Guest: Morgan McPherson, Melissa Caldwell, Richard Walter, Jaxon Van
Derbeken, Julia Prodis Sulek, Michael Cardoza, Casey Jordan, Joe Tacopina
RITA COSBY, GUEST HOST: Right now on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Wilma. This massive hurricane is churning its way toward Florida. Where will she hit? How strong will she be? We are live with the very latest.
And a stunning arrest in the case of the murdered lawyer's wife—what we are learning about a possible motive and new details about what the cold-blooded killer may have done at the scene of the crime.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
COSBY: And hello, everybody. Thanks for being here tonight. I'm Rita Cosby, in for Joe. He's going to be back here tomorrow night.
We are going to have those stories in just a minute.
Plus, half-naked women, steamy affairs and out-of-control language. Tonight, should some of television's hottest shows be must-skip TV for your family? That's tonight's SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown.
But, first, we are tracking Hurricane Wilma tonight. The Category 4 storm began to batter Cancun and other parts of Mexico today. And it is now churning towards the Gulf of Mexico, with the Florida coast right in her sights. Some forecasters say Wilma may even be upgraded to a Category 5 later tonight.
Let's get the very latest right now from Bill Karins with NBC Weather Plus.
Bill, what are you hearing?
BILL KARINS, NBC METEOROLOGIST: Oh, this is just a monster storm.
I mean, this is going to be the equivalent of what we dealt with Rita and Katrina in Mexico. And then we are going to have to deal with it ourselves here in Florida over the weekend. Hurricane Center calling for a Category 5 landfall. That is so rare, to actually get a landfall at a Category 5. We are talking Andrew-type damage here across the coastline from Cozumel all the way up to Cancun.
And this storm is slower than Andrew, slower than Katrina, slower than Rita. This storm is going to be painfully inching its way along the Mexican coastline. Until 1:00 p.m. Saturday, it won't clear this area. And we won't be able to get pictures out of this region for probably 36 to 48 hours, even to show you how bad it is, because the storm is going to be sitting right over the top of this region. Power is going out probably as I am speaking because the hurricane-force winds are moving on to the coastline.
We have other concerns. We have concerns first with the Yucatan, secondly with Florida. Are we going to deal with another major hurricane? Right now, it looks like probably a Category 2 storm, similar to all the damage that Frances and Jeanne caused last year. And we know how bad that was for areas right around Vero Beach and Indian River County.
And then we still have the outside chance that New England could be dealing with a storm, maybe a tropical storm, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina, so, this storm is going to take the next five days to move away from the U.S. That's how long we are going to be dealing with it. And look how impressive this looks this evening. The eye has cleared out. And that's why we do think this has a chance of becoming a Category 5 storm.
Of course, the new information is going to be coming out shortly from the Hurricane Center. They're probably typing it up right now. As soon as we get all that information, we are going to bring you the latest. We will let you know if this is going to be a Category 5 or not. The important number, above 155 miles per hour, Rita, that would be a Category 5. Currently, this is about as strong as you get for a Category 4.
COSBY: And, Bill, it seems that there are so many different paths. It's been interesting. Max Mayfield at the Hurricane Center usually has it pinned down. He has got a whole bunch of different paths for this one.
This storm pretty much has been—we have had a consensus, and then the computer models have been all over the place. But, lately, this afternoon, especially most of this evening, all of our computers now think that we are pretty much going to take the storm through the Yucatan, this large eye you see here. And then we are going to slowly bring it up, maybe brush the western tip of Cuba.
But almost all of our computers now are bringing it over Florida. So, it looks like Florida will be dealing with a hurricane at some point, probably on Monday. That timeline, as you know, it just keeps on changing. Right now, we are thinking 1:00 p.m. Sunday here, and then it's going to really move fast. This is going to be a fast-moving storm. Florida is only going to have hurricane conditions for probably six hours.
Compare that to the 36 to 48 hours that the Yucatan is going to be dealing with it, so important differences. and we will get you the latest as soon as we get that new stuff in.
COSBY: Yes, please do. Come back to us as soon as you can. Thanks, Bill.
And, of course, everybody, we are going to be tracking Wilma throughout the hour with live updates from across the region. We will go back to Bill if we get some more details, too.
Now, just five days after Pamela Vitale, the wife of prominent attorney Daniel Horowitz, was brutally murdered, police today surprised everybody, arresting a 16-year-old boy who is a neighbor of Daniel Horowitz. And he is not the caretaker that some suspected was the killer.
Who is this kid, and what could have been his motive?
More now on today's big developments. Let's go live to Jodi Hernandez in Lafayette, California.
Jodi, tell us about what led to this big arrest.
JODI HERNANDEZ, KNTV REPORTER: Well, we learned about the arrest this morning, but investigators say they arrested the teenager at about 10:00 last night.
They say they searched two locations, one here in Lafayette and one in a neighboring city, Walnut Creek. Whatever they turned up in those searches led them to the 16-year-old boy. Now, investigators aren't identifying the boy. And we have not identified him either, but sources say he lives close to the house that Pamela Vitale shared with her husband, Daniel Horowitz.
Sources also tell us that Daniel Horowitz knew the boy and his parents. Again, right now, we do not know a motive. Investigators say they are still trying to figure out what led to the crime.
COSBY: Jodi, tell us. This was a particularly brutal crime, from what we have heard. We know that Daniel was saying that his wife fought like hell, but we are hearing today how she was hit and also some of the marks on the back of her neck.
HERNANDEZ: That's right.
You know, we haven't been able to really confirm any of those details, but what I can tell you a little bit about the 16-year-old that is being accused of the crime. We did talk to a number of his friends today, and they said that he is a junior here at Acalanes High School here in Lafayette, and that he was a real normal kid until a couple of years ago.
Apparently, he used to play baseball in the seventh and eighth grade and was a nice kid. And then he made a major transformation a couple of years ago when a close family member died in a car accident. And that's when the boy turned to the Goth culture. He started dyeing his hair black, painting his fingernails black, wearing the black clothing, listening to Marilyn Manson. He became very withdrawn.
But, still, those who know him are very shocked that he is accused of something like this.
COSBY: You bet. It really is stunning.
Jodi, thank you very much. Keep us posted as you get any more developments.
And joining me now to talk about the new details surrounding this horrific crime are Joe Tacopina. He's a defense attorney. Dr. Casey Jordan, a criminologist, and also Michael Cardoza, a criminal defense attorney and MSNBC analyst. And Michael is also a personal friend, like I am, of Daniel Horowitz.
You know, Joe, let me go to you first of all.
You know, one of the things that we were hearing, that it was a brutal crime, that she was apparently hit over the head 39 times with a piece of crown molding. We are told there was a Gothic mark in the back of her neck. What does this say to you about the killer?
JOE TACOPINA, TRIAL ATTORNEY: That a defense attorney is probably going to wind up with a—a defense attorney like Daniel Horowitz is probably going to wind up with a defense of some sort of a mental defect in his hands.
Look, this is a 16-year-old. And there's obviously something—aside from very wrong with this individual, there's something very disturbed about him. To go through—if, in fact, he is the killer, to go through the lengths and the steps he went after the killing, you know, being very cool and calculated, and carving that Gothic—if this is true, that—the Gothic initial in the back, that is a 16-year-old boy who is really just not even close to an adult age yet, may even be tried as an adult, but it's someone who clearly has a mental defect, Rita.
And I think a defense attorney is going to have him evaluated when he is charged and see if there's something that's not infirm upstairs, to create a legal defense.
COSBY: How do you defend this guy? It's a tough one.
MICHAEL CARDOZA, NBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes.
COSBY: We are hearing that Pamela Vitale fought like hell, and that one of the clues that the cops had on this boy, bruises on his body, scratches on his body. Could, unfortunately, his body be sort of the biggest piece of evidence against him?
CARDOZA: Oh, no question about it.
I mean, I have heard the same thing. When they find him, bumps, bruises, scratches. It will be interesting to see if he has any of Pamela's DNA under his fingernails, certainly whether she had any of his DNA under her fingernails.
But one of the motives that I hear that's out there is, these guys—and he has some friends that were into credit card scams. And what they would be doing would be to steal credit cards, order things online or through credit card companies using other people's credit cards, and they were sending it to the Horowitz's house, because, remember, this house is under construction.
They would intercept those down at the bottom of the driveway. On this particular day, apparently, a package that they were looking for—and some are telling me that they were trying to get into growing marijuana, so I assume it's hydroponic type equipment they are looking for.
This package wasn't there, so this kid wanders up to the house, and apparently that's where he and Pamela had a confrontation. And it goes off from there. And that Gothic sign that they are talking about, apparently, he carved a cross on her back. You know, it's very bizarre.
Certainly, a crime like this means the person is demented, but I am not sure that's going to fly as a defense in this case. I have heard that he will be tried as an adult, which opens him up to 25 years, for life. I don't think this will be a special-circ case. But they say they are going to try him as an adult.
COSBY: Yes. That's what I was hearing, too.
Casey Jordan, let me bring you in, because why do you think this kid -
· I was hearing the same thing as Michael, that there was this credit card scheme. In fact, some neighbors that we talked to said that a lot of people were getting ripped off in the neighborhood. He goes over there, say, to pick up the marijuana-making materials. How do you do—go from that to killing someone, Casey?
CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: That's why this case is extremely fascinating.
And on our top 10 list of who would be a suspect, this was not a scenario that the typical criminologist probably would have come up with.
COSBY: No. And I will tell you one better, Casey.
In fact, Dan Horowitz himself told my producer out in California, go talk to this family. They are wonderful people in the neighborhood, just sort of nice people that might have some clues. He had no idea this family was tied.
JORDAN: Well, and the truth is that as much as people fear predatory crime, usually, the sort of person who would do credit card scams and perhaps grow marijuana or even use marijuana is not your typical disorganized killer.
So, you do have a disconnect between what we know about this young man, the suspect, and the fact that he is accused of a horrific murder, apparently with a piece of crown molding, was the weapon used, which would indicate that it was not planned. It was a weapon of convenience probably found on the construction site.
And to go from being perhaps upset that you can't find a package that you have scammed into having sent to a fake address to actually murdering somebody indicates that there was probably some element, a confrontation, what we would call victim precipitation, not that Pamela, of course, ever deserved anything.
But, surely, based on what we know from Dan Horowitz, she was the sort of person who would be confrontational, who would fight. And we very often see things that would not ordinarily escalate into homicide actually become a homicidal event simply because you have circumstances that just snowball out of control.
COSBY: Just incredible.
Panel, if you could, everybody, please, stand by.
Next, we are going to have more details about the teen suspect in the case. We are going to talk to a reporter who spent the day gathering facts about this amazing twist in this murder case.
We are also going to be tracking Hurricane Wilma later, a Category 4 right now and barreling toward Cancun. We will get an update from a reporter there, as the first winds start to make landfall. Remember, it could also go up to a Category 5. We are watching that closely.
Then, a mother strips her children and throws them in San Francisco Bay, and tourists just watch in horror. We are going to get an update on this terrible case.
COSBY: The teenager accused of killing the lawyer's wife. We will take you back inside the crime scene and get new details about the suspect when we come back.
COSBY: Welcome back, everybody. I'm Rita Cosby, in for Joe tonight.
We continue now with the dramatic developments today in the arrest for the murder of the wife of a high-profile attorney, Dan Horowitz.
Let's go immediately live to San Jose and bring in Julia Prodis Sulek from “The San Jose Mercury News” newspaper.
Julia, you know about the suspect. What have you heard?
JULIA PRODIS SULEK, “THE SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS”: Well, you know, it's interesting.
The boy lived about a mile down the road from the Horowitz estate, and it was an interesting family arrangement. He lived with his mother and a couple of other families. What we are wondering now is whether anyone in the house had any suspicions about what had happened several days ago, about the killing.
One of the members of the household told my colleague Brandon Bailey at “The Mercury” that the mood really shifted at the house on Sunday and has for the rest of the week, that there were closed doors and hushed tones and a really strange feeling in the house for the past week.
Another interesting development today is that we found out that, when the mother took her son to stay with a friend for a few hours until his father picked him up, that the mother told the family friend that the boy was on restriction, and he could not use the TV or the computer, and he was not to be left alone. So, it certainly raises questions about whether they had any suspicions about the killing or perhaps they already knew about the credit card fraud and were simply concerned about that.
COSBY: Any idea of like a violent history in this boy's background, Julia? Have you heard anything? Is there any track record here?
SULEK: I haven't heard of any violence from him. I have heard from his friends at Acalanes High School that he was somewhat a loner, he did have friends, that he read this book, “Satanic Bible,” that they would have seances and light candles. But I think there are many parts to the Goth movement. But, certainly, not all, or any, lead to violence.
COSBY: Let's talk about this family, because I sent a producer over, actually talked to the family today. And the buzz in the neighborhood, this whole credit card theft scheme, was that they thought the mother was somehow involved somehow in the credit card theme.
There seemed to be a little bit of a sense. What can you tell us about the relationship to the Horowitzes? It sounds like they had a great relationship.
SULEK: Well, you mean the relationship between the Horowitzes or with the...
COSBY: Well, with the Horowitzes with this family.
SULEK: Well, with this family, I did hear that Daniel Horowitz apparently did some free legal work for some of the members of the household, not necessarily the boy or his mother.
And what I have heard about the credit card issue is that the boy or his mother, that one of the neighbors—that all the neighbors had gathered together. They all knew something was going on. They were all receiving these deliveries, these unusual deliveries to their homes, and their credit cards were showing these expenses. And they obviously suspected this boy, because, in the day either before or after—we are not quite sure—of the killing, one of the neighbors went down to the house and had a confrontation there about this issue.
And, unfortunately, I don't know how that was resolved at the time, but certainly the family was on alert that the neighbors were suspecting this boy of something unsavory.
Julia, stick with us, because I want to bring back in our panel.
We have got attorney Joe Tacopina, criminologist Casey Jordan and former defense attorney Michael Cardoza.
Joe, as you heard this, what Julia was reporting, I think really fascinating, that the mother told someone that the boy was—quote—“on restriction.” Another thing also that we learned is that the mother didn't show up to work on Monday, and everybody thought maybe she had quit her job. It sounds like maybe somebody in the household knew something was fishy.
TACOPINA: Yes. Unfortunately, he was on restriction a few days too late, it looks like.
You always get frustrated when you hear about a 16-year-old that is able to do the things this kid allegedly was able to do, because you really have to look to the parents and say, what goes on? This kid lives in that household. And it would be very tough—I can't imagine having one of my kids doing what I hear may have occurred here and not having some clue that there's something going on.
COSBY: You bet.
COSBY: Go ahead, real quick, Joe.
TACOPINA: But—and if she knew about this, this murder because of his bruises or injuries, and maybe suspected something and did something to cover it up, she could be in jeopardy as well.
In fact, Michael, she could be in big-time trouble, right?
CARDOZA: Right. You're an aider and abetter.
CARDOZA: you're an accessory after the fact here.
And I have got to agree with Joe. What are the parents thinking here?
What, they found out something happened? They put him on restriction. Here's the kid that is in the Gothic lifestyle, painting his fingernails black wearing all black, and the parents don't get involved in his life and say, hey, what's going on here?
I find that very—not hard to believe, but I look to the parents and go, come on, there's some culpability there.
CARDOZA: Because, as we raise children, we are responsible for them.
COSBY: Let me bring in Julia, because I have one quick question for Julia before I go to Casey.
Julia, in the case particularly of this credit card scam, we are hearing that there was at least one other boy involved. Is the sense that maybe this other kid may have known something, too?
JORDAN: Well, what we have been told so far is that there was another boy involved in the marijuana growing operation, or at least their idea to do so, but he has not been implicated in the killing at all.
And, you know, it's also important to note that the boy—his mother
· we just don't know too much about them. The mother had owned a restaurant, a cafe, like a vegetarian cafe, with a woman that she lived with at that house years earlier, and she also had been into sort of a New Age kind of healing and looking at your inner self and self-actualization.
It seemed like she really was into things to improve the body and the soul. Unfortunately, it looks like her son wasn't able to catch onto those positive feelings.
COSBY: Yes. Absolutely. In fact, it went the other way.
Casey, based on what you are hearing from this kid, Goth—go to the
fact of—again, he is accused now. It's just alleged, but he's accused -
· 39 blows to the head, a Gothic—this cross, we are hearing from Michael, on the back. Lots of people, it sounds like, in his life, small house, from what I have heard. Do you believe there's probably someone else involved?
JORDAN: I—no, I wouldn't agree that anyone else is involved.
COSBY: Do you think someone else knew about it after the fact?
JORDAN: Oh, he may have shared this with his friend.
But I have got to tell you, when it comes to young kids, there's a lot of kind folie a deux, a chemistry in the whole trust and denial of having a partner that you can share things with. They don't turn on each other so easily. There's—you can't make so much of the whole Gothic thing, in my mind. I really think that both Joe and Michael are correct.
COSBY: Yes, but, Casey, he did the symbol, the Gothic symbol on the back of the—on the back. Come on.
JORDAN: It's a symptom, not a cause, of his mental disturbance, got it? It's not the cause of the murder. It's a symptom of how mentally disturbed he is.
COSBY: Right. But it's a sick symptom. It's a sick symptom.
JORDAN: Oh, absolutely.
And, Rita, what I find interesting is, I don't really think that he planned to kill. I think, after the fact, he put that symbol in her as an afterthought. But I don't—I certainly don't believe that it was a motive to actually spread his Gothic movement beliefs or anything. It's simply that he is an extremely disturbed young man.
JORDAN: It's a symptom, not a cause, of what the homicide was about.
COSBY: You know, Joe, what is so crazy is, here, this guy does this horribly brutal crime, and then we hear that he cleaned up the scene, took a shower. What do you make of what's going on? And this is a 16-year-old kid.
And, Rita, I was just going to say, you know, this is something that what—if this case becomes a trial, jurors are going to understand that this is a disturbed 16-year-old boy. He may get convicted, even though the jurors think that he is disturbed. But let me tell you something. Any sympathy that you may get on a visceral level for this kid because he is 16, because he is troubled, I think gets washed away when you listen to what happens after the fact.
I mean, the level of remorse is none. After he clearly kills her, he is carving things in her corpse and then going to shower and clean up? That shows more than just disturbed. That shows really a brutal, vicious individual.
COSBY: You bet.
And, Julia, how did they tip them off?
COSBY: Let me go real quick to Julia. And then I will go to you, Mike.
CARDOZA: All right.
COSBY: But, Julia, what was the tip-off? How did they zero in on this kid?
JORDAN: Well, we have been told that someone called the police on Wednesday and directed them to him. So...
COSBY: Do we know who that caller was?
COSBY: We don't.
Hey, what do you think, Michael? Now that we are hearing someone called, mother doesn't show up from work, is it possible maybe the family was trying to do the right thing?
CARDOZA: Well, you know, I listened to the comment about kids don't tell on each other.
I got to tell you, where is our society going? I can see if a kid steals a pack of gum or cigarettes or strikes another kid in a fight. There's—be quiet about it. But a murder, someone dies, and there's a code of silence? No.
We have gone somewhere very strange, where kids won't tell on that. But apparently somebody at least had the courage to get on the phone and phone one of the hot lines.
And, Joe, can't you just hear the argument of the district attorney, as they are arguing this case, about first-degree murder and intent? Yes, maybe with the first blow, you don't mean to kill her. Maybe it's in the heat of passion then. But how about by the time you get to the 20th, the 25th, the 30th blow?
CARDOZA: I'll tell you, I can just hear the DA's argument. What do you think he is thinking about? He wants to kill her by the time he is hitting her the 35th time.
TACOPINA: And, again—right. And what happens afterwards I think just makes him as callous as one could appear before any tribunal.
COSBY: You're right, guys.
CARDOZA: Spot on.
COSBY: That's going to have to be last word, everybody.
I agree with everybody. He is in big trouble here.
And when we come back, heartbreak in San Francisco. A mentally ill mom throws her children in the bay. Could anyone have done anything to save these three kids? Two of them are still missing tonight.
Then, the Parents Television Council, they made their list and they checked it twice. We are going to tell you which-prime time shows are bad for kids and which are nice.
COSBY: Tracking Hurricane Wilma as she makes a slow and steady course toward Cancun, Mexico. One of our reporters is there. And we are going to talk with him a little later.
But, first, headlines from the MSNBC News Desk.
COSBY: And tonight, a new list of the best and worst of prime-time television. Could your favorite show be hurting your kids? We are going to debate it in our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown.
Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, everybody. I'm Rita Cosby. I am in for Joe. We are going to have that list in just a few minutes. You got to stay tuned for that.
But, first, we are tracking Hurricane Wilma. A Category 4 storm is barreling towards Mexicans' Yucatan Peninsula tonight and on her way to the Florida coast. Key West could take the brunt of the storm this weekend.
NBC's Donna Gregory is there tonight. And she's live with us right now with the latest.
Donna, what are folks doing in Key West right now? They have got to be nervous.
DONNA GREGORY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: They are, Rita.
And I think, more than any other storm this season, people are really heeding the warnings to get out of town. You might be able to see behind me, a lot of the businesses in the downtown area are boarded up, and people are saying, you know, we stuck around for Hurricane Rita a month ago, and it did skirt by us. They are not having that same attitude this time.
I think what a lot of the officials are concerned with, though, is the slow pace of Hurricane Wilma. They are a little worried that people are going to wait until it's literally too late, and then there's going to be a jampacked highway. What they don't want to see is the scenes that we saw out of Houston during Hurricane Rita last month, when people waited and everyone clogged the main arteries.
Keep in mind, this is an island, and there's only one highway leading out of town. It's Highway 1. It leads all the way from Key West and the southernmost Keys through all of the other Keys and then up into Miami. And it's about a four-hour drive when people are trying to evacuate.
So, FEMA is telling people that they need to bring with them a three-day supply of food, ice, and water, and, of course, medicine. So, they are also saying another lesson learned from Hurricane Katrina is to bring your important documents. They are telling people to bring their insurance papers, lists of important phone numbers, of course their birth certificates and utility information in case there is a disaster in this area.
FEMA has brought 30 truckloads of ice and water to this area, and they also have rescue crews on standby. The hospitals are evacuating patients here. There is a mandatory evacuation in effect for tourists and people who live in mobile homes, and then there will be a phased-in evacuation, starting on Saturday for residents who live in the Keys.
So, that's the very latest situation here tonight—Rita, back to you.
COSBY: And, Donna, real quick, when do they think it is going to hit the Keys, if it does hit there?
GREGORY: They are guessing some time on Sunday, possibly overnight Sunday into Monday, so they are hoping that everyone who wants to leave will leave.
And, to that effect, they also have a free shuttle bus service. It's taking people from Key West and throughout the rest of the Keys up to a shelter that's been established at Florida International University in Miami. They do not want to see rescues like we saw during Hurricane Katrina.
COSBY: All right, Donna, thank you very much. Understandably why.
Well, now to a disturbing story, this one out of San Francisco. Witnesses say that they saw a 23-year-old woman walk out onto Pier 7 there with her three young boys, ages 6, 2, and 16 months. She then stripped their clothes from them, dropped them into the icy San Francisco Bay, which was 10 feet below.
Rescue teams found only one of the boys last night. He, of course, was dead. And today, the Coast Guard has been searching for the two other boys. The mother, 23-year-old Lashaun Harris, has been arrested. Needless to say, she has been charged with three counts of murder.
Noelle Walker, who is a reporter from KNTV, joins us now with the very latest.
Noelle, what is the latest tonight? Any word on those two boys?
NOELLE WALKER, KNTV REPORTER: No, no word on those two boys, no sight of those two boys, unfortunately.
They suspended the search just as the sun was setting here on the West Coast. They had the fire department in the water, also the Coast Guard, but all of that has been called off for the evening. They will resume the search again tomorrow morning at 8:00 with the Coast Guard vessels, with the jet skis, and with the divers in the water.
But, realistically, they are in a recovery mode here, because, realistically, the longest anyone could survive in this water, and it's between 55 and 59 degrees, is about four hours, and that is presuming that that person could swim or float. And, keep in mind, the oldest of these children was just 6 years old.
Now, as you mentioned, the mother, Lashaun Harris, was charged with seven felony counts, three of those murder charges for the murders of her sons. They are Taronta, Trayshaun and Joshua. They also include three counts of felony child assault and one special-circumstance allegation for multiple murders.
Now, in California, that special-circumstance allegation is significant, because it makes her eligible for the death penalty. We do not know yet if the district attorney will pursue the death penalty in this case. Family members said that this mother was mentally ill.
I am going to have my photographer widen out here, so you can see
where all this happened. We are standing very close to Pier 7. This is
where she allegedly stripped her children naked and then dropped them one
by one into the icy waters of the San Francisco Bay.
Her family members say she was mentally ill and not taking her medications. In fact, a half-sister told reporters that her sister had told her she was going to feed her children to the sharks. The question on everybody's mind today is, could this have been prevented?
If there were some signs of this beforehand, if she was, in fact, mentally ill, could it have been stopped? This scene has been filled with a lot of long faces today, a lot of people bringing by flowers to this site, people who didn't know this woman or her children, but terribly affected by what happened here, to include the mayor, Gavin Newsom.
He said he was sickened by what happened, encouraging parents to bring their children to fire houses, which they call safe havens, if they feel overwhelmed in a similar situation.
COSBY: Oh, what a sad story. Noelle, thank you very much.
If you could stick with us, I want to bring in Jaxon Van Derbeken.
He's a reporter with “The San Francisco Chronicle.”
Jaxon, what do we know about the mental history of this woman?
JAXON VAN DERBEKEN, “THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE”: We know that she has been voluntarily or involuntarily committed at least twice to hospitals, one here in the Oakland area, and also one in Florida, where she had been staying briefly over the summer.
COSBY: You know, I got to ask you, Jaxon, what were the other people doing as this woman was stripping her kids, dropping them 10 feet into the water? Did anyone try to save the kids?
VAN DERBEKEN: That's a question everybody is asking.
A lot of people have wondered about that. We do know that some people did see some things, but I think they were just struck with such disbelief that it was happening before they realized what was going on. It was just basically too late.
COSBY: Well, it sounds—obviously, it's just horrible. What is going to happen in terms of the father? Where is the father in this case?
VAN DERBEKEN: Well, the father of the children, he heard about it.
He was over across the bay in Alameda, and he—basically, he was overcome and ended up being taken into protective custody by the police across the bay, he was so upset. So, he—they were not together, and she was staying at a shelter in Oakland. So...
COSBY: Who has custody of the kids? Who has control of the kids?
VAN DERBEKEN: She had custody of the children, and, in fact, she had been living with her mother for a while, and then she stayed with other relatives. And there are some real significant questions as to, you know, what folks tried to do to try to get her—a lot of people said that she needed help, and they definitely encouraged her to seek help.
COSBY: Does it clearly look like they are going for an insanity defense here?
VAN DERBEKEN: You know, she doesn't have a lawyer yet, but one would assume that, given her mental history, that would be the logical defense.
COSBY: Yes, it certainly sounds like that. Jaxon, thank you very much. We really, really appreciate it. It's an interesting case.
Is Noelle still with us, if Noelle is still there?
Noelle, where do you see this case headed next?
WALKER: Yes, I am.
COSBY: What's the next development?
WALKER: Well, she is in court tomorrow. She will make her first court appearance, generally, as these things go. Since she doesn't have an attorney right now, that appearance will be continued. She probably will not enter a plea, because, even if she gets an attorney at the 11th hour, that attorney will not have a chance to look over any of the evidence in this case.
COSBY: All right, Noelle. Thank you.
And, both of you, keep us posted. We appreciate it.
What a horrible story.
And I am now joined by the traveling Tucker Carlson, host of “THE
SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON.”
Where—you're in L.A. tonight. What are you doing there, Tucker?
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION”: I am in Burbank.
Well, you ought to go out to the left coast once in a while and see what the other half of the country is doing.
COSBY: I know. I should.
CARLSON: It's nice out here, Rita, I have to say. I may stay.
Do you want to hear the irony of the week? The investigation into the leak at the White House is itself leaking. As of about 20 minutes ago, we have information we didn't have before about what this prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, may do, who he may indict, and for what, all information, of course, that was leaked by his office. We will talk tonight to a man who I believe has been the recipient of some of those leaks and ask, what is going on? We will also talk to a former rock star, well-known rock star, who is now one of America's leading counterterrorism experts, an amazing transformation. It's going to be a fascinating show.
We will be right back.
COSBY: It sounds really interesting. Take care of the West Coast for me, OK? Thank you very much.
CARLSON: Thanks, Rita.
COSBY: And, everybody, be sure to tune into “THE SITUATION” on the West Coast today. It's at 11:00, in just about half-an-hour from now.
And, of course, everybody, there's still plenty more in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Coming up, the 10 best and worst shows for your family, according to the Parents Television Council. Where does your favorite show stand?
And tracking Wilma, Category 4, but building strength again. We will talk to the mayor of Key West about what his town has done to prepare. It could be a Category 5 by the end of tonight.
COSBY: Well, it may be must-see TV in millions of homes, but the Parents Television Council has listed “Desperate Housewives” as one of the 10 worst for family television viewing. The PTC's latest report is a scathing indictment of Hollywood and also the networks, warning parents against the dangers of prime time.
Joining me to talk about it are Melissa Caldwell from the Parents Television Council, and also Richard Walter. He's a film professor from UCLA. And here's a little irony for you. Richard's sister, Jessica Walter, stars on one of the PTC's worst shows, “Arrested Development.”
Richard, what did you think when you saw that, that it made the list?
RICHARD WALTER, UCLA DEPARTMENT OF FILM AND TELEVISION: Oh, you know, I am so—I wish I could say I was surprised, but I am so weary of these groups that have an authoritarian, a totalitarian agenda. They're always presented as if they are conservative, but they are really totalitarian, authoritarian.
Who needs help knowing that you shouldn't show your kids “Desperate Housewives”? And, as far as “Arrested Development” is concerned, it's the funniest, it's most original show that's been on in—in—in decades. It's like the Marx brothers. The whole family there is going to heck. The mother is an alcoholic. The father is in jail. Everybody is at war with everybody, and yet it's really, really all about family.
It's much more of the way real families really are. It preaches principles that are much more likely to gain traction among families than the romanticized, idealized kind of family shows that groups like the Parents Television Council would like to go back to, “Father Knows Best,” all of those hallucinations from the '50s.
COSBY: Let me interrupt you real quick, Richard, because, you know, you talk about “Desperate Housewives.” We were showing some clips before.
It, of course, has been all the rage since its debut last year. But the big question is, is “Desperate Housewives” the kind of show that you would watch with your kids?
Let's take a little clip, and then I am going to have Melissa respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES”)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I hate myself for what we did. OK? I can't sleep at night. I have got to make a clean break.
EVA LONGORIA, ACTRESS: We weren't driving the car. We didn't chase Juanita into the street.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Well, she wouldn't have been there if we weren't having an affair.
LONGORIA: Oh, for God's sakes. Between you and Carlos—listen to me carefully. You didn't do anything wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: You know, Melissa, this show is very popular with the American public. You guys ranked it as the worst. What does that say about the American public?
MELISSA CALDWELL, PARENTS TELEVISION COUNCIL: Well, we are not saying that nobody has the right to enjoy shows with more mature themes or more mature content.
COSBY: But you are saying this is the worst.
CALDWELL: But we are saying this is one of the worst show for families.
And our concern and the reason why it's on this list is because it is watched each week by millions and millions children. So, really, what we are trying to do is just remind parents that, hey, you might enjoy watching this show, but make sure the kids are out of the room because you turn on the TV set, because this material is really not appropriate for children.
COSBY: Well, let me show you another clip from one of the other shows. This is “CSI,” which came in fifth on the list of bad shows for family viewing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “CSI”)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: The guy threw in another $200 if I would had sex with the girl. She was hot. So, I figured, why not? Did her and left. She was breathing fine.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: So, when you came back in the room and you saw the blood on the wall, did you think to call the police?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I didn't want to lose my job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: So, Richard, what is so bad about that?
WALTER: Well, CSI is on tonight, and the scene that I caught was a police officer berating a woman for having a pot farm in her house, where she has two little children around.
It seemed to be underscoring and supporting the virtues that I uphold and that the Parents Television Council upholds. There, we certainly agree. I think, overall, it is a fine show. Much of it is not appropriate for children. I would not have my own kids watch it if they were little kids.
But it's got to be parents spending time, giving attention and consideration to their children, and not asking the FCC or some government bureau or some self-appointed group with a title like Parents Television Council becoming the parent for them.
COSBY: Melissa, are you being holier than thou?
CALDWELL: No, no. This isn't about telling people, you should disapprove of this or you should not disapprove of that.
COSBY: So, what is it about, then?
CALDWELL: It's about giving—giving parents guidelines, so that they can make informed viewing decisions for their families and also putting a little bit of pressure and a little bit of shame on the networks.
When you consider that between the six broadcast networks, they have over 120 hours of prime time to fill, we couldn't even come up with 10 shows that we could wholeheartedly recommend for family viewing. We had to stop the list at number nine. So, that's, I think, a pretty telling indictment of the entertainment industry and the priority they put on putting shows on the air that are appropriate for family viewing.
COSBY: So, Richard, should they be changing viewing habits? Should the networks? Should viewers?
The history of dramatic expression, most of these shows are dramatic shows. Even the reality shows are dramatic, in that there's conflict, one person against another. And some of those shows, like “American Idol,” are actually embraced by Parents Television Council, and I love that show myself.
But the history, the tradition of dramatic expression has always been ugliness and violence. It's—and sexuality. This was not invented in Hollywood. You know, in the ancient Greek tradition of drama, there was murder and blood lust, in Shakespeare. Hamlet ends with nine corpses on the stage. This was not invented by the networks or by the Hollywood studios.
It's part of the very nature of dramatic expression, which is a safe place to deal with the lethal aspects of the human condition.
COSBY: Let me bring in Melissa.
Melissa, what was the best show on the list, other than SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY or my show, “LIVE & DIRECT”?
COSBY: Other than those two obvious ones.
CALDWELL: The two best shows on network TV right now, in our estimation, are “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “Three Wishes.”
COSBY: Those were the best?
CALDWELL: And they're reality shows.
COSBY: “Extreme Makeover,” how is that better?
CALDWELL: “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”
COSBY: “Home Edition.” OK. I was going to say, wait a minute.
CALDWELL: No, no, no, vast difference between the two.
“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “Three Wishes” are both very positive, very uplifting, inspirational series that showcase the best aspects of human nature, unlike shows like “CSI” and “Desperate Housewives,” which too often highlight the worst parts of human nature.
COSBY: All right, guys, that's going to have to be the last word.
Thank you, everybody.
And, when we come back, Wilma, from Mexico to Florida, the very latest on this killer storm that could bump up to a Category 5. We are going to have the latest live.
COSBY: And Hurricane Wilma is spinning her way towards Cancun, Mexico, at this hour. You can see the satellite pictures there. Cancun is expected to get pounded overnight.
NBC's Peter Alexander is there tonight. And he joins us by phone.
Peter, what are the conditions that you are experiencing right now?
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Rita, right now this storm is just slowing down, and it's extending the misery for so many people here.
At last report, it was going roughly five miles per hour, moving toward us. We are experiencing the outer bands. We have had strong winds and heavy rain, right now, a small letup. Just moments ago, it was really blowing here. We were visiting a hotel, where it was supposed to be a hotel. But now it's turned into a shelter; 700 people are staying here tonight, 700 people, the capacity, just 350.
And there's probably several dozen of them standing on the front steps looking across the street, where, as I speak, a power line has hit a tree, and, frankly, some of the branches are on fire. There are some people. We saw police cars, and I expect that they will be arriving to try to do something about this right now.
But it just gives you a sense of what we can expect here overnight, as the wind gusts may reach more than 155, as much as 165 miles per hour. The worst storm to hit this area was 1988, Hurricane Gilbert. And the locals are well familiar with that. But tourists, many of them from across the United States and really across the world. have no real sense what they are in for.
And, from all reports, it sounds like this is going to be a very scary storm—Rita.
COSBY: Yes, it sure looks that way. I cannot believe some of the pictures already. Thank you very much, Peter, there in Cancun.
Well, Governor Jeb Bush of Florida declared a state of emergency in his state today, and officials there in the Florida Keys are planning mandatory evacuations tomorrow.
Joining me now from Key West, a city that is bracing for Wilma—you just saw what is happening in Cancun—is Mayor Morgan McPherson.
You know, Mayor, I don't know if you saw the pictures. But Cancun, it just sounds like it is getting a beating. It sounds like the storm is going slowly, which is bad news, because it keeps on pummeling that area.
What are you worried about tonight?
MORGAN MCPHERSON, MAYOR OF KEY WEST, FLORIDA: I am just worried about complacency.
I hope that, because the storm is kind of the wandering storm and hovering storm and it's delayed, that people don't get complacent down here, because it's a serious issue, and we need to be really concerned about evacuation.
COSBY: You bet. Now, I understand, the mandatory tomorrow. Are folks already getting out? Are you seeing at least a good part of the population moving?
MCPHERSON: Yes, ma'am.
The mandatory evacuation is actually going to be in effect on Saturday, Saturday at 12:00. The evacuation that was mandatory now was for visitors and those that lived in vessels and mobile homes and structures that weren't sound.
COSBY: Yes. What kind of preps are you doing in terms of shelters, buses to get those folks out who don't have transportation?
MCPHERSON: We have a regular route around our city, where we are picking up at five different spots, where people know they can mobilize and go there. Then we have buses that are taking them up to Florida International University, which is our mainstay for shelters.
COSBY: Well, you know, Hurricane Charley just beat that area not too long ago.
The western coast of Florida, if we can show some pictures, just a huge swathe of destruction we can see here, tore off parts of roofs, damaged homes severely. Are you worried about that kind of situation in your city?
There's always a concern, because you never know what a storm can do. They have great power. And all we can do is pray and ask God to let his grace shine on us and hopefully that we won't—we will last through this.
COSBY: And, Mayor, real quick, when are you hearing it could hit your area? We are hearing, what, Sunday?
MCPHERSON: Sunday to Tuesday. There's two troughs that are out there. And if the first trough catches it, then we will be in on Sunday. If the second trough catches it, then we will get the outskirts of it, and it will be around Tuesday.
COSBY: Mayor McPherson, thank you very much, of Key West. We will be keeping our fingers crossed for you. Thank you very much.
And, everybody, we are going to be right back.
COSBY: And be sure to stay with MSNBC and MSNBC.com for the very latest on Hurricane Wilma. We are tracking this deadly storm around the clock.
We are going to be right back.
COSBY: And that's all the time we have left for tonight. I'm Rita Cosby.
“THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” starts right now.
Tucker, what is the situation from the West Coast?
CARLSON: Oh, there's a lot going on, Rita. Thank you.
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