Guests: Jossy Mansur, Larry Kobilinsky, Joe Coffey, Robert Cooke, Melvin Figueroa, Juan Ramos, Lucia Reyes, Roy Black
LISA DANIELS, GUEST HOST: Coming up, breaking news in the search for Natalee Holloway. The results are in from that DNA test (UNINTELLIGIBLE) blond hair is found on a piece of duct tape, while police are still draining that pond. We‘re live on the scene.
DANIELS (voice-over): And an elite group of psychologists coming from Holland for another round of interrogation with Joran van der Sloot. How far can they go? We ask the detective who got the “Son of Sam” to talk.
Plus, more than 100 police searching for a missing pregnant woman last seen leaving a friend‘s house in Philadelphia. Her father thinks she may be the victim of foul play. He tells me why.
ROY BLACK, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: My name is Roy Black. I am the managing partner.
DANIELS: ABRAMS REPORT regular Roy Black makes his reality TV debut tonight in a series about what it really takes to become a big time lawyer. We talk to him.
The program about justice starts right now.
DANIELS: Hi, everyone. I‘m Lisa Daniels. Dan is off tonight.
First up on the docket tonight, I told you we have breaking news in Aruba. We‘ve been waiting for the results of a DNA test in that case; so let‘s go right to NBC‘s Michelle Kosinski with those results. Michelle, what can you tell us?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well we just got two remarkable pieces of information back in the Natalee Holloway case today. First of all, we found out the test results on that blond hair found on duct tape in the national park several weeks ago are definitively not Natalee Holloway‘s. That information coming straight from the FBI—we got a call from them just about a half-hour ago. They said it was a negative result.
Also today we have just found out that a second witness in this case has spent all afternoon at the landfill here in Aruba with members of EquuSearch. We saw them on camera walking around, kneeling down, looking very specifically at certain areas and of course listening very carefully to what this witness is telling them. What we know about this witness is he was identified very recently just a few days ago.
He says he saw something happen at that landfill, and he also claims to know where he saw Natalee Holloway‘s body placed. That‘s about the extent of knowledge there. We know that people don‘t want to reveal too much about this witness as the statements are being verified, they‘re being reviewed by law enforcement, by attorneys, and by members of the search team. We know for a couple of days now EquuSearch has wanted to take a look at that area.
It‘s been tough. You know it‘s a landfill. There‘s so much in there. There are so many items that dogs could hit on. Just a very difficult area to search and, in fact, it has not been searched to this point on the island. Where we are right now, this is the drainage area of the field where crews are still looking to go get all the water out of there. There‘s still quite a bit of water left and we‘re hearing that it‘s a couple of feet deep in certain areas.
They‘ve been working on this since Tuesday night. It may be done late tonight or early tomorrow. After that investigators will come out here with dogs. Other ways of searching to just take a closer look. In two days from now it will be exactly two months since Natalee disappeared but today we are seeing more activity in multiple locations than we have seen in a long time.
Out here we‘re seeing people looking around, of course, the drainage and also in the national park where that duct tape and hair was found. EquuSearch is out here with high-tech equipment, methane gas detectors, ground penetrating radar. They formed a grid search, actually, very specific searching going on there. And they want to find out more if anything was buried out there, if the ground has in any way been disturbed.
DANIELS: OK, Michelle, so a lot of breaking news. The hairs on the tape not Natalee‘s. You mentioned the second witness who was brought to a landfill. Who is this witness? What do we know about them?
KOSINSKI: Who is this witness you‘re asking? Well, this is somebody we don‘t know the identify—the identity of this person at this point but a number of things have come out about when this person came forward. Over the weekend we know he contacted a party to this case, told this person various things about the landfill, all of them relating specifically to that area.
But as we said, he hasn‘t been interviewed yet by private investigators. But we do know today that meeting took place at the landfill and those same private investigators who tracked down the first witness who identified this field, they‘re now going to talk to witness number two and try to verify some of his statements and get more specific information so they can do an organized search out of that landfill.
DANIELS: OK, Michelle, terrific job getting us that breaking news. Thanks so much, Michelle.
And as you can see, this story is really getting more and more confusing by the moment. So what we decided to do is piece together what we know right now from the major suspects and the witnesses. So let‘s start with the sworn testimony from Joran van der Sloot and Deepak and Satish Kalpoe. Here is what they told investigators. Let‘s go through it.
The three left the Carlos N‘ Charlie‘s bar with Natalee after a night of dancing and drinking. Deepak and Satish Kalpoe dropped Joran and Natalee off at a beach. Now that beach is about a quarter of a mile north of the Marriott hotel in Palm Beach. Again, according to the suspects‘ sworn statements, the Kalpoe brothers go home and not too long after that Joran walked home leaving Natalee on the beach.
All three boys saying they were home in bed by 2:30 in the morning. Now here‘s the story from a witness—compare them—who just came forward last week. This witness, who is a gardener, says he saw the three suspects in a parked car between 2:30 and 3:00 in the morning. Already that contradicts what the three suspects told police that they were home and in bed by 2:30 a.m.
Now the witness goes on to say the car was parked near the Racquet Club. That is east of the Marriott, the same area for almost two days now Aruban police have been draining a pond. The witness says all three boys tried to cover up their faces when they saw the gardener drive by. So, again, you have two conflicting stories—one from the suspects, the other from a new witness.
And here to help us make sense of the mystery managing editor of Aruba‘s “El Diario” newspaper, Jossy Mansur. Good to have you Jossy—a lot of breaking news. First of all your reaction to the news that the hairs on the duct tape not Natalee‘s.
JOSSY MANSUR, “EL DIARIO” MANAGING EDITOR: Well, you know, that was to be expected because about a week or 10 days afterward we did get a call from a surfer that uses that coast for his surfing and that he has blonde hair and he has the habit of attaching that hair to one side of his shoulder when he does his surfing. So we still kept the doors open to see that the DNA would prove something different, but it was to be expected that it would be negative.
DANIELS: Again, here you have this evidence is crumbling. There‘s no DNA evidence. There‘s no body. It really goes back to what these three suspects are saying, and it sounds like they know that. Let me ask you, Jossy, since the investigation began, have you ever seen this much focus on anything close to the attention we‘re seeing the pond getting at this time?
MANSUR: No, I haven‘t. This is the biggest activity we‘ve seen on the island so far. They must have some kind of lead or some kind of indication that there is something to be found at this pond. That‘s why they‘re taking so much energy and effort placing it into this draining of the water. To them, really go through every single square inch of that territory, to search, to dig, and to see what they can come up with.
DANIELS: It doesn‘t make sense to me, why is it taking so long for them to drain this pond? I read that at least 3,600 gallons of water a minute are being pumped. That‘s about two inches an hour. Why is it taking so long?
MANSUR: Well, from what they told us is that it‘s close to the ocean. It‘s close to the beach. Sufficiently close for the water from the ocean to be seeping back in at I don‘t know what kind of a rate but it is seeping back in and it makes the water reproduce itself at a rate that would make it more difficult to drain it all at once.
DANIELS: OK, a lot of rumors floating around. We‘re hearing that perhaps investigators are looking for a body; perhaps they‘re looking for a shoe. Maybe that‘s Joran‘s shoe. Maybe it‘s a towel. Lots of rumors, lots of speculation, what are your sources saying, Jossy?
MANSUR: My sources—we tend to discard all of these rumors. My sources tell me that the police are basing themselves very closely on what this new witness, the witness who saw the boys in the car by the pond, is saying and also from another lady that told someone else that one week or 10 days afterward they saw that same car turning around that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) three or four times. Apparently checking the place out to see if nothing was left there that has become visible to anyone else. So there are leads. There are other things that the police may know that we don‘t that are left to this concentration of effort at the pond now.
DANIELS: Now we‘re also hearing that three investigators, three interrogators from Holland are coming. I guess you could call them the closers. Their intention is to re-interrogate Joran and perhaps, perhaps the Kalpoe brothers. Who are these guys?
MANSUR: You know these are experts that have come from Holland. Holland has them that are used to interrogating troubled youth. They deal more with behavioral problems, psychological problems, psychiatric problems. That‘s what we‘ve been told. Two of them do the actual interrogations and the third one is a supervisor that puts it all together. This is the information we have gotten directly from the authorities involved.
DANIELS: All right, a lot of information there. Jossy Mansur. Thanks so much, Jossy, always for joining us.
So, again, breaking news. The hairs on the duct tape not Natalee‘s, a second witness looking at a landfill with authorities.
Joining me now forensics expert Larry Kobilinsky. Larry, a lot to talk about here. First of all, let‘s go through some scenarios. Let‘s engage in some speculation. If there is a body at the bottom of that pond, and, remember, the water just came in from the hurricane, what condition would that body be in, given that this water we‘re seeing, it‘s 70 degrees. The body would be in it for about two months, maybe a little less than that. What do you think? What‘s the condition?
LARRY KOBILINSKY, FORENSICS EXPERT: Well Lisa, given that scenario I don‘t have good news. I think that the body would be largely decomposed and essentially skeletonized, meaning that the soft tissue would essentially be gone. The body can decompose not only externally due to environmental factors, bacteria and the such, but also internally moving outward. So after this period of time in warm water, my feeling is, is that there‘s not much left of the body.
DANIELS: OK, what can you tell from a skeleton? What evidence would we know?
KOBILINSKY: Well a skeleton can reveal a great deal. We can determine the person‘s gender. We can determine height and weight, ethnicity, if there‘s a fracture that coincides with a fracture that Natalee may have experienced that could be very helpful. The dentition can help us absolutely identify Natalee if that‘s her teeth. And, furthermore, by analysis of DNA either in bone or in teeth, one can absolutely identify the body as Natalee if, indeed, this is the scenario.
DANIELS: OK, so dental x-rays or DNA from the bone, there we could get a positive I.D.
DANIELS: If we‘re just dealing with a skeleton, though, can we tell the body, the person‘s age?
KOBILINSKY: Yes, in fact, you can.
DANIELS: How can you do that?
KOBILINSKY: There are a number of sites on the body, which helps give us an estimation of age, the skull for one and secondly, the dentition. Obviously the older an individual is the more wear and tear occurs on teeth, and so you can get a fairly good idea of age.
DANIELS: Again, we have to repeat over and over again, we are just speculating here. We‘re looking at various possibilities. Here‘s another scenario. What if they find a shoe?
KOBILINSKY: Well, that would be interesting. For example, if forensic analysis could associate that shoe with Joran—for example, if Joran had taken a picture in which the shoes had been seen, that would link him to that pond. It‘s also possible although not very likely—it‘s possible that there‘s DNA in that shoe that could be used to directly link that shoe to him.
DANIELS: Where would that DNA be coming from? Again, the rumor is and these are just rumors at this point, the shoe might belong to Joran. Perhaps there‘s a shoe in the pond. We just don‘t know. But why would there be DNA on the shoe?
KOBILINSKY: Well as I said, it‘s unlikely that they would find any significant amount but if, in fact, he wore the shoe without any socks, there would have been rubbing of the tissue from the foot onto the shoe and some of that might be somehow protected. And there‘s a possibility that especially around the rim where there‘s a great deal of wear that area would contain some cellular material. Again, it‘s subject to decomposition...
KOBILINSKY: ... and in the waters it‘s not very likely.
DANIELS: All right. Well we‘re engaging in a lot of speculation but we‘re just looking ahead at this point. Larry Kobilinsky. Thanks so much Larry.
KOBILINSKY: A pleasure.
DANIELS: And we‘ve got so much more from Aruba coming up. That elite team of psychologists is coming to talk to Joran van der Sloot, but can they really get anything out of him? It‘s two months after he‘s been in custody. We asked the man who got a confession in three hours out of David Berkowitz, the “Son of Sam”. Be right back.
DANIELS: And you are looking at live pictures of a pond in Aruba being drained as police look for more clues to Natalee Holloway‘s disappearance. Authorities have been draining that pond since Tuesday night. They could be done at any minute. We‘ve also JUST learned some more news that DNA tests show the hairs found on that piece of duct tape are not Natalee‘s.
Now we also know that police took a witness to a landfill just a couple of hours ago. And we also learned that a group of elite psychologists from Holland is being sent to Aruba to interrogate the three suspects, Joran van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers.
So joining us now is Joe Coffey. He‘s a former commanding officer of New York City‘s Homicide Department. Also, he is the interrogator who got a confession out of David Berkowitz, the “Son of Sam”. Good to have you with us. What‘s the difference...
DANIELS: ... between interrogating a serial killer and three people who are suspected at this point of killing somebody?
JOE COFFEY, FORMER HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: Well you‘re talking apples and oranges between serial killers and suspects like this because serial killers like to brag about what they did. They like to match wits with the investigator even in the interrogation part. They like to show you how smart they were, how they outwitted you so they‘re more readily able to talk to you.
In a case like this, these three individuals, including Joran, obviously are hiding something. Whether it‘s homicide or not is another matter to be determined. But an educated speculation here, this might have been an accidental death or a drug overdose where they panicked when the girl passed out or died and they got rid of the body, threw it into the ocean or wherever.
DANIELS: Is that your theory, Joe?
COFFEY: That‘s my theory at this point, but as I say it‘s pure speculation. But you know, we have a rule when we‘re investigating homicides. Seventy-two hours you‘re headed downhill if you haven‘t got a solution by that time. What they‘re doing with these three interrogators coming in from Holland they‘re closing the door after the horse is gone. They should have brought them in day one if they wanted to really go after this guy.
DANIELS: OK, so you‘re saying it‘s really too late. There‘s not much that can be done. That 72-hour key moment has passed, but let‘s move on. If you were doing this investigation, if you were in charge and you‘re coming into a fairly bad situation where it‘s way past the fact, how would you approach it?
COFFEY: You‘re talking from an interrogation point of view?
DANIELS: Yes, you‘re the interrogator let‘s assume.
COFFEY: Well considering the time lapse since the initial incident you would have to change your tactics totally. You‘d have to try to befriend this guy now because the good guy/bad guy thing probably isn‘t going to work where you go in and one cop yells at him and the other guy becomes his friend. You‘ve got to isolate him.
You‘ve got to put him in a room with one detective or one interrogators, sit him down, give him a cigarette, give him coffee, give him soda, whatever makes him comfortable and get into his personal life, talk about things not related to the case. Put him at ease. Try to make him your friend and try to get him to tell you exactly what happened. And you can also use this tactic where you can say we know that you didn‘t kill this girl. We know it was probably an accident. Please help us find her to put the family at ease and help yourself.
DANIELS: Now don‘t forget that Joran‘s attorney is sitting right next to him. How do you deal with that obstacle?
COFFEY: Well it‘s the old story. We deal with that here all the time. If an attorney is sitting in the room, which he‘s certainly entitled to in the United States. I don‘t know what the rules in Aruba are. But if the attorney says don‘t answer that question, then it‘s entirely him up to him to answer the question if he wants to or not.
DANIELS: But sometimes they do.
COFFEY: That‘s exactly right. Sometimes they tell the attorney, keep quiet. I‘m going to answer the question. That happens. Now in a case like this, if my theory is correct that it‘s an accidental or a drug overdose where they panicked. You may get something out of this kid if you take that approach.
DANIELS: Now you know that Joran‘s father, it is believed, told him son no body, no case. How do you overcome that obstacle if you‘re in that room, there‘s the attorney, there‘s Joran, what do you say, Joe, to him?
COFFEY: Well the problem there is that‘s a huge problem because the kid‘s father is an attorney, obviously astute, and he told the kid what he told him. And the problem here is that this kid, Joran, has all the cards. He knows what happened. He knows where it happened. Nobody knows where it happened so, i.e., no crime scene. He knows everything. It‘s been two months.
He‘s got the counsel of his father who happens to be an attorney in the Dutch government. I mean he‘s got the ball—the ball is in his court. He holds all the cards. He has all the advantages and the interrogators are really going to have a tough time with this kid.
DANIELS: So I guess the tactic here is befriend him. Try to get him to talk to you as a friend.
COFFEY: I think that‘s the best way to go at this point. Again, keeping in mind that I‘m not there and I don‘t know the whole situation.
COFFEY: But one thing that strikes me here is that I‘m very leery of witnesses who come forward two months later. Where were they at the beginning? This case had worldwide publicity. Why didn‘t they come forward then? It seems to me somebody looking to get on a bandwagon of publicity.
DANIELS: And that is going to be investigated, I‘m sure. We don‘t know the credibility of any of these witnesses. Joe thanks so much for all that expertise. Appreciate it.
COFFEY: Thank you.
DANIELS: And joining me now a volunteer with the EquuSearch team, Robert Cooke. Robert‘s daughter, Rachel, has been missing in Texas since January of 2002 and EquuSearch was very active in that search for Rachel. EquuSearch has been back and forth to Aruba many times since Natalee went missing there over eight weeks ago.
And they began searching today using ground-penetrating radar in the Arikok National Park where just about two weeks ago a park ranger discovered a piece of duct tape with hairs on it. We now know those are not Natalee‘s. An EquuSearch team came across also what appeared to be a shallow grave but they found nothing in it. Robert thanks for joining us today. So...
ROBERT COOKE, EQUUSEARCH VOLUNTEER: Thank you for having me.
DANIELS: ... explain to me what this ground-penetrating radar is. I know it takes pictures underground and comes up with some sort of an image. Tell us how it works.
COOKE: Well it basically sends a radar beam out and looks for a reflection just like standard radar. It‘s mainly used to measure density changes in the ground, like if some ground had been dug up and refilled. It would show that. It can also show things like rocks and objects down there. But they—all the results go to a computer and they analyze it.
DANIELS: So what do you get? You get this cross-sectional image of the soil and the subsurface features? Is that what you get?
COOKE: Yes, they do. In fact, when the team came back, they were (UNINTELLIGIBLE) analyzing the results to make sure that they covered and read everything properly.
DANIELS: Now that you know about the DNA evidence, that the duct tape and the blond hairs are not Natalee‘s, does that make you rethink the searching of Arikok National Park?
COOKE: It could but you know they still found that area that was dug out down there so—and it could be a possibility but we have other areas that we‘re going to be searching this week and we‘ve got a dog team in and some more searches that came in today.
DANIELS: Who even tipped you off about that shallow grave? Where did you hear that?
COOKE: Oh, that happened back during the original search and I was not here, so I don‘t have the information.
DANIELS: As we mentioned your daughter, Rachel, disappeared while jogging back in 2002 right near your home in Georgetown, Texas. I‘m guessing that that horrible tragedy must help you stay motivated in this case.
COOKE: Well, it really does because I am someone that has been through this, that knows what it‘s like, and it‘s the same thing that Tim Miller told me that when I first talked to him on the phone. And he came down and searched for Rachel for over two and half weeks. Unfortunately, we have not found her yet.
DANIELS: Have you gotten an opportunity to talk to Natalee‘s family? Just to give them comfort...
COOKE: Yes, I met...
DANIELS: Go ahead.
COOKE: I‘m sorry. I met Beth the first night we were here Monday night. I was able to pass on some ribbons that the Laci Peterson ribbon makers had made for Natalee. I have one on now. And they—I talked to her briefly. Of course she‘s busy. She‘s got a million people trying to talk to her and things and I just conveyed a little bit—and I‘m hoping to get a chance to talk to her again before I leave.
DANIELS: Well you know everyone is hoping for a great result with the search for Natalee and we wish you the very best in your search for Rachel.
COOKE: Thank you very much.
DANIELS: Robert Cooke thanks again.
And coming up, a pregnant woman missing in Philadelphia. She was last seen leaving a friend‘s house 10 days ago. Question is could she be a victim of foul play? Her dad thinks so. He‘s going to join us next to tell us why.
Also, a young bride found dead at the bottom of a cliff in California. Her new husband of two weeks is in court today facing homicide charges for allegedly pushing her to her death. We‘re going to talk to one of her best friends. That‘s next.
Plus, you know this guy, high-profile attorney and ABRAMS REPORT regular Roy Black. He‘s starring in a new reality TV series about being a lawyer. It‘s going to premier tonight on NBC. I talk to Roy, coming up.
DANIELS: Coming up, hundreds of police searching a Philadelphia Park for Latoyia Figueroa. She‘s five months pregnant. She was last seen more than a week ago. Her dad thinks she may be the victim of foul play. He joins me next. But first the headlines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANIE STEPHENSON, LATOYIA FIGUEROA‘S COUSIN: We might not know where she is, but God knows where she is. And God is almighty and we‘re praying that he will make a way of escape for Latoyia or somebody will call (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELS: But so far nobody has called yet with information about the whereabouts of Latoyia Figueroa. The 24-year-old has a 7-year-old daughter and was five months pregnant when she disappeared off the streets of Philadelphia 10 days ago. A massive police search for Latoyia began this morning. It is still underway in a park just blocks away from the neighborhood where she was last seen.
For more let‘s go to Philadelphia now and NBC News correspondent Michelle Franzen—Michelle.
MICHELLE FRANZEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well good evening, Lisa. That is right. As you mentioned the search is still going on here in Cobbs Creek Park. It is in the western part of Philadelphia. It‘s a 230-acre park and investigators say that they will search into the night until they finish this complete search of this park. But so far they have turned up nothing that will lead them to any clues or whereabouts of 24-year-old Latoyia Figueroa.
Now the 24-year-old disappeared 10 days ago in a neighborhood bordering Cobbs Creek Park here. And authorities tell us that Latoyia Figueroa was last seen leaving her friend‘s house, her boyfriend‘s house. She had taken the day off of work to attend a doctor‘s meeting—a doctor‘s appointment. As you mentioned, she is five months pregnant and her family members have said that she would not disappear.
She has a 7-year-old daughter, and she would not just disappear like this voluntarily. They have been pressing authorities over the last week of her disappearance to step up their search. Today authorities did do an intensive search in the park. Authorities tell us that they don‘t have any reason to believe that Figueroa disappeared in this park but as a precaution, they are checking everything.
They have had 100 police academy cadets out here. They‘ve had units from the southwestern division. They‘ve had thermal imaging devices on a helicopter to look for body heat and also using all-terrain vehicles and dogs to search this area. It is a very dense park. They have a lot of ground to cover. And they‘ve been out here all day, Lisa, and it looks like they could go well into the night searching this park.
As for any other tips, police have nothing else to go on. They have no suspects. They say that Figueroa‘s boyfriend is not a suspect in this case. And they are asking anyone with any tips to call the police and there is also a $10,000 reward that will lead to any information about her whereabouts—Lisa.
DANIELS: Michelle, thanks so much for that latest. We appreciate it.
And joining us now, two members of Latoyia‘s family, Juan Ramos is a cousin, also a Philadelphia city councilman and Melvin Figueroa, he‘s Latoyia‘s father. And Melvin, we‘re so sorry that your daughter is missing. It must be very surreal for you even to hear that report. When was the last time that you spoke to your daughter?
MELVIN FIGUEROA, MISSING WOMAN‘S FATHER: About a month and a half ago.
DANIELS: Any signs whatsoever that something might have been troubling her?
FIGUEROA: Nothing at all.
DANIELS: Any signs that there was something wrong in her relationship with her boyfriend?
FIGUEROA: No. She didn‘t speak to me or nothing like that. If she would have had something wrong in that relationship, she would spoke to my wife or also to one of the girls in the family like niece, aunts, or cousins. The only thing I know of that last seen of her was—she was with the guy that she‘s pregnant by.
DANIELS: So you didn‘t know her boyfriend very well, it sounds like.
FIGUEROA: No, I don‘t.
DANIELS: What did your wife think of her boyfriend?
FIGUEROA: Well, he had came to my house one time. We supposedly had met one time, and my wife had cooked a dinner for us to come over—for him to come over to meet him. But for some reason he felt like—you know he didn‘t feel like that he wanted to be there. You know so I just told my—you know (UNINTELLIGIBLE) told my daughter there was something funny about this guy, you know.
But of course, you know, I—she‘s intelligent. She‘s an adult and she said dad every time I say—I bring somebody for you to meet you always say there‘s something funny about them. But it‘s just that I don‘t know him. I never did meet him personally.
DANIELS: Well, we have heard allegations, and they‘re only allegations, of trouble between your daughter and her boyfriend‘s ex-girlfriend. What do you know about that?
FIGUEROA: Well, to my understanding she—he was using both girls. And by him using both girls, the girls, I guess, they—you know the other girlfriend had turned against my daughter because she found out—my understanding, she had found out that my daughter was pregnant by her child‘s father. And before you know it, things started happening.
About two months ago my daughter was coming out of her house to go to work and some girl had just walked by and pushed on her. My daughter looked back and when she turned around the girl kicked her in the stomach and hit her and they took her pocketbook and then they had to rush—take her to the hospital to make sure her and the baby was OK. And me as a father had to come out, change the locks on the door for her safety, for (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and my granddaughter.
DANIELS: And she was two months pregnant at that time. Juan, I want to ask you a question. Did you hear or see any signs of trouble in Latoyia‘s relationship with her boyfriend?
JUAN RAMOS, LATOYIA FIGUEROA‘S COUSIN: No, I did not. I did not know Latoyia well at all. She‘s a distant cousin, nevertheless a relative of mine. So when I got the call from Melvin, he says, cousin, I want to tell you that that baby—this girl that‘s missing is my baby and I just met her last year as a young lady, but I did not know her personally.
But I thought it was very important for me to come out public and say we need the public‘s help in helping find Latoyia. And I was able to reach out to the crime commission, elected officials of that area in west Philadelphia, joined me yesterday in a press conference. And I‘m very glad that today there‘s attention on this case of Latoyia Figueroa‘s disappearance...
DANIELS: Yes, really a huge turnout today by police. We‘ve been showing the pictures all day here at MSNBC. But it‘s 10 days after she disappeared. What‘s been going on in those 10 days when it really didn‘t take any—got any attention?
RAMOS: Well, the—there was a local attention and the police have had already gone into the park. They had used helicopters a few days ago. The people in the community, the family had gone into the park on their own circulating fliers with her picture on it searching around on their own, and the police have interrogated a number of people. I believe that the boyfriend of Latoyia has been interrogated twice. You know we feel very anxious right now that...
RAMOS: ... she has not appeared and—but we have a very fine police department. And I was with the commissioner and Melvin and family members out there a few hours ago, and I just talked to the commissioner. He‘s keeping me up to date with all of the developments.
RAMOS: And we sure hope that we find her. That she‘s found alive.
DANIELS: As do we. We wish you the very best.
RAMOS: Thank you so much.
DANIELS: We really do.
RAMOS: Thank you Lisa.
DANIELS: Juan Ramos, Melvin Figueroa, thanks so much. And if anybody has information about Latoyia, call the Philadelphia Police Department. There is the tip line, 215-686-3183 or the Citizens Crime Commission at 215-546-TIPS.
And coming up—yet another one—a young bride found dead this time at the bottom of a cliff in California. Her new husband of two weeks is in court today facing homicide charges for allegedly pushing her to her death. We talk to one of her best friends next.
And he‘s one of America‘s top defense attorneys. Now Roy Black trying his hand at reality TV with a legal focus, of course. He‘s going to join us.
DANIELS: Coming up, a newlywed charged with killing his bride by throwing her off a cliff alive. We‘re going to talk to her best friend. That‘s next.
DANIELS: Well, it could be an episode on “Law & Order” but, unfortunately, it‘s a real-life murder mystery. Two women walking along a California beach spot the body of a woman at the bottom of the cliff. She‘s dressed as if she‘s going out for the night on the town, and she lays in the morgue for three days listed as a Jane Doe until her family identifies her as 24-year-old Julia Rosas.
Police say she was alive when she went off that cliff. Now her husband of only a couple of weeks, Brandon Manai, is charged with her murder. Joining me now Julia Rosas—a friend of hers—Lucia Reyes. Good to have you along here. I‘m so sorry about your friend. How long have you known Julia?
LUCIA REYES, FRIEND OF MURDERED WOMAN: For three years.
DANIELS: Before this horrible tragedy, what did you think about her husband, Brandon?
REYES: Well, at first, you know, I‘m going to support my friend with her instincts and at first she said, you know, he was giving her the world and later on within the relationship he became obsessive. He started stalking her and, you know, we would tell her please go put a restraining order on him. He‘s going to hurt you. He‘s going to hurt you.
And later when she had confessed to us that he had told her that he had beat up his ex-girlfriend and that he was on probation for that, it was a long time ago, we told her you know when a man hits someone, they‘re bound to do it again. And he killed her.
DANIELS: Now he‘s being accused of killing her. What makes you so sure that this is the guy who did it?
REYES: His behavior, his actions. You know, around friends he would act Mr. Nice Guy and, you know, when—he did not know we were around when he would yell at her over the phone. He would show up at places, his house, other places without her consent.
REYES: Go ahead.
DANIELS: The couple began dating in March. That‘s what I understand, and they married on June 19.
DANIELS: Why was that so quick? Why was the courtship that fast?
REYES: She was pregnant and he told her the best thing for them to do was to get married. So when they went to Vegas, they got married. And the day after, which was Monday, she was inquiring about an annulment. She didn‘t see him for two weeks. The first time she got to see him again was that Saturday when they went out.
DANIELS: And I understand from authorities that at some point she did have a miscarriage. Did he know about that?
REYES: I know the week that she was still alive she was complaining about her stomach hurting and that she wasn‘t feeling good, she was feeling sick. And that‘s all I remember.
DANIELS: Well, we‘re so sorry about your friend. I know you must be going through such a hard time but we thank you. Lucia Reyes, thanks again for coming on the show and talking about it.
DANIELS: Coming up, Roy Black defended William Kennedy Smith and Rush Limbaugh. Now he‘s taking on an even bigger challenge called reality TV. And he‘ll join me next.
DANIELS: What “The Apprentice” did for the business world, “The Law Firm” is hoping to do for the legal world. Starting tonight, NBC‘s latest reality show thrust 12 lawyers, six men, six women, into the spotlight trying real cases with real clients in front of real judges. All in an attempt to out argue the others and win a quarter of a million bucks. While Donald Trump was a natural fit in the boardroom on “The Apprentice”, one of America‘s top legal eagles calls the shots on “The Law Firm”.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLACK: Good morning.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Good morning.
ROY BLACK, “THE LAW FIRM”: Welcome to “The Law Firm”. My name is Roy Black. I am the managing partner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELS: I‘m getting chills just looking at that. Joining me now, high profile defense attorney and managing partner of “The Law Firm”, Roy Black. Roy, thanks so much for getting here.
BLACK: Thank you Lisa. I have to apologize for my cold and my voice.
DANIELS: No, that‘s OK. I‘ll just give you my feedback at the end like you do to these attorneys at the end.
BLACK: Not that bad.
DANIELS: No, no, no. so how did you get involved in this?
BLACK: David Kelley called me, said do you want to get involved in a legal show with me? And what lawyer in America wouldn‘t want to be involved with David Kelley? And he told me the premise. It was to make lawyers look good, not to be exploitive, I loved the idea and I got into it you know 100 percent and I love doing it.
DANIELS: A lot of people are going to question, can you make a lawyer look good? Can you make lawyers look good in general?
BLACK: Well you know the thing is we lawyers have been criticized for so long.
BLACK: What I was hoping is that this show would show how hard lawyers work. You know what it is like, 20-hour days. All that brutal work before a trial. I mean reading documents, interviewing witnesses, all the conflicts and everything. This show shows all of that.
DANIELS: What amazes me is that you got real lawyers, real court cases, real crimes. Is there any ethical conflict in that?
BLACK: Not a bit. We made sure that everybody agreed. Every litigant, every witness, they agreed to the process. We had retired judges who in California can try cases. So it was all done legitimately above board and these lawyers worked harder than any lawyers you‘ve ever seen preparing for a trial.
DANIELS: So these verdicts are binding. This is it.
BLACK: They are real. This is not reality TV. This is real. This is not some semblance of reality like they have in all these other shows. We don‘t make things up. This is the real thing.
DANIELS: So what type of cases are we going to be seeing?
BLACK: We start off seemingly small. From neighborhood disputes, go right up to murder cases where there are wrongful death cases tried as civil cases, rather than the criminal cases. But they involve homicides.
DANIELS: All right, I believe that we have a clip from the first show.
The first case dealing with a dog. Let‘s take a quick listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your Honor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would like to raise an objection to the appearance of the dog into the courtroom. The dog was not placed on the exhibit list or on the witness list for that matter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your Honor, Dingo is obviously the center of this case. We simply want the court to have an opportunity...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELS: You know we‘re laughing about this but I imagine that there‘s high drama even in that.
BLACK: Yes, there is. You know what court cases are like.
DANIELS: So you see these attorneys. They‘re practicing in front of you. And you‘re a tough guy to please. What are some of the mistakes that they make? Can you share that with us?
BLACK: Well I don‘t really want to say what‘s going to happen on the show...
DANIELS: Come on.
BLACK: ... but they will miss strategy. They‘ll make errors in research and figuring out the theory of the case, making ridiculous objections. Getting the judge and jury mad at them. You know all the things that lawyers do. The great thing about legal education is we teach by criticism, by Socratic method. That‘s what I use on this program and I think for the first time viewers will see what it‘s really like on the inside.
DANIELS: Do you think that non-lawyers are going to like this show?
BLACK: I think so because people love legal dramas. But not just that. We show a side that you‘ve never seen before. And that‘s what makes this different than all the other legal shows.
DANIELS: How did the judges and juries do? There‘s a camera in their faces. Did they act differently?
BLACK: Look. Everybody is going to act differently when there‘s a camera there. Can I say it is exactly the same without it? No. but we allow cameras in the courtroom today. And there are many things that influence judges and jurors. Look at the difference between Johnnie Cochran and Johnnie Smith.
BLACK: So we know things are different in the courtroom. We tried to make it as fair as possible and these were pretty fair proceedings.
DANIELS: I‘m almost afraid to ask you this. But Donald Trump had his trademark line, “you‘re fired”. Do you have a trademark line that we‘re going to hear a lot about?
BLACK: I do and tonight you‘ll see it. I‘m going to say the verdict is in and you‘re out.
DANIELS: Oh, I don‘t even want to hear that.
BLACK: Not you Lisa. You‘re always in.
DANIELS: Oh, thank you. Maybe in your books. Maybe not everyone else‘s. Here‘s the real question. Would you hire any of those attorneys in your own firm?
BLACK: OK, that‘s the easiest question to answer you‘ve asked today.DANIELS: OK.
BLACK: I already tried to hire two of these lawyers before the series started and they said no. You can‘t hire until all the shows are completed because under standards and practices it would be unfair and it might foreshadow what happens in the show. So two of the lawyers...
DANIELS: All right.
BLACK: ... not just one, two of them...
DANIELS: That really says something.
BLACK: ... work in my firm.
DANIELS: That‘s pretty good...
BLACK: We have very high level of talent in this show. You will see it.
These lawyers are pretty good.
DANIELS: Well you‘re an intimidating guy. So I‘m very curious to see how they stand up to your standards. Roy Black thanks so much. Best of luck on the show. “The Law Firm” premiers tonight on NBC at 9:00 Eastern, 8:00 Central.
And we wish him the best. We‘ll be right back.
DANIELS: And that does it for us tonight. Thanks so much for joining us. We‘re still waiting for authorities to finish draining that pond in Aruba, so tune into “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” at 10:00 Eastern for the very latest from Aruba. Joe is going to have a lot more on that investigation into what happened to that newlywed from Connecticut who disappeared on his honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean. Again, that‘s on “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” at 10:00 Eastern.