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'The Abrams Report' for June 15

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Fred Riglesberger, Bill Frankmore, Clint Van Zandt, Pam Bondi, Yale Galanter, Christian Lang-Poplin, Rachel Lang, Jodie Poplin

SUSAN FILAN, GUEST HOST:  Coming up—police widen the manhunt for a Nevada man they say stabbed his wife and then shot the judge hearing their divorce.  Now they say he is armed and dangerous. 

The program about justice starts now. 

Hi, everyone.  I‘m Susan Filan, in for Dan. 

First up on the docket, this man, Darren Mack, is still on the run and according to authorities, he is armed and dangerous.  Police say he stabbed his estranged wife to death in his garage while his 8-year-old daughter and longtime friend were upstairs in his condo and then shot the judge who was presiding over their divorce.

Mack owns a couple of pawn shots and has access to many high-powered weapons and he has a student pilot‘s license.  Yesterday authorities warned small airports to be on the lookout for him.  And today the FBI put out a federal warrant for his arrest.

Joining me now on the phone Officer Fred Riglesberger with the Reno Police Department.  Hello Officer.

OFFICER FRED RIGLESBERGER, RENO, NV POLICE DEPT. (via phone):  How are you doing?

FILAN:  How is the manhunt going? 

RIGLESBERGER:  Well as you can guess, it is continuing.  We have the cooperation of the FBI, local agencies here, the U.S. marshals, U.S.  Immigration and Customs.  We just—we are still working the crime scenes, the shooting of the judge, the stabbing of his wife, and, of course, the manhunt is continuing and we just really have increased the area that we‘re searching. 

FILAN:  Can you fill us in with details about the murder of Charla? 

RIGLESBERGER:  Well, I can say, of course, what we have released to the public, and that is at about 10:00 Monday morning he fatally stabbed his wife, approximately an hour later is when we had the shooting just outside the courthouse we believe from a parking garage that overlooked the judge‘s chambers.

FILAN:  And did you find some property of Charla‘s along Interstate 80? 

RIGLESBERGER:  I cannot release exactly what was located, but yes, we did find property related to the homicide off of I-80 in west Reno. 

FILAN:  And do you think that‘s going to help you find him? 

RIGLESBERGER:  Well of course anything that we find, there is the potential for getting all sorts of things, DNA evidence, fingerprints to tie him to these things and that is, of course, important.  It can help us knowing that a credit card that he did have access to was used at Sacramento International Airport in a parking garage.  We can‘t confirm that it in fact was him that used it, but we believe that he may have fled to the bay area of California. 

FILAN:  Are you concerned about the fact that he has got a student pilot‘s license? 

RIGLESBERGER:  That is a concern.  But that‘s of course from the get-go detectives have worked that and have contacted areas where he may be able to obtain an aircraft and have alerted them.  So that‘s something they stayed on top of to try to locate him. 

FILAN:  And do you think that he‘s got at lot of guns on him?  I know as a pawnshop owner, he had access to a lot of guns.  I think he‘s got a federal firearms license as well, which I‘m sure is in suspension now because these warrants have been issued. 

RIGLESBERGER:  That is correct.  And from that day, from Monday, his CCW or concealed weapons permit had—was suspended on Monday.  But he has access to numerous weapons. 


FILAN:  I‘m sorry, Officer.  He contacted his cousin.  Do you think that‘s going to help in some kind of a peaceful surrender or do you think this is going to end badly for him? 

RIGLESBERGER:  Well, the conversation with his cousin was basically just you know support me.  He at that time, I don‘t believe the cousin knew anything that had happened.  It was shortly after the shooting.  And it was really in just support.  He has not since contacted him.  And, you know, he has got lots of family, lots of friends. 

The family has come forward to say they will offer their support in helping to peacefully end this.  So hopefully that does assist us.  And, again, I can‘t say enough that the support we‘re getting from the public, we‘re getting tips that come in constantly on our secret witness line and we just really appreciate that.  We want those to keep coming in. 

FILAN:  Fantastic.  Officer Fred Riglesberger, thank you so much for joining us and filling us in.

RIGLESBERGER:  You bet.  Thank you.

FILAN:  Last night Darren Mack‘s cousin, Jeff Donner, spoke to MSNBC‘s Rita Cosby about the phone call that he received from Darren Mack on Monday. 


JEFF DONNER, COUSIN OF DARREN MACK:  Darren called me 11:19 on the day of the shooting...


DONNER:  ... which I understand...

RITA COSBY, HOST, “LIVE & DIRECT”:  This was after the shooting, right? 

DONNER:  Well, as I understand it, I understand from the news that the

that the judge was shot at 11:15.  My call came in at 11:19 on my cell phone, which would have been four minutes after the judge was shot.

COSBY:  So it‘s four minutes after the judge is shot.  Was there anything unusual about what he said or the way he sounded? 

DONNER:  He sounded like he has sounded in the last year, the past year, totally preoccupied with the injustice that he felt that he had received at the hands of this judge.  And asked me to remember my promise to him that if anything happened to him to make sure that I got word out to the public about how unjust, unfair this judge was.  Not only to him, but to others in the court so that the public would know, especially the Reno public would know.

COSBY:  So he had been talking to you...


COSBY:  ... about his displeasure with this judge for some time, Jeffrey? 

DONNER:  For a year, quite some time...

COSBY:  And to the point where you thought he would do this? 

DONNER:  No.  Never.  Never.  He was preoccupied with people finding out how unfair and unjust this—the judge was.  He never, ever indicated that there would be any type of violence towards the judge whatsoever.  Never. 

COSBY:  You must have been...


COSBY:  What was your reaction? 

DONNER:  His preoccupation was exposing the judge. 

COSBY:  You know, but Jeffrey, did he say anything to you in that call that he made at 11:19?  Did he instruct you to do anything and did you hear from him again?

DONNER:  No, I did not hear from him again.  And he was the one that disengaged from me before I could ask him any questions.  He just simply said if anything happens to me—and I took that to mean that possibly his wife would have done something to him because he did fear for his safety.  He did fear that she was going to shoot him or have somebody shoot him. 

I mean he expressed this fear to me many times over the last year.  And as I understand it, he has reported that to the Reno police and that is a matter of the public record.

COSBY:  You know, what would you want to say if he‘s watching right now?  I‘m sure you‘re concerned...


COSBY:  ... that this could end not very well.  He‘s armed. 

Authorities are obviously on the manhunt for him. 

DONNER:  My message to Darren or to anybody who might know where Darren is, is that to do—that my wife and I would do anything, any time, go any place under any circumstance to assist him to bring him in safely.  My second message would be to any law enforcement agency in northern California, if they should come upon Darren, before they would try to forcefully bring him in, I would beg them to contact me.  Darren would never hurt me.  I have no fear of him whatsoever—to contact me, to let me try to assist to bring him in safely.  I want to save his life. 

COSBY:  How do you see this ending?  Do you think he‘ll want to surrender? 

DONNER:  I‘m simply not certain.  I just don‘t know. 

COSBY:  What are your biggest concerns now? 


DONNER:  But I know that if I have a chance to help assist, bring him in, I am very, very confident that I would be successful in that. 

COSBY:  And if he‘s watching, real quick, what do you want to say specifically to him real fast? 

DONNER:  Darren, if you‘re watching, please, please contact us any time, any place.  We will go anywhere to assist you to see that you come in safely. 


FILAN:  Joining me now is anchor Bill Frankmore from our Reno affiliate KRNV-TV.  Hi, Bill.  Thanks for joining us. 

BILL FRANKMORE, KRNV-TV ANCHOR:  You‘re very welcome. 

FILAN:  Can you tell us any more about what the P.D. found belonging to Charla on I-80? 

FRANKMORE:  Well, as far as new developments are concerned, actually this was an overnight search.  And we were told that all they did find was just west of Reno on Interstate 80.  That‘s the road, of course, from Reno to Sacramento.  They found an article that belonged to Darren‘s wife, Charla, but they‘re not saying exactly what that is.  As far as we know, the only concrete evidence that we have right now linking Darren to northern California is that credit card swipe at the Sacramento airport.


FRANKMORE:  That was on Monday afternoon. 

FILAN:  Your wife is a reporter as well.  Is that correct? 

FRANKMORE:  Yes, that‘s correct.  Yes, she is an evening anchor here. 

FILAN:  And Darren Mack approached her? 

FRANKMORE:  Darren Mack a couple of weeks ago came with another acquaintance, another man who was going through a divorce proceeding in Chuck Weller‘s courtroom and both men were make allegations of improprieties on Judge Weller‘s count, saying that he was unfair, unjust, and that he based his decisions on donations made to his campaign and not necessarily on evidence.  So obviously this would—these kind of allegation are something that we would have to do a lot of research on instead of just going out and doing a story on it, we were looking into these allegations. 

They also brought in some blogs from other upset parents in this family court who also stated their displeasure with Judge Weller.  We were looking into that as well.  But obviously he beat us to the punch as far as getting anything out there or stating his complete displeasure.  In fact, the morning that Judge Weller was shot, as soon as I heard over the scanners that a judge was down, a horrifying thought went through my head, that, oh, my God, I wonder if that‘s Judge Weller. 

FILAN:  Wow.  That‘s unbelievable.  Now, do you have any more information on how the search is going beyond what the police could offer us today? 

FRANKMORE:  No, I don‘t.  Besides that article, again, you mentioned earlier—you were talking about the—that he has a pilot‘s license, but he is a student pilot.  So if he were to go to an airport, let‘s say a small, private airport on maybe Monday he couldn‘t leave without his instructor with him, we‘re told by some private airports in the area.  So the only thing—concrete thing that they have right now is that credit card swipe.  One other news source in this area is reporting that the Sacramento airport, they are looking at some surveillance video, but it is apparently too grainy to tell if the person they‘ve located on that is Darren—is actually Darren Mack. 

FILAN:  Bill, thanks so much for joining us, very informative.  Thank you very much for coming on the program. 

FRANKMORE:  You‘re welcome. 

FILAN:  With us now former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt. 


FILAN:  Hey, Clint.  What do you think of Mack contacting his cousin?  Do you think that‘s going to result in a peaceful surrender?  What do you make of that?

VAN ZANDT:  Well you know there‘s a lot of things to look at.  You know when you look at Mack, I mean you can be upset with anybody from a Supreme Court justice to a local magistrate, but you know that doesn‘t give you license to kill.  In this particular case, we‘ve got Mack using two different weapons.  We‘ve got this knife, Susan, that the sheath was allegedly found in the upstairs bedroom of the house, the knife that was used to stab his wife that, you know supposedly he used to stab his wife down in the garage. 

How did that knife get from upstairs from downstairs?  Interesting question.  Number two, we‘re told that the weapon he may have used to shoot was this 222 Bushmaster, the exact same type of rifle that was used by the Washington, D.C. sniper in this area right behind me in this reign of terror around here, so the guy had a couple of different weapons, different targets. 

You know, Susan, this is a guy who prior to shooting the judge, a few months ago put an ad on the Internet suggesting he had a Harley Davidson motorcycle for sale, but you had to come to his house at 7:00 a.m. in the morning and he lists Judge Weller‘s house and bikers are showing up at the house saying hey, man where‘s the bike. 

So you know Mack had a burr in his blanket for the judge for quite a period of time.  You know up to and including supposedly the judge awarding his wife $10,000 a month support.  But you know the other side...

FILAN:  Clint, let me ask you...

VAN ZANDT:  ... says that Mack wasn‘t paying.

FILAN:  Let me ask you...


FILAN:  You touch on what kind of guy he is.  And that‘s exactly what I want to have you talk to us about. 


FILAN:  I want to show you something about him.  And he had a secretive side to him.  Listen to this.

VAN ZANDT:  Sure did. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well I mean he had a secret side to him, obviously, and apparently she acquiesced at the beginning of the marriage to this alternative lifestyle and as they were splitting in 2004, she had had enough of it.  She didn‘t want it anymore.  It wasn‘t healthy for her daughter who at the time was 6, who is now 8. 


FILAN:  So it sounds like we‘re talking about some kind of sexual deviancy perhaps with this alternative lifestyle, secretiveness.  We‘ve got money problems, violence, rage, temper.  He violated the judge‘s orders, was found in contempt.  What kind of a guy are we dealing with?  I mean yesterday we were talking about him as somebody that seemed to have just snapped, John Q. regular guy.


FILAN:  Now, I‘m not so sure.

VAN ZANDT:  Now I‘m not so sure.  You know one of the reports said—that I‘ve read, Susan, suggested that he was involved in swingers clubs.  That you know if you take what that last guest just said on that taped piece, if in fact Mack was requiring or forcing his wife to participate in swingers events, maybe swapping events, something like this, you know and she finally just said, hey I love you.  I will do certain things for you, but enough is enough. 

You know you start to candle this guy‘s head—you know like the old farmer would take the chicken egg and hold it up and hold the candle behind it to try to see what is inside, we‘re doing the same thing with Mr. Mack right now.  We‘re trying to say if in fact you had these alternative lifestyles and issues and potential sexual deviancies and guns and money and girlfriends and swappers, swingers‘ parties, you know, you can understand perhaps why his wife would call a time-out.  But the challenge comes, did he plan, Susan—did he plan to kill his wife that day or was it this crazy emotional plot? 

FILAN:  Right.  Right.

VAN ZANDT:  But how about sniping the judge? 

FILAN:  Yes.

VAN ZANDT:  Another—a whole other thing...

FILAN:  I mean wow, that‘s where you really cross the line.  This guy was a powder keg.  They owed over $500,000...


FILAN:  ... on a line of credit...


FILAN:  ... guns, sex, got all kinds of nuttiness to it.

VAN ZANDT:  The mountain came down on him, Susan.

FILAN:  Thank you, Clint, for joining us.  We‘re out of time.

VAN ZANDT:  Thank you.

FILAN:  We‘ll be right back.


FILAN:  Mike Nifong, the district attorney in the Duke lacrosse rape investigation, did he get it all wrong?  He was so outspoken immediately after the rape accusations, even coming on this show more than once telling us what he believed happened at that party where a woman alleges she was raped by three Duke lacrosse players. 

But then he clammed up completely and stopped talking altogether.  Meanwhile, little by little, we‘re learning just what is in those 1,300 pages of discovery turned over to the defense.  And it is not looking good for the D.A. 

Joining me now Florida assistant district attorney Pam Bondi and criminal defense attorney Yale Galanter.  Thanks for joining us. 


FILAN:  Pam, we‘ve got a situation in this case where we may have a runaway train out of control.  This is a prosecutor who‘s charged with doing the right thing, doing justice, and yet things that he told us don‘t pan out with things that we‘re learning coming up from the defense.  Are you concerned about this?

BONDI:  Susan, I am.  You know in the very beginning when he started talking and saying how confident he was and what the evidence is going to show, I was just saying, oh don‘t do that.  That could come back to bite you and sure enough it is.  But I do think we have a prosecutor who passionately believes in his case.  But we all know that‘s just the first part of the equation. 

You also have to have a reasonable likelihood of success at trial to go forward.  So you know I guess I‘m just still trying to have faith in him.  Because he knows that as well as we do that you have to believe you have some chance of winning a trial.  So hopefully—hopefully he‘s going to go forward and he‘s got more than we know about.  But, yes, yes, he really got stuck when he started talking and he shouldn‘t have.  And then all of a sudden...


BONDI:  ... he stopped.

FILAN:  It‘s more than should he have talked, should he not have talked.  I am so way past that.  Maybe he made mistakes with the media, whatever.  I‘m so past that.  Now I‘m like what is your evidence.  Take a listen to this. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She was grabbed from behind so that in essence somebody had an arm around her like this, which she then had to struggle with in order to be able to breathe.


FILAN:  All right, so he says that and then just shortly thereafter we learn that it looks like the evidence says from her that she was never choked.  It says the probable cause affidavit omitted that the accuser told the sexual assault nurse that no condom, fingers or foreign objects were used during the alleged sexual assault.

Yale, is this guy just getting in all wrong?  Does he not know his case?  Is he incompetent?  Is he worse? 

YALE GALANTER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  All of the above, Susan.  Listen, one of two things happened.  Either he intentionally misled the public and the court by not telling the truth of what he had or intentionally making up facts or he indicted three innocent young men before he had all of the police reports and all of the facts in front of him. 

Either way it is deplorable.  Because what we now know, and everybody has got to keep in mind, he knew this way before the media did and you and I knew it, we now know that 99.9 percent of the public statements he made and the things he said in official court filings have turned out not to be accurate, not to be true, and Susan, that is deplorable for any prosecutor. 

FILAN:  Pam, Yale, take a listen to this.  This is the district attorney talking and then you‘re going to hear a second sound bite that‘s going to say something that he says should be there that isn‘t.  Take a listen to this. 


MIKE NIFONG, DURHAM, NC DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  I am convinced that there was a rape.  Yes, sir. 

DAN ABRAMS, HOST, THE ABRAMS REPORT:  And why are you so convinced of that? 

NIFONG:  The circumstances of the case are not suggestive of the alternate explanation that has been suggested by some of the members of the situation.  There is evidence of trauma in the victim‘s vaginal area that was noted when she was examined by a nurse at the hospital.  And her general demeanor was suggested—suggestive of the fact that she had been through a traumatic situation. 


FILAN:  OK, so he is promising us proof of rape based on medical evidence.  Look at this. 

The sexual assault nurse examiner‘s physical examination of the pelvic area of the accuser noted only diffuse edema of the vaginal walls.  The sexual assault nurse examiner‘s report contained no opinion or conclusion that the accuser had signs, symptoms, and injuries consistent with being raped and sexually assaulted vaginally and anally.”

OK.  Granted, Yale, granted that is from the defense‘s motion.  That may be their spin.  But here is what making me so crazy.  If a prosecutor says he‘s got evidence of rape based on medical reports, the defense gets those medical reports and based on that files an affidavit with the court.  You‘re not allowed to mislead the court.

You can‘t perpetrate a fraud on the court.  So one has to believe in good faith they know what they‘re talking about.  They‘ve seen it.  I haven‘t.  But I have to rely on them that it ain‘t there.  What is going on? 

GALANTER:  Yes, it‘s not only it‘s not there, Susan.  I mean we now know that she told the medical personnel at the time and the police that that afternoon she did another gig and used a sexual vibrator on herself.  Larry Kobilinsky told us a couple of days ago that this diffused edema, which is the only thing they found in her vaginal area, is entirely consistent with that mechanical device being used in her vaginal area. 

That is not what Mike Nifong told us and that‘s certainly not what he put in the court papers.  And again, you really—and I agree with you 100 percent.  You‘ve got to ask yourself why is this going on?  And it really is scary.  Because Mike Nifong has the power to alter these boys‘ lives, and you know, clearly, if they did it, they ought to go to prison.  But all of the evidence so far shows that they didn‘t, Susan.

FILAN:  Pam, you‘re a prosecutor.  I was a prosecutor for many years. 

We‘ve got people‘s lives in our hands.  We‘ve got an awful lot of power.  We‘re supposed to do justice.  What is your take on this prosecutor and were you the prosecutor in this case, would you keep going? 

BONDI:  Susan, I would keep going if I had more evidence than I know about now.  I haven‘t read the—however many thousands of pages of documents they have.  Yale has read them and Yale doesn‘t think there is enough.  But with what we know now and you know believing in your victim isn‘t enough.  We often have to drop cases when they fall apart, when witnesses recant, when they disappear.

FILAN:  That‘s right and there‘s no...

BONDI:  But right now I just hope he does have more and that‘s all I can go on. 

FILAN:  Right.  Pam, listen—this is the witness that he‘s going to have to rely on in trial.  This is the other dancer because she was there.  OK, so we‘ve got to hear from her.  Listen to her. 

BONDI:  Oh, she‘s useless. 

FILAN:  Right.  Listen—take a look at what we‘ve got from her. 


KIM ROBERTS PITTMAN, SECOND EXOTIC DANCER IN DUKE CASE:  I can never say that a rape did or did not occur.  That‘s for the courts to decide.  It didn‘t see it happen.  You know, but what I can say is that there was opportunity and that it could have happened.  You have to entertain the fact that it‘s possible it didn‘t, but it‘s possible it did. 


FILAN:  OK, so in that breath she is saying I don‘t know for sure.  I wasn‘t there.  But look at what she said on another occasion.  She said she heard that the accuser was sexually assaulted, which she stated is a crock, and she stated that she was left—that she was with her the whole time until she left.  And the only time that she was alone was when she would not leave and that period was less than five minutes. 

So here‘s your key eyewitness.  It is a crock and well, maybe it happened.  Pam, would you put her on the stand? 

BONDI:  No, way, you can‘t, especially when she said...


BONDI:  ... that the victim wanted to go back in because she said there was money to be made in there and then she repeated that I think twice in her written statement.  No, I don‘t think there is any way you can use her as a witness. 

FILAN:  But Pam...

BONDI:  I think she is more of a defense witness...

FILAN:  That‘s right.

BONDI:  ... but I think she is loose cannon. 

FILAN:  That‘s right. 

GALANTER:  Susan...

FILAN:  How would you like to be the prosecutor that didn‘t call her...


FILAN:  ... and then a guy like Yale calls her.  Yale, I‘m so sorry. 

We‘ve got to go.  We‘re out of time. 


BONDI:  I‘m sorry.

FILAN:  Thanks so much for joining us.  Coming up, it is a heartbreaking story.  Two daughters testified against their own father labeled the DUI dad because they knew if they didn‘t, he might kill somebody. 

And a prosecutor disappeared in Pennsylvania.  Police suspected foul play, but a year later there is still no suspect and no sign of the prosecutor Ray Gricar.  Where could he be?  We‘ve got an update on this mystery coming up. 



FILAN:  They call him the DUI dad, and he‘s in jail today partly because his two daughters testified against him.  Forty-one-year-old Glenn Lang cried as the judge sentenced him earlier this week to serve three years in prison for drunk driving after a number of his family members testified that he should be locked up because he‘s going to kill somebody some day. 

Joining me now are two of Lang‘s daughters, Rachel Lang and Christian Lang-Poplin, and their mom, Lang‘s ex-wife, Jodie Poplin.  Thanks for joining us. 


FILAN:  Christian, let me start with you. 


FILAN:  Why did you testify against your dad? 

C. LANG-POPLIN:  I testified against him because I did not want him taking someone‘s innocent life that, you know, that was just out driving and he just happened to be drunk and happened to kill them.  I didn‘t want him killing himself or any of my family members.  Because when we have kids some day, we don‘t want to take his grandchildren to a gravesite to visit with him because of his drinking and driving. 

FILAN:  How hard was that for you to testify against your dad? 

C. LANG-POPLIN:  It was really hard for me to testify against him because I still love him, but I really don‘t have any respect for him because of his drinking and driving.  But it was really hard when I was up there on that witness stand and I had to look him dead in his face and testify against him. 

FILAN:  And Christian, why did you testify against your dad?  I‘m sorry, Rachel, forgive me.  Forgive me.  Rachel, why did you testify against your dad? 

RACHEL LANG, TESTIMONY PUT FATHER IN PRISON:  Well, it is not something that I wanted to do.  It is just that it had to be done and if it wasn‘t going to be done my sister and I, then they were going to let him go and he was going to end up killing someone, which I don‘t think it should be in his power to take another person‘s life just because he wants to drink alcohol.  But I also know that it‘s—alcohol and being an alcoholic is a disease, and it is not something that he can pull his self away from and he needs other people‘s help and so that‘s why I went to his court hearing and testified against him. 

FILAN:  And he had eight other drunk driving convictions before this. 

This was essentially his ninth.  Is that right? 

R. LANG:  I believe so.  Yes...


FILAN:  And nobody had ever put him in jail before this?  This is the first—I mean he had—this is his ninth time basically doing it and this is his first time going to jail?

R. LANG:  Right. 

FILAN:  Wow.  So you were extremely concerned.  I mean in a way you did probably the hardest thing you‘ve ever had to do, but you did do a public service.  I want to show you something that comes from your dad‘s lawyer.  Take a listen to this. 

I‘ve spoken with my client, Glenn Lang, at length since his sentencing hearing.  He does not place any blame on his two daughters for the judge‘s ruling.  Glenn would like the girls to know that he does love them and hopes to have a relationship with them in the future that is not clouded by their mother‘s hostility towards him.

Rachel, what kind of relationship do you think you might like to have with your dad in the future?

R. LANG:  I want him to be a part of my life and I want him to be there when I have kids and when I get married.  But if he didn‘t go to prison, he was going to continue to drink alcohol, I don‘t believe he would be there.  I don‘t think that he would live much longer because of his drinking and driving. 

But I‘m going to write him while he is in prison, and I‘m going to let him know what is going on with my life.  Because even though for the past about 13 years he hasn‘t been there, I will be 18 years in about six months and I will able to see him on my own.  And I‘ll probably—I will end up taking my little sister with me.  She‘s 10 and she was left with her mom who is not a very responsible parent, but there‘s nothing you can do about that.

FILAN:  And Christian, you spoke with your dad as he was leaving the courtroom, what did you guys talk about and what was that like for you? 

C. LANG-POPLIN:  It was hard.  He was standing in cuffs in front of me.  There were three deputies around him.  I told him—I said we‘re doing this for a reason.  It‘s not just to put you in there to keep you in jail.  He said I understand that and I love you guys.  He‘s like I‘m not mad at you for anything you are doing. 

He was like I completely understand why you‘re doing this.  And I was like all right.  I was like we didn‘t want it on our conscience that you was mad at us because we had to testify against you.  And he said, no, I‘m not mad at you.  And then the deputies took him and took him over to the holding facility.  But before he left, he did tell us that he loved us and that he didn‘t blame us for anything that happened in the courtroom or what the judge had to say.  He didn‘t blame us. 

FILAN:  Do you girls think that three years in jail is long enough for him? 

C. LANG-POPLIN:  I do.  Yes, I do believe that three years incarcerated will be long enough for him, but when he gets out he is on two years with an alcohol ankle bracelet that determines his alcohol percentage in his body. 

FILAN:  And Jodie, they say—or his lawyer says that you got your daughters to testify against him because you guys had a bitter divorce and you did it to get back at him.  What do you say to that? 

JODIE POPLIN, TESTIMONY PUT EX-HUSBAND IN PRISON:  We did not have a bitter divorce.  Matter of fact, he wasn‘t even at our divorce hearing.  He (UNINTELLIGIBLE) our divorce.  But my daughters came to me last year and asked if they could write letters.  And I sat them down and I asked them if they understood that they would lose their child support and that he would ultimately go to prison. 

And they understood that.  So they wrote the letters, and I played taxi service for them and checked into his court hearings up until Monday when I got involved into it.

FILAN:  Well girls, you are very mature, very brave.  Best of luck to you and your family.  I hope it all works out. 



J. POPLIN:  Thanks. 

FILAN:  Coming up, Ray Gricar was a long-time prosecutor in Pennsylvania, but one day he mysteriously vanished and nobody knows why.  We‘ll learn more about his case. 

Your e-mails, send them to us at the  Remember to include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I will respond at the end of the show. 


FILAN:  Coming up, it has been a year since a Pennsylvania prosecutor vanished.  There are no suspects in the case, so what could have happened to him?  We‘ve got the details coming up. 


FILAN:  It has been over a year since a long-time Pennsylvania prosecutor vanished after taking the day off from work.  The details surrounding Ray Gricar‘s mysterious disappearance have left his family, friends, and law enforcement baffled about what may have happened to him and whether he is dead or alive. 

“Dateline NBC‘s” Sara James has the story. 


SARA JAMES, “DATELINE NBC” (voice-over):  When Ray Gricar vanished near the quaint town of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, clues were scarce in this baffling mystery.  What‘s more he seemed like a man who could take care of himself since he solved mysteries for a living. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Suddenly the chief law enforcement officer of the county is gone, is gone. 

JAMES (on camera):  With any explanation? 


JAMES (voice-over):  Patty Fornicola had lived with 59-year-old district attorney Ray Gricar for three years.  They had both been married before and felt no urgency to wed.  She says they loved to hike, play scrabble and especially go antiquing in Ray‘s Mini Cooper. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think for both of us, we finally found our soul mate. 

JAMES:  On the morning of Friday, April 15, 2005, Patty left for her job, also in the D.A.‘s office, but Ray decided to stay in bed. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He said I don‘t think I‘m going to go to work today.  I think I‘m going to take today day off.  I said, fine, good for you. 

JAMES:  She says a few hours later Ray called and told her he was taking a scenic drive along a road, which led to one of their favorite antiquing spots, nearby Lewisburg.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He said I love you.  And I said I love you too. 

JAMES:  Those were the last words she would hear him say.  When Ray wasn‘t home that night, a frantic Patty called 911.  Authorities broadcast the description of the district attorney and his car, even used search planes.  But Bellefonte Police Officer Darrel Zaccagni says in the first hours he wasn‘t worried.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Initially I felt that probably Ray just got involved in doing something.  He met a friend and he would just have to explain it to Patty why he didn‘t come home.

JAMES:  But the next day there was an ominous sign, the district attorney‘s Mini Cooper was discovered in Lewisburg, across from an antiques mall called the Street of Shops, and about a hundred yards from the Susquehanna River.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Between here and the park are the last two positive sightings we have of Ray on April 15 when he disappeared.

JAMES:  But there was no sign of Ray Gricar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When he wasn‘t back for court Monday morning and we knew he had plans for court, we were concerned then something had happened.

JAMES (on camera):  What was it like when you woke up and he was still missing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It was truly like I was having a bad dream.  I‘m still waiting to wake up.

JAMES (voice-over):  It‘s now been a year and a month since Ray Gricar disappeared and despite an intensive investigation, authorities still have no idea what happened to the district attorney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We bounced between homicide, suicide, and walk away.

JAMES:  Zaccagni says initially suicide seemed likely because Gricar‘s behavior had changed, according to his girlfriend, Patty. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  About two weeks prior to his disappearance, I noticed that he was napping more.

JAMES (on camera):  Did he go to the doctor?  Did he see a doctor?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No.  He tried to brush it off.  

JAMES (voice-over):  Could Gricar have been ill or depressed?  Gricar‘s brother had committed suicide nine years before in a location strikingly similar to this one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He was about Ray‘s age and he had—went in—parked his car by a river and drowned himself in a river.

JAMES:  Zaccagni thought it possible that Gricar, who wasn‘t a strong swimmer, had jumped from this nearby bridge.

(on camera):  When did you lose your confidence in that particular theory?                              

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We started to lose it when we didn‘t find the body right away.  Because the river has a history of turning up the bodies relatively soon.

JAMES (voice-over):  Besides, Ray seemed to be a man with everything to live for.  Medical records showed nothing unusual.  He was looking forward to retirement and had asked 43-year-old Patty to stop working also.  They were planning a trip to Washington State to see his adult daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We were going to drive across the country, take our time, visit the national parks and end up on the west coast.

JAMES:  If it wasn‘t suicide, was it possible Gricar had simply walked away?  If he did, he did so without touching his bank account or waiting a few months to collect his retirement pension, according to current Centre County District Attorney Mike Madeira.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He has no money.  He takes no money out with his credit cards. 

JAMES:  Could he somehow have set up a whole new identity, perhaps with another woman?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We had a report in the street of shops that in the man‘s mind he was with another woman.  He described her as five-nine, short brownish-black hair like your length almost.  Very good looking, in her 30‘s, early 40‘s maybe, and he felt they were together, but they weren‘t romantically together. 

JAMES:  Police canvassed hotels and homes nearby searching for the mystery woman with no luck.  And his family says there is no way he would put them through the agony of not knowing his whereabouts. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And then, of course, the third theory is that there were some foul play.  Because you‘re the chief law enforcement officer.  Because you‘ve made enemies over the year, that‘s why it seems like that‘s a possible theory. 

JAMES:  But while police have checked into some high-profile cases, there are no suspects.  Still, did someone murder Ray Gricar?  When police opened his car, they caught a strong whiff of smoke, yet Ray never touched cigarettes and didn‘t allow smoking in his beloved car. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And they found a minute amount of tobacco ash.  That could have resulted from anybody leaning in, talking to Ray maybe smoking a cigarette.

JAMES:  Police found two cigarette butts nearby and recovered DNA from them, but it matched nothing on file, a dead end.  They also used a bloodhound, but the dog lost Gricar‘s scent 20 yards from the car.  The tracker suggested Gricar got into another vehicle, perhaps with his killer.  But there was no body and no suspects.  Months into the investigation, there was a break.  Fishermen spotted something glinting in the river under a bridge near where Ray‘s car had been parked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And that was like finding a needle in a haystack. 

JAMES:  It was Gricar‘s laptop, which he had taken with him the day he disappeared.  Something he almost never did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We felt the key to this case would be the missing computer.  That would tell us, you know, was Ray working on something off the wall that got him killed?  Was Ray planning on disappearing and it was going to tell us that he was sitting in Tahiti drinking Mai Tais now or you know was he planning a suicide and that‘s where his farewell letters were.

JAMES:  Police were elated until they discovered the hard drive was missing, apparently removed. 

(on camera):  So once again a dead end. 


JAMES (voice-over):  And then, incredibly, a mother and daughter out skipping stones discovered that hard drive in the riverbed. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It went out through the Secret Service and the FBI.  They took it to a clean room.  They tore the whole thing down, tried to clean it up and their response was there is nothing here that we can get. 

JAMES:  Everyone remains baffled. 

(on camera):  How hard is that?  How frustrating?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It is the worst feeling in the world. 

JAMES:  What do you think happened to Ray Gricar?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I really don‘t know. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  There is nothing I could say can truly describe what this is like.  I just wanted to be with him.  And I don‘t even know where he is. 


FILAN:  Police continue following leads with the hope of finding out what happened to Ray Gricar.  If you have any information to help them find Ray Gricar, please call the Bellefonte, Pennsylvania Police Department at 814-353-2320. 

Coming up, is there a double standard in the Mary Winkler case?  Would the preacher‘s wife be treated differently than a man who confessed to shooting his wife?  Your e-mails are up next. 

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike again.  This week we‘re in Washington State.  Authorities need your help finding Joseph Lollis.

He‘s 42 years old, five-eleven, weighs 210 pounds.  He was convicted of multiple counts of third-degree rape and he hasn‘t registered his address with the state.  If you have any information on his whereabouts, please call the Clark County Sheriff‘s Office at 360-397-2397.  We‘ll be right back. 


FILAN:  Now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Many of you are outraged that Mary Winkler‘s attorneys are asking for her to be released on bail.  She‘s the Tennessee woman who authorities say confessed to murdering her preacher husband.

Roger Olson, from Waco, Texas.  “I wonder if people who think Mary Winkler should be released on bond pending trial would think the same if the defendant was a man who shot his wife in the back and then fled to another state.  I suspect not.  Women are often treated more lightly than men in identical cases.  Such a double standard should not be allowed.”

And yesterday, we also talked about the Duke lacrosse rape case.  Like me, many of you want to know what evidence District Attorney Mike Nifong has against the three lacrosse players. 

Nick Siavelis from Saint Charles, Illinois, “Susan, you say you want to see all 1,278 pages of discovery in the Duke rape case, but as Dan often asks, what could be in there that could possibly indicate the accused are guilty.  With everything we know about this case, it‘s extremely hard to imagine there could be anything incriminating.  Will you please speculate for us and give us an idea of what else Mike Nifong might have?”

Well, Nick, I want to see for myself what Nifong has or doesn‘t have.  I don‘t want to take the defense‘s word for it.  I want to see the alleged victim‘s statement in its entirety and her medical report in its entirety because in my view, that‘s really all it takes to prosecute a rape case. 

And Nick Mazza from Lansing, Illinois, “With all the hubbub about Nifong and the legitimacy of his prosecution of the three Duke players, if it‘s found Nifong proceeded without merit and for political gain, could he or the office he represents be sued by the accused for malicious prosecution and defamation of character?”

Nope.  He‘s got absolute immunity.  But he could be disbarred. 

Coming up, will you ever see Dan again?  The answer up next. 


FILAN:  We‘ve been talking about it all week.  Dan‘s big promotion to general manager of MSNBC.  He wanted to say one final good-bye, but he‘s been too busy.  Tomorrow he‘ll be back for one last “Closing Argument”, so tune in.

That does it for us.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. 



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