CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interviews With Ed, Lois Smart; Dear Abby; Dominick Dunne
Aired June 19, 2002 - 21:00 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.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: new twists and new turns in the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping. A heartbreaking mystery is now two weeks old. Her parents, Ed and Lois Smart will join us from Salt Lake.
Then: a kiddie porn guilty plea from the man Dear Abby turned in to police. With us for an exclusive one-on-one is Dear Abby herself, advice columnist Jeanne Phillips. And we'll talk about her agonizing decision as well, and its impact.
And then Dominick Dunne on unsolved mysteries and high-profile murders. He's for the inside dish on crime-styles of the rich and famous.
They are all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We begin with Ed and Lois Smart, the parents of kidnapped 14- year-old Elizabeth Smart. They join us, of course, from Salt Lake City. It has been two weeks today since Elizabeth was taken.
Ed, at what -- we can only imagine what it's like -- what's been the worst part for you?
ED SMART, FATHER OF ELIZABETH SMART: You know, the worst part is missing Elizabeth. She is such a sweetheart in our family. You know, she would just do anything. And it is just -- I mean, at night it's really hard, because you start thinking about where she might be and what her situation is mentally. And it's very difficult. That's probably the hardest time.
KING: Lois, are there ever moments when she's not on your mind? We can try to -- I mean, do you ever have a moment where you're thinking of something else?
LOIS SMART, MOTHER OF ELIZABETH SMART: No. No. I honestly can say she is on my mind 24 hours a day. I wake up thinking about her. I go to bed thinking about her. And all through the night and day I think about her.
KING: Are you able to sleep well, Lois?
L. SMART: I wouldn't say well, but I do go through the motions.
KING: Ed, I know you're a very practicing, faithful Mormon. Does that help? E. SMART: You know, this has been an experience unlike anything I've ever had before. Prayer has come to be such an absolutely dear thing. It has been a way of achieving some kind of peace in a, you know, a storm of terror. It's been a way of -- for my wife and I to communicate, we feel, with the Lord and ask for his divine intervention to help Elizabeth, particularly for her to be able to handle what she's going through.
KING: And Lois...
E. SMART: You know, Elizabeth...
KING: I'm sorry. Go ahead, Ed.
E. SMART: Go ahead.
KING: No, you finish.
E. SMART: Elizabeth is -- she has a very, very strong spirit. She has a strong belief in God. And I feel that this is one of the things that's really helping her through this ordeal.
KING: And Lois, have you ever doubted your faith in these two weeks?
L. SMART: No. I have not. And I know it's through my faith and belief in God that that's the only way it's been made possible to endure these two weeks.
KING: All right, now let's help us, Ed, to understand something with regard to young Catherine in all of this.
Initially police said that she was threatened by the kidnapper, and that's why she didn't immediately tell you. They now say the abductor didn't speak at all or even realize that she'd seen him. The kidnapper said to -- that Mary Catherine got out of bed soon after, and then did not head to her parents' room, but retreated in fear when she thought the man -- or saw the man still in the house.
What -- can you get us up to date on what that aspect of the story is?
E. SMART: You know, I really can't go into the details, other than, you know, if you were in a room experiencing -- if somebody was threatening your sister, what would you do? I mean, would you get up, would you stay in bed? What would you do?
That's the only thing that I can even think of.
And, you know, Mary Catherine has been incredibly strong through this whole ordeal. And, you know, we have not asked her questions. We -- you know, we don't want to have -- see any more scars on her than what was initially put there by this perpetrator.
And we just -- you know, we've tried so hard to, you know, keep our children out of the limelight just so that they could maintain some kind of sense of innocence or a normal life-trend.
I mean, we're not really public people. When I say that, we don't like to be in the limelight. We never would have, in our wildest dreams, ever have thought that this would happen.
And so we just feel a tremendous need not to put any pressure on Mary Catherine.
KING: Well Lois, can we say then that the initial stories about the kidnapper threatening her were wrong?
E. SMART: You know, it's easy to me to perceive that there's a threat there. And, you know, the rest of it's really in the hands of the police and what they've talked to her. We just -- we really try to stay away from it as much as possible.
KING: How then is she, Lois? How is this 9-year-old?
L. SMART: She is doing remarkably well. She has a lot of family -- cousins, aunts and uncles -- who have rallied around her and the other children. They do fun things that help her, try to take her mind off what has happened.
She's doing very well. She has a little dog now that follows her around.
KING: Is she still in school, or is school out for the summer?
L. SMART: No. School is out for the summer.
KING: Does she play with her friends, do people -- I mean, is there any degree of normalcy in her life?
L. SMART: Yes. She does have friends that come to the house, and they're with her. I don't like her going other places. But, yes, people do come and visit her and...
KING: Ed, you know, the...
KING: ... whole country, a lot of the world, is in your, both of your hearts and minds, and so everyone has conjecture. That's -- you're going to do that in a case that's two weeks old.
Do you have a theory? Do you wonder who this is, what it's about? No ransom note. Why? What goes through you?
E. SMART: You know, I have searched inside and out of what was going through this person's mind, and why in the world they would choose Elizabeth and -- I mean, she's a very talented -- a hardworking, talented young girl. And, you know, I can't fathom why they would take her, unless they had some fixation on her and, you know, other than that, I can't even come to grips with why. KING: Therefore, do you think, Lois, that it had to be someone who either knew her or had seen her?
L. SMART: It's hard to know.
KING: I mean, isn't that a better guess than someone -- it's a better guess than someone just randomly walking by your house, going in, and taking someone.
L. SMART: But I can't imagine who would ever do it. I can't even imagine.
KING: What's the garage door story, Ed? Open, closed, what?
E. SMART: You know, the day of Tuesday, which was the day -- well, everything's turning into a blur. But the day before the occurrence, you know, Elizabeth was headed to -- we were going to go to her awards banquet for her graduation. And we, you know, the garage door had been up, and I had moved the harp from the main floor down the stairs, and brought it out through the garage, loaded it into our car, headed out, you know. The three of us were headed down here. We have -- there are six children and the two of us.
So three of us headed down to Bryant (ph) Junior High School, and we were there for her awards assembly, came home, I took the harp in, pressed the garage button. It hadn't gone down. I though, well, I'll catch that a little later. Went out, closed up all the doors, and went down and pulled the tarp out from under the garage sensor, and it went down.
KING: So for that to have been involved, the person would have had to come in when it was open and waited there all that time.
E. SMART: You know, it's just -- we're leaving the whole thing up to the detectives on what happened.
KING: We're going to spend a few more moments with Ed and Lois Smart on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Dear Abby will follow. We'll get Dominick Dunne's thoughts later as well.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF RICK DINSE, SALT LAKE CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT: This investigation -- and you need to know this -- would be very, very difficult without Mary Catherine.
She has provided her a tremendous amount of information -- I'm not going to go over every piece of it -- but a tremendous amount of information. And we're very appreciative of her. And one of the things I said last week, and I'm saying again this week, and maybe even firmer, I believe we will resolve this case eventually. And Mary Catherine is a big part of doing that. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Ed and Lois Smart.
Ed, do the police, FBI keep you informed constantly?
E. SMART: You know, we're in contact with them daily, and they've tried to be -- to keep us updated as much as they possibly can.
KING: Lois, were you upset at all by the polygraphing of family?
L. SMART: Absolutely not. You know, I think anything they suggested that we do or not do, we've just tried to follow exactly what they've told us to do.
And this is routine. We're going to do it.
KING: Ed, what do we know or not know about the screen door, which has gotten a lot of attention in the past two weeks?
E. SMART: You know, I have no idea what the conclusions -- or even if there is a conclusion yet on the screen door. I know that they are working very hard to try and come to a conclusion on that. But to your knowledge, they have not concluded yet.
So I couldn't say anything. I don't have anything to offer to you on that.
KING: Any concerns, Ed, about the crime scene being contaminated because relatives and friends were at the house before the police arrived?
E. SMART: You know, all of those issues are kind of -- we've left those in the hands of the investigators. You know, we had a number of people there, family and friends trying to help search.
But, you know, all of those issues are kind of with the investigators, and we're leaving that all in their hands.
KING: Lois, are calls still coming in -- we'll give out the numbers again -- with people with tips or ideas and hotline approaches?
L. SMART: Absolutely. Daily.
KING: And those numbers, by the way...
L. SMART: Calls are coming in.
KING: ... let me give them. Are 1-800-932-0190; 1-800-932-0190. Or 1-801-799-3000; 1-801-799-3000.
Ed, this has to be asked, and it might be a comfort, maybe a -- is there any possibility she is a runaway? E. SMART: You know, there's no chance that she's a runaway. She loved her family. She had plans to go with a friend of hers down to southern Utah for almost a week. And she was looking forward to that.
L. SMART: And even forward to her 8th grade graduation.
E. SMART: You know there -- to me, there isn't a chance in the world that she...
KING: Any danger -- danger may not be the word. She had a 14- year-old boyfriend. They didn't know how to tell you. They panicked. They ran away. In fact, in a sense, wouldn't you hope for that?
L. SMART: It didn't happen. It just didn't happen.
KING: Well, I mean, wouldn't that be a hope, that she is a runaway?
E. SMART: No. I mean, if you knew Elizabeth you would just -- there's no question, she really didn't care for boys. She wasn't in that boy-crazy mode like so many of, you know, her peer group was.
She was very focused on her harp playing. She had just talked about starting -- preparing for the East High -- the new high school track team. She had so many things that she wanted to do and was looking forward to that, you know, this hypothesis that she was a runaway or had a boyfriend and took off is just a -- I mean, it's just hype.
KING: How are the other siblings, other than Mary Catherine, dealing with this, Lois?
L. SMART: They're all doing well. Two of them are very small, and so, you know, I wonder at times. But they all seem to be doing very well. They're glad to be back home together, where we're as a family, doing things that we have always done.
KING: Ed, what do you make of this strange guy that, Michael -- I forgot the last name. We see his picture. He comes. He goes. He was not a suspect. What do you make of...
E. SMART: Michael Edmunds.
KING: ... the Michael Edmunds story, Ed?
E. SMART: You know, I think that more than anything that the police want to talk to him because they, I guess -- I mean, I've heard that he was sighted in the area. I don't know if it was that day or days before the -- you know, the investigation is handling all of that. So I don't know.
I know that the police are looking for any information that would potentially lead to bringing Elizabeth back home, and that's one that they feel might be helpful.
KING: Are you also hopeful about this profile the FBI has drawn up, Lois?
L. SMART: I'm not aware of that.
KING: Didn't they put together some sort of profile of who this might be?
L. SMART: Oh, yes, yes, they did.
Yes, I'm hopeful about everything they do.
KING: Do you jump when the phone rings, Ed?
L. SMART: Yes. We all jump.
E. SMART: We're just waiting for that phone call to say, you know, "We've got her." And we do. I mean, the phone has rung off the hook. And on one hand, there's a phone that we have on the answering machine because it just -- we have so many calls. But we, you know, check those. And we are looking forward to the time when we get that phone call that says, you know, "Your daughter is here."
And, you know, the comment was asked earlier to me, you know, how do you keep on going, or how do you feel so upbeat about this? And I just want to reiterate that, you know, we just feel in our hearts that Elizabeth is waiting for us to find her. That we are so incredibly grateful, we are internally indebted to the nation, to all of the people that are out there helping us trying to bring her back home. And I can't thank people enough for their love, their support, their prayers, their efforts to go out into the community.
You know, this second phase that's gone into motion has, to me, been an absolutely tremendous success, where people are actually focusing on their own personal neighborhoods, being able to be aware of that house that's been vacant for a while or, you know, these lots and so forth.
KING: I thank you both for giving us this time. You know, our prayers are with you. And we hope the next time we're all together, it's with Elizabeth.
L. SMART: Thank you very much.
E. SMART: Thanks, Larry.
KING: Ed and Lois Smart.
The phone numbers: 800-932-0190; 801-799-3000.
Dear Abby is next, and then my man Dominick Dunne.
Don't go away.
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE, and welcome to our program. Jeanne Phillips. Jeanne is known to the world as Dear Abby, a column started by her mother that she's picked up since the late '80s.
And earlier this year she got a letter from a man who said he fantasized -- well, give us the story. You get a letter from this Mr. Weiser, who says ...
JEANNE PHILLIPS, "DEAR ABBY": I got an e-mail from a young man in Milwaukee who said that he had trouble relating to women his own age, but that he had fallen in love with a 10 year-old girl, and that when she put her arm around his neck, or her leg across his, that he had trouble controlling himself, and he wanted help.
KING: And you did...
PHILLIPS: First I thought, I'll just write him a letter and tell him this is pedophilia, and...
KING: Don't do it.
PHILLIPS: Right, don't do it, it's treatable -- at least I think it's treatable. But this is something you can't wait, you need to get help with right away.
And then I thought, well, maybe I'll call him, it's faster. But either way there was no way I could be absolutely sure that he would take the advice that I was giving him and not ignore it.
So after a couple of days, I thought to myself the best way to deal with this is just be direct about it, and I called the police...
KING: In his city?
PHILLIPS: In his city, and I spoke to a very nice detective in the sex crimes division and identified myself as Dear Abby. When he stopped laughing, I told him, no, it really was Dear Abby, and that I had an e-mail that I wanted to read to him because I felt that the police were in a position to do a very quiet intervention and perhaps prevent a tragedy.
KING: And what did they do?
PHILLIPS: They listened to the e-mail and said that they would get back to me in a few days after they did some investigating.
KING: You never contacted Mr. Weiser?
PHILLIPS: No, because I was afraid I would...
PHILLIPS: Yes, that's right, alarm him.
KING: They eventually arrest him, right?
PHILLIPS: Yes, I found out about six weeks later that an arrest had been made and that...
KING: Charging him with what?
PHILLIPS: Possession of child pornography. He'd shown them his computer and said that he had child porn on the computer and he had erased the images.
KING: That's a crime, by the way, to possess...
PHILLIPS: I'm not a lawyer...
KING: Apparently it is.
PHILLIPS: ... but yes, I think it is.
KING: So that's all he's charged with...
PHILLIPS: That's all he's charged with.
KING: Because they can't charge him with an act before...
PHILLIPS: He hasn't done it.
KING: ... he has never committed, yes.
PHILLIPS: I think it's wonderful he at least asked for help.
PHILLIPS: I just wanted to be sure he got the help that he needed.
KING: He originally said he was innocent and then, we understand, changed the plea to guilty during a court hearing, right?
KING: And for that he got eight years probation.
PHILLIPS: Yes. And he has to pay the court costs, and he is going to have electronic monitoring for a year, and he has to have intensive psychotherapy.
KING: Did they ever find out who the girl was he was writing about, the young girl?
PHILLIPS: Oh, I'm sure they did.
KING: Did you ever follow up? Did you follow the case? Did you -- what did you do after that?
PHILLIPS: After that I made some inquiries and I found the name of a really good therapist that was a member of the American Psychoanalytic Association and stationed in Milwaukee.
I wrote him a letter, and I apologized for the media circus, because I hadn't intended it. It was as big a surprise to me as I'm sure it was to him. And I gave him the name of a therapist and wished him luck.
KING: This is how long ago, now?
PHILLIPS: It's been a couple of months now.
KING: How did it become a media circus? Who called whom?
PHILLIPS: Very interesting. The police chief made a statement at the time of his arrest and said that I should be credited with this arrest.
KING: How did you react?
PHILLIPS: I was horrified.
KING: Didn't like that?
PHILLIPS: No. I was back in Washington, D.C. for Gridiron, and I was sitting in my hotel room when my secretary...
KING: Gridiron is a satire dinner that's held every year.
PHILLIPS: Yes, for the Washington press corps.
I was sitting in my room, and my secretary calls and says, "The Milwaukee papers want to talk to you." And I said, "Why?" And she said, because they arrested that guy.
And I'm going, you know, oh my God, now what?
So I figured, well, I might as well talk to the people. I certainly don't want it to look like I'm hiding. And so I picked up the phone and I called the Milwaukee paper and had a little interview there, after which the lady said, "You know, would you mind going over the Hurst (ph) Bureau, we'd like to do a little on-camera interview, too."
And I went.
KING: And then it began.
PHILLIPS: And I thought it was over, but I had the presence of mind to talk to a PR person that I use in Los Angeles, and he said, "Oh, this is just the beginning." And I'm going, yes, sure.
And I got on a plane to come to Los Angeles. And when I got off the plane, all of a sudden, wham -- sorry -- everything hit.
KING: Good wham.
PHILLIPS: Well, yes.
KING: "Everything" being press everywhere, right?
PHILLIPS: Press everywhere.
KING: And major debates about this?
PHILLIPS: Who knew?
KING: People questioned whether you should have done it.
Do you question yourself?
KING: No? You don't say to yourself...
PHILLIPS: You mean, do I ever question myself? Constantly.
KING: No, I mean, this guy's writing for help, did I betray him? Do you ever say that to yourself?
PHILLIPS: I started to, and then I realized that I'd done him...
KING: A favor?
PHILLIPS: Yes, I did. It's tough medicine, strong medicine. Maybe he hoped for an aspirin, but I gave him the whole bottle. But this way he couldn't ruin his own life. He has a chance to help himself; he certainly is motivated. He'll get the proper treatment, he'll get every chance, and he'll be on the list.
So he can't -- so I don't think he can offend in the future.
KING: Do you know if they ever found out who the 10-year-old was that he was referring to in the...
PHILLIPS: Oh, they'd have to have. I'm sure they examined him left, right, up and down.
KING: But you didn't -- you don't know who it is?
Do you think this might, just might, discourage other people from writing to you?
PHILLIPS: Oh, heck no. My mail is up.
PHILLIPS: It's up. I never -- you know, the media seemed to think that, when I was debating what to do about this problem, that I was worried about myself, I was worried about the column.
And that never entered into the picture at all. It never occurred to me that people wouldn't write to "Dear Abby" because they were afraid of being turned in, because that's not really the kind of problems that we deal with most of the time.
KING: Fascinating. More with Jeanne Phillips, you know her as Dear Abby, one of the world's best-known advice columns. That column, "Dear Abby," has been an institution for years. Don't make her that old, her mother started it. She looks fantastic, by the way.
And when we come back tomorrow night, by the way, I want to remind you that tomorrow night is William's 20th birthday over there in grand old England, and we're going to have our panel discussing the royals and their exploits.
A special show Sunday Night of LARRY KING WEEKEND. We'll tell you all about it tomorrow. Be right back.
KING: In all the history of "Dear Abby," Jeanne, has this ever happened?
Did your mother or you ever have to contact authorities?
PHILLIPS: I've contacted the authorities before.
PHILLIPS: If a child was being -- if a child wrote and said that she was being abused, I would call Childhelp USA and put the people together to try to do an intervention there. And I also contacted the police in another community because I had gotten a letter from someone who said he was a hit man and had had second thoughts about making the hit.
PHILLIPS: And there was enough identifying information...
KING: Did they find him?
PHILLIPS: They found out who wrote the letter.
KING: Did your mother ever have to do it?
PHILLIPS: Not that I know of.
KING: Your aunt?
PHILLIPS: You know, it's like Niches (ph) and Gimbles (ph).
KING: Ann Landers and Dear Abby are rivals.
PHILLIPS: Yes. We love one another, but we are competing with one another, so we don't really compare notes a lot.
KING: We just discussed it. What do you make of this Elizabeth Smart story in Utah?
PHILLIPS: I don't know what to make of it.
KING: You ever get letters about missing children?
PHILLIPS: No, I haven't yet. Not that I recall.
KING: Why do people write to you, do you think?
PHILLIPS: Oh, lots of reasons. One, because they know Dear Abby is a friend, it's somebody -- it's a name that they've grown up with and they're familiar with. They know that I don't preach. They know I don't judge. They know that Dear Abby cares about them.
They do it because there's an embarrassment factor. Perhaps they don't want their families or their friends to know that they're wrestling with a problem like the one they have. And so they write to somebody that they think they can trust.
KING: And your training comes from where, being a good writer?
PHILLIPS: The longest apprenticeship in history is where mine comes from.
KING: You grew up with it.
PHILLIPS: Yes. I started out answering mail from other teenagers to earn my allowance.
KING: Do you ever contact psychologists and psychiatrists for help with certain -- because there are problems that would have to be dealt with by professionals, right?
PHILLIPS: Absolutely. Certainly. And social workers, and people in all different kinds of fields. It just depends on what the problem entails.
KING: Do you think Mr. Weiser, maybe, was writing to you wanting to get stopped?
PHILLIPS: Yes I do.
KING: It might have been possible, right?
PHILLIPS: He certainly has a conscience.
KING: Right, but he could have gone to the privacy of a psychiatrist, which would never have made that call to the police.
PHILLIPS: There was a line in his e-mail that said he had talked to four different doctors, and none of them thought he had a problem.
KING: Do we, with the Catholic priest story and everything, is there more of this now, or has it always gone on, we just have more media now?
PHILLIPS: I think it's the latter. I think it's that we have more media. KING: So that we've always had pedophilia, the attraction of an adult to a child?
PHILLIPS: Yes, we have.
KING: It's -- to the non-pedophilia person, that's the hardest thing to imagine. Why would a child be -- why would an adult find a 10-year-old attractive?
PHILLIPS: Not threatening. Perhaps it makes them feel more important.
KING: Has this whole incident affected you in any way, changed you in any way?
PHILLIPS: That's a good question. I'd have to think about that.
KING: Do you read your letters differently?
PHILLIPS: Well, I'm hoping not to come across another one like this soon.
KING: What was like when you read it, when you first? Did you think maybe it was a gag?
PHILLIPS: No, it started out like -- you know, just like any other letter. "Dear Abby, I'm a 28-year-old man. I have difficulty relating to women my age. Most of them have an agenda, but younger girls seem to like me and relate well to me. And when I talk to them, some of them even look at me with awe. And I think I'm in love with a 10 year-old girl. She's the daughter of a friend. She has a 4-year- old sister."
KING: Oh, he did go into...
PHILLIPS: He mentioned that, and he didn't go into a great deal -- he just, you know, he's relating his reality.
KING: Very honest letter.
PHILLIPS: Yes, it was. And you know, "She will put her arm around my neck, and she'll throw her leg across mine, and she trusts me," and the hair on my arms just stood straight up. I went, "Oh my God.
KING: What percentage of your letters are from men?
PHILLIPS: Good question. Maybe 7 -- no, maybe 25, 30 percent are from men.
KING: Sounds high. I've heard mostly women -- I don't know why, maybe that's macho to say something like that.
PHILLIPS: People think that only old people read the column. The male -- my demographics are really quite interesting. The majority of the mail is, like, from people 18 to 49. A lot (ph) of problems, reproductive problems, in-law problems.
KING: You still have that -- you still do a lot of sense of humor, too? It made "Dear Abby" famous.
PHILLIPS: I know it did -- my mother's sense of humor. I'm a little more serious than that. Every now and again, I get terrible puns in there, but for the most part, people want to know their problems are being taken seriously.
KING: Do you every get post letters? I got your letter, I did this, and wow...
PHILLIPS: Oh, thank you for asking. That's the payoff, for me. We do have files...
KING: How do you know you're helping people.
PHILLIPS: Or not.
KING: Or not.
PHILLIPS: We have files of letters from people who say, thank you for responding so promptly, you now, it worked, or you saved my life, or whatever.
KING: So is it a good idea, do you think, based on the verdict in this case, and the eight years probation and the like, for people with this problem to maybe talk to a doctor and maybe come forward?
They are help-able, are they not? Isn't that the general thinking: That you can help them?
PHILLIPS: From what I understand, it's not easy to treat. But if a person is sufficiently motivated to change, I believe a person can change. And with this kind of therapy, even if the person can't change the impulse, they can change the behavior, and they will certainly, in my opinion, learn empathy for other people. Because a lot of this has to do, aside from the physical attraction, it has to do with a sense of maintaining control.
And I would think that if you are forced to learn about the feelings of other people through therapy, that you, perhaps, are less likely to act out.
KING: You're very wise, Jeanne, thank you.
PHILLIPS: Oh, you're a doll, thank you.
KING: Jeanne Phillips, you know her as Dear Abby. What a story.
Speaking of what a story, a man who tracks them down. Dominick Dunne is next. Don't go away.
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. And always a great pleasure to welcome to this program -- it almost feels like "Dominick Dunne Live."
Dominick Dunne of "Vanity Fair," his new program, "Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege and Justice" premieres tonight on Court TV. It's great to have him with us.
And congratulations on the show and all the rapid attention you've been getting attention for, and deservedly. The show's going to air for 13 weeks. We wish you the best of luck of with it.
DOMINICK DUNNE, HOST, "Power, Privilege & Justice," Court TV: I thank you.
KING: What do you think of -- we talked earlier with Elizabeth's parents. What do you make of this?
DUNNE: Well, you know, it's one of the most heartbreaking stories. I mean, the pictures of Elizabeth playing the harp. I mean, the gorgeous-looking child. And it's heartbreaking.
But what I think -- you know what's odd, this guy who slept in the car. You would think that he would...
KING: Come forward.
DUNNE: Come forward. I mean, if he didn't do it, why doesn't he come forward?
KING: And they don't think he did it.
DUNNE: And they don't -- they say he's not a suspect. I mean, I just don't get it. Why doesn't he go to the next phone booth and just say, no, I'm here and whatever I've done, I don't have this child.
KING: Or what about the angle of the 9-year-old and the not- telling them for two hours. He said that's natural.
I would have thought the opposite: that the first thing would be to run.
DUNNE: Me too.
KING: So what do you make of it?
DUNNE: Well, there's something -- that story's kind of changed over the...
KING: Correct. And tonight they didn't wish to respond to that aspect of it.
DUNNE: Yes, yes. I just -- I don't know.
KING: It's a puzzlement.
DUNNE: It's a puzzlement. I feel sorry for that little girl, Mary Catherine. She's in a terrible position, you know, if she didn't say anything.
But now they're saying that they didn't know that the person who took Elizabeth didn't even know Mary Catherine was in the room. I mean, I don't know why they -- that's a very different story from what was first told.
KING: And could the scene have been contaminated by relatives being there before police arrived?
DUNNE: As they say, an extended family. And it's a very, very large extended family.
KING: Dominick Dunne has always been a terrific writer, involved in movies and the lot. You really got interested in crime with the murder of your daughter, right?
DUNNE: That's right.
KING: Before that, you weren't into -- specifically into covering crime.
KING: What fascinates you about it as a subject of life for you, almost? We think of Dominick Dunne, we think of crime. Not committing, covering.
DUNNE: Covering. God knows, not committing.
But, you know, it all started with what happened to me. I mean, it all started being in a courtroom and watching what happened. I mean, watching the lies that I heard told in the courtroom. And, you know -- and the show business aspect -- especially of California trials.
And the fact -- the rage that I felt that the man who killed my daughter got 2 1/2 years. I mean, please. This.
And that's what got me started on it. I actually, though, before that, I've always had a fascination with sort of classy crimes. I mean...
KING: Rich people's crimes.
DUNNE: Yes. I was always fascinated by the Woodward case. And I wrote my first novel.
KING: Stanley Woodward?
DUNNE: No, William Woodward, who was shot by his wife, Ann Woodward. And I wrote my first novel -- my first really successful novel, "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles," based on that case.
And I was always fascinated. And that happened, of course, you know, long before this happened to me. And -- but I was always fascinated. I live right around the corner from Lana Turner in Beverly Hills on the night that that -- when her daughter killed Johnny Stompanato. I still have always thought that...
KING: Lana did it.
DUNNE: Maybe Lana did it and the daughter took the rap.
But, I mean, I was fascinated then, and that was long before this happened to me.
And she had -- Lana had -- you know, I'm always also fascinated by the rich people who, when something like this takes place, they call their lawyer before they call the police. And Lana called Gerry Giesler. Do you remember the famous, famous Gerry Giesler. The -- every movie who was in trouble got Gerry Giesler. And as I said...
KING: Get Giesler.
DUNNE: Get Giesler.
And as I said, that was around the corner from our house. My wife was mortified. I couldn't -- I stood outside that house, just watching the comings and goings of Gerry Giesler. And I wanted to be inside so bad to hear it all, what they were talking about.
KING: Are you going to do a different -- every week you're doing a different murder story...
DUNNE: Yes, yes.
KING: You cover it sort of like anthology?
DUNNE: Yes, yes.
And then we have a couple of fascinating ones. There's this recluse heiress in the Hunt Country of Virginia, called Suzanne (ph) -- spelled "Suzanne," (ph) but she was called Suzanne Cummings (ph) who was the -- who is the daughter of a billionaire arms dealer. And she lives in a great mansion there, but only has two rooms of it furnished.
And she's into horses totally. And she had a polo team. And she fell in love with this Argentineans polo player. And he moved in with her. And she found out that he was playing around or something, and she shot him at the breakfast table. And...
KING: I'm not laughing. Enjoy your toast, dear? Pow!
DUNNE: And pow!
And killed him. And they went on -- she went on trial. And of course, she claimed in the trial that he was abusive to her. And -- but the fact remains, she got, Larry, a sentence of 60 days.
KING: On that note, we'll be back with our remaining moments with tonight's edition of LARRY KING LIVE with Dominick Dunne.
Here's a scene from the show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "Power, Privilege & Justice")
DUNNE: America's upper class has been attracted to Palm Beach for well over a century. Ever since the Vanderbilts first arrived, the town has made catering to the moneyed elite its primary goal.
For Jim Sullivan, it was socially about as far from south Boston as one could get.
When he moved into this Casa Aleda (ph), he thought he had arrived.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with our remaining moments with Dominick Dunne.
By the way, I failed to mention earlier, but one of the best books I read last year in hardcover, now in paperback, is "Justice," out in trade paperback.
In the remaining moments -- you got this show -- "Power, Privilege and Justice," you got amazing reviews. It's probably going to be picked up, you'll probably be on forever.
Do you like having become a celebrity yourself?
DUNNE: Yes and no. You know, there's drawbacks to it. I mean, it's also nice. I mean, let's face it, it's very nice to be recognized.
KING: Front row in the courtroom?
DUNNE: Oh yes.
KING: Judges know you.
DUNNE: Yes, yes.
KING: People on the street know you.
DUNNE: People on the street -- but I like people on -- it's amazing that, especially after the Skakel thing and you'd walk down the street and people would go, yes, just like this.
KING: That was some night on this show with you and them and the family of the victim.
DUNNE: Yes, yes.
KING: What's the no side?
DUNNE: Well, sometimes the celebrity part keeps you from doing what you should do. I mean, I am primarily a novelist. And... KING: You're happier fiction.
DUNNE: Well, no, I like them both. I mean, I like both journalism and fiction. And I love having the split life.
But my novel that I'm writing, which I'm crazy about. I mean, I think it's my best one, it's take an backseat. And...
KING: Now you're a television star.
DUNNE: And so -- but I'm taking the summer off, and I'm just going to work on that novel.
DUNNE: Well, it's called "A Solo Act." It is a sequel -- or 20 years later, after my novel, "People Like Us," which took place in New York and the high-class world of New York. It features a crime that's a true crime, which I'm not talking about. And, anyway, it's real people.
KING: All your fiction is based on fact.
DUNNE: Every bit.
KING: Why do the rich fascinate you?
KING: They're different.
DUNNE: They're different. They are. They are.
KING: We're talking about the ultra-rich.
You know the way I look at it: Shakespeare wrote about kings. He didn't write about straight people. And, you know, I've just had this amazing life where I've had this access to a world that is very glamorous, and -- when crime among the rich and powerful takes place, it's different than crime with -- for other people.
KING: But there are some who insist that they're less interesting than everyday people. Rich people are less interesting.
DUNNE: Well, not to me.
KING: To you, they are. Because -- is money a burden?
DUNNE: Well, I mean, there's a sense -- I mean, when I look at Michael Skakel in the courtroom, I mean, you can tell he's a rich kid. And there's an attitude about him that the normal person doesn't have. That interests me.
KING: And you like writing about them.
DUNNE: I do. KING: And watching them.
DUNNE: I do.
KING: And you also mingle with them. You go to parties.
DUNNE: I do. I do. All of the above.
KING: How do they treat you, those who are -- how do the Skakels treat you? How did O.J. look at you?
DUNNE: Yes. Yes.
And, you know, Robert Kennedy Jr. calls me the leader of the lynch mob against his family. That's nonsense. I mean, it just happened that I covered the William Kennedy Smith's rape trial and the Skakel murder trial, and they're his cousins.
And -- but they don't like me. And that happens.
KING: You know, we always think that you're on the side of the law, in a sense. I love that you thought Dear Abby was terrific for doing what she did.
DUNNE: I love what she did.
KING: Would you go to bat on a case where you thought someone innocent was found guilty? Let's say you...
DUNNE: Well, I'm going that right now. In the case in Monte Carlo, I think that the nurse -- the male nurse who is in prison has been in prison for 2 1/2 years in Safra case in the death of -- you know, I'm on his side. And he's the bad guy on this. I'm usually on the...
KING: This is a new one for you.
DUNNE: It is, because I think he's being railroaded. And, I mean, I feel kind of passionate about helping this guy.
KING: Because you're first and foremost a journalist.
DUNNE: That's right.
KING: And you're a good man.
DUNNE: Thanks Larry.
KING: We're happy to have been part of all your success. Small part, but happy to be there.
DUNNE: Big part. KING: Dominick Dunne, "Power, Privilege and Justice" debuts this week. He's an amazing guy. We wish him nothing but the best. The book "Justice," is now out in trade Paperback.
William is 20 years old tomorrow -- who else could I be talking about? The royals: Tomorrow night a major panel on that.
And Sunday night we're going to do a very special edition of LARRY KING WEEKEND that will certainly attract your attention. We'll let you know about it tomorrow night.
Stay tuned for Aaron Brown and NEWSNIGHT next. Good night.
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