Guests: Cesar Alarcon, Todd Schlifstein, Marc Mero, Steve Blackman, Jerry McDevitt, Dr. David Black, Eve Ashley, Jeff Schultz, Heather Gierhart, Frank Birgfeld
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Tonight, the toxicology reports are finally in for WWE wrestler Chris Benoit. The medical examiner laid out exactly what he found in Benoit‘s body, and we also learned his 7-year-old son was sedated before being killed. We‘ll get to that in just a minute.
But first, breaking news to report tonight. A passenger plane has crashed in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It plowed through a fence after landing on a runway, then hit a gas station and burst into flames. We‘re just getting reports of at least six survivors. TAM Airlines says 170 passengers and six crew members were aboard the Airbus A-320.
Cesar Alarcon with our sister network, Telemundo, joins us on the phone from Brazil. Cesar, thanks very much. All right, what else do we know?
CESAR ALARCON, TELEMUNDO: Hi, Dan. It‘s still raining very hard here in Sao Paulo. And you know, from—we have 176 (INAUDIBLE) correct, actually, 176 passengers on board. We have eight people that were working on this building, by the time the plane crashed, you know, and these eight people were taken to different hospitals. One of them has already died. So we officially have only one death so far. Three or four of them are in very bad condition. And—but again, these eight people were working, these eight ladies were working by the time the plane crashed.
ABRAMS: Cesar, what do we know...
ALARCON: The plane crashed—yes?
ABRAMS: Do we know anything about the people who were on the plane yet? Do we know if there were survivors from plane itself?
ALARCON: No. No. We don‘t know from survivors from the plane. We only know from survivors from the building that the plane crashed. And we don‘t know the reason (INAUDIBLE) why the plane crashed. It might be, you know, due to the rain, due to, you know, human failure. We don‘t know.
The thing is that the—you know, the plane couldn‘t stop by the time it was landing, couldn‘t stop, and you know—and in the runway there and crashed and crossed this highway, this mid (ph) highway, you know, full of cars and buses. It was crazy, and just crashed into this building, this cargo building from the same airline company. And next to this building was also gas station.
So everything exploded at the same time. And we have heard some explosions so far. Part of this building has collapsed already. And the firefighters are having a very hard time trying to control the situation because they cannot go inside because of the building is—you know, because of this risk of collapsing.
ABRAMS: All right. Cesar, we‘re going ask you to keep us updated on what is happening there, and we will continue to update our viewers on any developments in the story. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Now to the news tonight in the murder-suicide case involving former star wrestler Chris Benoit. Today authorities released the toxicology reports, answering the question, What was in Benoit‘s body? We now know Benoit had a cocktail of drugs, after allegedly killing his wife and son, including extremely high levels of the steroid testosterone. The results also show Benoit‘s 7-year-old son, Daniel, tested positive for Xanax, which may have been used to sedate him before his brutal murder.
The medical examiner explained exactly what they found.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. CHRIS SPERRY, GEORGIA CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER: With Chris Benoit, we found his blood to be positive for Alprazolam, or Xanax, at a level of 50 micrograms per liter.
We analyzed the urine of Chris Benoit for the presence of steroids, and the only steroid drug that we found was testosterone. And this was measured at a level of 207 micrograms per liter. Now, along with other analyses that were done on the urine, we were able to ascertain that this level of testosterone indicates that he had been using testosterone at least within some reasonably short period of time prior to the time that he died. There were no other steroid or artificial steroid-like drugs that were found in his urine.
With respect to Nancy Benoit, we found three different drugs in her system. The first was hydrocodone, which is also known as Lortab or Lorcet. And this is at a level of 120 micrograms per liter. We also found hydromorphone. And finally, we found the drug called Xanax, or Alprazolam, at a level of 23 micrograms per liter.
In Daniel Benoit, the 7-year-old child, we found his blood to be positive for Alprazolam, or Xanax, at 110 micrograms per liter. This is relatively elevated. And also, Xanax is not a drug that would normally be given to a child for any, I would say, routine purposes. Based upon this finding and the autopsy findings, it is our opinion that Daniel Benoit was sedated by Xanax at the time that he was murdered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Oh! Awful. All right. My take. This medical examiner throughout seemed to be minimizing the fact that Benoit was on the juice. The ME says his testosterone ratio was 59-to 1. In most professional sports, if you‘re above 4-to-1, you‘re out. His doctor was allegedly prescribing loads of steroid, some found in his home. And this guy kept suggesting this was all pretty normal, and he seemed to assume that there was some sort of legitimate testosterone replacement without really explaining how he‘d know that. Now everyone from the defense attorney for Benoit‘s doctor to the WWE are citing this guy‘s speculation as gospel.
So let‘s do a fact check with Dr. Todd Schlifstein. He‘s a steroids and sports medicine expert from the NYU Medical Center. And once again, we‘re joined by a pair of former wrestlers who knew Chris Benoit, Marc Mero, who‘d been known as “Johnny B. Badd,” and “The Lethal Weapon,” Steve Blackman, joins us, as well.
All right. Doctor, let me start with you, all right? So this doctor is laying out really what is his speculation on certain issues and the facts on other issues. First, let me talk to you about the 7-year-old son. The fact that they found Xanax in his body—that seems pretty clear, then, that a 7-year-old would have no reason to be taking Xanax, right?
DR. TODD SCHLIFSTEIN, STEROIDS AND SPORTS MEDICINE EXPERT: Yes, there‘s no real indication for using Xanax in a child of that age. And certainly, a blood level that high would certainly be sedating in a child of that age and that size.
ABRAMS: All right. Now let me play you another piece of sound from the press conference, all right? And this is where I think that this doctor is starting to put forward almost a defense here. He seems to be assuming that everything was OK. He‘s assuming that this was testosterone replacement, as opposed to being used to bulk up. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPERRY: Well, a person—frankly, the most common use is the treatment of testicular insufficiency. And there are uncounted men out there in our county that take testosterone injections just like because of failure of their own testicles for one reason or another. Frankly, that is the most common reason.
QUESTION: But at this level?
SPERRY: Well, that‘s—the levels, you have to understand, don‘t really mean anything. I thought I‘d kind of addressed that. The level tells that he was taking it, but translating that into effect and what it was being used for is not possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: But does it mean anything that he was a bulked-up professional wrestler? I mean, Doctor, are you not troubled by the way this ME is presuming, Oh, most people take it for testosterone replace—OK. That‘s right. Maybe that is what most people take it for, but that doesn‘t tell us anything about what Chris Benoit was taking it for, right?
SCHLIFSTEIN: Well, I think there‘s several statements that he made that are troubling. One, certainly, you can make inferences about the level of testosterone, not just that he was taking testosterone. A level 10 times a normal value is not 10 percent increase, it‘s 10 times the normal value. If you would supplement someone‘s testosterone because it was too low, like he was saying for testicular...
SCHLIFSTEIN: ... insufficiency, you would supplement it to a normal level. You wouldn‘t supplement it 10 times the normal level.
SCHLIFSTEIN: That is an excessive amount of testosterone.
ABRAMS: But didn‘t it sound to you like he was almost—I mean, I have to tell you, listening to the defense attorney for this Dr. Astin already citing this guy, you know, I don‘t know that this was really—I‘m questioning the propriety of his analysis.
SCHLIFSTEIN: Yes, I think a lot of the inferences he‘s made from some of the data is questionable, the inference of the quantity or the amount of testosterone. Also, if he tested so high in testosterone in his blood, how can he not test positive for it in his urine? He said he tested positive for testosterone but not other anabolic steroids. Testosterone is an anabolic steroid. So I think there‘s a lot of questions of what he said and how he said it and making inferences from that.
ABRAMS: All right, let me throw this one to Marc Mero. Let me read you a statement from the WWE. We‘re going to be talking to them in a moment. They say, “On Mr. Benoit‘s last drug test in April 2007, he tested negative for anabolic steroids and for testosterone. It would appear that Mr. Benoit took the testosterone sometime after his April 2007 test and the time he died.”
What do you make of that?
MARC MERO, FORMER WWE WRESTLER: Well, I find it ludicrous and I find it insulting. This is a guy that got a 10-month supply every three or four weeks for at least a year that we know of from Dr. Astin. How did he go undetected at the WWE for at least a year? And I would love to see some of his other test results. The WWE has got to step up to the plate. Too many wrestlers are gone because of people that don‘t follow through with things that they should do to help these guys.
ABRAMS: And look, we‘re going to talk to the WWE in a minute. But Steve Blackman, what was your—what was your reaction to hearing both the ME and also the statement from the WWE?
STEVE BLACKMAN, FORMER WWE WRESTLER: Well, the toxicology report came as no surprise to me. I mean, I expected them to find some steroids. Now, the question is, is it beyond therapeutic use? Well, apparently, you know, it seems to be. We‘re still trying to find an association here, though, with the act that he committed and the steroid use. I‘m not disputing the fact that people are using steroids, and now that they‘re under the microscope, they‘re probably going to become a lot more stringent in regulating this. You know, but we‘re still trying to figure out the Benoit issue here. And obviously, he had some underlying mental problems, otherwise, he wouldn‘t have done this, no matter what he was taking.
ABRAMS: Doctor, bottom line, you know, put it into lay terms for us. If you had been the ME and seen the results that you saw here, you would be describing this as what?
SCHLIFSTEIN: Well, I think, certainly, all these drugs, the steroids, the testosterone, the anti-anxiety drugs, Xanax, narcotics or opioid painkillers, the Lortab or the hydrocodone, certainly in combination, have amplified effects to whatever else was going on in his life at that time. But certainly, that can make you more irrational, more aggressive. But all these things make you feel—can make you feel depressed, as well. So (INAUDIBLE) say it has absolutely no role in what occurred I think is incorrect. But you know, there is no exactly smoking gun.
SCHLIFSTEIN: ... you can‘t point your finger at one thing and say, Aha, that was it.
ABRAMS: Doctor, real quick, do you believe in ‘roid rage?
ABRAMS: And Marc Mero, are you now—are you still convinced that this was somehow related to steroids?
MERO: Well, like I said, it‘s a combination. I think it‘s—you know, there‘s a wrestlers‘ cocktail involved, and you found some of it in his system. But no one talked about the possibility of him ingesting alcohol because that could have been out of his system when they found his body. I talked to forensic psychiatrist and a toxicologist today, and they said that the combination of Xanax and alcohol can be very, very deadly.
SCHLIFSTEIN: And certainly also, they tested for GHB, which was negative, but that‘s out of your system within 24 hours. And this occurred on, you know, Friday and Saturday, and they found him Monday. So it certainly could have been out of his system by the time there was testing. And that certainly was not even mentioned or downplayed altogether also.
ABRAMS: All right. Doctor...
BLACKMAN: I have a question.
ABRAMS: Really quickly.
BLACKMAN: I‘d like to ask the doctor one quick question.
BLACKMAN: Of all the murders—like, 15,000 murders a year in the United States, in your research, how many murders have been attributed to this so-called ‘roid rage? And I‘m not condoning them because they are unhealthy, I‘m just...
ABRAMS: No, the question is, how many involving, you know, professional wrestlers have been involved—I mean, ‘roid rage, right? And there haven‘t been any that we know of involving WWE wrestlers in the past. So you know, I mean—I don‘t know that the question is really the fair question. You know what? The WWE lawyer is going get a chance to respond to that, Steve. They‘re going to defend the case. Thanks to Dr. Schlifstein, Marc Mero, Steve Blackman. Thanks a lot.
Up next: The question is, how did all of that testosterone end up in his body if the WWE was testing him, as they claim? We‘ve got the WWE attorney and the head of their drug testing program up next.
And later: New leads in the case of a missing Colorado mom who was secretly working as an escort. Now her family is speaking out about her double life, and the investigation continues.
Plus: Bill O‘Reilly says he doesn‘t ambush his guests. Well, we‘ll take a look at his non-ambush interview coming up in “Beat the Press,” coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT BALLARD, FAYETTE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We‘re trying to envision as best we can what happened inside that household while these murders were taking place and while the suicide was taking place. This adds one element that we can consider, along with all of the other elements that are being investigated. So it‘s a little unclear to know exactly where this leads us, but you take this piece and you compare it with what a witness said of what was found at the scene, and suddenly, the picture begins to come more into focus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Those comments came as the toxicology report was released in the Chris Benoit murder-suicide case. The tests revealed Benoit had at least 10 times the normal level of testosterone in his body at the time of the murders, despite having passed a WWE-administered drug test two months earlier. Testosterone was the only steroid found in Benoit‘s body, along with a mix of other drugs.
Joining me now is Jerry McDevitt—he‘s an attorney for the WWE—and Dr. David Black, who runs the WWE drug testing program. Gentlemen, thanks very much for coming back on the program. We appreciate it.
DR. DAVID BLACK, RUNS WWE DRUG TESTING PROGRAM: Thank you, Dan.
JERRY MCDEVITT, ATTORNEY FOR WWE: Good evening.
ABRAMS: All right, Mr. McDevitt, what does this toxicology report tell you?
MCDEVITT: Well, I think Dr. Sperry did a very professional almost clinical job today of explaining the toxicological reports, and essentially removing steroids from the case and (INAUDIBLE) direct the evidence where it belongs, which is the evidence of what happened in the house. He was very clear in making statements that the real thing that the toxicological reports added to what was known was that Daniel was sedated before he was murdered.
He very clearly indicated that the steroids had no consequence to this, that there were no anabolic steroids found in his body, none of the kind you take for body building, and that what was detected was testosterone, which obviously, the signs would indicate that Chris took—I think the doctor used the words near the time of his death, sometime near the time of his death, after the April test in which he passed the drug test for the WWE.
ABRAMS: Let me ask Dr. Black, how do you know that he took it after? You can‘t know, right? I mean, it‘s just—you‘re just presuming because he passed a test in April that something must have happened since then, right?
BLACK: I think it‘s logical. I think it‘s reasonable. And it certainly fits what we know about pharmacology and toxicology. He did, in fact, pass his test in April. There were not elevated amounts of testosterone or a high T-E ratio.
ABRAMS: But there were tests before that, were there not, where he may have failed.
BLACK: There were tests before that. Chris was on testosterone replacement therapy. As a consequence of that...
ABRAMS: Wait. But do you know—let me just follow up. Do you know that it was testosterone replacement therapy, meaning for some sort of medical condition, before that?
BLACK: Well, we‘re dealing with a program that has been introduced into the WWE, in which, admittedly, talent have used steroids in the past. When anabolic steroids are used, the body‘s ability to produce testosterone naturally is damaged and harmed. Chris was not producing testosterone or epitestosterone naturally. That can lead to debilitating fatigue. Appropriate medicine is testosterone replacement therapy. Once an individual‘s on testosterone replacement therapy, the T-D ratio in the urine is no longer the focus. The focus shifts to the blood compartment.
ABRAMS: Right. But so you‘re saying—let me just be clear. So you‘re saying you know that it was a medical condition that led him to take testosterone, as opposed to being an effort to bulk up?
BLACK: What I know is that his physician reported to me, as the program administrator, that he was being treated with testosterone replacement therapy, and that as a practicing physician who was treating Chris, his diagnosis was accepted and the condition was accepted and the use of testosterone was accepted.
ABRAMS: Right. I‘m not blaming you for this, but his physician is now in a lot of trouble.
BLACK: Well, I don‘t feel like I‘m being blamed at all.
BLACK: (INAUDIBLE) speaking to the facts. Testosterone replacement therapy is mainstream medicine, certainly appropriate in this setting. We‘re in the business of changing behavior. Testosterone treatment is standard medicine under the—under the treatment of a physician.
ABRAMS: But Mr. McDevitt, I mean, look, the bottom line is no one—and I correct in this—no wrestler has been kicked out of the WWE as a result of the new steroid testing program, correct?
MCDEVITT: Well, to be kicked out on the discipline progression, you have to test positive three times. Nobody has. There has been discipline imposed upon wrestlers for violations of the drug policy, including steroids, in the progressive discipline steps of the drug program. I‘d also point out, Dan, in fairness to all concerned, despite all the widespread speculation and whatnot, as I understand the current situation, Dr. Astin has not been charged with any impropriety with respect to Chris Benoit to date.
ABRAMS: That‘s correct. The DEA has been investigating what they viewed as excessive steroids, as you know. They called it 10-month supplies every three to four weeks. But he has not been charged in connection with that, it‘s only been in connection with other cases. But you know, nevertheless, this is a doctor who is in some trouble with the law.
MCDEVITT: Well, and you know, Dan, please understand that there are many doctors throughout the county who treat people. We‘re not in the business of policing doctors. We don‘t have the ability to do that.
ABRAMS: No. That‘s right.
MCDEVITT: Dr. Astin has a lawyer. He speaks...
MCDEVITT: ... for him. He only knows what he and Chris‘s dealings were, and that evidence will come out in time. But I do think, you know, from the news today—I mean, I gather some people don‘t like it, but it is the science. And at some point, science has to drive the analysis. I think the problem, Dan, has been this whole emphasis on ‘roid rage and all the rest of that has diverted attention from the evidence that will solve what happened in the house that day. There—and I hope this turns it back to what happened in the house that day. There are some unanswered evidentiary questions that I think might shed more light on what happened.
I‘ll give you an example, if you like.
ABRAMS: Real quick.
MCDEVITT: “People” magazine and other people have reported that Chris was keeping a diary following the death of Eddie Guerrero. We asked whether that diary had been located by the police and found out that this crime scene was apparently turned over to the family the day after the initial press conference, and this diary has never been located. Now, I don‘t know what the diary said, but it seems reasonable to think...
ABRAMS: Totally reasonable.
MCDEVITT: Let‘s look and see whether he wrote anything...
ABRAMS: Totally reasonable.
MCDEVITT: ... in that weekend.
ABRAMS: Totally reasonable. And I think you‘re absolutely right to suggest that only looking to sort of ‘roid rage in connection with this is an intellectual, at the least, cop-out, and we are trying not to do that here. And I hope no one will do that. But as I said before, I was troubled by this ME‘s analysis, as opposed to simply stating the facts. And our doctor earlier concurred with me on that.
MCDEVITT: Well, I‘m sure you can get doctors to say whatever, but...
ABRAMS: ... head of steroids at NYU? You know, that‘s not just—it‘s not just your ordinary doctor we just pulled out of the Yellow Pages.
MCDEVITT: Nor is Dr. Sperry. He‘s the top medical examiner for the state of Georgia, and obviously, given the intense media scrutiny on this case, I‘m sure they were very thorough and...
ABRAMS: Well, I can assure you we didn‘t—we didn‘t—we didn‘t pick and choose. We didn‘t go and ask different doctors, What do you think? What do you think? Oh, we got the guy who says what we want. We just picked the best expert we could find who‘s studied this particular issue.
But look, again, I don‘t know that we‘re even disagreeing on some of this stuff.
MCDEVITT: I don‘t think so.
ABRAMS: Jerry McDevitt and Dr. David Black, thank you very much for coming on the program. We do appreciate it.
MCDEVITT: Thank you, Dan.
BLACK: You‘re welcome.
ABRAMS: Coming up: Tonight, there‘s an all-out manhunt in Wyoming for a former Army sniper suspected of murdering his wife with a shot to the head while she sang with her band, a new clue leading them to a remote canyon where he may be hiding. We‘ve got the latest on the investigation. Plus, we‘ll talk to one of his wife‘s band member, who was on stage when the shooting took place.
ABRAMS: It‘s time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press,” our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV. First up: Sometimes it‘s hard to get people up early in the morning, especially to see a politician at a town hall meeting. ABC‘s Diane Sawyer even recognized how early it was yesterday morning in New Orleans with Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANE SAWYER, “GOOD MORNING AMERICA”: You got up so early, and you are so ready with your questions. We‘ll hear from the questioners.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: I‘m assuming she was not talking about this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAWYER: Let us start, if we can, (INAUDIBLE) we just heard Chris Cuomo tell us the news out of Iraq this morning. It was a big week for decision making in Washington this...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: But less than three minutes later, he‘s gone. I‘m guessing someone at “Good Morning America” wasn‘t happy with the shot of a guy sleeping in the background.
Next up: Bill O‘Reilly sent one of his producers to ambush the CEO of Jetblue Airlines about sponsoring a convention with the liberal Web site Daily Kos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, HOST, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”: We told them what was on there before we did the story. You got to understand now. We didn‘t ambush this guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Didn‘t ambush the guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Mr. Barger, Jesse Waters (ph) with Fox News. How are you?
DAVID BARGER, JETBLUE CEO: Good morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning. You mind if we ask you a few questions?
The pope is a primate. Do you agree with that kind of thinking?
The world may be better off without Tony Snow.
Does Jetblue subscribe to that kind of thinking?
BARGER: I think just the ability to leave my apartment and do that freely and go to work is really what I‘m trying to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: No ambush. We report, you decide.
Up next: Police have a new lead in the manhunt for that Army-trained sniper accused of killing his wife while she was singing in a restaurant. We talk to one of her fellow band members, who was on the stage when she was shot.
But first, the latest on that passenger plane that skidded off a runway and crashed into a gas station with 170 passengers on board. An update in a moment.
J.J. RAMBERG, MSNBC ANCHOR: I‘m J.J. Ramberg with the latest on the airline disaster in Brazil. A Brazilian jet liner with 176 people onboard crashed and burst into flames after landing in Sao Paulo during heavy rains. Brazil‘s News Agency reports 200 people may have been killed including some on the ground. Officials say the TAM Airlines Airbus A320 skidded off the runway and crossed a busy road before slamming into a gas station. The plane landed at a flight from southern Brazil. Now back to Dan Abrams.
ABRAMS: Coming up, the missing Colorado mom leading a double life as an escort. Her family joins us to talk about new clues that could help police crack that case.
But first the State of Wisconsin on high alert tonight. A massive manhunt underway for a trained Army sniper accused of gunning down an up and coming singer also known as his wife. Robin Munis was onstage in the middle of a song when a bullet ripped through a glass door, killing the young mom and talented singer from nearly 100 yards away.
Breaking tonight the Cheyenne, Wyoming district attorney has filed first degree murder charges against David Munis after police found new evidence, a hand written note allegedly detailing why he wanted to kill his estranged wife.
Late last night police found his black Dodge pickup truck after they received a tip from a caller. The Associated Press reports an empty handgun case was found inside that truck. And today a National Guard Black Hawk helicopter helping in the search for Munis who is believed to be on foot, possibly in a canyon 50 miles from Cheyenne.
In a minute we are speaking to the captain leading the surge but first we are joined by a band mate who was on stage when that bullet killed Robin. Eve Ashley of Tie and the Twisters (ph) joins us now from Cheyenne. Thanks a lot for taking the time to come on the program. We appreciate it. Tell me what you remember about that moment when the—when you noticed and heard that bullet.
EVE ASHLEY, ROBIN MUNIS‘ BANDMATE: Well, I heard a crack and then I heard an explosion but before the explosion, I thought I saw—I thought what had happened was the microphone had burst in her face. And she went down on her back.
ABRAMS: And did you all then immediately rushed to her?
ASHLEY: Yes, I did. And Todd, our band leader told me to get away, do not go near the body. And our drummer said she was shot. So everybody get down on the floor. And so I got down on the floor. But I crawled around the drums and got to Robin‘s head and I sat with her until the police came.
ABRAMS: Was she still speaking at the point?
ASHLEY: No. No - her - she was gone.
ABRAMS: And let me ask you—did she every say anything to you about any problems with her husband?
ASHLEY: No. She never talked about her problems. She was not that kind of person.
ABRAMS: When immediately afterwards, I assume there was mayhem then, did everyone then realize there had been a bullet fired into the club?
ASHLEY: Yes. Our drummer noticed it first.
ABRAMS: And that - did everyone then I assume in the entire place then got down, right? Was there a recognition that this was fireworks, this was not part of the show, that this was something deadly serious.
ASHLEY: Yes, it was ...
ABRAMS: Eve, actually, thank you very much for taking the time. We do appreciate it.
ASHLEY: You‘re welcome.
ABRAMS: Now to man hunt for David Munis. Captain Jeff Schultz is with the Cheyenne Police Department. Captain, thanks a lot for joining us. We appreciate it once again. What is the latest on the search for this guy?
CAPTAIN JEFF SCHULTZ, CHEYENNE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, I just really quickly need to make a clarification. The Cheyenne Police Department, we are not leading the search efforts. The Albany County Sheriff‘s Office is. That is the jurisdiction where the vehicle was found ...
ABRAMS: Got it.
SCHULTZ: Just want to make sure - we are assisting in any way we can but we‘re not leading the search.
ABRAMS: Got it. And that is an important clarification. Appreciate it. Have you heard anything about what the latest is, then, in the search efforts for him?
SCHULTZ: The latest news is they are going cease the search efforts at darkness understanding they are in a canyon area so it‘s dark at the bottom of the canyon before it‘s going to be dark on a level piece of ground. So the search is ceasing and they will hold a perimeter for the evening and the and the search will start up once again tomorrow, daylight.
ABRAMS: Why are they so convinced that he is in this sort of forest, this dense bush area?
SCHULTZ: Well, we are running all our substance that he has walked away from his vehicle. There were things that indicted in our search of the vehicle that he was going into the hills on foot. We have no indication that he got into another vehicle. While that‘s always a possibility, it‘s just - the evidence does not point to that right now.
ABRAMS: Now he has been officially charged today. Can you tell us what additional evidence was found to lead those formal charges to be filed?
SCHULTZ: Well, the formal charges were filed as a result of all the evidence we have collected over the last almost three days. The piece that we‘re releasing tonight is the writings that he left in the home prior to shooting his wife.
ABRAMS: And what was that?
SCHULTZ: I describe them as a near confession. He does not go out and say I, David Munis, did this act. He does say I am going commit an act and these are the following reasons why I am going do it.
ABRAMS: So do you believe that this is premeditated the escape, meaning he may have prepared to go on the run for an extended period of time?
SCHULTZ: That would not surprise us at all. I think he started planning this many hours prior to the actual shooting so I think he had a plan in mind and he is probably working out that plan right now.
ABRAMS: Let me also bring in MSNBC analyst, former FBI profiler Clint Van Zant. Clint, any theories or questions for the captain?
CLINT VAN ZANT, MSNBC ANALYST: Yeah, there was one statement I saw attributable to someone in the investigation, captain, suggesting that he may have dogs. We know he had dogs at his house. Do you think he may have taken dogs into the woods with him? If that is the case, would that hinder your efforts to find him?
SCHULTZ: I heard that report. I don‘t know where it‘s coming from. He had two dogs at the home when we executed the first search warrant. We called for animal control and to my knowledge they picked up the dogs that night.
VAN ZANT: And because of his duties in the military one must assume he had a lot of camo gear. Being a sniper he might have ghillie suits that would help him hide in the woods. Any ideas if he has got any night vision equipment with him?
SCHULTZ: It is always possible, as available as that is on the market right now he could. As far as a suit, I think every sniper, every counter sniper that has ever been trained has made their own. He could have multiple ones, he could just have one.
ABRAMS: Captain, any theories about a motive. Obviously there was real domestic issues. But any specific motive?
SCHULTZ: Basically all we‘re saying is there were domestic issues is the motive we‘re working on.
ABRAMS: Nothing more specific than that?
SCHULTZ: No. I apologize. I can not get real more specific.
ABRAMS: I don‘t want you to get more specific than you are comfortable. Was this shot—I assume that this was a shot that was so clean to hit her that no one else was injured?
SCHULTZ: That‘s correct. There was no one else injured. There was one shot and one victim.
ABRAMS: All right. Captain Jeff Schultz, thank you very much for taking the time. We appreciate it. We have been putting up his number with his picture in case anyone has got any information to give you guys a call. There it is, 307-637-6510. If you have any information on where he is, if you‘ve seen him please call the authorities.
Still ahead, new clues in the case of a missing Colorado mom leading a secret life as an escort. Police have now found a 15 mile trail of her personal items on the side of the highway. Her father joins us next.
And an NFL star accused of illegal dog fighting, a possible bitter end to a catfight between Rosie and Trump and an elephant stampede for a new GOP candidate. It is a real zoo out there in tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”
And before we go break, we take you live to Washington, DC for a serious issue, a date for a pull out of troops in Iraq is turning into tonight‘s edition of “Political Theater.”
Tonight‘s all night session with cots, snacks and toothbrushes in its first half hour. We will keep an eye on the developments as they spend the night there.
ABRAMS: We have got a sad update in the story of that Brazilian air crash. A Brazilian news agency is now saying that up to 200 people may have died after that passenger plane crashed while trying to land in Sao Paulo. The leader of a rescue crew told the cities mayor we have got 200 dead there. Though that is not confirmed yet. We know there were 176 people on board. We will continue to update this story as we get updates.
ABRAMS: New developments to report in the case of a missing mother of three who was leading a double life of an escort. Investigators now believe she was a victim of foul play.
Searchers had found some of her personal items reportedly including her checks, check register and Blockbuster Movie rental card along a stretch of a highway a few miles from her home in Grand Junction, Colorado. By day, Paige Birgfeld was a single mother of three selling kitchenware and taking kids to play groups. When the sun set she was an escort named Kerri who advertised erotic massages on a Web site called “Naughty Night Life.”
She disappeared almost three weeks ago. Her car was found burning in a lot just a few miles from her million dollar home the day after she was reported missing. Joining us now on the phone is the public information officer for the Mesa County, Colorado Sheriff‘s Department Heather Gierhart.
Thanks very much for coming on the program. We appreciate it. Is the investigation now moving towards people she may have met through her business?
HEATHER GIERHART, MESA COUNTY SHERIFF‘S DEPARTMENT: Yes. At this point, Dan, we are going through her phone records mostly to garner who she last spoke with and put names to those phone numbers and then try to track those people down and interview them.
ABRAMS: And was this in the context of her work as an escort?
GIERHART: She had many businesses and we are looking at all options.
ABRAMS: But you are looking at people who would have known her, correct?
GIERHART: That is a possibility. Really, the phone records have been most helpful to determine who she either had set up appointments to meet with that day or who last spoke to her or possibly just who she planned to meet with for any reason.
ABRAMS: What is it that has led the authorities to become convinced this was foul play?
GIERHART: Well, we just don‘t have any evidence show that she walked away from her children or her family or any reason to believe she left on her own free will.
ABRAMS: And I assume the burning car was an important piece of evidence?
GIERHART: It is. It really adds to complexity. Another complex layer to this whole investigation. But very suspicious for sure.
ABRAMS: She was not reported missing for a couple of days. What happened?
GIERHART: The kids were home with a nanny and I am not exactly clear what kind of communication she had with the nanny and the children that would lead them to have a little bit of time delay there. So that is unclear to me. But they did report her missing to us on Saturday and the last known contact that we can put with her right now is on Thursday, June 28.
ABRAMS: All right. Heather Gierhart, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
GIERHART: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Joining me now is Paige Birgfeld‘s father, Frank Birgfeld. Thank you very much, sir for coming on the program. We appreciate it. I know this has got to continue to be a very difficult time for you.
You heard there, Heather talking about the fact that she would not have walked away from, her family. This is not a case where she would want to get away from it all.
You would agree with that, right?
FRANK BIRGFELD, MISSING COLORADO MOM‘S FATHER: If she broke both her legs five miles away she would crawl back on her elbows.
BIRGFELD: This is not a runaway. And having said that, if it is, I will take it.
ABRAMS: Tell me about her relationship with her kids. The story is focused so much on the fact that she sort of lived this double life, so to speak, as an escort. Let‘s talk about the one part of that life that a lot of people are not discussing which is her life as mother.
BIRGFELD: You know, I have had a lot of media over the my house and we started by looking for pictures just of her and there is a big stack of candids and all of them are of the kids. That is what her life was. She did not like to go Las Vegas. She had no other real interest. It was family and her kids were everything in the center of her life.
ABRAMS: I assume you did not know about this business that she had?
BIRGFELD: Nope. Nothing at all.
ABRAMS: Did any of the other family members know anything about it as far as you know?
BIRGFELD: You know, I don‘t know. I did not know so I do not know that anyone else knows, Dan.
ABRAMS: Have the authorities been staying in close contact with you?
BIRGFELD: They do but frankly since I am the guy that talks to the media I kind of stay away from the details. They give me kind of an overview of where they stand what they‘ve been doing and the key question is have they found Paige.
ABRAMS: You are still holding out hope, I assume?
BIRGFELD: Well, the Elizabeth Smart case, some of her searchers were other there. They searched long and hard and came up with nothing and nine months Elizabeth walked in the house. I know what the odds are, but sometimes long shots come in.
ABRAMS: And I assume that since you did not know about the business you have not been able to sort of give them any leads on who she might have been in contact with, etc, that might be helpful here?
BIRGFELD: Dan, I know nothing about that life and certainly nothing about those people. Having said that I would say it is a nice fertile area to look at. Keeping in mind that who knows, maybe she was just a victim of a robbery or carjacking.
ABRAMS: All right.
BIRGFELD: Dan, let me mention one other thing. The community here has pulled together in an unbelievable fashion. I have been out searching. This is tough terrain out here. I grew up in the East and this is much different. I have been out the last two or three days. And I tell you what, when you go in these canyons here and it is 105 degrees, this is tough work and these guys come in and get watered down and 15 minutes they are doing it all over again. It is tremendous.
ABRAMS: I got the wrap it up. I do want to do this to follow up on what you just said which is put up the tip line number. I know that‘s the reason you are doing so much of this in case anyone has the information. There it is. 970-244-3500. That‘s the Mesa County Sheriff‘s Department. Thank you so much for coming on the program and good luck to you.
BIRGFELD: Thank you much.
ABRAMS: Up next the star quarterback charged with taking part in an illegal dog fighting ring. Ugly details. So will that make Michael Vick today‘s big loser? All of the days “Winners and Losers” are coming up.
ABRAMS: Time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.” The 17th day of July, 2007.
Our first winner, Ben Sezlowski (ph), the Australian rugby player whose string of headaches ended when he dislodged an opponents‘ tooth that had apparently been buried in his brow for more than three months.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘ve got it sitting in my trophy cabinet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Our first loser, Ralph Patito (ph), the former chairman of the board at Roger Williams University, whose headaches are just beginning. The namesake behind their Patito School of Law admitted to using the N-word in a meeting. Then after apologizing expressed his continual remorse by saying, “What else can I do? Kill myself?”
The second winner, the Dow. Which passed 14,000 today, a record high. The second loser, GOP presidential candidates, who hit an all-time low. A new poll shows that the leading candidate is “None of the above.”
And finally the big winner of the day, Donald Trump, for inviting Rosie to be a contestant on the new “Apprentice,” a half hearted effort at putting their public catfight behind them and in the process getting a little more press.
Our big loser of the day, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, getting unwanted press for allegedly sponsoring illegal dog fights in his home. Vick was indicted by a federal grand jury today on charges relating to the illegal dog fight. The indictment alleges that Vick and three others began the grisly fighting operation in 2001. Dogs fighting to death. They were sometimes killed by electrocution, drowning, hanging, gunshots.
At his home, the authorities seized 44 pit bulls, a rape stand used to hold dogs in place for mating - that‘s what they called it, electric treadmill modified for dogs, bloody pieces of carpeting. Here now on the phone is Mike Celizic, a contributing writer to msnbc.com.
Mike, was this well known in this sports community?
MIKE CELIZIC, MSNBC.COM: No, this was not well-known in any community except the pit bull fighting community although I will say that the Humane Society of the United States say that they have been hearing rumors about this and awaiting for some time and were waiting for this investigation to come forth at some point.
ABRAMS: Let me ask you this. He is facing real time. There are criminal penalties behind this if he is convicted. Does the NFL have any policy in place when people are charged with crimes?
CELIZIC: Not when they are charged. Their policy deals with repeat offenders. So they just suspended Pac Man Jones for the entire season. He had been charged I believe about 10 times. He was called in for questioning about 15 times, something along those orders of magnitude. This is a first-time a deal for Vick and the league is taking the wait and see if he is guilty or innocent. If I were the team, though, the team can simply cut him, if they want to.
ABRAMS: All right. Mike Celizic, thanks a lot. We appreciate it.
CELIZIC: Thank you.
ABRAMS: That is such an awful story. The grisly details of what they supposedly found at this home?
All right that is all we have for tonight. Talk about grisly. Stay tuned for “Lockup: Louisiana.” Although the corrections center is relatively new. Life in the facility is anything but modern.
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