Guest: Duncan Kilmartin, Tom Sherrer, Karen Holt, David Vigliano, Rosa
Keel, Neville Gittens, Eric Convey, Clint Van Zandt
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, the Vermont judge under fire for sending a serial child molester to jail for just 60 days reconsiders and decides on three to 10 instead.
ABRAMS (voice-over): But that is still less than what prosecutors wanted. And the judge changed his mind only after the state agreed to give sex offenders treatment in prison. So did the judge cave or did he actually get exactly what he wanted from the get go?
And Oprah changes her tune now saying she was duped by best selling author James Frey. On her show he comes clean with even more details he says he made up in his memoir, now other memoirs are being scrutinized. What took so long to get the facts straight?
Plus, Massachusetts' police head to England to try to find the man whose wife and baby daughter were found shot dead in their home.
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi everyone. First up on the docket, a Vermont judge caves. He had sentenced a child molester to 60 days for sexually abusing a child over four years starting when she was just 6 years old. Now for weeks we have been covering this travesty of justice and it seems maybe the judge was watching because today Judge Edward Cashman re-sentenced Mark Hulett to three to 10 years.
Judge Cashman had said the best way to keep the public safe from Hulett was to get him out of prison so he could receive sex offender treatment, which the judge said Hulett didn't qualify for behind bars. But before today's sentencing the state agreed to provide Hulett with treatment in prison and so the judge responded with a stiffer sentence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HON. EDWARD CASHMAN, VERMONT DISTRICT COURT JUDGE: The court agrees a punitive response punishment is a valuable and necessary component to society's response to criminal conduct. It is a tool this court has routinely used for the past 24 years on the trial bench. As stated during the sentencing hearing, however, punishment is not enough of a response in some cases.
For the reasons stated in the first reconsideration order, this is one of those cases. Had the Department of Corrections offered a treatment option during a three-year period of imprisonment it sought at the first sentencing hearing, the court would have accepted that recommendation as the minimum portion of the 10-year prison term imposed on count one at that hearing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: “My Take”—this still sounds like a light sentence to me. He was molesting this little girl repeatedly for years. And while I think treatment is a good thing I'm really disturbed there's a judge effectively threatened the public with this guy's release to get his way. By using this bullying tactic, he effectively served as a legislator imposing a sentence that shocked the conscience in the hope that the state would change the rules.
Joining me now a state representative, Duncan Kilmartin, who has called for Judge Cashman's resignation and Vermont criminal defense attorney Tom Sherrer. Gentlemen thanks very much for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
All right, Representative Kilmartin, I mean do you see this the way I do? I mean let's put aside—we will talk about the sentence in a moment, but the idea that he basically held the community hostage saying 60 days sorry guys, unless you change the system I am giving this guy 60 days and so now the system comes back and they say of course we've got to change it. But this judge seems to be trying to bully everyone.
DUNCAN KILMARTIN ®, VERMONT STATE LEGISLATOR: Well I agree with
that assessment because the judge had the option of imposing a three or an
eight-year minimum at the get go. And for him to have engaged in what I
consider to be a very big grandstand play to force a political issue and
what really disturbs me about the failure to impose the eight-year minimum
requested by the prosecution is no where in his remarks today does he
reference the victim. And that is what was most disturbing from the get go
about Judge Cashman...
ABRAMS: And that...
KILMARTIN: He ignores the victim and he expressly ignored...
ABRAMS: Well that's an important point. I want to talk about that in a minute, but let me just stay focused on this for a moment, Mr. Sherrer. Do you agree with me that this judge effectively held the community hostage saying unless you change the system and make it the way I like it, I'm going to let this guy out after 60 days?
TOM SHERRER, VT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, I don't agree with you at all. What Judge Cashman was worried about was what is the long-term best interest of the public.
ABRAMS: In his judgment...
ABRAMS: In his judgment.
SHERRER: In his judgment...
SHERRER: And he felt and also it is interesting to note that he disagreed with the Department of Corrections assessment of this individual. The Department of Corrections felt he was a low risk person and Judge Edward Cashman thought he was a high risk individual...
ABRAMS: But let's take—so you are saying that Judge Cashman thought he was high risk and he was willing to put him back on the streets after 60 days to make a point?
SHERRER: No, he was saying that what we should do—the easiest thing would be to put him in jail for a couple of years, give him no treatment, and then you've got a very dangerous person out there on the street. What he said was the best thing to do, the safest thing to do, the hard thing to do and not the popular thing, but the safest thing to do is get this person treatment, have very tight controls on him by the Department of Corrections and get him the treatment he needs. And if he fails, if he doesn't comply with treatment, if he's around kids he goes to jail for 10 years if not more.
ABRAMS: That's taking a big risk, isn't it? I mean let's even assume for a moment that you think treatment works in this kind of case. All right, let's assume that for a moment. It certainly doesn't work in every case and...
SHERRER: That's correct.
ABRAMS: And so the fact is that you're saying this judge says he is a high risk, we think it's—I think it's that important that he gets treatment that I'm going to chance it here. I'm going to say you know what, let this guy out in 60 days, hope that the treatment works, and you know what else? I'm going to get to make a big point to everybody. I'm going to tell everyone I want to change the system.
SHERRER: No, I think the only people that are grandstanding quite honestly are there are some of the talk show hosts and other people who are trying to misrepresent what transpired...
ABRAMS: How am I misrepresenting it? What have I misrepresented?
SHERRER: You're misrepresenting just at the top of the show when you said this was a 60-day sentence and all of a sudden he changed it to a three to 10-year sentence. It's always been a 60-day sentence to a life sentence with 20 very strict conditions of release.
ABRAMS: Yes, but it's still 60 days. I mean look, you're right that there are conditions and there are ways that he could fail. Sure. That is the case any time you put someone on probation or parole. I understand this is a little different, but the bottom line is he was still walking after 60 days. Nothing that I said I think was out of context.
SHERRER: Well it was when you say he only has a 60-day sentence.
ABRAMS: He had a 60-day sentence.
SHERRER: He didn't. He had a 60-day sentence to life with very strict conditions...
ABRAMS: Wait. Wait.
ABRAMS: Wait. Let's be clear.
ABRAMS: When was he going to walk out the door assuming he met all of the conditions?
SHERRER: After 60 days.
ABRAMS: OK and that to you is not a 60-day sentence? Let me just be clear.
SHERRER: No, it's a misrepresentation of the entire sentence.
ABRAMS: Boy I'll tell you that's lawyer talk if I've ever heard it.
ABRAMS: I mean it really is. I mean I got to tell you to everyone else when you can get out after 60 days, that's a 60-day sentence. If you mess up and you do things that are also bad, you get more time. That's an additional and look, you can say it was a broader sentence than that, but when he is walking out in 60 days, to me that's a 60-day sentence. All right...
SHERRER: But don't forget...
ABRAMS: Go ahead.
SHERRER: ... Judge Cashman did not want to impose that sentence. He wanted a sentence in which there would have been some incarceration, but there was no treatment...
ABRAMS: Right, he wanted...
ABRAMS: ... things on his terms. I understand...
ABRAMS: He wanted things on his terms. He wanted...
ABRAMS: ... to be able to say when the Department of Corrections, when the state should engage in treatment, et cetera, and he wanted to effectively legislate from the bench. Go ahead...
KILMARTIN: Dan, let's focus on the logic though. If Cashman found he was a high risk to start with...
KILMARTIN: ... he's still a high risk and he's a higher risk than the three years that the Department of Corrections justified. He found he was high risk. He's still high risk.
KILMARTIN: Why not the eight years?
ABRAMS: All right, let's talk about that. Let's talk about that...
KILMARTIN: Judge Cashman's logic doesn't hold together.
ABRAMS: Let's talk about that. This is what the Vermont governor had to say, Jim Douglas.
It's 18 times 60 days, so it's certainly an improvement. Personally I think it's inadequate for a crime of that magnitude, but it's certainly better than the first decision.
All right, Mr. Sherrer, let's talk specifically now about the new sentence. The judge coming back with three to 10. Why not? Why do you think he didn't accept the prosecution's recommendation of eight to 20?
SHERRER: Well first of all, the sentence that he settled on was a recommendation from the Department of Corrections. Furthermore, if you read the transcript there was a discussion between him—it is not clear whether it's a grandfather or another family member where the individual asked Judge Cashman to sentence him to a year to four years and get him treatment. Not just put him in jail and not give him treatment, but put him in jail and give him treatment. So actually Judge Cashman went along with the recommendation of what appears to have been a family member at that sentencing.
ABRAMS: Wait. Wait. But that's—I mean if I'm—you can correct me if I'm wrong, Representative, but my understanding was that the parents, that the direct family members were furious at this initial sentence.
KILMARTIN: Well understand he—they were pleading for jail time because on two occasions, one last June and one last August, Cashman with the family in court says I am not going to give you more than 90 days if you plead guilty. So they never—they were going up against a judge who had clearly prejudged this case and made a plea-bargain. You know plea bargains usually come between the prosecutor and the judge—I mean the prosecutor and the defense. Here there was no agreement with the prosecutor. The judge insinuated himself into an executive process and sends a message to the parents and expresses it in court during the...
ABRAMS: I got to tell you what irritates me about this is I feel like the end result here is the judge gets everything that he wants. He gets the system changed. He gets to be able to say oh look, you know this is all I wanted from the beginning, et cetera. But I think that he really held the community hostage by imposing the soft sentence...
ABRAMS: Yes, Mr. Sherrer, you want to...
SHERRER: You know it's kind of too bad you look at it that way. Why can't you look at it in a situation where the criminal justice system seemed to have worked? The various branches of government seemed to have done their job.
ABRAMS: They only work because people like me were out there yelling and screaming and Representative Kilmartin was coming on this program all the time complaining about it. Without that pressure I promise you the criminal justice system would not have worked.
SHERRER: Well it's interesting you take credit for that.
ABRAMS: I do.
SHERRER: Well that's unfortunate.
ABRAMS: Really? You don't think...
ABRAMS: Wait. You don't think it has anything to do with the public pressure.
ABRAMS: It's because people like you were putting it into context is the reason that this changed.
SHERRER: No, no, no, I think there was some involvement with the press, which is healthy. What is not healthy is when there's a misrepresentation of the facts...
ABRAMS: You still haven't named anything—what I have misrepresented to you is the fact that I am calling it a 60-day sentence, right?
SHERRER: No, I'm not just turning—saying you've represented things. I'm saying other people have misrepresented things. That is what I am saying.
ABRAMS: All right. Well look...
SHERRER: I don't mean it as a personal attack on you.
ABRAMS: Oh I understand—look and I can take it. I mean if you've got specifics, lay it out. I mean we'll talk about it, but look, I'm not going to go and defend other people. I don't know what everyone else has been saying. I know we've been doing this on this program...
ABRAMS: ... just about every day.
SHERRER: But don't you think it's a good thing that the governor and his administration recognized and perhaps it's a good idea to get treatment for people and more treatment. Don't you think that's a healthy thing...
ABRAMS: Do I think it's a good thing? I'll tell you. Whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, I don't want it to happen like this. I want them to have a healthy debate about it, fine. I don't want them to have to do it as a result of effectively being bullied into doing it. That's my problem with it.
SHERRER: And you know the other thing though is it has brought attention to this issue. The legislature and most of the leaders on both the Democrat and Republican side said let's wait and see and see how this transpires. Now there can be an intelligent debate about some of these issues, about whether or not the sentences are enough.
ABRAMS: Very quickly, Representative Kilmartin, I would think that it's going to will hurt the cause of people who want treatment. They're going to say you know that this is not helping their cause.
KILMARTIN: Once again I want to go back to the victims and the lack of the judge's concern for the victim. And that was very expressed on his part and when you read what he said today, once again the victim is out of the picture. And in Vermont, we give a great deal—we place a great deal of importance on protecting the victims and protecting the community from this kind of predatory conduct.
KILMARTIN: And when you find out that he's high risk, how can you justify what he's done?
ABRAMS: Let's let the thought about the victim be the final word.
Representative Kilmartin, Tom Sherrer, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
SHERRER: Thank you.
KILMARTIN: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, James Frey comes clean to Oprah admitting the lying and making up details about every character in his book “A Million Little Pieces”. Now Oprah is changing her tune saying she was duped. Other memoirs now in question. What took so long to get all of the facts straight?
The police need your help finding three to four hoodlums they think killed a young father that they stole his car. We'll talk to his wife and hear the heartbreaking calls from his daughter.
Plus, Massachusetts police head to England searching for a man whose wife and daughter were found shot dead in their home. He's not considered a suspect, but they've got a lot of questions for him.
Your e-mails firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and where you're writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: Now to another story where pressure from this program and others may have led to change for the better and this one involves Oprah. Remember this, Oprah calling into Larry King about two weeks ago after James Frey, the author of “A Million Little Pieces”, an Oprah Book Club selection, came under fire for the accuracy of lack thereof of his memoir about his recovery from alcohol and drug addiction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whether or not the car's wheels rolled up on the sidewalk or whether he hit the police officer or didn't hit the police officer is irrelevant to me. What is relevant is that he was a drug addict who spent you know years in turmoil from the time he was 10 years old drinking and tormenting himself and his parents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Well now Oprah has changed her tune. We have come to find out Frey didn't just lie about his criminal past in the book and today a very different Oprah sat next to the man she made famous.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: I have to say it is difficult for me to talk to you because I really feel duped. I feel duped, but more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers. And I think you know it is such a gift to have millions of people to read your work and that bothers me greatly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Frey is now admitting that he made up details about each of the characters in his book. He was in jail for hours, not 87 days. He didn't have two root canals without Novocain. And Lily, one of the main characters in his book, didn't hang herself as he claimed.
“My Take”—it's about time he and Oprah came clean on this. And I'm glad to see that other memoirs are now being scrutinized a bit more closely. Most notably when asking best selling—and best selling author Augusten Burroughs, three memoirs being questioned and an award winning memoir, “The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping”, supposedly written by a Navajo Indian. There are now allegations it may have been written by a white writer of gay literature and pornography. I just don't understand why all of this is taking so long.
Joining me now is literary agent David Vigliano and...
ABRAMS: ... Karen Holt, “Publishers Weekly” deputy editor. Thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.
Karen, why is it taking so long? Did no one care?
KAREN HOLT, “PUBLISHERS WEEKLY”: Well in a way that is true. I mean book publishers have never had fact checkers for their books and no book before this has ever come under this kind of scrutiny. I mean this isn't the first time memoirs have been called into question, but it's the first time they've been defended by Oprah and that made all the difference.
ABRAMS: David, do you agree with that?
DAVID VIGLIANO, LITERARY AGENT: No, I mean this is something that's gone on for a number of years. You know dating back to there was a book called “A Rock and a Hard Place” that was allegedly written by like a 12-year-old boy or a 13-year-old boy who had been pimped out by his parents in, you know in a child sex ring and...
ABRAMS: There have been a lot of journalistic scandals like that as well. Look, there have people who've made up stories. They get called to task. They get fired. They get humiliated. And yet it seems that—I guess what I'm wondering, David, is has there been a sort of level of tacit acceptance of this in the publishing community?
VIGLIANO: Well I don't think it is conscious. I think that it is people that you know live in their little cloistered worlds and you know are not street-smart, are not sophisticated about anything outside the literary area, you know not realizing you know how absurd this was. Anybody that had ever been, you know in treatment or familiar with recovery knew it was nonsense. I mean you know even the idea of going through you know Novocain—tooth drilling without Novocain was absurd. But you know I also think that after this book came out they, for sure, the editor—the original editor was—who acquired the book was not Nan Talese. Him and Nan Talese, I'm sure that they were contacted by you know people in the know and...
VIGLIANO: ... made aware of the fact that it was...
ABRAMS: Well he was specifically questioned about that on the “Today” show by Matt—this is in May 2003. Matt Lauer asked him some questions about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But did you take any poetic license with some of the stories of what happened to you in that clinic?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I cut out all the boring stuff. But I didn't invent anything. Everything I wrote about happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Well apparently not.
VIGLIANO: He's a gifted con man.
ABRAMS: And here is what he said—this is number six—here is what he said today on “Oprah” with regard to lying, not just in the book but to viewers and to Oprah.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came here and I have been honest with you. I have you know essentially admitted to...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... what I have been—to lying.
WINFREY: To lying...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I think that...
WINFREY: Which is not an easy thing to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it is not an easy thing to do in front of an audience full of people and a lot of others watching on TV.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean if I come out of this experience with anything it's being a better person and learning from my mistakes and making sure that I don't repeat them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: It's just so ironic. It's just classic...
ABRAMS: ... Oprah to have like, you know, this guy coming on and saying I have been a bad person and I've changed and that's what his book was about. It is like a big circle. Karen Holt, but the book still seems to be doing well. In fact, it's been doing better since all of the controversy, right?
HOLT: Right. I mean absolutely. I mean when Oprah came out a couple of weeks ago and defended the book, I mean that was a tremendous boom for the book and let's face it, whether—you know whether there is scandal or not, I mean how many books are getting this level of media attention...
ABRAMS: But Karen, what—do people just not care? I mean because I can tell you the people I've talked to who read the book do feel duped...
ABRAMS: They feel angry. They wish they hadn't gone through that emotional experience of what they thought was with him. And yet people are now buying the book, what, to see how he lied about these things?
HOLT: Well I don't think that's the case. I mean part of it is just that you know this book is now notorious, so people want to see what all the fuss is about. And also I mean remember that until today Oprah had stood very solidly behind this book. And you know for better or for worse a lot of people take her recommendations incredibly seriously, so if she says it is a good book, please go out and buy it, people will go out and buy it.
ABRAMS: And now one more piece of sound from Oprah's show today and she is really singing a very, very different tune.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: I have been really embarrassed by this and more importantly feel that I acted in defense of you and you know as I said my judgment was clouded because so many people—you know, I was really behind this book because so many people seemed to have gotten so much out of it. And I believed in the fact that so many people were. But now I feel that you conned us all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Well good for Oprah for at least coming clean on that. All right, David, does this change everything now? Does this change the game when it comes to memoirs?
VIGLIANO: I think quite a bit. Yes, I think that you know publishers are going to scrutinize a lot more carefully some of the—many of the things in them and I think they are going to be a lot more hesitant to acquire memoirs.
ABRAMS: Karen, you agree?
HOLT: I do. I mean there are a lot of publishers and a lot of writers out there that are very nervous. And I mean a lot of people are taking this and they are questioning what has gone on in the past. And I think there will be a greater level of scrutiny.
ABRAMS: And let's be clear. We are not talking about whether you run one stop sign or two in the context of a book or whether you took a, you know a bath on June the 13th versus June 27.
ABRAMS: We are talking about fundamental aspects of the book that make people feel for the characters in the book. All right, we got it...
HOLT: Absolutely. And I think in the past there has been sort of this argument that you can't verify everything in a memoir and I think what this shows is that you know there are certainly areas of degree, but then there are other places...
HOLT: ... where a lie is just simply a lie.
ABRAMS: I got to tell you, I'm glad that at least he's come clean. I'm glad that Oprah did what she did today. And I think we can put this story behind us unless we find someone else who's making up stories in their books and we'll get you both back on. David Vigliano and Karen Holt, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
VIGLIANO: Thank you.
HOLT: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, heart-breaking phone calls from a young girl who missed her father. Well police now need your help to find three or four suspects they say shot him, killed him when they stole his car.
And a mother and baby murdered in their home. Now Massachusetts' police are in England hoping to talk to the father who apparently left the country around the time they were killed.
Our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike. Our search today is in Maryland. Authorities are looking for Christopher Bray.
He's 33, six-one, 180, was convicted of raping a victim under 14 years old. Hasn't registered with the state. If you've got any information on where he is, please call the Frederick County Sheriff's Office, 301-694-1046.
Be right back.
ABRAMS: New developments in the Massachusetts murder mystery. A mother and her baby found dead in their home, shot. Police looking for the husband in England. Authorities there saying he's not a suspect, but they sure do want to talk to him. Why isn't he back at home? First the headlines.
VOICE OF VANESSA KEEL: Hello daddy. I want you to come home right now because I don't feel good. Bye. I love you.
Hi daddy. I hope you get better. I love you.
Hello daddy. Can you come home? I love you. Bye.
ABRAMS: It's just heartrending listening to those calls. Four-year-old Vanessa Keel leaving messages for her father, Sean, trying to sort out the horrible reality that he was murdered and apparently for parts from his car in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood early Saturday.
Police say as many as three to four suspects believe to be young, African American males approached Keel as he got out of the BMW he bought for his wife Rosa as a Mother's Day gift. They shot him possibly with a machine gun. Keel called the police on his cell phone, was brought to San Francisco General Hospital where he died.
Keel's daughter Vanessa left this message on his cell phone.
V. KEEL: Hey, Daddy, leave me a message. Bye. I love you.
(INAUDIBLE) I'm so sorry you died (INAUDIBLE) but sometimes it happens. Sometimes it doesn't. But you have to go the other way, the protect way, cannot go the back of the way. Understand? (INAUDIBLE) picture I saw. I love you. Bye.
ABRAMS: Rosa Keel is Vanessa's mother, Sean Keel's widow. Sergeant Neville Gittens is with the San Francisco Police Department. Thanks to both of you for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
Rosa, how is Vanessa doing?
ROSA KEEL, HUSBAND KILLED IN CARJACKING: She's not doing so good as the last three days. She is getting more confused as the days go by and Sean is not coming home.
ABRAMS: And when she...
R. KEEL: She is hanging in there.
ABRAMS: When she left those messages, you were just basically, what, allowing her to call to talk about it and let her feel like she was talking to daddy?
R. KEEL: Yes, just let her have her moments of feelings, whatever she was feeling. She'd asked if she could call him. I just told her to go right ahead.
ABRAMS: And how did you hear about what had happened?
R. KEEL: Well I got a call about 2:00, a little after 2:00 in the morning by a nurse by the name of Rick that works for San Francisco General Hospital. And he basically informed me that I needed to get down to San Francisco General Hospital immediately. That Sean had had an accident, but that's all he could say at that point.
ABRAMS: All right, let's get down to the business here of catching these guys. Sergeant, what do we know?
SGT. NEVILLE GITTENS, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE DEPT.: Well what we have developed—we developed some information last night. It initially was thought that there were two suspects. Now we are looking for between three and four suspects. We are also trying to locate the wheels that were taken off Sean's vehicle. Additionally, there was a Mac 11 style machine gun that was taken into custody over the weekend. We are comparing the cartridges that were taken from Mr. Keel's body to see if this gun could have been used in that particular attack.
ABRAMS: What makes you believe that the motive was as just incomprehensible as car parts?
GITTENS: Well apparently, these wheels were very expensive. They were very unique. And when we recovered the car six hours after the incident, the wheels were missing along with the rims. These are very expensive wheels, so at this point in time that's what we believe is the motive. Of course, in any investigation as time goes on you develop new information and the inspectors are constantly developing new information in regards to this case.
ABRAMS: Do you want to tell us—and I ask do you want to because I don't want to compromise the investigation in any way. Do you want to tell us why you're convinced that there were three to four black males?
GITTENS: This is based on some information that we received last night. The story has received a lot of attention in the media and due to that, people have been calling the 415-575-4444-tipline and this was more information that was received last night to the inspectors working the case. So, originally it was two and now we think it's three to four males.
ABRAMS: And we continue, just so you know, to put up that number as we go through this segment because I know that's why both of you are here. Rosa, this is the car that he gave to you?
R. KEEL: Yes, he did.
ABRAMS: It was for Mother's Day?
R. KEEL: It was last year.
ABRAMS: And I assume it was—well anyway, let's—let me get back to Vanessa for a minute. It's been how many days now?
R. KEEL: Saturday, it will be a week.
R. KEEL: This coming Saturday.
ABRAMS: And she's slowly sort of accepting the reality that daddy is not coming back (INAUDIBLE)?
R. KEEL: I don't think she is accepting it. I think because she is so young, she's very confused at the moment. Because she's still talking present tense and she's still under the assumption that we can go pick up her daddy. She's not—I don't know if she is not comprehending what I am telling her that he's gone, that he's no longer with us on the earth.
She will say yes. She confirms it. However, an hour, two hours later she gets upset and she'll say I want to call him or can we just go to the hospital and go pick him up.
ABRAMS: I'm going to ask you about Sean here, but let me—I want to just explain to people and also to you why I think it's important—that these questions are very important. I think it's important to get people motivated, to get them out there, to get them calling. to understand your family a little bit. And I think that that's, as I think sergeant points out, they're already getting phone calls, which is great news. So tell me a little bit about Sean.
R. KEEL: Well Sean was a very giving individual. He was a very good husband and a very loving father. He looked forward to coming home after work. He actually would go pick up the girls from day care and their day was basically, you know, he'd bring them home, feed them, clean them up, play with them.
Basically he was having—I think this was—having the time of his life at this point right now. He was comfortable in his shoes and he loved the girls very much. And we talked about this year, you know what were our plans for this year and we just had a lot of plans. Excuse me.
ABRAMS: No, no please. Let me go to the sergeant, take a minute. I, you know, I can completely understand why you feel the way you do. And I think that's part of the reason I wanted to explain to you why I was asking these questions. That it wasn't just being done for no reason. All right, Sergeant, are you getting a lot of tips on this or just a handful?
GITTENS: We've received some tips. What we're trying to do now put together photographs of the rims, the wheels that were taken off his car. And hopefully somebody will recognize those rims. They are—from my understanding they're very unusual. Either somebody tried to sell them or somebody still has them and that I think is going to help us in this investigation trying to figure out exactly who committed this terrific crime.
ABRAMS: Rosa, I'm so, so sorry. And we'll do what we can putting out the number and the information and...
R. KEEL: I'd appreciate it.
ABRAMS: Good luck to you and Vanessa and the rest of your family.
R. KEEL: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Sergeant, keep up the good work. Thank you very much for coming on the program.
GITTENS: Thanks for having me.
ABRAMS: Coming up, a mother and her baby murdered in their home. The father is now in England. He was considered a person of interest. Today British police say he is a potential witness. What does that mean? Coming up.
ABRAMS: Coming up, Massachusetts police head to England to talk to a husband whose wife and little child were found shot dead. The latest coming up.
ABRAMS: We're back. An investigation into the death of a young woman and her 9-year-old baby has moved to England where Massachusetts police arrived today to interview the woman's husband Neil Entwistle, a 27-year-old British native whose wife, Rachel, and infant daughter, Lillian, were found shot in their Massachusetts home.
District attorney issued this statement late today—quote—“At this time Neil Entwistle, husband of Rachel and father of Lillian, remains a person of interest in this investigation. No one has been ruled in and no one has been ruled out as a suspect. A person of interest is a person that we believe may have relevant information about the case that we are investigating.”
This statement issued only hours after British authorities told reporters that Neil Entwistle is not considered a suspect, but is being interviewed by the Massachusetts authorities because he may be a witness in the deaths. Rachel and young Lillian were found shot to death in their Hopkinton, Massachusetts home on Sunday. Police believe they were killed between 1:00 a.m. on Friday morning and early Saturday morning. Neil reportedly left the country from Logan Airport in Boston late Friday night or early Saturday morning.
Joining us now is “Boston Herald” city editor Eric Convey, who has been covering the story, and MSNBC analyst and former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt. Thanks to both of you.
Eric, can you sort out the difference between from what we are hearing from the British authorities and the Massachusetts authorities?
ERIC CONVEY, “BOSTON HERALD” CITY EDITOR: One of the things to keep in mind is that the British authorities are his hometown folks and that's (INAUDIBLE) and their law enforcement (INAUDIBLE). But I think they are more inclined to want to cut somebody a break and not believe this is the worst as possible.
Another very important thing is until he's a suspect, until there is some kind of a warrant or some legal action...
CONVEY: ... here they can't take him into custody. So they can't just go grab a guy and say some American cops want to talk to you. So it may be very much the case that nothing has happened there that would make it reasonable for them to do—to take any action whatsoever. But at the same time, the Massachusetts authorities don't want you know the world thinking that he's been ruled out as a suspect. You know one of the things the district attorney said (INAUDIBLE) is that she wants it very clear this was not a random crime. You know so people here know that somebody just didn't break into a house and kill two people you know for no specific reason.
ABRAMS: Yes and so, Clint, I mean when I read the British authorities' comments about this my interpretation was that they're just misinterpreting what the D.A. was saying.
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well I think like Eric says, it's kind of early in the game right now...
ABRAMS: But Clint, they're saying a witness. I mean...
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
ABRAMS: ... I think what they are doing is they're interpreting the comments a person of interest not a suspect and saying well you know look and the D.A. in Massachusetts is saying we don't know if the person has any involvement in this at all. All we're saying is we want to talk to him.
VAN ZANDT: Well and they do, Dan, and as we talked about on your show yesterday, the timeline is so tight, suggesting that you know if he didn't have anything to do with it he sure ought to other something about the crime. And if it's like British authorities suggest he's a witness, how does he witness the murder of his wife and child and instead of dialing 911, he dials British Air and hops on a plane and goes to England.
That, you know what doesn't fit right now, you know the old looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, I think right now that's what Massachusetts' authorities have to determine. Is this just kind of smoke and mirrors on his part or is this a very convoluted crime that we still don't know the bottom line yet.
ABRAMS: Eric, does his whole family live there?
CONVEY: His whole family lives in England...
ABRAMS: Yes, that's...
CONVEY: Her whole family lives here.
ABRAMS: Yes. OK.
CONVEY: Yes, his family lives in and around Nottingham or the greater area of Nottinghamshire.
ABRAMS: Let's be clear. Here is the D.A., Martha Coakley, on this program yesterday. And I got to tell you the statement that she issued just hours ago is entirely consistent with what she said on this show last night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA COAKLEY, MIDDLESEX, MA D.A.: We have not labeled him a suspect. We don't use that term actually because it's not very useful. In any situation you'd want to talk to the dad. We want to know what he knows. We want to get information from him. But we are very clear at this stage that we have not reached a conclusion as to who did this or how.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: I have to say, Clint, I don't find the term person of interest very useful either.
VAN ZANDT: I've never liked that. You know it's come up in the last couple of years. You know as a FBI agent you are a suspect or a subject. Person of interest is just politically correct crap—excuse me—that you know we shouldn't be using. It just...
VAN ZANDT: I don't want to give a guy a pass on something like this. If we're looking at him like he might have done it, let's call him a suspect.
ABRAMS: But the problem is, you know as a legal matter, you know it's the whole Richard Jewell situation...
VAN ZANDT: Absolutely. Absolutely.
ABRAMS: ... the authorities may have, you know may have been looking at him, may have not.
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
ABRAMS: But people overstated it vastly and an innocent man was (INAUDIBLE). I think that's the reason everyone is being real careful these days.
VAN ZANDT: Sure.
CONVEY: And another thing a lot of law enforcement folks you know say all the time is it's of no value to them to publicly say this person is being eyed for the crime, even though you know a 5-year-old could figure out that it's the most rational person they're looking at...
ABRAMS: Eric, do you know...
CONVEY: ... the fact that...
ABRAMS: ... is he talking to them now? I mean have they actually gotten in touch with him?
CONVEY: That's not—we're not—I am not prepared to say that. We haven't nailed that down. We do know he has talked with them via telephone a couple of times in the last few days and more than once. And calls have been initiated in both directions. But we do not know whether he has sat down with the formasters (ph) (INAUDIBLE) investigators who are over there.
ABRAMS: Here's what Martha Coakley said about that very issue last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Did you track him down or did he contact you?
COAKLEY: Well, there were some phone conversations both ways to her family, to investigators, and I haven't clarified exactly the sequence in which that's occurred, but suffice to say that he did at some stage reach out to police.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Clint, I got to tell you, if they can't find him right away I'm going to be wanting to know why.
VAN ZANDT: Yes and you know, Dan, as an investigator you don't necessarily want to say I know you did it buddy and I am coming after you. You want to get a chance to sit down with him and let him help you rule either him in or rule himself out through interviews, so they don't want to stymie the possibility of doing an interview by pointing the finger too strongly at him until they get a chance to take a run at him through interview.
ABRAMS: All right, Eric Convey and Clint Van Zandt, thanks a lot.
VAN ZANDT: Thank you.
CONVEY: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, terrorists lie. That's what they do. And there is no reason to believe the ones who kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll are any different. It's my “Closing Argument”.
And Richard Hatch behind bars, so why is it that he might get more time in prison on tax evasion than that child molester in Vermont? Your e-mails are coming up.
And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to help find missing sex offenders before they strike. We continue our search in Maryland.
They're looking for Andrew Jensen. He's 50, six-four, 250, was convicted of sexual acts on a child under 14, has not registered properly with the state. If you've got any information on his whereabouts, please call the Frederick County Sheriff's Office, 301-694-1046.
Be right back.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—recent news event should remind us of one thing when it comes to terrorists. They lie a lot. They lie to mask their true intentions. They lie to help garner support for whatever cause they're pursuing. They lie to create chaos. And they lie because well, they can't be held accountable.
And yet sometimes media coverage and even public response suggests some of—some people are taking them at face value. Osama bin Laden in his latest audiotape claimed to be offering some sort of truce if the U.S. pulls out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Headline, it's not a real offer. He knew it would be ignored or rejected by the U.S.
It's a veiled threat, an effort to portray himself as some sort of world leader. Look, al Qaeda's goal has long been to establish fundamentalist Islamic governments all over the world. And then there are other terrorists holding reporter Jill Carroll hostage. They claim she would be killed unless all women were released from Iraqi jails.
But it's almost certainly populous propaganda, just an effort to undermine the American effort in Iraq or just to get ransom. Now the Iraqis are releasing five of the nine women being held, they say it's not connected to the kidnapping, but the terrorists will certainly pronounce victory whether Jill is alive or not. To them she is almost certainly beside the point.
And now that the terror group Hamas has won 76 of the 132 seats in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar announced the group would extend its year-old truce if Israel reciprocates. If not, he warned, then I think we will have no option but to protect our people and our land.
Please. This is an organization that was created to—quote—
“obliterate Israel”. It's right there in their charter. They continue to embrace it. They've targeted civilians for years. To suggest they've recognized Israel as a possible negotiating partner is just another terrorist lie.
But I guess we can hope they change their ways now that they have real power and real accountability. The point is when it comes to terrorists, we can't ask is this trade or this demand or this offer worth pursuing because most of the time they're not real. The media has got to do a better job of separating terror truth from fiction.
Coming up, Richard Hatch of “Survivor” now facing up to 13 years behind bars for tax evasion while that Vermont child molester had only received 60 days. One of you wants to no what gives. Your e-mails are next.
ABRAMS: We're back. I've had my say, now it's time for “Your Rebuttal”. “Survivor” winner Richard Hatch behind bars after being convicted of failing to pay taxes on the $1 million he won on the TV program. He faces up to 13 years and a fine of $600,000.
Kelly Henry writes, “Hatch gets 13 years and there are judges out there letting child molesters go after time served?”
We don't know if he's actually getting 13 years, but it's a good point.
Aruban investigators finally in the U.S. looking for more answers in Alabama teen Natalee Holloway's disappearance, questioning Natalee's friends and last night Aruban officials confirmed new information will lead them back to the lighthouse, which has been searched many times before as a potential burial site.
Terry Stephano in Batavia, Illinois, “Come on, Aruba. Why didn't you figure this out earlier?”
Finally, high school freshman Caroline Edith Zoe Allen in Fairfax, Virginia writes, “I really enjoy watching your show. It's probably the most interesting show in my entire life. I'm not the most intelligent person you will ever meet, but watching your show certainly gives me the illusion that I may in fact have some sign of intellect since I almost understand most of what you're talking about.”
Caroline, give yourself more credit than that. The fact that you're watching this show, at your age, tells me you have more than just some sign of intellect. I'll bet you are a lot smarter than you say. Now, thank you for watching. Go make sure you finish your homework. No, it's a very nice note. Thank you.
Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com. We go through them at the end of the show.
That does it for us tonight. Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. We're going to have a big Enron preview on tomorrow's show. See you then.
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