IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' for August 11

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guest: Art Wood, Lawrence Kobilinski, Rod Wheeler, Dave Holloway, David Kock, Mike Wagers, Eli Gourdin, David Haggard, Brian Rossiter, Brandi Varner, Owen LaFave, Stacey Honowitz

RITA COSBY, HOST:  And good evening, everybody.  We‘ve got another big show coming your way tonight.  We‘ve got an exclusive from Aruba in the Natalee Holloway investigation.  A private investigator has made this discovery, which could be a clue in the case.  It‘s a man‘s belt that the investigator says he found near the lighthouse, very close to where Joran Van Der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers may have been with Natalee.  We‘ve got a LIVE AND DIRECT exclusive right now with the man who made this dramatic discovery, Art Wood.

Art, you believe this may be Joran‘s belt.  Tell us why.

ART WOOD, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR:  Hi, Rita.  Well, I don‘t know if it‘s Joran‘s belt or not, but it certainly is a close match to the belt that Joran is using in the photograph that he took with his friends when he was horsing around.

COSBY:  Now, I want to show some pictures, if I could...


COSBY:  Mike, I want to show some pictures of the ones, actually, that you took.  You also took some photos.  You handed it over to authorities, right?

WOOD:  That‘s correct.

COSBY:  What was their reaction?

WOOD:  Well, I assume that they‘re going to send it to Holland to make sure there‘s no blood, DNA or other evidence.  This belt has been out in the weather for a long time, so I can‘t tell you.  I didn‘t examine the belt with a microscope.  I didn‘t have any chemical stuff to check to see if there was blood on it.  But I can tell you that it‘s something that they need to send in to the forensics people.

COSBY:  Absolutely.  And if we can show again the picture that you just took of the belt, and then side by side, that picture there, they look pretty similar, these two belts.  When did you find the belt, and where, Art?

WOOD:  Well, Rita, all my leads—I‘ve been working here for—for seven weeks, and the leads that I‘ve developed have led me to believe that this girl died on the beach that night.  We have leads that make us believe that these three boys, along with accomplices, buried this girl at the lighthouse.

I had specific information to a possible site where she might have been buried.  Last night, just prior to dark, I went out there.  I dug around.  I came up with that belt.  I didn‘t turn it over to authorities last night because I wasn‘t sure of the significance.  But I remembered that photograph, the photograph that was on Joran‘s Web site, the site where he was shown doing sadistic things to his friends, the same Web site that showed him drunk, and so forth.

And I thought, Man, that belt looks like the same belt.  So this morning, I checked our research photograph file at the “Diario,” and I believe that that‘s a pretty good match.  I‘m going to leave it to the authorities to do forensic work, maybe computer enhancement, and see if they can identify that belt.

COSBY:  Now, Art, was there anything unusual on the belt, just looking at it visually?  Was there any blood stains, any hair, anything of significance?

WOOD:  Well, Rita, you know what?  It‘s hard to tell.  You know, forensic evidence could get stuck in the belt holes.  It could get—it could be on the buckle.  The belt has stains on it, but it‘s been out in the weather.  I have no idea whether they‘re blood or anything.  I know the belt has deteriorated somewhat.  It‘s longer than it was when it was put there, obviously.  It‘s stretched.  I hope that it leads to something.

I will tell you this, the area where the belt was found is an area that we‘re concentrating on.  We have a search team in that area tonight as we speak.

COSBY:  Oh, you do?  How many folks do you have out there?  And how big is that area, Art, where we‘re looking now?

WOOD:  Well, we—they‘ve taped off an area out there that I showed them where I think would be significant.  It‘s not a large area.  The dunes area is a large area, but tonight, they‘re specifically searching a small area that I felt was significant.

COSBY:  And we‘re told we‘re going to get some video in shortly of the search that‘s going on as we speak.  Real quick, Art, any idea how long it‘s going to take until you might get some results back from authorities or until they make those results public?

WOOD:  You know what, Rita?  We‘ve experienced this before.  It takes a week or two for this evidence to get to Holland and back here.  I have no idea how long it will take.  I don‘t even know if they‘re going to be excited about this new lead.

COSBY:  Well, I would hope so, especially if it turns out to be Joran‘s belt.  All of us will put a lot of pressure, and they better be excited about it if it turns out to be a clue.

Art, please stay with us because I want to bring into the conversation right now forensics analyst Larry Kobilinski and also former D.C. homicide detective Rod Wheeler.

Dr. Kobilinski, let me start with you.  What clues could be in the belt that can maybe be a key piece of this puzzle?

LAWRENCE KOBILINSKI, FORENSICS ANALYST:  Well, this could be a very significant piece of evidence.  They really need some physical evidence in this case—so many ups and downs.  What they need to do is examine the belt visually and using special light sources, looking for trace evidence, perhaps hair fibers, blood, fingerprints, and perhaps DNA.  What they need to do, as Art Wood said, is try to determine if this is Van Der Sloot‘s belt.  And as he correctly pointed out, computer image enhancement might be helpful.

If, of course, they swab the belt and they find a connection to Natalee through DNA, that would mean this is the break everybody has been waiting for.  It could be very significant or it could be meaningless.  I mean, let‘s hope it‘s something important.

COSBY:  Absolutely.  Rod Wheeler, this could be a big break in the case right?

ROD WHEELER, FORMER D.C. DETECTIVE:  Well, you know, Rita, it‘s going to be a certain element of the case.  I‘m not sure how big of a break this is going to be.  But just as Art indicated earlier, the Aruban authorities need to get excited right now about any new evidence that they find.  It‘s over almost three months, if not longer than three months.

And I think it‘s absolutely ridiculous that they have not gotten something, even if it‘s in terms of a confession, evidence, something.  I mean, they haven‘t found anything in this case.  And I‘ll tell you, time is really running against them, Rita, because as long as it takes to solve a case like this, your evidence is willowing away, as we can clearly see with this belt.  I‘m not so sure how much evidence they‘re going to find or information they‘re going to get off this belt.

COSBY:  If it turns out it is the belt, Rod, what could that show?  I mean, again, Joran did essentially reportedly place himself near the scene.  But if there‘s something tied to Natalee Holloway on it, maybe it‘s hairs, maybe some fibers?

WHEELER:  Sure.  That‘s an excellent question because what‘s going to happen here is this.  First of all, I hope that the authorities are working with Art because just from listening to Art, he said some very critical things there.  And I‘ll tell our viewers real quick, from a homicide perspective, what he said.  He said that his sources led him to a certain area of that island.  So what you do, Aruban authorities, is you take somebody like Art and his sources, you talk to those sources and you find out how did they come to that conclusion.  And then once you get to that conclusion, that‘s where you start the snowball rolling.

And Art will tell you I‘m exactly right.  They need to utilize guys like Art that‘s on the ground there in Aruba to solve this case.  That guy is out there digging, and that‘s what the Aruban authorities need to be doing right now.

COSBY:  You bet.  And Art, I want to ask you about those leads.  Where did you get those leads from to sort of pinpoint you to you this area?  Because certainly, first you get the leads, you know, more than coincidence if something‘s sort of found there that looks like Joran‘s.  Was it from family?  Was it from other witnesses?

WOOD:  Rita, you know what?  I‘ve interviewed so many people in this case.  We get leads at the newspaper from the hotline.  We get leads from interviewing witnesses.  I‘ve interviewed a witness—I‘ve interviewed three witnesses who say that a guy confessed to them that he helped bury the body.  And he told them where.  That led me to that area, that and some consultation with the Holloway family.

I tell you right now that the leads need—let me make one specific point.  I hope everybody pays attention.  This reward, this $250,000 reward that could lead us to the body, you do not—people do not have to be involved in this investigation to claim that reward or a portion of that reward.  We want people to come forward.  Anybody that‘s heard anything about where this body is, please call the hotline.

COSBY:  Good information.  And in fact, someone who‘s been watching this case probably closer than almost anybody, Dave Holloway is Natalee‘s father.  He is with me now live.  Dave, what is your reaction to the find?  Just on the surface—and if we could show pictures again of the belt that was just found by Art and his team not too long ago, comparing it to the picture of Joran, they look like similar belts.  If, indeed, this turns out to be a key, this could be a biggie, right, Dave?

DAVE HOLLOWAY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S STEPFATHER:  Yes, it could.  But as you‘re well aware, we‘ve run across a lot of false hopes, from—everything from the bloody mattress to the barrel to the shallow grave, you know, just a number of things, and—but if this is the clue that helps us solve the case, then that‘s great.

COSBY:  How tough is it, then, Dave—you know, and Dr. Kobilinski pointed out about that very little forensic evidence in this case.  Don‘t you think it needs something like this to really push it open?  Dave?

HOLLOWAY:  Oh, I‘m sorry.  I thought you were talking to someone else.  Exactly.  I think the police—they are excited, I think, but maybe this evidence will excite them further that this may be the location where they need to key on.  You know, as you‘re well aware, the gardener placed him at the racquet club, and it could be that they were at the lighthouse prior to being at the racquet club.  But they‘re in that area, obviously.

COSBY:  Art, do you believe, looking at it—just—you got to see

it physically.  We have not.  We‘re just looking at pictures.  Does it look

·        does your gut tell you it‘s probably the belt?

WOOD:  My gut tells me that it‘s—if it‘s not the belt, what kind of coincidence it is to find a belt that is the same diameter and it looks—

I mean, it looks like the same belt.  I have no idea, Rita, if it‘s the same belt.  It needs to be examined forensically to determine that.

KOBILINSKI:  Yes, Rita, can I just add...

COSBY:  I was going to bring you in because speaking of forensics...

KOBILINSKI:  Yes.  Let—let me...

COSBY:  ... how long until they can confirm it, Dr. Kobilinski?

KOBILINSKI:  Well, that—it‘ll be a short time, a matter of a couple of days.  But I think, very importantly, if this belt turns out to be Joran‘s belt, it might indicate that this is the crime scene.  The problem is, is this is an island 20 miles by 7 miles.  You‘re looking for a needle in a haystack.  If you can narrow down the area of interest, then you can do the grid search and do the—you know, do the thorough investigation.  You don‘t need forensic analysts.  You need crime scene searchers.  You got to find the physical evidence, and you can only do that if you can identify the crime scene.

COSBY:  Great point.  And Dave Holloway, if we can narrow down that it looks like, indeed, Joran was there at that specific area, certainly, doesn‘t that allow to you put some more pressure on Aruban authorities, as well?

HOLLOWAY:  Oh, absolutely.  And it also brings in the—this proves the story about the Kalpoe brothers, where they said they were not involved.  And the gardener‘s story implicates them, as well.

COSBY:  All right.  All of you...

HOLLOWAY:  I think you move all three back into the story.

COSBY:  I agree.  I agree.  And let‘s hope that this is a piece to the puzzle.  Everybody, thank you very much.  Art Wood, we appreciate it.  Also, Dr. Kobilinski, Rod, thank you.  Dave Holloway, please stick with us.  All of you, there is a lot more on the late-breaking developments out of Aruba, not just this belt but some other things today.  There‘s apparently a new disappearance.  This time, it‘s a witness.  And that‘s just the beginning of what this jam-packed show has.

Coming up: The Tennessee jailbreak fugitives made it all the way to Ohio in a cab.  Tonight, the brave driver who took them there tells me how he helped the cops catch them.

Plus, Jennifer Hyatte‘s ex-husband.  Did he think he was married to a woman who‘d pull the trigger?

And this phys ed teacher was caught getting physical with a 13-year-old student.  Now she‘s the one in detention behind bars.

Plus: Why would this woman put a man‘s thumb in her bowl of chili?  The man whose displaced digit helped bust an alleged scam joins me LIVE AND DIRECT.


COSBY:  And we‘re going to talk more about that belt that was discovered there near the lighthouse in Aruba in just a few moments.  We have those exclusive pictures again.  There is the picture of the belt that was found by private investigator Art Wood, who is working there on the scene.  Again, he‘s saying because he isolated it to an area, he handed it over to authorities.  They‘re in the process of trying to confirm it right now.  But he says looking at that and comparing it with a picture of Joran Van Der Sloot, who actually was holding a similar belt, he says that they do look fairly similar.  Again, he got to look at them in person.  There‘s the belt from the picture with Joran.  He did hand it over just in case it is the same belt.  He handed it over to authorities.  And we will, of course, keep you posted.  Again, we got those exclusive pictures.

Again, tonight, we have some more information, more developments coming out of Aruba tonight.  One of the suspects (SIC) apparently has disappeared.  It‘s a key witness in the Natalee Holloway investigation.  He was nowhere to be found when it came time for him to show up in court.  Where was the man known as gardener?  Well, Michelle Kosinski joins us now live from Palm Beach, Aruba, with the latest—Michelle.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Rita.  You‘re right.  There was supposed to be a hearing in court today in the form of questioning before a judge, this man, who is expected to be a very good witness, thought to be credible enough for them to drain this field and pond over the period of several days.  We saw that a couple weeks ago.  And that was a major operation.  So if authorities didn‘t believe this guy, stands to reason that they wouldn‘t have gone to all that trouble.

But this man was an illegal immigrant to this island.  People had worried for some time that he might not stick around, even though he did go to police and tell them his story.  In fact, Art Wood, the private investigator you just heard from, tracked this guy down after several weeks of looking for him.  He brought this man to police, and he says that he spent about five hours telling them his story.

Well, police tell us that they actually put out a warrant for this guy to come into court because they were worried that he might leave, and they wanted his testimony on the record in case this case does go to trial and just in case he were to leave the island.  Well, it appears that he may have already gone.  Nobody‘s really been able to reach him and have a conversation with him or to find out where he is.  So that warrant stands, but so far, he has not shown up to court—Rita.

COSBY:  All right, Michelle, thank you very much.  Interesting.

Well, David Kock is the attorney for Satish Kalpoe.  He‘s on the phone with us tonight, live from the island of Aruba.  Mr. Kock, let me ask you, first of all, what‘s your reaction to the gardener suddenly vanishing?

DAVID KOCK, SATISH KALPOE‘S ATTORNEY:  Well, I think it‘s very remarkable.  (INAUDIBLE) said that, you know, he was supposed—according to a local newspaper, he was supposed to be the star witness.  But today, when he had his chance to state in front of the judge what his story was, but also more importantly, be interrogated by the attorneys, he decided to conveniently not show up.  And I understood that he‘s probably not anymore in Aruba.  It‘s not only that there‘s a warrant out, but police went to try to get him and just couldn‘t find him.

COSBY:  What does that say to you, the fact that he didn‘t show up?

KOCK:  Well, I think—of course, it‘s a guess, because, you know, I cannot speak for him, but I would think that he didn‘t feel maybe so comfortable appearing in court.

COSBY:  Now, what do you think of the FBI‘s involvement?

KOCK:  You know, I spoke a lot about that, like my client also has stated that we don‘t have—he‘s not scared of the FBI or an investigation, but it‘s just a matter of principle of following the rules.  You know, it will be like if tomorrow an Aruban has disappeared in the United States, if the Aruban police starts coming there and doing all kind of action, I think there might be protest in the United States.

COSBY:  Yes, but if they‘re doing a better job, don‘t you want the best to help solve the case?

KOCK:  Well, you can argue about that.  No, I know in the United States, there are a lot of also unsolved cases, famous unsolved cases.  And so I don‘t think by stating that because the FBI comes in, they will do a better job.

COSBY:  Let me bring in, if I could, still with us tonight, of course, is Natalee‘s dad, Dave Holloway.  Dave, you got a unique opportunity here to talk to the attorney for one of the potential suspects.  What would you like to ask him?

HOLLOWAY:  Well, I know Satish has been the quiet one in the three.  But I‘d like to ask him, what is Satish‘s story?  What does he say happened?

COSBY:  Mr. Kock?

KOCK:  Yes, Mr. Holloway.  It‘s a pleasure to speak to you.  I have to say that since, of course, in the beginning, Satish had a certain story told that was not in accordance with the truth, I mean, that is clear to everybody, but it‘s also is clear that a couple of days afterwards, he gave, and for many days, very extended statements of what happened.  And his statements, contrary to other suspect involved in this case, has not changed at all, you know?  If you‘re an 18-year-old guy, I think you know maybe you can lie one time, but with so much pressure under you, and if you keep telling day after day after day in all detail the exact same story, I think, you know, you tend to believe someone like that.

COSBY:  Now, Mr. Kock, I want to ask you—because we‘re showing some pictures now to everybody at home—this is when Beth showed up and actually spoke with Deepak.  He didn‘t really say much.  Then, remember, he filed that claim against her.  What do you make of that?  And did you advise your client, who‘s Deepak‘s brother—what would you tell him to do if Beth showed up where he is?

KOCK:  You know, I did not see the video.  And you know, I try not to speak to the other suspects in this case, so I do not know exactly how that conversation went.  I think...

COSBY:  Well, I‘m asking about your client.  What would you tell your client if Beth showed up?  And do you think it‘s appropriate that the other brother filed a claim against this grieving mother?

KOCK:  I don‘t think it would be appropriate for my client to speak with anybody.  I mean, that would be just regular and, I think, logical advice from an attorney to a client.  And yes, I think about filing a complaint or not, that that is something suggestive (ph) I think each attorney would or might think otherwise about that.

COSBY:  Dave, let me get you in because I think it‘s important for this attorney to understand the frustration that you Beth and all the others feel in this case.  What would you like to ask him?

HOLLOWAY:  Well, I still have questions, David.  Do you have a daughter?

KOCK:  No, sir, I do not have a daughter.  Then let me also state that...

HOLLOWAY:  Any children at all?KOCK:  Let me also state that—and I take off my hat of an attorney

·        let me put it like that—I understand totally what you, as a parent, might be going through.  And I think the people of this island also—as a citizen of Aruba, I want to say we also want this case to be solved.  I think you know that that is the case.  All the population thinks about this case.  So—and we all have a job also to do.

COSBY:  Dave Holloway, go ahead.

HOLLOWAY:  OK, David.  I know you‘re a good attorney because I asked you a question, what happened, and you told me that your client had a different story, but you still haven‘t told me what happened.  And what I‘m wanting to know is if you can tell me the sequence of events that occurred and where your client says that they went that day.  Where did they go?  And where did they end up?  That‘s the questions I want answered.

KOCK:  Well, of course, I can only tell you...


KOCK:  I can only tell you what you my client has stated because I wasn‘t there, neither, so I can just tell you that...


COSBY:  So what is it?

KOCK:  Very shortly, it‘s the statement that they said, that they left the Carlos and Charlie‘s nightclub, that they drove around, that they drove upon request of the other suspect, they dropped them next to the Marriott.  They went home.  I mean, you have records that you cannot change, phone records, computer records that clearly indicate where the suspects were at that moment.  You know, that‘s why we—if the gardener would have come in today, I mean, we would have confronted him with all of this.

COSBY:  Now, Mr. Kock, I got to ask you—we‘re talking about the belt tonight—was your client near the scene where the belt was located, near the lighthouse?

KOCK:  You know, I just heard about the belt.  I‘m waiting...

COSBY:  I‘m asking you about...

KOCK:  ... on hold here...

COSBY:  I‘m asking you about the lighthouse.  Was your client near the lighthouse?

KOCK:  No, they said that they drove around in the car, that they drove around also near the lighthouse.  So in the car, they were close to the lighthouse.  I have no idea where this belt was found, so you know, I cannot really give you right now a statement on that.

COSBY:  OK.  Well, gentlemen, we do appreciate it.  And Mr. Kock, thank you for answering some questions.  And Mr. Holloway, I‘m glad you got a chance to actually ask him some questions directly.  Love to have you back here...

HOLLOWAY:  He still didn‘t answer the questions.

COSBY:  No, he didn‘t.  And we‘re going to get him back on again another time...


COSBY:  ... and try to make this happen for you, too, as well.  Thank you very much.

HOLLOWAY:  OK.  Thanks.

COSBY:  And coming up next on LIVE AND DIRECT: A gym teacher is in big trouble for private sex ed lessons with a 13-year-old boy.  A husband whose wife made the same mistake joins me next.

Also, the woman accused in the deadly Tennessee jailbreak was married before.  Did her ex-husband know she was capable of killing?  I‘m going to ask him LIVE AND DIRECT next, an incredible interview coming up.


COSBY:  The husband and wife fugitives accused of killing a prison guard during a dramatic courthouse escape got new mugshots taken today.  You can see them there.  And tomorrow, we will see them again in court.

Let‘s go to NBC‘s Ron Blome, live in Columbus, Ohio, where the criminal couple is being held tonight—Ron.

RON BLOME, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Good evening, Rita.  George is back behind bars, his wife, Jennifer, behind bars for the first time.  They‘re likely to be there for a very long time.  After two nights in budget hotels, they were captured last night in Columbus.  We are awaiting an extradition hearing that is now scheduled for 10:00 o‘clock tomorrow morning.  Whether they agree to waive extradition or not, we‘re told by the judicial officials here that it will be a very quick move for them to be sent back to Tennessee.  Even though they resist, the governor could order extradition.  And the sheriff down in Roane County, Tennessee, has indicated that he‘s going to ask the U.S. Marshals to handle the transfer because he believes that they will use all and need all of the maximum security that they can provide.

Now, of course, all of this came after Tuesday‘s deadly shooting, the brazen escape attempt that was successful, at least for a couple of days, 300 miles, three states.  It all ended in Columbus.  And then tomorrow morning, at the court hearing, they will be headed back to Tennessee, where they will face justice in the murder of that Tennessee correction officer.  That‘s the latest from Columbus.

COSBY:  All right, Ron.  Thank you very much.

Well, after the jailbreak, Jennifer and George Hyatte high-tailed it out of Tennessee in a gold van.  Remember, we saw that.  Well, they made it all the way to Erlanger, Kentucky.  That‘s where they ditched their van.  And then they hailed a cab.  That cab took them all the way to Columbus, Ohio, where they were caught. 

And joining me now is the cabby, Mike Wagers.  Mike, where exactly did you pick them up?  Describe the route that you took from Erlanger, Kentucky to Ohio, briefly. 

MIKE WAGERS, HYATTES‘ CAB DRIVER:  I picked them up at the EconoLodge there in Erlanger.  And after getting gas there real close to the hotel, we basically got on Interstate 71 and 75 into Cincinnati, and a straight shot up 71 to Columbus. 

COSBY:  Amazing driving, and a long-distance drive.  They paid you, what, $200 upfront?  Did you think that was fishy? 

WAGERS:  Not really, ma‘am.  Usually, actually, we require it upfront.  So they must have known that I was probably going to ask, and they gave it to me.  So that really—you know, that really quelled any suspicion I might have had from the get-go. 

COSBY:  How unusual was it, though, for you to take such a long cab ride?  What, it‘s a 120 miles? 

WAGERS:  It‘s not that uncommon.  I mean, it doesn‘t happen every day, but maybe once or twice a month, you know, we‘ll take someone to another city because they‘ve missed an airplane, because of mechanical- or weather-related. 

COSBY:  Now, they told you—what was the reason they said they needed to be taken? 

WAGERS:  They had been in a car accident the day before, and their car was out of commission, and they needed to get to Columbus to attend a convention. 

COSBY:  And we‘re looking at some pictures of the hotel room.  This is where Jennifer and George Hyatte were, of course, surrounded and where they surrendered, ultimately, to authorities. 

Was there anything fishy about them?  Her leg was injured, correct? 

She was pretty severely injured? 

WAGERS:  From what I‘ve been hearing on the news, she had been injured.  It wasn‘t apparent until at the end of the cab ride that there was something wrong. 

And she had an answer for me as soon as I asked her, what was wrong?  And she said she had been hurt in a car wreck the day before.  So it jived with what we had spoken about earlier in the cab ride. 

COSBY:  Now, what did they tell you they did for a living? 

WAGERS:  That they were Amway salesmen. 

COSBY:  Amway salesmen?


What was your reaction?  And why did you think that sounded a little suspicious?

WAGERS:  Well, through prior encounters with Amway individuals, they‘re rather persistent in their recruiting and sales techniques.  And that wasn‘t applied to me, so I just figured that they were up to something else, but I had no idea it was something this severe. 

COSBY:  Well, we‘re lucky that you‘re OK today.  And I‘m sure you‘re counting your blessings.  Thank you very much, Mike.  We appreciate it for being with you. 

WAGERS:  All right.  Thank you.

COSBY:  And this wasn‘t the first time that Jennifer Hyatte was married.  Remember, she married George just back in May.  She actually had three children with Eli Gourdin, whom she was married to for seven years.  Eli, rather, joins me now exclusively by phone. 

Eli, what went through your mind to find out this woman, who you were married to, Eli, for seven years, did this? 

ELI GOURDIN, JENNIFER HYATTE‘S EX-HUSBAND:  It‘s Eli, but I was shocked when I first heard the news.  I was totally dumbfounded.  I didn‘t know what to say. 

I was by myself.  I got through—I received a call on my way to my lunch from work.  And I was just shocked. 

COSBY:  Now, you have three kids with Jennifer, right, nine, 11 and 12 years old?  Have you told them what their mother did? 

GOURDIN:  Yes.  Last night, after they were apprehended, I sat them down and made sure they all knew that we all loved them very much and filled them in as much as I could. 

COSBY:  And how did they react? 

GOURDIN:  I think it was disbelief to start with.  They were obviously very, very distraught, and hurt, and didn‘t know whether to believe what I was telling them or not.  And, obviously, they were upset. 

COSBY:  Was there anything in her background, anything unusual, anything unstable in her background, that would signal that she would do something like this or even something unstable like this? 

GOURDIN:  No.  She is a very loving mother and caring wife, you know? 

She did anything and everything for me and the kids when we were married. 

COSBY:  Why do you think she got herself into this situation and met this guy, ultimately married this guy, who was in prison? 

GOURDIN:  I can‘t say why, because I don‘t know why.  But, obviously, she saw something, something good in the man, you know?  Maybe there is something good inside of him. 

COSBY:  Did you ever meet George Hyatte? 

GOURDIN:  I never met him personally.  But I did talk to him on the phone. 

COSBY:  And what were your impressions of him? 

GOURDIN:  He seemed honest.  I mean, he was upfront.  He seemed to care for Jennifer and the kids.

And, you know, I never—I didn‘t get to talk to him a lot.  I talked to him once or twice.  And then, when the kids came out here for the summer, he would call and talk to them frequently. 

COSBY:  Do you plan on talking to Jennifer at some point in the near future?  And when you do, what are you going to say to her? 

GOURDIN:  I do plan on talking to her.  And, you know, all I can do is do anything I can to help her, you know? 

I feel terrible that this has happened.  I feel terrible for the officer that‘s fallen.  I feel terrible for Jennifer and George.  I feel terrible for everybody involved, the kids especially.  You know, my main concern is the well-being of these children. 

COSBY:  Absolutely. 

GOURDIN:  I love them with all my heart.  I know Jennifer loves them with all her heart.  And we want to, you know—we want to let her know that the kids love her, too. 

COSBY:  Well, we thank you for being with us tonight.  I‘m sure it is so difficult for you and for the kids and, as you point out, for everyone involved.  And thank you, Eli, for being with us tonight...


COSBY:  ... very much. 

Ultimately, Roane County Sheriff David Haggard would like a death sentence for the Hyattes, the maximum punishment for the crime.  He‘s with me now from Kingston, Tennessee.

Sheriff, good to see you.  I came back to New York.  It doesn‘t seem like too long ago that I left you.  Why do you think that the death penalty is a proper punishment here? 

SHERIFF DAVID HAGGARD, ROANE COUNTY SHERIFF:  Well, they have displayed the conduct that they have no regard for human life whatever, in the manner that they conducted themselves and the deed that they did.  So I feel that the death penalty would be the most appropriate sentence for these people. 

COSBY:  Now, I know there‘s going to be an extradition hearing tomorrow.  They‘ll be soon coming to your area, probably.  What kind of security is going to be surrounding them? 

I mean, this man has escaped—I was reading earlier today—five times.  This wasn‘t the first time.  What kind of security law enforcement are you going to have around both of them now? 

HAGGARD:  Well, from my department‘s standpoint, we will have a maximum-security effort made to receive these people, don‘t expect to have them very long in our custody, because I‘m going to make a request to the Tennessee Department of Corrections to house these people in maximum security.  And I feel that would be the safest way to keep them. 

COSBY:  And I understand now, also, that you just came back from a service from Officer Morgan.  We had the pleasure of talking to his two beautiful kids yesterday, obviously just heartbroken.  How was that service?  Is the community just still so shaken? 

HAGGARD:  Well, what‘s happening this afternoon in Wartenburg (ph), here in Morgan County, is they‘re receiving friends for the family.  And I was up there a little after 5:00 p.m. when the visitation started at 5:00. 

And I would guesstimate 300 to 400 people were in the receiving line trying to get into the funeral home when I was there.  And, of course, that line was growing continuously at the time that I left.  The funeral will actually be tomorrow at the central elementary school there in Wartenburg (ph).  I feel that‘s probably the largest facility they had to take care of the funeral. 

COSBY:  Well, that‘s great.  And, of course, I know a lot of people are going to be coming out.  Sheriff Haggard, thank you very much for being with us.  Good to talk to you, my friend. 

HAGGARD:  Good to see—good to hear from you. 

COSBY:  Thank you. 

And coming up, a school shooter is getting out of jail because of a loophole.  Should this killer be able to walk free? 

And next, a new twist in the famous chili caper.  A man sold his own thumb for peanuts and gets caught into a multimillion-dollar scam.  He tells me why he did it, in his very first interview.  That‘s coming up next.


COSBY:  Well, you probably won‘t know his name.  And you definitely won‘t know his face.  But you may recognize part of his finger. 

A woman claims she found the finger in a cup of Wendy‘s chili.  Of course, we now know that it was all one big hoax.  Anna Ayala put the fingertip in the chili herself.  How did she get it in there in the first place? 

Tonight, we have the LIVE & DIRECT exclusive with the man who has that finger, who that finger belongs to.  It‘s Brian Rossiter, and his attorney, Ivan Golde is also here.

Brian, first of all, got to ask you, how did you lose the finger, real briefly, in the first place? 

BRIAN ROSSITER, FINGERTIP FOUND IN CHILI:  It was an accident at work.  I got it caught in a air lock of a tailgate.  It got stuck in there.  And when I ripped my hand out, it ripped the end of my finger off. 

COSBY:  And then it was returned to you from your boss? 

ROSSITER:  Well, yes, actually, what happened was, I had gloves on at the time.  And my finger ended up in the gloves.  And we didn‘t know that at the time, but when I returned from the emergency room, my boss handed me my gloves back.  And the fingertip was, indeed, in the end of the glove. 

COSBY:  All right, so I got to ask you, why the heck did you save it and then sell it? 

ROSSITER:  Well, first of all, I saved it because, you know, I did—you know, I thought maybe, you know, it was a novelty item.  How many people have the end of their finger? 

And the reason I sold it was I was broke.  I was out of work.  I was off work at the time.  And I needed the money, you know?  I realized it wasn‘t the smartest thing to do at the time, you know, but...

COSBY:  How much did you sell it for? 

ROSSITER:  I owed him $50, and he gave me another $50.  So the total I got was $100. 

COSBY:  You sold it for $100?  Isn‘t that a little wacky that you saved your finger and sold it for $100 bucks? 

ROSSITER:  Yes, you know, at the time, you know, I wasn‘t really thinking.  I should have, you know, maybe at this point, you know, I realized, you know, maybe that wasn‘t the smartest thing to do.  But, you know, I needed the money, and I took it. 

COSBY:  Well, let me show you, of course—defense attorneys in this case are slamming you left and right.  I want to show one of the comments that they made about you not too long ago. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I believe this guy is basically a crack head who got involved at some level and, certainly has cut some kind of a deal with the prosecution so that he doesn‘t face any charges. 


COSBY:  What do you make of that? 

IVAN GOLDE, BRIAN ROSSITER‘S ATTORNEY:  Rita, could I jump in on that, please? 

COSBY:  Yes, go ahead, Ivan. 

GOLDE:  Listen, that is extremely unprofessional of this attorney to call my client a “crack head.”  That is a cheap shot.  It is unprofessional.  It is not true. 

Mr. Rossiter completely cooperated with the prosecution.  He‘s the main reason why this is such a strong case.  That‘s a very unprofessional statement, Rita.

COSBY:  And that was from the defense attorneys, again.  I do have to ask you though, Brian, did you know?  I mean, ultimately your finger went to this colleague of yours who ultimately gave it to his wife, she put it in the chili that we all know about, Wendy‘s, caused this enormous stir.

Wendy‘s lost—we were estimating $2.5 million.  I mean, aren‘t you completely embarrassed and outraged? 

ROSSITER:  You know, Rita, I can‘t agree with you more.  I‘m humiliated because of this.  I feel like I‘ve been a victim.  I mean...

COSBY:  Don‘t you feel like you need to apologize to Wendy‘s, too?  I mean, you know, if you didn‘t save it for some wacky means...


ROSSITER:  No, I never dreamed in a million years my finger would have ended up in there.  At this time, I would like to say, you know, I felt terrible about this whole situation.  You know, to Uncle Dave, the Wendy‘s family, and all their great employees, you know, I‘d like to—you know, I feel terrible about this.

I mean, it‘s been a burden.  I haven‘t been able to sleep at night.  I‘ve been humiliated.  You know, I feel terrible about the whole situation, Rita. 

GOLDE:  Can I say this also, Rita? 

COSBY:  Yes, real briefly, real briefly. 

GOLDE:  Mr. Rossiter has feared for his life, his safety.  He‘s under a great deal of pressure.  He feels terrible about what happened with Wendy‘s, but we‘re trying to make it right, Rita. 

COSBY:  All right.  Well, we both appreciate you guys being on tonight and talking. 

And incidentally, we did speak with Wendy‘s corporation today, everybody.  They are calling law enforcement officials in this case heroes for their diligent and hard work.  And they say that the police investigation in this is ongoing, that it is not closed just yet. 

And coming up, a gym teacher is going to prison for some illegal private lessons.  A husband who learned the same tough lesson from his wife joins me, next. 

And also coming up, a killer walks free because of a technicality.  Should he walk free because of his age?  He only served seven years.  Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ve seen Mitch bring knives to school and threaten people, that if they ever broke up with him, that he would kill them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  There‘s the bullet that came about that close from hitting me.


COSBY:  Well, it‘s been seven years since those children came face to face with fear, after a deadly shooting in Jonesboro, Arkansas, that killed five people, including four young girls.  And now, a legal technicality is allowing one of the gunmen to walk free. 


COSBY (voice-over):  More than a year before the Columbine massacre, two young boys shocked the nation when they went on a deadly rampage at their Arkansas middle school. 

DISPATCHER:  911, where‘s your emergency? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  There‘s a student at (INAUDIBLE) middle school.

COSBY:  Thirteen-year-old Mitchell Johnson and 11-year-old Andrew Golden set a trap for their classmates, pulling the fire alarm and then opening fire into the crowd as they exited the building. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I heard a bunch of shots.  And people were falling.  I ran into the gym. 

COSBY:  Four young girls and a teacher were killed.  Ten were wounded. 

Americans were stunned. 

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  There is nothing more tragic, for whatever reason, than a child robbed of the opportunity to grow up. 

COSBY:  The two boys were eventually found guilty.  But a legal loophole guaranteed the boys would be released by their 21st birthday. 

Many were outraged, demanding tougher justice for juvenile offenders.  And even though the law was eventually changed, it did not affect their sentence. 

Now, on his 21st birthday, Mitchell Johnson is set to be a free man.  He reportedly plans to go to college, perhaps even join a seminary.  Many are still upset the young killer will get a second chance less than a decade after killing his fellow classmates. 


COSBY:  And we‘re joined now by Brandi Varner, whose sister, Brittany, was killed during that school shooting.  Brady, how do you feel to know that one of your sister‘s killers is now a free man? 

BRANDI VARNER, SISTER OF THE VICTIM:  I‘m very angry at—I don‘t really know who to be angry at.  I‘m upset that these boys are getting out after, you know, serving a short period of time for the crime that they did. 

I‘m very angry at the fact they will live the life that they took from my little sister and four other people.  I‘m angry at the government, the people who could have changed things. 

You know, there‘s just a lot of mixed emotions that come into this.  And I can‘t really pinpoint, you know, really who to be angry at, because, I mean, something could have been done.  And I think it should have been done. 

COSBY:  And we‘re looking at some beautiful pictures of your sister here, which I‘m sure are hard for you to look at.  How do you feel when you hear reports Mitchell Johnson wants to maybe go to college, as point out, maybe he wants to go to the seminary.  Do you buy any of this? 

VARNER:  Well, what I say, why go to church when it seems to be that God is moving in the jailhouses now?  I mean, that‘s ridiculous, you know?  And in all honesty, I really do hope that he is sorry for what he‘s done. 

Nothing that he says or nothing that he does will ever change the way that I feel towards him.  People push the forgiveness key on me, and it is really hard to forgive somebody who is going to be able to do the things and live the life that he took from my little sister. 

COSBY:  Yes, I‘m sure.  And real quick, how tough has it been for you guys?  Seven years.  And your sister is obviously a beautiful girl.  There‘s great home video here that we‘re looking of you.  Real briefly, how has it been for your family? 

VARNER:  It‘s been a very hard time.  You know, the last seven years, you finally realize that, no matter how hard you try, no matter what you do, you‘ll never bring back your little girl. 

And, you know, now, it took seven years to finally do that and move on with your life.  And now, today, it‘s slapped in your face again.  And you‘re reliving that terrible tragedy that happened seven years ago. 

COSBY:  Well, Brandi, our prayers are with you and your family.  And sorry so much for your loss.  We do appreciate you being here. 

VARNER:  Thank you. 

COSBY:  And up next, we‘re going to move onto another story.  Another teacher busted for some sexy private lessons with her students.  This one was a three-month-long affair.  What are these women thinking?  That‘s coming up next.


COSBY:  And now, the story of the physical education teacher who, well, got too physical with one of her own students and is headed to jail for nine months.  Twenty-nine-year-old Pamela Rogers Turner was holed up in handcuffs, after pleading no contest to having a three-month-long sexual relationship with a 13-year-old boy.  Police say Turner had sex with the student at the school and at his home while his parents were sleeping. 

This story rings a bell for Owen LaFave.  His ex-wife, Debra LaFave, the middle-school teacher accused of having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student.  Owen joins us now on the phone.

And also with us tonight is sex crimes prosecutor out of Broward County, Florida, Stacey Honowitz.

Owen, first to you.  When you heard about this other case of a teacher with now a 13-year-old boy, how did you feel?  What was your reaction, Owen? 


Well, I think, initially, I mean, there are a lot of parallels between this story and my own.  And you know, I‘m shocked and just, you know, appalled by the situation and appalled that this keeps happening in our school system. 

COSBY:  What do you think it is, Owen?  What is wrong with these women, too?  Is there something mentally wrong with them? 

LAFAVE:  Well, I think, you know, typically with a situation like this, you‘ll find they were probably abused at some point in time in their childhood.  And I think—I don‘t know.  I think there‘s a real epidemic.  I think there is a problem. 

COSBY:  Now, Stacey, this woman in this recent case, she‘s getting nine months.  Is that appropriate?  Is that too light? 

STACEY HONOWITZ, FL. SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR:  Boy, I‘ll tell you something, Rita.  It is too light.  These women should be treated the exact same way that a man would be treated.  And you can best believe that, if it was a male teacher on a female student, he‘d be getting a lot more time than nine months, unless, of course, you couldn‘t get the victim to testify. 

And at this case, we don‘t know if the boy said, “I don‘t want to come forward,” and that‘s why this sentence is the way it is.  But at least it is sending a message that she is getting some jail time, because in most of these cases, the female teachers get probation, or community control, or a slap on the wrist.  So this is at least setting the stage for future cases. 

COSBY:  And, Stacey, they also get compliments.  I was kind of stunned.  The sheriff in this case described the woman as, quote, “absolutely gorgeous.”  If the shoe was on the other foot and it was a guy, can you imagine that comment coming out? 

HONOWITZ:  No, you‘re never going to hear that comment.  But then again, Rita, you can see in today‘s society, it‘s almost glamorous for female pedophiles to be in front of the cameras.

And somebody like Mary Kay Letourneau, she profited from all of this.  We all got to see her wedding, what kind of dress she was wearing.  So even though she committed a crime, pedophilia, she went to jail.  Afterwards, she almost came out smelling like a rose.  She came out on the good side of this. 

She made money off of her crime.  And I think a lot of these women are hoping that happens.  In this case, the judge said, “You are not allowed to profit from any of this,” so he is setting a standard.  And hopefully, women are going to realize they are going to be treated the same way men are, when it comes to pedophilia. 

COSBY:  Owen, have you moved on?  How are you doing in your life? 

LAFAVE:  No, I have moved on, but... 

COSBY:  Are you dating again? 

LAFAVE:  I am dating again.  I do have a girlfriend.  But I‘d like to go back to the last comment.  If there was ever an example of a double-standard in our system, I think this is the case. 

And I think we hit the nail on the head.  Because if it was a male teacher, the sentence would have been a lot more strict than the nine months that was given to Pam Turner. 

COSBY:  No, I agree.  And, Owen, we appreciate you being here and appreciate you always coming on tonight.  And also, Stacey, thanks so much for being with.  I‘m going to have both of you on back again soon.  Thanks so much. 

And, everybody, that does it for me tonight.  Don‘t touch that dial, because “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” is starting right now with my good pal, Joe Scarborough.

Joe, take it away.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  Hey, Rita, thanks a lot.  And I‘ll tell you what:  By the way, Rita, great coverage last night out of Tennessee.  Remarkable story the way it unfolded.

COSBY:  And it unfolded live with you on the air, which was terrific.

SCARBOROUGH:  I know.  Great to have you again at the NBC family.

COSBY:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, tonight‘s top headline, possible new evidence in the Natalee Holloway case.



Content and programming copyright 2005 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Watch Rita Cosby Live & Direct each weeknight at 9 p.m. ET