Guest: Joe Mammana, Warren Beatty, Fraser Seitel, Arlene Ellis Schipper, Wendy Murphy, Jayne Weintraub, John Martin, Mickey Rellin, Jonathan Weinzapfel, Willie Ruckman, Gerald Curry, Robert Kirk, Jerry Springer
RITA COSBY, HOST: Good evening, everybody. Tonight, two big stories to report to you. We‘re the first with some breaking details in the case of missing Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway. Her family is about to make a move that‘s going to cause some big waves around the world. We‘re going to have some exclusive details of a major announcement that‘s coming.
But first, another LIVE AND DIRECT exclusive, a heavyweight political dual that could only come out of Hollywood. Actor Warren Beatty is pulling out all the stops against California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. There‘s a special election tomorrow in the state of California, and Beatty and his actress wife, Annette Bening, are out on an all-out political assault, challenging Governor Schwarzenegger‘s positions on things like unions, government spending, redistricting and teachers. The celebrity couple even took their protest straight to one of the governor‘s campaign rallies this weekend.
Warren Beatty joins me now live on the phone. Warren, why did you think it was important to go to the rally?
WARREN BEATTY, ACTOR: Well, what I felt was that since I‘ve never heard the governor debate any living human being, that it would be worth the trouble to go over there and see if maybe I could lure him into some sort of debate situation. But I didn‘t really think it was going to happen because I know that his events are all tightly controlled and no people who are disputing anything would get into them.
So it happened pretty much the way we felt it would, which was we went over there and then they did shut the doors when we showed up. And so we listened respectfully. We had to wait an hour in the sun, which was—well, we got more than our fair share of vitamin D. But you know, then we got to respond to what the governor had said, but he hadn‘t been really saying anything different from that set speech that he gives.
COSBY: What kind of a job do you think this governor is doing? I mean, his approval rating has slipped so much. I was just seeing “The Washington Post” today, 56 percent was his approval in February, 38 percent last month. What kind of a governor is he?
BEATTY: Well, you know, I‘m a Democrat so I‘m not fond of what he‘s done. This election really shouldn‘t, I think, be happening. It‘s—these things should have been settled in the legislature, and they could have been. I know the legislature wanted to do that. It might have been a very difficult process, but if that couldn‘t have been accomplished, then I don‘t know why $60 million to $80 million of the taxpayers‘ money should be spent on a November election, when you‘ve got another election right around the corner in June, in which there would be, you know, a higher voter turnout.
But that is the reason why we‘ve been delivered this thing by the governor. It is that it‘s deliberately designed to produce a low voter turnout. So what Annette and I were doing was just trying to make a case for getting out the vote and don‘t try to protest these initiatives by staying home. That wouldn‘t accomplish anything.
The initiative is sort of—to me, they‘re like Trojan horses. They kind of decorate it. From the outside, they look like one thing, but when you open them up, they‘re entirely different. The descriptions are—of them are deceptive, and then when you open them up, they‘re just—down the line, they‘re manifestations of this right-wing agenda that is bad for working people and bad for education in the state of California.
And the thing that—we all seem to agree that there should be something done about redistricting, but we don‘t want to do it the way that Tom DeLay has done it, and we—and this system that is offered on this ballot is wildly oversimplified. To get three old retired judges drawn out of a hat and assume that they‘re going to be nonpartisan, that‘s not very cognizant of the history of good people who‘ve become judges, but they‘re Democrats and Republicans.
So why we wouldn‘t go to a substantial panel of 15 or 20 people to hash these things out and then give that back to the legislature, have them hash it out, then go to the governor is beyond me. It‘s—we should do that. We should change the way we do redistricting...
COSBY: Now, Warren, you in your film—you know, in the movie, 1998 movie, “Bulworth”...
COSBY: ... which we all love very much, you know, you talked about, you know, running for politics and that—you said publicly that you don‘t have an interest, but are you having a change a heart now, getting this—getting this involved?
BEATTY: I didn‘t say I don‘t have an interest. I said I don‘t want to. And the only thing you can do in some situation like this is tell the truth. I can tell you at this—right now, I don‘t want to run for governor. But I‘ve never wanted to run for public office. I think if you get out and you tell the truth, you know, you can perform a public service without being an elected public servant.
COSBY: Warren, what would you do, though, if the public—because you do have a lot of folks who very much support you and think very fondly of you—you say you don‘t want to, but what if there‘s enough of a base to push you? Would you—would you rule it out?
BEATTY: Well, I don‘t think anybody should rule out public service.
That would be bad citizenry, you know? That would—that would be bad
citizenship, I should say. That‘s not—that‘s not a good—that‘s not a
that‘s not a thing I would want to do, to rule out completely the idea of public service.
But I think that you have to be a pretty generous guy to want to run for public office now and serve in public office. And you know, I like what I do. I make movies and I produce my own movies, and I can do it when I want to do it. And I have a 13-year-old, an 11-year-old, an 8-year-old and a 5-year-old, and Annette and I have a—quite nice life and—but I couldn‘t predict anything, really. I don‘t—I have to say I don‘t want to do it. That‘s the truth.
COSBY: But if you were pushed into it and how would—how does Annette feel? Could there be a first lady Bening?
BEATTY: Well, I—in my opinion, there could be a Governor Bening because she‘s pretty spectacular both in her energy and her approach, I think, to public issues. She‘s—she‘s quite something.
COSBY: Do you think, Warren, then, I guess, in both cases, we can‘t rule either one of you out, if the calling is made, if folks say, Look, I like his message, even if you don‘t have it necessarily in your desire, but you really feel a sense of commitment, if the call came, right?
BEATTY: Well, I can only tell you how I feel now, which is I don‘t want to do it. But—but then I think you have to make a point to never say never and to not know, you know, what is around the corner or what could happen.
COSBY: Warren Beatty, we thank you so much for being with us. I know you‘re very busy, and it‘s really a great honor to have you with us tonight, Warren.
BEATTY: Thank you for calling.
COSBY: Thank you so much, Warren.
BEATTY: OK. Bye-bye.
COSBY: And now to our other breaking news tonight out of Aruba. The governor of Alabama‘s office told me tonight that he and Alabama resident Beth Holloway Twitty will hold a news conference at the state capitol there to push for a travel boycott of the island of Aruba. We‘re told that Beth Twitty will call for a nationwide boycott, it‘s going to take place tomorrow morning, that‘s going to be against the island, and that the governor will voice his support for such a move. Beth Twitty told our show just last week that she‘s fed up with Aruban authorities and what she calls their lack of response in rounding up the three boys that she believes are involved in her daughter‘s disappearance.
Live on the phone right now tonight from Aruba to talk about a call for a boycott is Arlene Ellis Schipper. She‘s an Aruban attorney and also the spokesperson for the government‘s Strategic Communications Task Force. And also joining us is Joe Mammana, who‘s helped raise a lot of money and a lot of support for Natalee‘s search. He has also called for a boycott.
You know, Joe, you‘ve been spearheading this. What‘s your reaction that tomorrow the governor and Beth are going to say, This is it, we‘re going to call for it?
JOE MAMMANA, PHILANTHROPIST: Well, Beth, I think it‘s long—excuse me, Rita. This is long overdue. I just spoke to Beth a few minutes ago, also councilman Jack Kelly (ph), councilman Juan Ramos (ph) to let you know Philadelphia will also be signing a resolution to boycott Aruba. We will have the public schools behind us. We will have the Catholic schools behind us.
We‘re putting this together right now. It‘s kind of like a dance floor. One couple, once they get out there first, and when one gets out there, everyone else will be out there. But this is going to be devastating, this boycott.
But I want to say one thing. On the island of Aruba, Michael Posner (ph), who has the Excelsior casino at the Holiday Inn—Michael, you and I are cut from the same cloth. We‘ve seen the good, bad and ugly in life. This gentleman could still step in and do something over there and put an end to this thing before it gets out of hand.
But I can tell you now, Rita, that when we start this boycott and put it together, it‘s going to be Def Con 3. I‘m not in this for the fun of it. I eat what I kill. And I am going to find Natalee Holloway one way or another, and someone is going to be held accountable for Natalee Holloway on that island. And that is a promise.
COSBY: Joe, hold on, if you could, because I want to bring in Arlene, too, because Arlene‘s there in Aruba. Arlene, what‘s the impact going to be in Aruba?
ARLENE ELLIS SCHIPPER, ARUBAN STRATEGIC COMM. TASK FORCE: Well, I just want to react to the words of Mr. Mammana. I would strongly urge the governor to reconsider his support (INAUDIBLE) economic sanctions because, you know, economical sanctions imply that Aruba has done something wrong...
MAMMANA: You have!
SCHIPPER: (INAUDIBLE) Let me assure you, Aruba has done nothing wrong. It has applied its laws, and every decision in this case has been done in a court of law.
COSBY: Arlene, how is it going to hit the pocketbooks, though, because...
SCHIPPER: I would like to add, because Mr. Mammana...
COSBY: Yes, go ahead, Arlene.
SCHIPPER: ... says things that are very wrong. You know, if a state of America would call for a boycott, I cannot characterize this differently than an attempt to blackmail a complete country, which by the way, is part of the Dutch kingdom, one of the greatest allies of the U.S. And to blackmail an ally to compromise its system of separation of powers in order to force a certain result, to just appease a few constituents? I would strongly urge the governor of Alabama to reconsider because this would be a sad day, I think, also for American democracy. It is a sad day on how allies are treated.
Aruba has a strong separation of powers. The government of Aruba has done—has no interference into the judicial system. And also, the Bar Association of Aruba looked into this case and declared—it issued a statement that it has absolutely not a shred of evidence that our system was compromised in any way whatsoever. This boycott is based nothing but innuendo.
COSBY: Arlene, if you could, hold on because I want to bring in with us—right now, we have a panel, too, that‘s going to bring into the conversation—defense attorney Jayne Weintraub, also former prosecutor Wendy Murphy. And we also have with us the president of the Emerald Partners communication firm, Fraser Seitel.
Fraser, as we‘re listening to Arlene, who‘s over there in Aruba, what kind of an impact, from a public relations standpoint, now that we‘re getting word that this boycott is going to be called tomorrow, first you heard in Alabama, and then you heard from Joe Mammana also in Philadelphia possibly coming up. Pretty strong stuff.
FRASER SEITEL, PRES., EMERALD PARTNERS: Pretty strong stuff, Rita. I think what the—Beth Holloway has done is she‘s ratcheted up this story. She‘s kept it alive for six months. And it‘s very difficult to do, but she‘s done it, and she‘s done it by making announcements and make charges and accusations.
What they‘ll do with this now is raise the ante. And if I‘m advising the Holloway group, what I‘d say is we want to see specific things from the government, specific witnesses, records of investigation, and so on. And if you don‘t comply, then we‘ll boycott. In other words, you want to have specific requests. You don‘t want to be a bully, but you want to get to the bottom of what happened to this poor woman‘s daughter.
COSBY: Wendy, real quick, I mean, isn‘t it—isn‘t sort of the floodgates out?
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Hah! You know, I don‘t blame this woman at all. She‘s been more than patient. Diplomacy didn‘t work. The law didn‘t work.
COSBY: Is this going to work, Wendy?
MURPHY: You know...
COSBY: Is this going to work?
MURPHY: I think absolutely will work. It‘s probably the only thing
the Aruban government cares about. Look, you know, no matter what, whether
it solves the crime or not, the point is, even if the bad guys who killed -
probably killed Natalee are never caught, this is a way of punishing the cover-up.
MURPHY: Thank you. That‘s exactly what it is!
MURPHY: And that‘s what the American public is angry about.
MURPHY: A cover-up!
MURPHY: That‘s exactly why this punishment is appropriate. We should sanction them!
COSBY: Let me bring in Joe because, Joe, you know the family firsthand. How frustrated are they with the investigation?
MURPHY: Let me tell you something, Rita. This family has been too nice for too long, OK? This is exactly what this is. This is a cover-up, OK? And these three little pieces of trash on this island, as far as I‘m concerned, they‘re like minor terrorists, OK? We might as well go to Iraq and Afghanistan and vacation there because what these people are doing on that island—not these people, that government, your Hague or whatever you want to call it, allies—they‘re not allies. Allies are friends, and friends help each other in a time of a crisis.
This is a crisis. You have an American. You took one of our people on your soil. You know what happened to her and you know who did it , and you‘re letting this go by? Not as long as I‘m alive! I will—Beth, I know you‘re watching. We love you, and we will do whatever we can to bring someone—someone will be held accountable for Natalee Holloway!
COSBY: Hey, Joe—Joe (INAUDIBLE) everybody, if you could, stick with us. We‘re going to talk more with all of you right after the break. I want to continue with this.
And everybody, also coming up, we‘re going to have another story, as well. The Texas death row inmate who escaped is now back behind bars. Did making calls while he was drunk do him in? The details are coming up. We‘re going to talk more about Holloway. We‘ve got a lot more on tap tonight. Take a look.
Still ahead, tornado terror. Many lost their homes, dozens lost their lives. Tonight, is there hope that anyone else is alive beneath the debris?
And it‘s one of the most frightening attacks ever caught on tape. Tonight, you‘ll be surprised to hear what the man who survived this unbelievable violence has to say about the shooter. He‘ll tell me live.
And pirates on the high seas. A gang of rogue criminals attacks a cruise ship filled with vacationing passengers. Who are these modern pirates, and what do they want? The story is coming up LIVE AND DIRECT.
COSBY: And some breaking news tonight. We have learned that tomorrow, the governor of Alabama, along with Beth Holloway Twitty, will announce that they are planning to do a boycott, a travel boycott of the island of Aruba, that this is just the beginning, that Beth Holloway Twitty is going to officially call for it. The governor is also going to voice his support for it.
And we‘re going to continue now with our panel. I want to bring in Jayne Weintraub, if I could. Jayne, is this going to work? Because there‘s been a lot of talk about this, but now it sounds like the proof‘s in the pudding. You also heard from Joe Mammana that Philly may get on board.
JAYNE WEINTRAUB, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don‘t think that it will work, and I don‘t think that it should work, Rita. Frankly, this is not a matter of national foreign policy. This is a personal tragedy. This is not national security. And there are thousands, unfortunately, children and people missing in the United States every single day. Where are the resources for the poor and the minority people that are missing in the United States? There aren‘t the same resources at all.
WEINTRAUB: And quite frankly, this story...
MURPHY: Yes. Yes. You know, Jayne‘s right...
WEINTRAUB: ... has stayed alive for months.
MURPHY: Jayne‘s right that we don‘t spend enough on the poor victims who are missing. But that‘s not an excuse to do the wrong thing here! I mean, what I worry about is...
WEINTRAUB: Wendy, there are innocent...
MURPHY: ... that there are...
MURPHY: ... Aruban citizens who will suffer. And I feel bad about that.
WEINTRAUB: But you‘re asking for American...
MURPHY: But you know what?
MURPHY: They should be mad at their government. The Aruban citizens who will suffer because of these economic sanctions should be angry at their government for screwing up the case...
WEINTRAUB: Wendy! Wendy, this is a foreign country!
MURPHY: ... number one, and then for causing them to lose...
WEINTRAUB: You can‘t be a big, bad...
COSBY: Let me bring in Arlene Ellis Schipper because she‘s down there in Aruba.
COSBY: Arlene, there‘s been a lot of talk about this—Arlene, there‘s been a lot of talk about all this for a while. Was there any plan by Aruba, should this come into place, now that we‘re hearing it‘s going to come into place tomorrow, at least the official call?
SCHIPPER: Well, first of all, I keep hearing—and this is the root of everything. The people that are calling for these kinds of boycotts, they don‘t even educate themselves on how our system works. I keep hearing the word “government, government, government.” We have—and I repeat, we have a complete separation of powers. The government, Aruban government has nothing to say on the judicial power...
COSBY: Arlene, are you worried...
COSBY: Arlene, I think everyone‘s aware of that, but Are you worried about the—just the public perception and the economic impact that could have?
SCHIPPER: I think—of course, we are worried. But the thing is, this is blackmail. This is ridiculous. The only way, apparently, to satisfy the people like Mr. Mammana is to lynch these suspects, regardless of burden of proof or evidence. And this is...
WEINTRAUB: They were already kept in jail for six months...
WEINTRAUB: ... without any evidence to support it. That would never happen in America!
SCHIPPER: ... problem is you people, you don‘t understand. We have what we call a moderate inquisitorial system, if you understand what that means. You have an adversarial system. That means that you have to charge, in the beginning of your system, as we are charging in the end. The difference between our system and your system is that we can hold people in the very beginning for a long time on pretrial detention on merely suspicion...
COSBY: Arlene, I don‘t want to rehash the case. Let me very quickly bring in...
MURPHY: Stop! You know what Arlene‘s not saying, Rita?
MURPHY: Rita, Arlene is completely misstating the whole point, which is that—and this is true in—no matter what country you have, no matter what your legal system is. If you have a rich kid, son of a judge, and because of that, all kinds of influence makes it a bad, a bogus investigation, which screws up the case from the get-go, that‘s the issue that we‘re angry about. We don‘t care if they have an inquisitorial system or an adversarial system! We care that a rich kid got a walk because his father was a judge! And that has nothing to do whether they have the separation of...
COSBY: Let me bring in Fraser Seitel, guys.
COSBY: Let me bring in Fraser Seitel. Fraser...
WEINTRAUB: ... where Natalee is!
COSBY: Is there a chance that this could backfire?
SEITEL: Yes, there is. I mean, what I would do if I‘m Beth Holloway is I would balance the public support on the one side—I wouldn‘t get strident, but what I would do is I would put pressure on the Aruban government, the legitimate questions, did a rich person walk? Did you investigate everybody? Did you call the right witnesses? What are the answers to our questions? And I would go ahead with this threat of boycott if we don‘t get answers. And then I would make Aruba say, OK, give us answers, and if you don‘t, you pay the consequences.
MURPHY: I agree 100 percent.
COSBY: That‘s going to have to be the last word. Guys, all of you, thank you very, very much. We appreciate it. And of course, everybody, we‘re going to be following up on this story tomorrow. Again, the governor of Alabama, along with Beth Holloway Twitty, tomorrow, we have learned, will be calling for a boycott. The governor‘s going to be supporting it. You also heard from Joe that Philly may be getting on board. And we will be following the story very, very closely, as I‘m sure a lot of other people, when the announcement comes down tomorrow. Thank you, everybody.
Meantime, on to another story. A Texas death row inmate is back behind bars tonight just days after simply walking away out of a Texas jail. Charles Victor Thompson was arrested in Shreveport, Louisiana, just over 200 miles from Houston, Texas, where he broke out.
On the phone tonight is U.S. Marshal Mickey Rellin. He helped capture Charles Thompson. How did you finally capture him, Marshal?
I think we just lost the marshal. Do we have Lieutenant Martin, actually? Let‘s go Lieutenant Martin, if we could. We‘re going to get the marshal back on the phone in a little bit. But of course, again, he broke out of the jail there in Houston. Let‘s bring in Lieutenant John Martin. He‘s with the Harris County, Texas, sheriff‘s department. Lieutenant Martin, give us a sense of sort of—I‘m sure you‘ve heard some of the details—how he was finally captured. Heard he was drunk, making phone calls?
LT. JOHN MARTIN, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS, SHERIFF‘S DEPARTMENT: Well, that‘s exactly right. Members of the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force here in Harris County received information that he was in Shreveport, Louisiana. They contacted the marshals office in Shreveport, passed on the information to them. They, in turn, notified their the task force, which I believe is the Western Louisiana Fugitive task force.
And they eventually located him. I believe it was the 200 block of West 70th Street. As you said, he was intoxicated. He was talking on a pay phone, standing in front of a liquor store. And I‘ve also been told he had a bicycle with him. The officers approached him, identified themselves, asked him who he was. His comment was, You know who I am, or words to that effect. They asked him for his name again. And at that point, he said that he was Charles Victor Thompson. And he was—my understanding is he was taken into custody without incident.
COSBY: Yes, here‘s this guy, this dangerous man who‘s killed two people, certainly, you know, to be concerned about. Do we know if he was armed in any shape or form?
MARTIN: Well, that‘s obviously a big concern. He‘s been twice sentenced to death. He‘s got no incentive to cooperate with law enforcement. And you know, the expectation, or at least concern, is that he would strenuously resist being taken into custody. And obviously, it‘s a big concern for the safety of the officers, and also the general public who may be in the area.
COSBY: You know, one of the things, too—and I understand we‘ve got Marshal Mickey Rellin on the phone. Let me bring in the marshal into the conversation with the lieutenant. Marshal Rellin, if you can hear me, Shreveport, Louisiana, where this guy, who now as drunk and finally sort of gave up to authorities -- 200 miles away from Houston. How did he get there?
MICKEY RELLIN, U.S. MARSHAL: I have no idea.
COSBY: Does it look like he got help?
RELLIN: He didn‘t have that much money on him. I just don‘t know how he got there.
COSBY: Yes, it‘s an interesting—and did it seem like he was sort of resolved, in the end? It sounds like—from what I understand, you were involved in the capture—sort of resolved that he‘s caught, right?
RELLIN: Yes. I‘ve arrested a lot of people, and sometimes, you can tell (INAUDIBLE) when they‘ve been gone. There‘s a lot of stress under it and it was a lot of stress because of the news media and everything, you know, looking at the sentence. But it was just like a little sigh of relief. It was like, It‘s over.
COSBY: That‘s interesting. You know, what was he wearing? And he had a bicycle with him, right?
RELLIN: Well, he had—there was a bicycle there. You know, he never got on it at any time while I was surveilling him or—and made, you know, no moves towards it. I don‘t know if it was his or not, but there was a bicycle there. He was wearing a dark cap, baseball cap, and a long-sleeved blue denim shirt. And I‘m not sure of the trousers that he was wearing.
COSBY: Let me bring in Lieutenant Martin because he escaped from your jail. I would imagine lots of changes are going to happen there. He went through, what, four deputies with this fake ID?
MARTIN: Well, the—we—the fake ID that everybody keeps talking about, we‘ve learned that that was actually the card issued to him by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice when he was in their custody. Now, these cards will have his picture on it. They also have the state seal. They say State of Texas on them, but they also say “offender.” Now...
COSBY: But Lieutenant, does that mean that your deputies didn‘t notice that that was an offender card versus an attorney general‘s card?
MARTIN: Well, again, he had put the tape over the word “offender,” and you know, he flashes that very quickly. They see the seal. They see his picture. And he‘s telling them that he‘s with the attorney general‘s office. And apparently, it was convincing enough that they allowed him to walk out of the jail.
COSBY: Lieutenant Martin, anyone going to be fired? I mean, come on!
MARTIN: Well, we‘ve not completed the investigation yet, and administrative action, of course, will come at the end of that investigation.
COSBY: All right, both of you, thank you very much. Lieutenant Martin, please keep us posted. And Marshall, good job there, too, capturing this guy. Thank you very much.
And still ahead, everybody: Tonight, crews are looking under the debris after the most deadliest tornado to hit Indiana in three decades. The latest is coming up live. We‘re going to talk to the mayor of that city.
And modern-day pirates make a run against a cruise ship loaded with vacationing passengers, many of them Americans. We‘re going to tell you how these modern-day pirates are taking to the high seas. They were heavily armed. We‘re going to tell you what happened.
COSBY: Well tonight, officials confirmed that nearly two dozen people are dead in a rare November tornado that tore through the Midwest. This is the deadliest twister Indiana has seen since 1974, carrying wind speeds up to 200 miles an hour.
The Category 3 twister touched down in the early morning yesterday with very little warning. The hardest hit area was Evansville, Indiana. And that‘s where NBC‘s Michelle Hofland is right now with the latest.
Michelle, 2:00 a.m. in the morning, very little warning. I would imagine that that was very difficult for so many residents.
MICHELLE HOFLAND, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, because they were sleeping when the fire alarms went off, when the tornado alarms went off. And so they had very little time. Some of them didn‘t have any warning at all, didn‘t know anything was happening until the storm hit.
Take a look behind me. You see that house? That‘s the only one facing this street that‘s standing for blocks. And there‘s not much left of that one at all.
In fact, out of 350 mobile homes in this park in Evansville, Indiana, only about half of them are standing, most of them destroyed or severely damaged.
But before crews here begin cleaning up the debris, they are still looking for some missing people. Tonight, the sheriff tells us that about 20 people from this area are still unaccounted for. Certainly, some of those people could be out of town or visiting friends.
The tornado killed 18 people at this mobile home park alone. The youngest was a toddler.
Tonight, officers continue to drain a pond on the south side of this mobile home park. This morning, the coroner says that they found the body of a man in that pond.
Now, the sheriff says, as the water levels are dropping, it‘s revealing a mobile home, or part of one, that the tornado may have picked up, flipped upside-down, and tossed into the water. No word yet if anyone was inside that mobile home.
Earlier tonight, Indiana‘s lieutenant governor and then senator Evan Bayh toured this area vowing help. Early yesterday morning, a tornado hop-scotched through at least three neighborhoods in both Kentucky and Indiana.
Tonight, we‘re hearing remarkable survival stories.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASEY LOCKHART, TORNADO SURVIVOR: This here is about where I was sleeping. And right here over this yellow door where the tornado hit. And it took me out underneath all of this debris out here, that you see.
And, in fact, there was two more roofs laying out there. They‘ve already hauled them off. And I was underneath of that.
The upstairs collapsed down on top of that. This back porch here collapsed down on top of it. And the mattress I was sleeping on is now clear across the road. And how I got under that and how I got out, I couldn‘t tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOFLAND: Tonight, countless people are recovering in area hospitals.
Some of them in critical condition tonight.
And to add insult to injury, Rita, meteorologists at WeatherPlus are telling us tonight storms, possibly severe storms, are headed this way tomorrow night.
Back to you.
COSBY: Oh, my gosh. That‘s terrible news. And thank you, Michelle, very much.
Well, we‘ve seen the devastation that the tornado left behind. Right now, let‘s listen to more survivors who saw it firsthand and miraculously escaped.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had some section of steel being around me. And the roof and the upstairs all collapsed on top of me. And I had to dig myself out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The glass started flying. And it was a matter of seconds. There was no time to think, no warnings, no nothing. We just went around hollering. And if we heard somebody, we went over there and helped them the best we could.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We made it to the bathroom and shut the door. And that‘s when the pressure in our ears—and the whole house was shaking. It was like a train.
You know, you hear people say that. And it‘s like a freight train coming over your house. And I said to my son, “It‘s here, it‘s here. There‘s a tornado here.” And coming out of the bathroom and not knowing what you‘re going to see, it was really, really scary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The house was just shaking, just shaking.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Woke up about 2:00. My son called and said, “Get to the basement.” I grabbed the kids. And we hit the basement just in time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: Well, the damage from these storms, as you can see, is truly tremendous. Debris is scattered for many, many miles.
Joining us now is the mayor of Evansville, Jonathan Weinzapfel. And also right next to him is Willie Ruckman. He‘s a resident who survived this storm.
Mayor, I want to start with you, because Michelle Hofland was just saying about a minute ago, 20 people unaccounted for. Have you gotten any update on those folks?
JONATHAN WEINZAPFEL, MAYOR OF EVANSVILLE, INDIANA: No. No, we haven‘t. We‘re still hopeful that these are folks that are probably out of town or just—that aren‘t in the area or haven‘t called in to report. We‘re hopeful that we don‘t find additional bodies, additional victims in the lake.
COSBY: Is there any chance that someone may be alive under the debris? Is there any hope for that, mayor?
WEINZAPFEL: No. We‘re pretty confident that the crews that worked 12 hours, 16 hours yesterday, three different crews that went through here, scoured the area looking for folks, looking for breaths of life, didn‘t find any, and that we‘re pretty confident that there aren‘t any survivors left here at the site.
COSBY: You know, it‘s incredible to see these pictures, Mayor. You know, Willie, what happened to your home structurally?
WILLIE RUCKMAN, SURVIVED TORNADO: I was blessed. Mine actually made it through. I got a lot of outside damage. How safe my house is, my home, I have no idea yet, because we‘re not allowed back in to check. I lost...
COSBY: Did you hear the emergency sirens, Willie, in the middle of the night at 2:00 a.m.?
RUCKMAN: I watched it on TV. They said it was coming. I got in my car and left with my friend. When we stepped outside, I did hear a siren. It was very faint, but I did hear a siren at that time.
COSBY: How does your neighbor‘s home look tonight, Willie?
RUCKMAN: I‘m sorry. I didn‘t hear you.
COSBY: How do your neighbors‘ homes look tonight? How do the—the other folks nearby your house. I understand a couple of the roofs are torn off, there‘s some pretty extensive damage, as we can even see from the pictures.
RUCKMAN: Right. The home right in front of me, it actually looked like the tornado lifted it up, turned it upside-down, and dropped it. The home beside me is completely turned over. The roof is off.
Well, the one on the other side of me has extensive side damage to it where it looks like a projectile, maybe debris, hitting it, going into the siding of the home.
COSBY: Willie, how are your neighbors doing?
RUCKMAN: I haven‘t been able to talk to anybody. The morning that it happened, right before I left out of the area, I was able to meet one neighbor, and she was doing OK. She was holding up pretty well, as is expected, you know, we could do.
COSBY: Yes, Mayor, what is the mood in the community? And also, the extent of the damage, is there any how big of an area, any idea of an estimate?
RUCKMAN: I don‘t know exactly the estimate. I would say there‘s not one home in this place that‘s not touched somehow, whether it‘s minor damage or severe damage.
I worked as a nurse, medically taking care of patients in there. And what all I saw during the time, trying to get people out of the place, was just total destruction. It looked like a bomb that actually went off.
COSBY: It is amazing.
WEINZAPFEL: Yes, there are roughly about, Rita...
COSBY: Yes, Mayor, please.
WEINZAPFEL: Yes, no, there are roughly about 350 lots in this trailer home park and roughly about half of those, the trailers on those lots, were basically destroyed.
So, I mean, there was basically a 500-yard width that the tornado swath that had cut coming through this area and actually—and then into Warrick County, northeast of here.
COSBY: It‘s incredible to see those pictures. Well, our prayers are with both of you tonight, Mayor and Willie. Thank you very much. Glad both of you got out safe and sound. Thank you both very much.
RUCKMAN: Thank you.
COSBY: Well, now to probably one of the most dramatic assaults ever caught on tape. Take a look.
This was attorney Gerald Curry two years ago, desperately using a small tree to shield himself from a man who was firing a handgun at him over and over. Curry was hit five times and was seriously wounded, but he amazingly survived.
Today, the trial begins for his attacker, William Strier. Joining me now live on the phone is the survival, Gerald Curry.
You know, Gerald, what goes through your mind when you see this dramatic video?
GERALD CURRY, SURVIVED COURTHOUSE ATTACK: Well, of course, it brings back sort of a bad memory. I recovered completely, though. Physically, I‘m fine. I think emotionally and mentally I‘m fine. So I‘ve gotten over it, and I‘ve gone on with my life. So I‘m doing fine.
COSBY: You know, as we look at it, you know, the shooting seemed to happen in just a matter of seconds. What do you remember going through your mind when this was happening?
CURRY: Well, when I came out of the courthouse—I‘d never seen this person before. He walked up and said, “Are you Mr. Curry?” And I said, “Yes, who are you?”
I just remember a very loud pop or a loud bang. And then I just went to the ground to try to scramble away. And then what you saw on the video is when I ran behind the tree.
I was really just acting on instinct. I knew something bad had happened. Once I was behind the tree, of course, when I could see him, I knew that there was a guy trying to shoot me.
COSBY: And shot at you five times. Do you hold a grudge against this man who was doing the shooting, William Strier?
CURRY: No, I really don‘t. I mean, you know, I try to be a positive person, try to move on with my life.
I mean, whatever his reasons were, I really don‘t know. But it happened. And fortunately I was able to react and then survive the incident. So I don‘t hold any grudge against him, no.
COSBY: You know, he‘s facing—it‘s attempted first-degree murder, some serious time behind bars. What do you think the punishment should be, for somebody like this?
CURRY: Well, the D.A. told me that it would probably be something in the range of about 17 years for attempted murder. So I believe he‘s in his mid-60s. So if he, in fact, gets that much time, I‘ll be satisfied. Because if he does get out, he‘ll be an old man when he gets out.
COSBY: You know, you‘re an attorney. You‘re out there at the courthouse. Did the shooting at all affect your desire to be a lawyer?
CURRY: No, not really. I mean, I practice in the area of estate planning, wills, trusts and probate. It‘s very unusual to have this kind of an attack on an attorney who practices in my area. Usually, it‘s family law attorneys and the criminal attorneys.
So it‘s very unusual. And I think it‘s just kind of a one-in-a-million incident. And I‘m hoping nothing like that will happen again.
COSBY: Oh, absolutely. You know, pass by this area, I‘m sure it probably sends chills down your spine. When we look at these pictures, it is incredible.
And the good news is, Mr. Curry, I‘m so glad that you‘re alive, after five shots. It is an amazing story. Thank you for being with us tonight.
And still ahead, everybody, passengers on a cruise ship never expected to face pirates in the open waters. We‘ll tell you where these rogue criminals came from and how many ships could be in danger.
And the son of former Cincinnati Reds superstar Pete Rose arrested on drug charges. The former mayor of Cincinnati, Jerry Springer, is going to join us LIVE & DIRECT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They hit us with rocket grenades, RPGs. And there was a woman in her cabin. And she was fortunately in her bathroom. But a rocket grenade went right, through the whole cabin up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had a wonderful captain. And he knew exactly what to do. And he got us out of harm‘s way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did you feel when it happened?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very scary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: Well, about 150 cruise passengers got the fright of their lives when their ship came under attack by pirates. Pirates in two speedboats fired guns and rocket-propelled grenades at the Seabourn Spirit for over an hour.
On the phone tonight is Robert Kirk. His friends were sailing on that ship at the time of the pirate attack.
Robert, when did you know something was wrong with your friends?
ROBERT KIRK, FRIENDS SAILING ON “SEABOURN SPIRIT”: I first knew about noon time on Saturday. I had an e-mail with three pictures. And they were spectacular. Two of them were of the pirates in their boats. And one was a bullet hole through the window, and that got my attention.
And all they said was, “Here are the pictures.” So I e-mailed my friend Harry back. And I said, “You‘re very lucky. You‘ll be able to dine out on pirate tales for the next couple of years.”
But I didn‘t realize how much danger they had really been in, because they were under attack for 90 minutes with rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
COSBY: You know, it‘s incredible. How did they describe the attack to you? Did they hear the gunfire? Did they hear the explosions going on, as you said, for 90 minutes?
KIRK: Yes, they did. It was about 5:30 in the morning on Saturday. They were 100 miles off of Somalia on their way to Mombassa from Alexandria, Egypt. And they were awaked by gunfire first and then by an announcement by the captain over the loud speaker that they were to assemble in the dining room.
COSBY: You know, Robert, you‘re really a twofold guest, because you actually study modern-day pirates.
KIRK: I‘ve given lectures on piracy.
COSBY: How active is this area? I mean, a lot of people are stunned.
Here‘s a cruise ship...
KIRK: Well, you‘d be surprised to know—first of all, not too many cruise ships are—and I‘ll explain that in just a moment—but they don‘t attack cruise ships very often. But there have been 25 attacks reported through the International Maritime Bureau off the coast of Somalia since March the 15th.
COSBY: Robert, did you tell your friends, you know, look, this area could be a concern? Were you aware of that ahead of time?
KIRK: I didn‘t, but I‘ve warned him ahead about the Straits of Molaka (ph), which is the most infested area in the world for pirate attacks.
COSBY: And, you know, could be this sort of the start of a disturbing trend? As you say, they don‘t attack cruise ships often. Is this something new we need to be concerned about?
KIRK: I don‘t think so, no. I think the cruise travel is fairly safe for this reason, that pirates—if they boarded a cruise ship—of course, this one only had 150 passengers. But imagine if they had 700 or 1,700, and all of these people are locked into their cabins, and they have to get them out of their cabins, that‘s a nightmare for the pirates.
What they want do is take some hostages as fast as possible, take some jewelry and some valuables, get off the ship, and ransom the hostages, which is what their game is off Somalia.
COSBY: Yes, you‘re right. It is a nightmare. It‘s a nightmare for the hostage-takers, but certainly also for the hostages, should they become those, or anybody on the cruise ship. What a frightening experience.
COSBY: Thank you very much, Robert. We appreciate it.
And still ahead, everybody, political chaos in California. And former Cincinnati Reds superstar Pete Rose‘s son arrested. The former mayor of Cincinnati, Jerry Springer, is going to join me LIVE & DIRECT.
And we‘ll also tell you what two cheerleaders are accused of doing in the bathroom stall and what got them in trouble with the law. Stay tuned.
COSBY: From politician to television and radio talk show host, Jerry Springer really has done it all. He‘s a former Cincinnati mayor, a former political reporter and TV anchor, but he‘s probably best known for hosting the reality talk show that bears his name. His show is now into—is it 15th season or 16th season, Jerry?
JERRY SPRINGER, TELEVISION AND RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yes, it‘s 15 years. And, my gosh, that picture. I can‘t remember when I looked like that, but OK. Yes, we‘ve been on the air for 15 years, and it‘s a stupid show.
COSBY: We always pull out—you don‘t like the show. You don‘t like your own show?
SPRINGER: Well, I mean, I wouldn‘t watch it. It‘s fun to do. I enjoy it. And obviously there are people who like it. But I can‘t honestly tell you it has any redeeming social value. It‘s just an escape, you know?
COSBY: Is it all about ratings?
SPRINGER: Your show‘s good, though. Your show is good.
COSBY: Thank you. Is yours all about ratings? Is that what it is?
SPRINGER: It‘s about entertainment, I guess. It‘s like any other product. If people like the product, they buy it or they watch it. If they don‘t like the product, then it goes off the shelves or it goes off marketplace.
So I guess so. That‘s true of all television. I suspect it‘s an entertainment medium, yes.
COSBY: And speaking of entertainment, I don‘t know if you saw at the top of the show, we did an interview with Warren Beatty, who is sort of duking it out now with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I want to show a little comment, and then I‘m going to get your reaction. But here‘s what Warren Beatty told us just a few minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEATTY: This election really shouldn‘t, I think, be happening. These things should have been settled in the legislature, and they could have been.
I know the legislature wanted to do that. It might have been a very difficult process. But if that couldn‘t have been accomplished, then I don‘t know why $60 to $80 million of the taxpayers‘ money should be spent on a November election when you got another election right around the corner in June.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: You know, Jerry, also, Warren Beatty didn‘t rule out that he might run for something. He says he doesn‘t want it, but he said: I wouldn‘t rule it out, if sort of the opportunity—if I was sort of thrust in that situation. What do you make, first of all, of that comment?
SPRINGER: I think he‘d be very good, if he would run for governor. I think he‘d be excellent. I certainly ascribe to many of his views.
But I think—you know, the point he makes is California—one of the reasons California is in trouble is because it has government by referendum. And there have been so many referendum passed over the years that there isn‘t much left the legislature can do about everything, because funds are committed for everything. And sometimes they‘re in conflict.
And so therefore, you have a pretty paralyzed government. The thought was with Arnold Schwarzenegger that you would have a superstar that could override all the problems of California. But I think he‘s finding out that even though he‘s much beloved as a movie actor and he‘s a nice person that doesn‘t mean necessarily that you can govern the state. And I think the state still has the problems it had several years ago.
COSBY: Jerry, what about you, too? Because I know a couple of years ago you were toying with running for Senate. Is running for governor still an option in your future?
SPRINGER: Yes, I think about it. It‘s a possibility. What I really think about is, what if I won and it didn‘t make a difference?
I mean, that‘s the thing that scares me is that you can get so caught up in the idea of running and winning. And you have to remember: It‘s never about the person. It‘s never about the candidate. What it‘s really about is the people‘s lives who live in the state and what can be done to really make a substantive difference in the quality of their lives.
And that‘s what I really got to think: Could I make a difference? Because Ohio is in such horrible shape right now, whether you‘re talking about schools, or jobs. You know, everyone is leaving the state.
You know, talk about—Louisiana, if it‘s looking for evacuation plan, should look at Ohio. We have the best evacuation plan. Everyone‘s left, and we didn‘t even have a hurricane.
COSBY: And speaking of Ohio, Cincinnati Reds, Pete Rose, Jr., busted today, sort of a steroid alternative. And apparently even admitted to giving it to half the team.
You know Pete Rose, the father, personally. How do you think this is going to go over? And do you think it‘s heavy-handed? Apparently it‘s a million-dollar fine.
SPRINGER: Well, I don‘t know about the facts, obviously, because it just hit the news today. You know, Pete is a friendly acquaintance or friend, or whatever, so obviously I feel bad for the family.
I will say this—and the court, I guess, will determine whether or not a law was broken or what happened—but it‘s awfully difficult to grow up as the child of a world celebrity. The microscope that you are under is horrific.
And it‘s not just that, when something bad happens, everybody knows about it, but just the pressure of growing up as a child of a famous person, that can create a lot of pressures, in terms of what kind of a person you become, how you handle things, what you‘re exposed to.
So, you know, having your name, Pete Rose, Jr., that‘s pretty tough. He‘s had to live with that his whole life, so, you know, my heart goes out to the...
COSBY: Carries a lot of weight.
SPRINGER: Yes. I hope things work out for them. I do.
COSBY: I do, too.
All right. Thank you very much, Jerry. Always good to have you on.
We appreciate it.
And, everybody, if you could, stick with us. We‘re going to have a lot more right after the break.
COSBY: And tomorrow, we‘ll have more on the announced boycott of Aruba. That does it for us tonight on LIVE & DIRECT. I‘m Rita Cosby. Joe starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.