Guest: Stacy Richards, Valerie Harris, Kyle Sandler, Sean O‘Shea, Jonathan Reese, Morgan McPherson, Eric Feichthaler, Franki Phelps, Gina Eaton, Tony Shin, Taryn Thompson
RITA COSBY, HOST: Good evening, everybody. Tonight, some major developments about a murderer on the run. Have police finally located the man who gunned down this 13-year-old girl? We‘ve got some late-breaking details. And police are searching for a killer and a rapist who broke out of jail. Tonight, the woman they held hostage joins me live to tell me how she survived her harrowing ordeal. And a shocking murder confession on videotape. You will shake your head when you hear who this guy says he killed.
But first tonight, some big hurricane news is brewing. The strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic is inching its way closer to the United States at this hour. Hurricane Wilma is already blanketing much of the Caribbean with high winds and also heavy rains. The category five storm will dump as much as 15 inches of rain on the Cayman Islands and Jamaica in just the next two days. Wilma is also already being blamed for as many as 13 deaths. Next up on Wilma‘s hit list could be the island of Cuba. A state of emergency has been declared in the western part of that island in anticipation of deadly conditions there.
NBC Weather Plus meteorologist Bill Karins is here now with the very latest on this powerful storm—Bill.
BILL KARINS, NBC WEATHER PLUS METEOROLOGIST: Good evening, Rita. Things just keep changing. I just got done looking at one of the brand-new computer models, and we just—we‘re on a yo-yo with these things. Let‘s give you an example. One of our computer models earlier today was taking the storm up through the Yucatan Channel, through south Florida, brushing the Outer Banks and bringing it into New England. Then this afternoon, that computer model said, Well, we‘re not going to do that. It actually took the storm into the Yucatan, then through western Cuba and then just out into the Atlantic.
Well, I just got done looking at the brand-new latest. This computer again is now taking it to the north, through Florida and all the way up towards Rhode Island. So you get the picture here. These computers just keep flip-flopping here on what‘s actually going to happen. And the reason is it just doesn‘t have a good handle on the high pressure over the southeast, and this storm, which is cranking right now with severe weather through Oklahoma and Kansas.
This is going to be a big factor on what this storm does. If this system here begins to pick this storm up, then we could see it go through Florida and possibly affecting portions of the East Coast, including New England. If this storm misses it, well, then we won‘t have to deal with this storm, at least not in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, maybe just south Florida. So a lot of complicating factors.
Another thing that‘s just been happening is that the eye of the storm isn‘t very apparent anymore. It looks like it‘s finally undergoing one of those eyewall replacement cycles because see this line? That‘s northwest movement here, and maybe a little hint of more of a northwards turn over the last couple hours. Still a category five. The storm hasn‘t even weakened much since it broke that record earlier today, about 882 millibars. It‘s at 892. West-northwest at 7 miles per hour.
And we‘re very fearful of what could happen possibly on the Yucatan. I‘ve been mentioning all these squirrely computer models here. We have three out of four of the big ones that are now taking it dangerously close to Cozumel, and also Cancun, and then up through south Florida. Only one of them now is stalling it out and kind of doing a loop-de-loop south of Cuba. So we still have a majority of the agreement saying that south Florida is in jeopardy.
As we go throughout, it looks like mostly Sunday, then we still have to wait and see what happens on the East Coast as we go throughout the next couple of days after that. Four or a five as it goes through Cancun. We‘re very fearful that we could see the eyewall very close to Cancun, with winds possibly gusting up to 180 miles per hour. We may see some rainfall totals 15 to 25 inches here, especially the higher terrain of Cuba over the next couple days.
And then of course, the hurricane force center still is going with the south Florida landfall. We took the black line out of here because we‘re so uncertain of exactly what area in Florida is under the gun. We‘ll find this out and fine tune this as we go throughout the next couple of days. And Rita, it still looks like Florida could be dealing with a possible major category three storm, and we still haven‘t ruled out anything as far north as New England.
COSBY: Bill, thank you very much.
Well, some of the latest storm tracks have Wilma headed right for the Florida Keys, as you saw from Bill. Evacuations of that area got under way today, and more orders to leave could come as soon as tomorrow.
On the phone tonight is Morgan McPherson. He‘s the mayor of Key West, Florida. Mayor, first of all, how worried are you about Hurricane Wilma?
MAYOR MORGAN MCPHERSON, KEY WEST, FLORIDA: Oh, very. I think that there‘s great reason for concern, for some of the key issues that were just touched upon. That being that, right now, the storm‘s kind of a wanderer, and there‘s no telling where it‘s going to go. And obviously, it‘s strong enough to do major damage wherever it goes.
COSBY: Now, evacuations have started. What, these are ones of visitors and non-residents. How many folks have actually left?
MCPHERSON: We should have a cap on that. Right now, as I speak, we‘re in the emergency command center and about to get updates on all those. And that‘s something I‘d have to give you later on.
COSBY: What are you estimating, a good portion of the population?
And what‘s the plan tomorrow, Mayor?
MCPHERSON: No, right now, as you know, the mandatory evacuation was for the tourists and for those who live on board—live aboard boats or mobile home or trailers. And so the that population is a smaller population, and so they‘re the ones that are under the mandatory evacuation now. The mandatory residents evacuation is going to be tipped off tomorrow at 12:00 o‘clock. And so the voluntary evacuation has a steady traffic flow, but I don‘t have a count on that.
COSBY: And I understand you have some buses on standby. What‘s the plan for those who don‘t have vehicles? Do you have a maximum plan in place?
MCPHERSON: Yes. Yes, we sure do. Fortunately for us, this year, we‘ve had a lot of practice at doing this, and so our plans are well versed. We have a bus—a transit route that‘s going throughout the city of Key West and picking up individuals at different locations and bringing them to a staging point and taking them up to Florida International University.
COSBY: All right, Mayor, thank you. And sadly, you do have a lot of practice. We appreciate it.
And southwest Florida could also be in the bull‘s-eye of Wilma. LIVE AND DIRECT RIGHT NOW tonight is Eric Feichthaler. He‘s the mayor of Cape Coral, Florida. Mayor, how worried are you about Wilma?
MAYOR ERIC FEICHTHALER, CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA: Rita, we‘re very worried about Wilma. We have a category five storm that‘s approaching our area. And again, that tone of uncertainty does concern us greatly. We‘re a waterfront community with over 400 miles of canals, which is great for drainage purposes, but if there is a storm surge, a significant part of our city could be at risk.
COSBY: Now, you‘ve declared a state of emergency. How many folks there have evacuated?
FEICHTHALER: Well, a state of emergency will actually be declared tomorrow. Today, we did announce voluntary evacuations of lower-lying areas, probably about a quarter of the population. But I think, at this point, most people are still preparing their homes. We do have three days, and I think tomorrow, you‘ll see a substantial amount of people, hopefully, driving out to the north and east and evacuating the city.
COSBY: Is Wilma getting a little more attention and taking these evacuations a lot more seriously after Katrina, after Hurricane Rita?
FEICHTHALER: Well, certainly. We also had Hurricane Charley that came within 10 miles of Cape Coral and caused significant damage. But certainly, watching the images of what‘s happened in the northern Gulf Coast has affected all of us, and certainly we don‘t want anyone to lose their lives or lose significant property if they don‘t have to. And certainly, you know, the safety of our citizens is most important. So that‘s why we‘re making those voluntary evacuation comments now. And they could become mandatory in the next 24 to 48 hours, should the conditions warrant it.
COSBY: Mayor, how wary are your residents?
FEICHTHALER: Well, they‘re very wary. And I think, again, because of Hurricane Charley last year and watching what‘s happened this past summer has really made people very aware. Many are well prepared with water and fuel. Some are not. And we already have a few gas stations in Cape Coral that have run out of fuel. But we are getting those supplies in, and I do believe that people will heed the warnings, and if the storm does continue on its current path, which does bring it very close to our city, I do strongly believe people will leave and get out of harm‘s way.
COSBY: All right. Well, I hope so. Mayor, thank you very, very much.
And there is some breaking news tonight on another story, in a nationwide manhunt for a suspected killer. It is a story that we have been following closely right here on LIVE AND DIRECT. Only a few hours ago, police in Gary, Indiana, believe they‘ve found Melvin Keeling. He‘s the man you see here. He has been on the run from police for exactly one month. Keeling is accused of gunning down 13-year-old Katelind Caudill in cold blood, then killing two female store clerks as he tried to evade police.
Anna Davlanties (ph) from NBC station WMAQ has the late-breaking details—Anna.
ANNA DAVLANTIES, WMAQ: A developing story to tell you about tonight, Rita. A massive manhunt has ended here in Gary, Indiana. The body of 43-year-old Melvin Keeling was found right here along these railroad tracks. Let me back out of the way and show you where it happened. Here in this narrow wooded area, right in the middle of a residential neighborhood, is where he was found. Children playing here found the body and notified authorities. Just a couple weeks ago, his minivan was found a half mile away. That has made neighbors extremely uneasy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s a tragedy, what he did, for real, you know, because he had everybody over here terrified. I was over my mama‘s house every day, pretty much. We was doing window work on our house, whole back window out. And I was over here throughout the night pretty much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: And that was Anna Davlanties reporting.
The family of the girl believed to have been killed by Melvin Keeling has been fearing for their own lives. They‘ve been on our show quite a bit. And joining me again tonight is Katelind‘s mother, Gina Eaton, and also Katelind‘s aunt, Franki Phelps.
Franki, first of all, how did you find out about the news?
FRANKI PHELPS, KATELIND CAUDILL‘S AUNT: Well, we had just gotten off the plane. We were in the car on our way home, and Sheila McLaughlin (ph) from “The Cincinnati Enquirer” called me and asked me if I had heard anything, and I said no. And she told me what was going on. And she put me on hold a couple of times and said, This is coming through right now, that the FBI was sending press releases to all the media.
COSBY: Franki, how did you feel when you found out that—and again, you know, they‘re not 100 percent sure, but it sure looks like it‘s going to be Melvin Keeling‘s body.
PHELPS: A little bit of mixed emotions. If it is him, I‘m glad. But then again, I don‘t get to face him, and that‘s what I wanted to do. I wanted to face him, and I wanted him to suffer.
COSBY: Gina, how did you feel?
GINA EATON, KATELIND CAUDILL‘S MOTHER: Again, it‘s a little bit of relief, anger at the same time. You know, at least if it is his body, they do identify it, we can finally grieve over Katie the way that, you know, we need to. But I am—I would love for him to have actually been caught, go to prison, and somebody in there just to torture him, to give him some of the pain that he‘s caused our family that we‘ll experience the rest of our life.
COSBY: Well, I think a lot of people feel that way. Both of you, please stay with us. We‘re going to have more of you right after the break. And indeed, we‘re all praying that, indeed, that is Melvin Keeling. We‘re going to be following this developing story, everybody. We‘re going to have a lot more with the two of them right after the break.
And that‘s not all. We have a lot more on tap tonight. Still ahead, prison break. A killer and a rapist break out of jail, carjack a minivan and kidnap a woman. As cops search for the dangerous fugitive, the woman they held hostage is joining me to tell her amazing story. It‘s a LIVE AND DIRECT exclusive.
Plus, a shocking murder confession. A man admits he killed a 10-month-old baby. And, get this, it was his own son. And you won‘t believe why he says he did it.
And “American Idol” singer Fantasia shocked the country with a stunning confession. Now find out why some in the Tarheel state are turning their backs big-time on their hometown hero. It‘s coming up LIVE AND DIRECT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHELPS: Turn yourself in. Do the right thing. Turn yourself in, or do us all a favor and turn the gun on yourself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: And that was Katelind Caudill‘s aunt, Franki Phelps, on our very show here last night.
And now some breaking news. As we‘ve been reporting to you, just hours ago, police believe they found the body of Melvin Keeling. That‘s the man suspected of killing Katelind Caudill and two female store clerks. It was exactly one month ago today that 13-year-old Katelind was brutally murdered after she told police Melvin Keeling was molesting her friend.
Joining me again right now is Katelind‘s aunt, Gina—Katelind‘s mother, Gina Eaton, and also Katelind‘s aunt, Franki Phelps.
Gina, let me start with you again because you also called police when you got the news. What did authorities say to you? Do they believe this is Melvin?
EATON: Actually, we haven‘t heard from the police. We had watched the news conference before we left at 7:30. They said the body is badly decomposing. They couldn‘t identify if it is him. They have to get the dental records and do fingerprints before they‘ll release that it is him. They did find a gun next to the body. They tracked the serial numbers, and it does match to Melvin Keeling‘s name.
COSBY: Do you think he killed himself? And are you surprised, Franki? Because when you and I talked, you know, you felt this man was basically a coward. Look what he did, you know, to three women. Were you surprised that he actually took his own life, so it seems?
PHELPS: If it is him, I am surprised. I never thought that he would turn it on himself. I never dreamed he would. But if he did, you know, I‘m happy with that and I‘m satisfied with that.
COSBY: Are you disappointed, Franki? You know, one thing I was surprised about, this body of Melvin Keeling, decomposed, it was about 100 yards from sort of the area that authorities were looking at, meaning that it was right there this whole time. How disappointed are you that it wasn‘t police who found him, it was some kids who actually stumbled upon this body?
PHELPS: Very disappointed because it would have saved us a lot of emotional stress, instead of going and spending money, putting security lights around my house and wiring up our windows and other security things. You know, we would have been relieved a long time ago. And I can‘t believe that they didn‘t, you know, expand it. They said they did broaden it a couple times. And they also said that his body was moved, that maybe animals had drug it. But you know, for a little kid to find it and they couldn‘t, I‘m disappointed.
COSBY: And Gina, are you disappointed? I mean, the body was right there.
EATON: Right. They said they found it, like, half a mile, I believe, from where his van was originally found, on the railroad tracks that they had originally thought that he had possibly jumped on. So why they didn‘t go further down those he tracks to find out—you know, to see if there was anything else down there, you know, is beyond my belief.
COSBY: Yes, it is pretty stunning. I was surprised how close the proximity was. You know, Franki, you talked about how worried you‘ve been. You know, there was word that there was this hit list with both of you on this hit list by this monster. Are you going to be able to rest easier tonight, Franki?
PHELPS: No, not until I know 100 percent sure that it is. We‘re still being careful until we know 100 percent that he is, and then maybe we can all rest a little easier. Maybe.
COSBY: You know, Gina, do you think you‘ll be able to rest easier soon?
EATON: I agree with Franki. You know, once they do tell us that it is a positive identification, that it is Melvin‘s body, then, you know, we can be a little bit more at ease and finally, you know, grieve over Katie the way that we want to.
COSBY: You bet. You know, it‘s been a month since this happened. You know, as we look at the pictures, Franki, what just a tragic ending to a beautiful life.
PHELPS: It is.
COSBY: What are your thoughts about, you know, your beautiful niece tonight?
PHELPS: I just love her so much. I miss her! Our lives will never be the same without her. I miss that I won‘t have any—she won‘t have any little babies running around, and that she won‘t run out to my car every time I go over to my mother‘s. That bothers me. But I just—we all miss her so much.
COSBY: And Gina, your thoughts?
EATON: I love her, you know, and I want everybody in the world, you know, that knew Katie, you know, think in your mind the last time that you seen her, her beautiful smile that she had and just her joyful being, and just keep that thought in your head of her, just to keep her memory alive with everybody.
COSBY: Well, we feel very blessed to have gotten to know her through both of you, and do we hope that you get some positive identification that, indeed, it is this monster who did this horrible thing. We hope that you get the positive ID tomorrow. Thank you both very, very much. We‘ll be in touch with you really soon.
PHELPS: Thank you, Rita.
EATON: Thank you.
COSBY: And now to another unthinkable crime. A father confesses to
killing his 10-month-old son, and even worse, he‘s not even sure why he did
it. Reporter Tony Shin from KNSD San Diego—that‘s our affiliate there -
· has more on the shocking murder and confession. Tony, this is really just so horrible.
TONY SHIN, KNSD-TV: It is an absolutely disturbing story. And Rita, I‘ll tell you, at first, we didn‘t think Damian Roca (ph) was going to talk to us. He seems very shy, very timid. But then he began to open up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I loved him a lot and...
SHIN (voice-over): It may be hard to believe Damian Roca loved his 10-month-old son, Jacob. Roca is accused of suffocating the infant at their El Cahon (ph) apartment, a murder the 28-year-old man admits he committed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I covered his—you know, his face like this, where he couldn‘t, like, you know, breathe.
SHIN: Roca says while this was happening, Jacob‘s 3-year-old brother, Caleb (ph), watched TV just a few feet away.
(on camera): How long did you hold your hand over Jacob‘s mouth?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe five or ten minutes, I guess. I‘m not sure.
SHIN: Did you know that you were killing your child?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SHIN: So why didn‘t you stop?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t know.
SHIN: Were you angry at your child?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I just—I don‘t know. I just did it for no particular reason.
SHIN (voice-over): Roca admits to using drugs, but he says he wasn‘t high when he killed Jacob. He had this message for Jacob‘s mother, who is also his ex-girlfriend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to tell her that I‘m really, really, really, really, really sorry.
SHIN (on camera): We relayed that message to Taryn Thompson, who still lives in the same apartment where the murder happened. Here‘s what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TARYN THOMPSON, MOTHER OF MURDERED BABY: If I don‘t forgive him, God‘s not going to forgive me. And I forgive him.
SHIN (voice-over): But now the question is, Will the justice system be as forgiving?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s what I keep saying to myself. I wish I could just go back in time and do the right thing and none of this would have ever happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIN: And Roca was in court today for his arraignment. He was formally charged with first-degree murder, but prosecutors say they will not seek the death penalty in this case because there were no special circumstances—Rita.
COSBY: You know, Tony, you got to see this man face to face. That was an incredible interview. Do you believe he‘s sincere in his apology, or do you think he‘s manipulating, knowing, you know, that he‘s facing the judge?
SHIN: You know, I asked that same question to my photographer, Filipe (ph), who was there. And he said he seemed very true. He seemed almost child-like, as if he didn‘t really understand the magnitude of what he had allegedly committed, the death of his own son.
COSBY: That‘s stunning. Thank you very much. A really incredible interview there. Thank you for bringing it to us, Tony.
SHIN: Thank you.
COSBY: And we‘re joined now by the woman you saw on the tape, the mother of the young baby who was murdered, Taryn Thompson. You know, Taryn, you talked about in the piece you forgive this guy. I think a lot of people say, Why?
THOMPSON: Because I believe that if I don‘t forgive him, that God won‘t forgive me.
COSBY: Was it difficult for you to forgive him for just this horrible crime to your little baby, your beautiful baby that we see a picture of here?
THOMPSON: Of course it is. I mean, he just—he was beautiful, and he got taken away from me. And you know, Damian put me through a month of hell, when he could have told the truth right away. And he lied to me. And you know, it just all happened so fast.
COSBY: Do you believe he‘s now being sincere, or do you think he‘s playing the system?
THOMPSON: I think he‘s being sincere.
COSBY: You do? Why?
THOMPSON: Because I was with him for almost two years, and you know -
· but saying sorry, you know, doesn‘t cut it. He still did the crime, and I think that he should pay the penalty.
COSBY: What do you think the penalty should be for this man?
THOMPSON: Life in prison without parole.
COSBY: You know, when you hear the confession—and I thought about you because I knew you were coming up on our show. To hear that it took five to ten minutes for him to kill your baby—that must have just been so painstaking for you to hear. What went through your mind?
THOMPSON: I just started crying. And after I heard the whole thing, I just walked out and I was gone for, like, two hours, walking around El Cahon.
COSBY: Yes, it must have just—you just—I don‘t know how you get through it. You know, a psychiatrist involved in the case said that Damian may suffer from what he called a severe psychiatric disorder, that he may be sort of psychotic in and out. Do you believe there‘s a mental illness, there‘s drugs? What do you think played a role?
THOMPSON: I don‘t know. It‘s beyond my comprehension. It totally shocked his friends that he‘s known for 10 years, his parents. I mean, we‘re all in shock, and I—I can‘t understand it. It‘s beyond my comprehension.
COSBY: How‘s your other son doing, your 3-year-old son...
THOMPSON: He‘s good.
COSBY: ... who I understand was there, right?
THOMPSON: He‘s—yes, he was there. He‘s doing OK. He‘s with a family member right now, and I‘m—he‘s sick right at the moment, but he‘s going to be going to a child psychologist, as well as I‘m going to a psychologist.
COSBY: And so you need whatever help you can and whatever support you can get. Taryn, thank you very much for being here.
THOMPSON: You‘re welcome.
COSBY: And still ahead, everybody, a woman held hostage by a rapist and killer who escaped from prison tells me how she escaped with her life. It‘s an exclusive that you‘re only going to see here. She‘s coming up. And the TV attorney whose wife was killed in their own home gives his first live TV interview to MSNBC. Find out what Daniel Horowitz is saying about the investigation and who he believes committed this heinous crime. That‘s coming up.
COSBY: And all-points bulletin tonight for two dangerous men who escaped from an Oklahoma prison. The search for Aaron Olsen and Pharon Johnson has moved north into Texas, and the woman those two men took hostage, who miraculously escaped, is now speaking out. LIVE AND DIRECT tonight from Tulsa, Oklahoma, is Stacey Richards (ph). Also on the phone with us is Trooper David Heim with the Kansas Highway Patrol.
Trooper, first of all, where is the search going? Any new leads tonight?
TROOPER DAVID HEIM, KANSAS HIGHWAY PATROL: Well, last night, we had a break-in about 15 miles north from where the van was found. They broke into a highway maintenance shop that was alarmed. They stole a sandwich, is all they got. And we had troopers on the scene there within just about five minutes, and helicopters and dogs there right away, but we weren‘t able to locate them.
We also found some tracks and some other signs that they were still moving north.
COSBY: You know, let me bring in, if I could, Stacy, because, Stacy, you were actually taken hostage by these two men. How did they abduct you? How did they get you?
STACY RICHARDS, TAKEN HOSTAGE BY PRISON ESCAPEES: They told me they were security, and told me that the drug dog had hit on my van, and made me get in the van with them to take it up front to have it searched.
COSBY: And now, you were visiting your boyfriend at the prison at the time, right?
COSBY: And they knew your boyfriend, right?
COSBY: Did they know at all, like, who you were when they abducted you or do you believe it was just random?
RICHARDS: I believe it was just random.
COSBY: What did they say to you? I think is one of the fascinating details. They described to you how they escaped. Tell us about that.
RICHARDS: Yes. They told me that they had been planning it for two years.
COSBY: Two years? Wow. How so? And how did they do it?
RICHARDS: They dug through the walls inside the prison and somehow got into a ceiling and came out into an office that‘s up towards the front lobby.
COSBY: And now, they bound you, right? Tell us about that. They actually—where, on your mouth, your face?
RICHARDS: Yes. When they left me in the woods, they taped my hands, they taped my mouth and around my head, and they taped my feet.
COSBY: What did they say to you?
RICHARDS: When they left me?
COSBY: Yes, when they left—I understand they actually apologized to you?
RICHARDS: They did. They apologized throughout the (OFF-MIKE) just kept telling me how sorry they were. They just had to have a way out. And, when they left me, they apologized and told me that, if I could get loose, to go find help.
COSBY: Did you ever feel you were in danger?
RICHARDS: Well, I was terrified the entire time. They told me from the very beginning they weren‘t going to hurt me, but I didn‘t feel 100 percent secure until I was out of that van.
COSBY: What did they say to you about sort of what they were going to do next? I understand they said something to the effect they‘re not going to be taken alive.
RICHARDS: Yes, they did. They said that they planned—the prison plans for them to die in prison and they refuse to die in there. So they will be—they will not go back alive.
COSBY: Let me bring in the trooper real quick. Trooper, you know, do you believe these men—look, one‘s a rapist, one‘s a murderer. Thankfully, they let Stacy free, but how dangerous are these men?
HEIM: Well, one of them is doing 70 years for about five counts of robbery and rape; the other is doing life for killing a stranger. And any time you deal with dangerous criminals and they tell you they‘re not going to be taken alive, you can take that seriously.
COSBY: Yes, you bet. Stacy, if they‘re watching tonight, if you can spare somebody else, what do you want to say to them?
RICHARDS: Just that they‘re doing a wrong thing. And while we were in the van, they kept saying that the Lord was with them. But something like this, the Lord is not helping them along with. This is evil. And they need to just go back and do their time.
COSBY: Absolutely. Well, I am so glad that you are with us safe and sound tonight, Stacy, and out here. An amazing story. Thank you for being with us and sharing that with us.
Trooper, thank you, too. I hope you get these guys.
Now to another story. Famed defense attorney Daniel Horowitz is breaking his silence tonight over the shocking murder of his wife, Pamela Vitale. In a live exclusive interview with MSNBC‘s Dan Abrams, Horowitz describes the terrible moment when he found his wife.
DANIEL HOROWITZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Even though I knew that she was dead, I touched her on the temple to see if she was alive. And, you know, called 911 on the phone and then went back to her.
And then I just told her—I said a million things. I screamed. I cried, and I told her I loved her. And I‘m trying to avoid just—I don‘t want to cry anymore. I am just cried out, to tell you the truth.
But, basically, for me, when she was lying there, she was still Pamela. And knowing Pamela, and how strong she was, and how brave she was, I know she might have been scared a little at the beginning, but that immediately that would have turned into a strength and a fury and she would have been fighting for everything. And I know that‘s what happened.
COSBY: That was Daniel Horowitz with our Dan Abrams just a short time ago.
And now, another exclusive in this murder mystery. This one related to one of Horowitz‘s neighbors and also a caretaker. A man named Joseph Lynch, whom Horowitz believes committed this horrible crime.
Now, another neighbor is coming forward saying Lynch also showed violence towards him and was, quote, “a ticking time bomb ready to explode.” Earlier this year, Tom Bradley—this is a neighbor—filed a restraining order against Lynch, which we obtained.
In it, Bradley describes a scary encounter with Lynch, saying, quote, “He threatened to smash my head, my face. He spit at me. He told me he better not see me or else.”
Bradley also told me over the phone that he believes Lynch is capable of murder, and he fears for his life right now. In an exclusive interview, Bradley told our producer about his previous problem with Lynch.
TOM BRADLEY, NEIGHBOR OF JOSEPH LYNCH: There was problems. I had a restraining order against him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why?
BRADLEY: Because of his behavior, which, you know, it was just erratic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you feel threatened by him? Is that why you got a restraining order?
BRADLEY: Well, clearly, I got a restraining order. So I was more concerned, I guess, for the safety of my family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did Joe Lynch ever make any type of a threat against you?
BRADLEY: Well, one day he was very belligerent. He actually had threatened me and several other people at the same time. I was driving out of the canyon, which is part of what inspired me to get my restraining order. But, you know, that‘s been a long time. Well, it‘s been since—I guess that was in early June or late May.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And belligerent how? What types of actions would he take?
BRADLEY: He was just acting very aggressive. I think, at the time, he was under the influence of something, but, you know, I don‘t really know that. All‘s I know is, you know, he was very aggressive and I didn‘t care for his behavior much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For such a quiet, peaceful neighborhood, this must be just something...
BRADLEY: It‘s shocking. Pamela Horowitz was a wonderful person. And it‘s just absolutely shocking that something like this could happen to such a person.
COSBY: And Bradley went on to tell us that Lynch has showed him secret trails that led to Horowitz‘s house. He took our team on one of those similar trails today. You can see some shots of it. This is the video that you‘re seeing right now.
Bradley also said that, last night, blood hounds used by authorities picked up a scent that led immediately to Lynch‘s house.
So the big question is, what would possess someone to kill Pamela Vitale, Dan Horowitz‘s beautiful wife? We‘re joined now by Valerie Harris. She‘s a good friend of Daniel and Pamela. And she works as a technical consultant for the Susan Polk defense team, which is, of course, the big, high-profile case that Dan Horowitz was working on.
Valerie, you know, first let ask you about this sort of crazy neighbor that a lot of people are talking about that Mr. Bradley was talking about. Did you ever hear Dan talk about a neighbor who was threatening him?
VALERIE HARRIS, CONSULTANT FOR SUSAN POLK DEFENSE: No, Rita. No, I never did. I hadn‘t heard about that until this incident on Saturday night and after that.
COSBY: And what has Dan told you about Joe Lynch?
HARRIS: He hasn‘t told me very much, outside of—you know, he doesn‘t want to hinder the investigation by the Contra Costa County Sheriff‘s Office. And essentially, I have read the restraining order that was never given, but that he had a lot of problems. But, essentially, Dan is a very kind, sweet man, and he‘s always willing to help somebody. So he helped Joe go through rehab.
COSBY: Yes, he did. Sounds like he was really trying to help this guy.
HARRIS: Yes, Dan‘s that way. He helps everybody.
COSBY: And I know that firsthand. You know, I want to show a quote from Dan. This is the interview that he did earlier a few hours ago on MSNBC. This is where—you know, of course, standard procedure, everyone‘s being questioned, including Dan Horowitz. Let‘s take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOROWITZ: I have not been asked to take a polygraph. I would take a polygraph at any time that the police asked me to do it.
But beyond that, Dan, I would do anything the police asked me to do.
I would answer any question, no matter how personal, no matter anything.
There would be nothing on this Earth that I wouldn‘t do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: How tough do you think this is for Dan Horowitz to even have to defend himself?
HARRIS: Well, it‘s really tough. Dan is cooperating fully with this investigation. He‘s at their beck and call. He‘s helping them.
The other day, he took them on a tour of the crime scene, because they had to ask him questions and that only Dan would know, because he lived in that house with Pamela. And Dan is doing everything in his power to help this investigation.
And the sheriff‘s office is doing a fantastic job.
COSBY: Yes, he seems to be very supportive. And I know, you know, right now, with no suspects, no arrests, this has been just so grueling for Dan personally. I want to show another quote, just how tough everything is for him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOROWITZ: I‘ve got nothing in my life, you know, at its very core.
The very core of my life will never come back, no matter what happens.
There‘s nothing that‘s going to ever happen that‘s going to make it OK. You know, that‘s the bottom line, reality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: You know, Valerie, what was their relationship like?
HARRIS: Oh, they were wonderful. They have what I call kind of a one-thought, one-phone-call-type relationship, where they just are in each other‘s lives every day.
Something comes up, you know, you‘re just a phone call away. It‘s a quick phone call, and you chat with each other all day long. You‘re so integral in each other‘s lives.
And for Dan to lose this—I mean, he loved her so dearly, they loved each other so dearly, that it‘s just devastating for everybody.
COSBY: Can you think of anyone who would have had a grudge, you know, against this beautiful woman, or even against Dan?
HARRIS: You know, against Dan or Pamela, that‘s so wild, because they were just—they‘re just dear, sweet people. I can‘t imagine who would do something so heinous.
COSBY: I can‘t either. And, Valerie, thank you. I hope this case gets resolved very soon.
HARRIS: And, Rita, Rita, if you can, please, you know, keep this story active. Help us. If anybody knows anything, please call the tip line.
COSBY: You bet. We will absolutely do it...
HARRIS: Thank you.
COSBY: We will do whatever we can. Dan is a friend of mine and a friend of the show. And we will do what we can. Thank you very much.
HARRIS: Thank you.
COSBY: Thank you.
And still ahead, everybody, when she won “American Idol,” Fantasia became a hero in her hometown, but not anymore. Find out what she did that has people turning their backs on her.
And Saddam Hussein makes his first day in court. We‘ll show you the incredible moments. Plus, his prison guards are going to join me live to tell us first-hand what it was like—what was life like behind bars for this horrible dictator. An amazing interview, coming up on LIVE & DIRECT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIZGAR MOHAMMED AMIN, JUDGE OVERSEEING SADDAM HUSSEIN TRIAL: The court will abide by every response. And there will answer—you will answer guilty or not guilty. Mr. Saddam, guilty or innocent?
SADDAM HUSSEIN, FORMER DICTATOR OF IRAQ: I said what I said before.
And I am not guilty. I am innocent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: That was a very defiant Saddam Hussein in court today in the trial for his life. If he‘s convicted, the brutal dictator could face the death penalty for charges of murder and torture in the 1982 massacre of the Shiites.
But we‘ll have to wait and see what happens there. The trial was postponed to November 28th.
Joining me now are two GIs who got to know the former Iraqi dictator pretty well when they were assigned to guard one of the world‘s most famous detainees for 10 months, Corporal Jonathan “Paco” Reese and also Specialist Sean O‘Shea.
Corporal, let me start with you. You know, as you see him in court today, here is this guy ruling the word, ruthless dictator. There he is in a cage. I‘m not going to ask you details of the trial. But what are your thoughts when you see him sitting there, you know, cowering, fighting with the judge?
SPC. SEAN O‘SHEA, GUARDED SADDAM HUSSEIN: It really doesn‘t surprise me at all. I figured that would be the way he‘d act in that situation.
CPL. JONATHAN “PACO” REESE, GUARDED SADDAM HUSSEIN: Yes. It‘s pretty much the same since he was, you know, when we were watching him.
COSBY: Are you both going to be watching the trial at all and seeing what happens?
O‘SHEA: Absolutely. I think so.
REESE: Yes. I mean, I‘m not going to sit down with a bowl of popcorn and watch it or nothing like that, but I‘ll watch it, you know, when I run past it on TV.
COSBY: What do you think his punishment should be?
O‘SHEA: I think the judge is going to do a pretty good job of deciding that. I think they pretty much have their minds set up already. But I think they‘re going to do a pretty good job of giving him what he deserves.
COSBY: Specialist O‘Shea, what was your reaction when you found out your job was going to be to watch Saddam Hussein?
O‘SHEA: Well, at first, it was kind of hard to believe. But then when we first, like, got introduced to him, we met him, we started interacting with him every day, the initial reaction was surprise and like, you know, “I can‘t believe I‘m doing this.” But after a while, I just got used to it. And it just became your job.
COSBY: Did he ever get mad or frustrated with you? What was his behavior like?
REESE: His behavior, well, we‘re in different squads. With my squad, his behavior was probably same with his. He was always relaxed, very polite to us and stuff like that, never really disrespected us at all.
I mean, he would have like some food or extra, like, food that we‘d give him and he would offer to us. And we‘re, like, “No, no thanks.” So very surprising, coming from a man that we‘ve seen, you know, do other stuff.
COSBY: You bet. Now, Specialist, let me walk—this, I think, is wild. Tell me what he liked in terms of food, what he didn‘t like?
O‘SHEA: His favorite food was Doritos. We had to give him a midday snack, so we started giving him Doritos. And he couldn‘t get enough of them. He loved them.
O‘SHEA: And he hated Froot Loops.
COSBY: Yes, he hated Froot Loops. How did you find that out?
O‘SHEA: Well, we had to give him cereal. And all‘s we had left was Froot Loops. And he gave them back to us. He didn‘t want them.
REESE: Yes, Raisin Bran Crunch, I think, was his favorite, wasn‘t it, Raisin Bran Crunch?
O‘SHEA: Yes, Raisin Bran Crunch was his favorite.
COSBY: And here‘s Saddam Hussein eating, you know, Raisin Bran Crunch, amazing, you know, American food. I heard he also talked with both of you about women. What did he say?
O‘SHEA: Yes, he gave us some advice on women. He told us to find one that‘s not too smart, not too bright, but in the middle, one that could cook and clean, and all that stuff.
COSBY: Now, he also called you...
O‘SHEA: I don‘t know how I‘ll use it.
COSBY: Yes, I was going to say, not going to use that advice. He called you both his sons. Do you think he was trying to manipulate you?
REESE: Definitely. I‘d say so. I mean, like I tell everybody, you‘re not going to be mean to somebody who is watching you while you‘re in jail. So you might as well be nice to them.
And, yes, in a way, you know, he really didn‘t have anybody else. And since we‘re the closest people that he socialized with everyday, day in, day out, I‘d say that‘s why, yes.
O‘SHEA: I agree with him. I think it was—I don‘t think—I think he knew what he was doing.
COSBY: Absolutely. Well, both of you, really fascinating. Thank you so much. Two GIs standing guard over Saddam Hussein. Amazing story. Thanks, guys, very much.
O‘SHEA: You‘re welcome.
COSBY: Thank you.
And still ahead, hometown hurt for “American Idol” winner Fantasia. She stunned the world when she admitted she could not read. Now, find out why some in her hometown think she‘s a big disgrace. Stay tuned.
COSBY: Well, “American Idol” winner Fantasia, there with the beautiful voice, is no longer a superstar in her hometown of High Point, North Carolina. Some residents are even demanding that signs with her name on it should be—get this—taken down.
Joining me now live is one of those outraged residents from High Point, North Carolina, Kyle Sandler.
Now, why are you so mad at Fantasia?
KYLE SANDLER, OUTRAGED AT FANTASIA: Thank you for having me, Rita. The thing that disappoints me about Fantasia is, in her book, she makes a lot of broad generalizations, saying things like High Point is depressing. You have nothing if you‘re not in the furniture business in High Point, North Carolina. And that‘s just not case.
COSBY: Well, in fact, let me show a quote to this that she books in the book about the furniture. She said, “High Point is a depressing place for anyone who‘s not a furniture store owner. High Point is all about furniture and nothing else.”
You know, in fairness to her, it is the furniture, sort of, capital of the world. Even Martha Stewart‘s there today.
SANDLER: Absolutely. And you‘re right. And the thing is, you know, her book, it was timed two weeks before this big furniture market. But I was expecting her to step up to the plate and be more proactive towards High Point.
And I‘m not discounting, you know, the trials that she had as growing up in her own family. But she, like I said, in that one that you just read is one that I‘ve read a lot. And she talks about being depressed—you‘re depressed if you‘re not in furniture...
COSBY: Now, she also talks about that the school system let her down, saying, “Look, basically they let me graduate without being able to read.” You know, if that‘s the case, is she maybe sending a powerful lesson, “Fix up the school system”?
SANDLER: Absolutely. And, Rita...
COSBY: Isn‘t that a good message?
SANDLER: It is a good message to fix up the school system. And I did want you to know that, since the story broke on the wires, I‘ve never expected it to get this big.
And I‘ve talked to a lot of local people, media and outside the media, and I‘, going to use this experience with Fantasia to get involved and make it so that it doesn‘t seem so depressing.
It is a little bit more quiet in the non-furniture market season, but by no means is it depressing, by no means do you have to be in the furniture business to make money and to live a decent life.
And consequently, we‘re in Raleigh, the state capital, for this interview, but it took about an hour-and-a-half to get here. And in the car, I spoke with Fantasia‘s father, who said that he thought they had a—his kids had a good upbringing.
COSBY: All right. You know what? I really appreciate it, Kyle. And, in fact, incidentally, everybody, Fantasia herself declined an invitation to come on the show tonight to respond.
But her manager did give us this statement on her behalf saying, quote, “I love High Point, where I grew up, and all of North Carolina. I could never have won ‘American Idol‘ without High Point and all the people who live there. I had some really bad experiences growing up and these are my personal experiences. Not all memories are good. I wrote this book to inspire young women to stay in school, to have respect for themselves, to follow their dream, and not to give up on themselves.”
And, Kyle, thank you very much. We appreciate it. I know you‘re taking the signs down. I‘, glad you talked to her dad, though. Thank you very, very much.
And, everybody, that does it for me on LIVE & DIRECT tonight. But don‘t you dare go anywhere. I‘m heading over to “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.” That‘s not too far from here. I‘m filling in for Joe tonight. We‘ve got a lot of new developments.
We‘re also going to be talking to Dave Holloway. He is now back in Aruba. Could some arrests be coming in soon? Why is he back there? What is happening on the ground? Could some big breaks be coming?
Be sure to stay tuned. “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” starting in just a few minutes, everybody.
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