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AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Friends of the Bowyer's Speak Out

Aired February 21, 2002 - 08:32   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: We want to follow up now on a story that we have been reporting on for two, three days, horrifying story in Alabama, details emerging in the last 48 hours. The murder of a 12-year-old boy, the attempted murder and burial, while he was still alive, of the boy's father. Two men accused of these crimes have now been charged with two other murders. They caught the two guys who they think did this.

Last Sunday, Butch Bowyer was abducted, along with his son, Brett, and left for dead near his home in Phenix City, Alabama. Brett, the boy, was murdered. Butch, who had had his throat cut by these two guys, was left for dead and tossed into a shallow grave, but he dug himself out and went to the police. And the two suspects are now in jail. Neighbors and friends of Butch Bowyer and his son, Brett, of course stunned.

Joining us this morning on "AMERICAN MORNING" from Phenix City, Alabama, psychologist Donna Fleitas and her son, Josh, both are friends of the family.

And, Donna and Josh, it's nice to have you both with us.

Dr. Fleitas, tell me a little about the relationship Josh had with Brett. I mean these two kids were pretty close friends, right?

DONNA FLEITAS, PSYCHOLOGIST AND FRIEND OF VICTIMS: They were very close. They had gotten to know each other when they were in kindergarten. They started out here, and they've been either in exactly the same class or two classes, but the two classes might contain 36 students total. So they've been at every birthday party, et cetera.

CAFFERTY: Josh, the night of this crime you were supposed to stay over at Brett's house, right? What happened?

JOSH FLEITAS, BRETT BOWYER'S FRIEND: We went skiing that weekend, and so I -- we had a whole bunch of work to do, put up the valance (UNINTELLIGIBLE), decorations and stuff like that. So we just had to pick those up so I didn't -- I wasn't able to spend the night.

CAFFERTY: So you stayed at home when in fact you could have been there the night your friend was killed. When you found out what happened to Brett, what'd you think? J. FLEITAS: I was scared because I was -- I mean it was just -- I didn't know if I was supposed to spend the night or not, and I was kind of happy that I had my decorations to put up.

CAFFERTY: Something to do to get your mind off it.

Dr. Fleitas, did you tell Josh about what had happened to his friend? How did he find out?

D. FLEITAS: What had happened to us is that the principal actually came straight to my house and told me what had happened. We were shocked. And of course I think, like every parent, you wonder how you're going to tell your child. But we called him down, and I do believe that being direct is the best policy. So we sat him on couch, he and his little sister, and just straight out told them and then allowed them to react just naturally.

CAFFERTY: How they doing with it? You're a psychologist in addition to being his mother.

D. FLEITAS: I'm a psychologist but I'm still human...

CAFFERTY: Sure. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

D. FLEITAS: ... so it's been very hard.

CAFFERTY: What are you -- how do you help him? What do you do? I mean there's the clinical side of your brain that says, all right, this is how people should deal with something like this, but you're his mom and you were friends of the family. How -- tell me -- you know take me inside your head and heart a little bit, how do you -- how do you handle this?

D. FLEITAS: Well, one of the first things I had to do was answer the phone throughout the day and as parents started telling their children from the school. And the parents asked what was natural and what wasn't and why their children didn't react as strongly as they expected, what that meant, and just explaining it and going into a clinical mode actually was pretty helpful. But that night I met with the parents and did a type of intervention called a debriefing, a crisis intervention or critical incident debriefing,...

CAFFERTY: Right.

D. FLEITAS: ... and you just go step by step. It's very educational about what to expect, what not to expect, what's natural, what's not natural. And of course at this stage almost everything's natural.

CAFFERTY: Sure.

D. FLEITAS: But if it continues after two to three weeks, then we start to get a little bit more worried.

CAFFERTY: Josh,...

D. FLEITAS: But just allowing the children to be themselves is important.

J. FLEITAS: Yes, sir.

CAFFERTY: Josh, what are you going to miss most about your friend, Brett?

J. FLEITAS: His laugh because he was a really funny guy, and I mean I'll just miss that about him.

CAFFERTY: What would you like other people to remember about Brett?

J. FLEITAS: His dirt bike riding. It was real fun to just go riding with him.

CAFFERTY: Was he good?

J. FLEITAS: Yes, sir, he was one of the best.

CAFFERTY: What did you guys talk about when you were riding dirt bikes?

J. FLEITAS: We didn't talk that much because we were speeding past each other.

CAFFERTY: Yes, you'll miss those days, won't you?

J. FLEITAS: Yes, sir.

CAFFERTY: I want to thank both of you for sharing a little piece of what has been a nightmare, I'm sure, in both your lives, with us here on AMERICAN MORNING this morning.

Dr. Donna Fleitas and her son, Josh, thanks for -- thanks for joining us and good luck to both of you.

D. FLEITAS: Thank you.

J. FLEITAS: Bye.

CAFFERTY: All right.

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