMITH: ... felt like they'd—it was like a two-month...
MAUREEN SMITH: When we go on a cruise, George gambles, I go back.
BREE SMITH: In the past, we have been almost on the identical cruise, in 2001, my brother, myself and my parents. I would stay at the disco. My brother would be, you know, at a different part of the casino. Then my dad and my mom would be in the room. And I wouldn't think—you know, I would stay to the—at the casino until 2:00 o'clock and walk back by myself, and I would never think that this could happen. We just didn't have that awareness.
COSBY: Are you satisfied that you're getting all the information from her, you as a family?
GEORGE SMITH: I think we'd like to have a little more.
MAUREEN SMITH: I would like to have a little bit more from her.
GEORGE SMITH: She hasn't given us totally everything that I think she possibly could have.
BREE SMITH: But I think she—she has stated that the FBI has requested that she keep certain things from...
MAUREEN SMITH: Right.
BREE SMITH: ... that evening quiet. So you know, that could be the reason why we don't have all...
MAUREEN SMITH: Right. And I think the truth will come out eventually.
COSBY: But that's got to be troubling to you, as a family. This is someone who came into your family. You deserve to know. It's your son.
BREE SMITH: It's difficult.
GEORGE SMITH: It's made it hard.
MAUREEN SMITH: It's made it very hard.
BREE SMITH: Yes.
COSBY: What was his relationship like with Jennifer? Did it seem things were good?
GEORGE SMITH: They were very, very much in love.
BREE SMITH: Yes, they were very much in love.
MAUREEN SMITH: He just idolized her, idolized her.
COSBY: No problems?
BREE SMITH: No.
MAUREEN SMITH: Oh, no.
BREE SMITH: No.
MAUREEN SMITH: He thought—you know, he was the happiest I've ever seen him on his wedding day, and he told everybody how much he loved her, didn't he?
BREE SMITH: Yes.
MAUREEN SMITH: Told everybody.
COSBY: Were they faithful?
MAUREEN SMITH: Oh, my God, yes!
BREE SMITH: You couldn't find a more loyal person than my brother.
GEORGE SMITH: My son would not do that. It's just not in his character.
COSBY: Do you believe that maybe he trusted the wrong people?
GEORGE SMITH: I think so.
BREE SMITH: That's what happened, I think.
COSBY: Someone on the ship?
GEORGE SMITH: Yes.
MAUREEN SMITH: Oh, yes.
GEORGE SMITH: You know, on the ship like that, there's usually not a big crowd at his age. And I guess, you know, if there's 10 people on board, 8 or 10 of them are going to start to hang around together, and he probably got into the wrong group.
COSBY: Maybe the Russians?
GEORGE SMITH: I don't—you know, I don't know. You know, there's all speculation. You know, we really don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So what should the Smith family do to get the answers they want? Plus, we get exclusive reaction from the Royal Caribbean cruise line. That's all coming up.
Also, the search is on for a porn actress accused of an illegal starring role. And Michael Jackson takes another trip to the shopping mall and makes international headlines. Stay with us.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right now, reaction to a LIVE AND DIRECT exclusive. LIVE AND DIRECT got the first interview from the security chief of Royal Caribbean cruise lines. The company offered a reply to the family of the groom who vanished on his honeymoon cruise. George Smith's family has made it very clear they are very frustrated with the way the cruise line handled the investigation.
Joining us now is maritime attorney Jack Hickey, Larry Kaye, a maritime attorney who worked for Royal Caribbean, and on the phone is Clete Hyman. He's a man who was on the ship right next door to George Smith's cabin. He is also a deputy police chief in Redlands, California.
Let's start with Larry. As a maritime lawyer who used to represent Royal Caribbean, what about the Smith family's criticisms that Royal Caribbean did not lock down the ship after George disappeared? Why no lockdown?
LARRY KAYE, MARITIME ATTORNEY: Well, we all have to understand, Jane, these people have been through an unimaginable tragedy. I mean, they've lost their son. They have no answers. They're frustrated. They're angry. So it's very understandable that they are lashing out and they are looking for answers. And of course, because it's an ongoing investigation, they haven't gotten a whole lot.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But why no lockdown?
KAYE: Well, I think the lockdown is really a strange notion. What is a lockdown? This is a ship that's as long as the Empire State Building is tall. You've got over 4,000 people on board. One of the things we don't know is when that ship arrived in Turkey and began disembarking passengers, before Mr. Smith was even discovered missing. So you know, when an incident such as this, even though it's extremely rare in the cruise industry, if it had happened in a hotel, if it had happened in an apartment building, if it had happened in a condominium, you don't lock down the entire facility. You don't lock people in their rooms or in their apartments.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I'd like to get another perspective on this from James Hickey, who's also a maritime lawyer, who has been critical of Royal Caribbean because, I mean, the argument is people can walk away with evidence. And this is an apparent crime scene. There was blood not just on the side of the boat, but there was blood inside George Smith's cabin, on a towel, on a tissue. Obviously, that wasn't an accident if there was blood inside the cabin and then outside the cabin, as well. So would a lockdown have prevented—sealed evidence and prevented evidence from walking away?
JACK HICKEY, MARITIME ATTORNEY: Absolutely, Jane. And you have to realize the difference in perspectives that we bring here. I represented the cruise lines, and now I fight the cruise lines every single day in Miami in court. And Mr. Kaye is a maritime attorney. He still represents cruise lines.
A lockdown—sure. A lockdown is warranted, a lockdown certainly of the room. What's interesting is that RCCL came on the air the other night and said on MSNBC that they had locked down the room for six days. Yet in their written statement before that, they had said that they had given the belongings of George Smith to his bride. Now, how did they get the belongings and the wallet and the clothing and things like that if, in fact, that room had been sealed off? The room had not been sealed off, and there was no lockdown of the room. Certainly, there should have been a lockdown of the room, and they should have contacted witnesses right away. They didn't do that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And this is such a complicated case because it's very complicated to begin with, but there's so many people involved, and everybody has a different perspective. For example...
KAYE: But there was a lockdown.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... there was a complaint by the man next door, in the cabin next door, at about 4:00 o'clock that morning. And here is what Royal Caribbean says about how they responded to that complaint. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG PURDY, ROYAL CARIBBEAN SECURITY CHIEF: And the day George Smith went missing, we had a complaint at approximately 4:00 in the morning. That was a noise complaint describing, possibly, drinking games or loud partying. And as is our policy, our security responded to that complaint. When they came to the room, they knocked on the door. It was quiet. They determined that the situation had been resolved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, we have Clete Hyman, who was the man next door who made that complaint with us right now. Thank you for joining us. They apparently did not go into the room, their own admission. What do you think they should have done?
CLETE HYMAN, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: Well, by the time that they responded, it was several minutes after we had heard the loud thud. And the room was, in fact, quiet at that time. It would not have been unreasonable for them not to go in since there was no evidence of the party going on.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you're a deputy police chief. I mean, what should they have done? People are criticizing them. They're saying they did everything right. What should they have done then?
HYMAN: Well, I think, if their response was more timely, they may have gotten to the cabin in a time in which they could have investigated what was going on.
KAYE: You know, I'll tell what you they should have done, Jane.
KAYE: They should have done exactly what they did do. They went to the cabin. There was no noise in the cabin. They had one complaint of partying noises.
You heard Greg Purdy tell us that they had only one complaint. They had no complaint of a thud. They had no complaint of any violence or danger. They heard partying noise. And by the time they got to the cabin, within just a few minutes, it was completely quiet. Now, you don't burst into somebody's cabin after hearing a complaint about partying.
Jack also told you the cabin wasn't locked down. That's totally untrue, because we've also heard from Royal Caribbean that they immediately called in the FBI, they immediately called in the Turkish authorities, and that cabin was sealed the entire day, we heard from Mr. Purdy, until the forensic investigation was completed.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jack wants to jump in here, because he's disagreeing...
KAYE: Well, Jane, I'd just like to finish this point.
HICKEY: It's so funny.
KAYE: I'd just like to finish this point. The cabin was sealed until it was cleared by the FBI and by the Turkish authorities. And it was only at that point that Mrs. Smith's belongings were removed from the cabin.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jack, what do you say about that?
HICKEY: Well, I say what Greg Purdy said. Greg Purdy said the cabin was sealed for six days. And that clearly is not true. It conflicts with what Larry Kaye just said. Larry Kaye just said, gee, it was opened up after Turkish officials cleared it, Turkish officials...
KAYE: The cabin was sealed for six days.
HICKEY: The Turkish officials didn't get a chance to complete their investigation.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is why we should have videotape on every investigation with a time code that says exactly when everything's happening. Then there wouldn't be these kind of disagreements.
Let me move onto the next controversy, which is over when the evidence was removed. Now, the Smith family is saying they wiped the blood off the cabin—the side of the cabin, off the side of the ship way too soon. Let's hear what Royal Caribbean has to say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: The canopy has never been painted over. To this day, the canopy was washed—at the end of the day, after the Turkish authorities came on board, conducted a complete forensic investigation, again, taking samples, taking photographs, and taking certain items from the cabin, they gave us express permission to clean the canopy as well as the state room.
We did clean the canopy. And that's with a high-pressure water wash. We kept the state room sealed for the following six days while we were in communication with the FBI.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Jack Hickey, what do you say? I mean, does that seem like a standard procedure?
HICKEY: It seems like a nonstandard procedure to have washed down the blood. By the way, not at the end of the day. The witnesses, OK, the passenger witnesses said by 7:00 a.m., three hours later, they were washing down the blood. That's called destruction of evidence. That's called obstructing an investigation. That's not cooperating with the FBI.
KAYE: That's preposterous, Jack.
HICKEY: That's called CYA.
KAYE: That's preposterous, Jack. You heard Mr. Purdy say that they didn't touch the blood until cleared after a thorough forensic investigation. He's the only person in a position to have firsthand knowledge. And you and I could...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, gentlemen, let's go to another person who might have firsthand knowledge.
KAYE: You know, speculating about it is not evidence.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: He was in the cabin next door, Clete Hyman.
HICKEY: Those are the witnesses who say that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Clete, when did you see the blood?
HYMAN: The blood was not washed down until later in the day.
KAYE: There you go.
HYMAN: When I spoke with the officials when they made contact with me, they had only recently completed washing down the area. This would have given the officials sufficient time to collect evidence and take photographs.
KAYE: That's fact.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now, we have another controversy. And that is the involvement or lack of involvement by the missing man's wife. Let's hear what Royal Caribbean had to say about Jennifer and where they found her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PURDY: She did not report that her husband was missing. We found that he was missing based on our narrowing down to the cabin and making announcements for both of them, actually. And then, after locating her in the spa, we still hadn't ruled out that he may be somewhere. And we continued to search.
Mrs. Hagel Smith was wearing clothes from the night before, and we did provide her with clothes. And, again, our Marie (ph) helped her get everything so that she can be ready to go for the interviews with the authorities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Larry Kaye, what is the significance of that?
What does that say?
KAYE: Well, you know, I don't think any of us should be speculating about what it says, in terms of this investigation. I think if there's anything that Royal Caribbean can be criticized for here, it's bending over backwards not to engage in the wild media speculation that is taking place over this case and trying to protect the integrity of this investigation.
But, of course, there are many unanswered questions. You know, Mrs. Hagel-Smith didn't even know her husband was missing, from what we've heard, wasn't in the cabin, was still wearing the dress from the evening before, and was found the next morning in the spa getting a massage. So, of course, there's a lot more information that needs to come out here, but...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And there certainly isn't—and final question to Jack, why is the FBI—and it's in their hands now—being so tight-lipped? They haven't officially even come out and said the blood on the side of the boat is George Smith's.
HICKEY: No, the FBI, that is standard operating procedure. In any criminal investigation, the FBI is just not going to say anything until the end of the day. And they're just not going to come out and say anything.
I agree with Larry on this one point, that, you know, you can't really speculate about where Ms. Hagel was or things like that. I don't agree that the cruise line can be callously withholding information from the family. I don't agree with that, and I don't agree that the cruise line was cooperative. Now they may be, but back then certainly they were not.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Thank you all, gentlemen, for participating in this very, very controversial—and maybe the FBI should say something, because right now, it seems to be headed to the cold case file.
Still ahead, we've got details on the manhunt of a porn actress accused of a torrid affair with a teenager.
Plus, find out which international destination Michael Jackson chose for his latest outing with the kids. It's all coming up.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There's an all-points bulletin out tonight for a porn star wanted on child rape charges. A $10,000 arrest warrant has been issued for this woman, Genevieve Elise Silva of Richmond, California. The 20-year-old adult film star is accused of supplying drugs to a 15-year-old boy, having sex with him, and convincing him to run away with her all the way to Oklahoma.
Joining me live is the spokesman for the Richmond Police Department, Lieutenant Mark Gagan.
First of all, the good news is, sir, that this boy has been found.
So, first question, how's he doing?
LT. MARK GAGAN, RICHMOND POLICE DEPARTMENT: That's correct. The victim in this case was taken into custody in Oklahoma. At the time he was taken into custody by deputies, he was under the influence of narcotics. Unfortunately, he had lost a lot of weight and had suffered a lot over the few months he was with Ms. Silva. He's currently in detox and being given counseling and drug detoxification counseling.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, this is a very odd case, because this is no ordinary 20-year-old. This is a very young porn star who starred in movies like “Legal at Last” and “Dirty Debutants.” Why did she pick him out and choose to, allegedly, seduce and ply him with drugs?
GAGAN: Well, the relationship initially began because the suspect's younger brother and the victim were friends. And so that will be used as evidence that she did know his age and knew that the relationship was illegal.
I can't explain why the relationship formed the way it did. But soon after they became close, the victim ran away from home. He began using narcotics and eventually ran away from California all the way to Oklahoma, where, for about five months, he was away from his parents using methamphetamine, ecstasy and marijuana regularly.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, apparently, when Genevieve and this boy left for Oklahoma, her mother was with them. Is she in trouble with the law? And where is she?
GAGAN: There are a lot of peripheral issues that have come up in this investigation. The most important was recovering the 15-year-old. And then now we're focusing our investigation on people who helped them run away, contribute to the delinquency of the victim, as well as concealed and harbored this runaway.
Also, there's allegations of narcotics use and things of that nature that are also being investigated. So I'd say that, whether or not we're able to prove criminal charges, I would say that they're definitely being looked as enhancing the situation.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, these are very, very serious charges that this young woman faces, I mean, rape by use of an intoxicating substance, detaining or concealing a child from legal custodian.
Is this woman, in your opinion, really a rapist, or is she a 20-year-old with very bad judgment and a drug problem who chose to have a relationship with someone five years younger than she is, who happens to be a minor?
GAGAN: My opinion is not exactly what I'll focus on but rather the California penal code. Sexual assault and sexual intercourse, when it is illegal, is defined as rape. To use narcotics and alcohol to lower inhibitions or to keep somebody with you is rape with intoxicants. So the criteria and the elements of those crimes are definitely met.
I believe that a five-year age difference, when the victim is 15 and the suspect is 20, is definitely illegal and inappropriate. And I believe that, if the roles were reversed, and this were a male suspect with a female victim, there would be more outrage and people would digest it quicker.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, thank you very much, sir, for taking the time to come on. Keep us posted. If you find her, let us know right away.
GAGAN: We appreciate your help.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, thank you.
Why Michael Jackson is being accused of kidnapping and why his ex-wife may be vying to get the kids. Stay tuned.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michael Jackson is grabbing headlines again. “The Bahrain Tribune” is reporting the king of pop did some holiday shopping recently. He was photographed in a shopping complex in Bahrain right before Christmas. Jackson reportedly spent 45 minutes shopping and then reportedly left with seven bags filled with gifts.
For more on the star's current situation, we are joined by my friend, Brian Oxman. He's an attorney for the Jackson family. And also with us, another friend, civil rights attorney Gloria Allred.
Thank you, both.
First to Gloria, reports are Debbie Rowe, the mother of two of Jackson's children, is accusing him of abducting them to Bahrain. Now, that's a very strong word. Do you think that word is really justified, Gloria?
GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: It's really hard to say, Jane, because we don't know whether or not there are any parental rights that Ms. Rowe still has. If the children were born during the marriage, as reportedly they were, whether or not Mr. Jackson actually fathered them, he still would legally be the father.
On the other hand, if she gave up her parental rights, then the question is: Does she have visitation with the children? And if she does have visitation and he took the children to Bahrain without her consent or without a court order, then she can't exercise her visitation, then it would be an abduction. But we don't know whether legally she still has any rights at all.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Brian Oxman, what is the status? Obviously, there's a custody case going on in California right now. Originally, when these children were born, Debbie Rowe gave them to Jackson. And then she seemed to have a change of heart. Now she's seeking custody. What changed? And what's the status?
BRIAN OXMAN, JACKSON FAMILY ATTORNEY: Michael Jackson has never violated a court order in his life. And, in this custody case, he isn't going to be violating any court orders.
There have been widespread reports in the press that the children visited with Debbie Rowe and, when they have been asked to be brought to her by the judge, that's exactly what he's done. He's never violated the court order and always complied with what he's asked to do by the courts.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, once again, we have to stress that this is just a report. In fact, Debbie Rowe's attorney isn't commenting.
But, you know, Gloria Allred, you and I go way back on this issue. I remember after the infamous baby-dangling event that occurred, you issued a statement calling on child services in California to take the children away from Michael Jackson. And, if I recall at the time, they said they couldn't do it because they didn't have jurisdiction. All this happened in Germany. Well, this is happening in Bahrain.
ALLRED: Well, exactly. And I actually have called on them a number of times, both in Santa Barbara and L.A. County, to investigate whether the children should be temporarily removed, given the '93 allegations by the '93 child of child sexual abuse, given Mr. Jackson's own statements about sleeping in bed in his bedroom with young children unrelated to him, given the allegations made under oath in the recent criminal case by witnesses, and, I might add, unrebutted by Mr. Jackson. Even though he was acquitted, they were unrebutted allegations.
All of this, I think, does raise issues, including the baby-dangling incident, as to whether there's a risk of harm presented if Michael Jackson is alone with young children. If he's in Bahrain, Jane, I mean, how many people in Bahrain are going to be able to sue Michael Jackson for child sexual abuse if they believe that it has occurred?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me go to Brian...
ALLRED: How often do criminal prosecutions take place?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brian, to your knowledge, how is Michael Jackson doing in Bahrain? How are the kids doing?
OXMAN: He is doing just fine. I spoke to his mom about a week-and-a-half ago. And she has talked to him. And I've also talked to his dad. And he has spoken to him. And Michael is doing fine. And he is taking care of his kids.
And I think there's something very important here, Jane. There's an underlying belief that somehow Michael jack wasn't vindicated in the trial in Santa Maria. And let me tell you, point blank, he was innocent. He proved he was innocent. And I'm sorry to those detractors who are upset or don't think it was right. He did not commit these crimes, and he proved that he didn't do it.
ALLRED: Well, yes, I disagree with you. That wasn't proven. What was proven was that they didn't find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That's not the same as being proven innocent. It just means you weren't proven guilty.
OXMAN: That is the standard in court for a criminal case, but the point was he wasn't there at the times and dates that these people said that it happened.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I thank you both. I have a feeling you're both going to continue arguing about this issue and Michael Jackson for a long time to come, but thanks.
Still ahead, a new clue in a cold case, really, really shocking details, up next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A year after the devastating Asian tsunami, thousands of victims are still recovering physically and mentally, especially the children. More than a million-and-a-half lost parents, brothers, sisters, their homes, and everything familiar. NBC's Ned Colt has their story from hard-hit Indonesia.
NED COLT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Writing is an act of courage for 11-year-old Erma (ph), and performing in public...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Tsunami.
COLT: ... is therapy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Farewell, father.
COLT: Erma's tsunami loss is personal and painful. She almost shrieks her poem.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): You are gone, but I will always remember what you did for me.
COLT: And performing helps heal these students. Their song is called, “Tsunami.” The tsunami was especially horrid on the young. At least 50,000 children were killed here in Aceh alone.
School's out in this small village. There are just 15 students now.
The tsunami killed 115 of their classmates.
The survivors lost all sense of security. It's an immense challenge for those who want to help.
DELLAPHINE RAUCH-HOUEKPON, AMERICAN RED CROSS: We began the psychosocial program to work with children who had lost loved ones, who sometimes were just so traumatized they couldn't even speak.
COLT: Just creating images on paper can help. This five-year-old orphan, adopted by a neighbor, now draws vibrant scenes of mountains and the ocean, a change from her dark and stormy images shortly after the tsunami.
RAUCH-HOUEKPON: Children are overcoming their fears. You can see some of them going out in the water and playing, so the passage of time has helped.
COLT: Not just time, but encouragement. A simple game fosters, not only team spirit, but trust. And across the region, new families are forming for the sake of kids. Siryati (ph) lost her husband in the tsunami and needed a father for son, Nadi (ph), so she married this man, who also lost his family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I'm happy to have a new father, to read the Koran with and to teach me how to do things.
COLT: Like building fences to protect crops. The sharing, the sense of belonging, all helping to rebuild young lives, lives changed forever a year ago.
Ned Colt, NBC News, Banda Aceh, Indonesia.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Talk about getting in over your head. A surfer off
the coast of Oregon—take a look at that—got caught up in some very
rough water in Depoe Bay and ended up very, very far from shore. Luckily -
· this was a 21-year-old woman, and you can see that the Coast Guard is there attempting rescue—she was still close enough to be seen.
And apparently, what happened is that a man on the beach called for help. The Coast Guard then moved in, and they pulled her to safety. And get this—and this is a warning to everyone out there who wants to surf;
I tried it once and I'll never try it again—this was apparently only the second time she had ever been surfing.
And what's really interesting about this is that, right now, there are very high surf warnings on the California coast, where I live in Los Angeles. And the mayor, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, sent a message out to all of us to sandbag and not to go surfing.
And nevertheless, despite that warning, some people will just head out there with their surf boards and want to catch those big waves. And it can be very, very dangerous. It's no joke. Luckily, that woman survived. And we're so glad she did.
Well, that's LIVE & DIRECT. I'm Jane Velez-Mitchell filling in for Rita Cosby. “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” with Joe starts right now.
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