CNN WOLF BLITZER REPORTS
Dramatic Developments in D.C. Sniper Case
Aired October 21, 2002 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR (voice-over): A day of dramatic developments in the sniper case. A raid in Richmond.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They threw the passenger door open. They slid the sliding door open. Their upper bodies went into it and then pulled him out and immediately stuck him on the ground.
BLITZER: But are police any closer to catching the killer?
A brief and cryptic statement from the man in charge of the sniper manhunt.
CHIEF CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD. POLICE: We are going to respond to a message that we have received.
BLITZER: The sniper's most recent victim battles for his life as another is laid to rest.
Investigators are working around the clock. But another serial killer once terrorized New York for a year. What toll is this taking on police? I'll ask one of the cops who broke the Son of Sam case.
ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of WOLF BLITZER REPORTS: "Sniper Attacks." Reporting live from Montgomery County, Maryland, here's Wolf Blitzer.
BLITZER: Thanks for joining us. The sniper investigation heads in different directions but is one of them a dead end? Two men are taken into custody in Richmond, Virginia, as police spring a trap. But who got caught?
There is a new and crucial clue linking the latest shooting to the serial sniper. We'll get the latest from our Justice correspondent Kelly Arena and our National Correspondent Gary Tuchman. He's on the site of the raid in Richmond, Virginia.
But first, correspondent Kathleen Koch is here in Montgomery County with me, where Police Chief Charles Moose just finished a chilling -- had a chilling message to the sender of a mysterious message -- Kathleen.
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Police Chief Moose still won't say who this third and cryptic message is to. Now most people assume it is to the killer but it could just as well be to an accomplice or someone else.
But in any case, in this third message the police chief seems to imply they're having a problem communicating.
MOOSE: The person you called could not hear everything that you said. The audio was unclear and we want to get it right. Call us back so that we can clearly understand.
KOCH (voice-over): Earlier in the day, as all attention focused on the apprehension two of men in the Richmond area, Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose calmly delivered another cryptic statement on the sniper killings.
MOOSE: Message that needs to be delivered is that we are going to respond to a message that we have received. We will respond later. We are preparing our response at this time.
KOCH: It sparked early speculation, later proven true, that the killer hadn't been caught. Three hours later, a scheduled briefing canceled at the last minute.
LUCILLE BAUR, MONTGOMERY CO. POLICE: I hope that everyone will appreciate that we are at a very sensitive stage of this investigation. And therefore it is critical that we determine when it is appropriate to speak, who speaks and what they say.
KOCH: All words carefully parsed. Authorities fearful of impacting the butting dialogue they've begun with someone, perhaps the shooter. It's unclear whether the morning police dragnet in Virginia will hamper communications.
CASEY JORDAN, CNN CRIMINOLOGIST: He or they were watching the unfolding of events and certainly learned a lot from it. And certainly are going to be hard pressed to want to reach out to the police because all indications were that this morning's events were part of the carefully orchestrated plan, even possibly a setup.
KOCH: As all this news was breaking today, families of victims were moving on with burying their loved ones. Forty-seven-year-old Linda Franklin, Wolf, the FBI employee who was gunned down outside the Home Depot just a week ago, was laid to rest in a funeral.
BLITZER: There was some confirmation now that shell casing they found in that rental box truck over at Dulles Airport over the weekend, a lot of interest in that but apparently not much information, not much news.
KOCH: Well, Wolf, it was interesting and I think in particular to authorities because they have the information that none of us do that this was actually a .223 round, the same type of round the killer or killers has been using in all the cases. But they did the testing, they found out that it was not a match and they told us that definitively today.
BLITZER: Kathleen Koch, stand by, we'll be getting back to you as well.
And now to those two men caught in the raid this morning. Our national correspondent Gary Tuchman is on the scene for us in Richmond with the very latest -- Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this all went down this morning during rush hour here in Henrico County, Virginia, which is about 15 minutes away from -- let me just take this out of my ear; I apologize -- which is about 15 minutes away from the state capital of Richmond. That means it's a very busy time here. One witness told us he thought all heck was breaking loose. And the center of attention was that telephone right at that Exxon station.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Witnesses say it was a well-organized raid, overwhelming, they say, in its execution. Armed police and federal law enforcement authorities went car to car at a gas station in Henrico County, Virginia, before rushing a van which a man was using a pay phone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It happened so quick. If you can imagine reaching inside of a van and grabbing something very quickly, it happened -- by the time that door opened, it couldn't have been two seconds by the time the guy was on the ground.
TUCHMAN: Authorities took the man in side the Plymouth Voyager into custody. More than 30 police vehicles were on the scene, a law enforcement helicopter flying overhead, a witness took still photographs of the scene. The van was towed away and later another man was taken into custody.
SHERIFF STUART COOK, HANOVER COUNTY, VIRGINIA: Those two individuals are being questioned at this time. The investigation is continuing. And we have no further comment as to what evidence has been collected to this point.
TUCHMAN: As of now, there is no evidence either man is connected to the spree of sniper attacks. Authorities do say they have reached a conclusion about the most recent attack at the Ponderosa restaurant.
COOK: We can and do confirm at this time that the ballistics evidence recovered during our investigation has been matched with the other shooting cases.
TUCHMAN: There was a lot hope here among people who watched this that they were witnessing the capture of the sniper. At this point, though, it certainly appears that is not the case.
Wolf, back to you. BLITZER: Gary, there was a dramatic development. They shut down the schools in the Richmond area today. How's that playing? How's that going over with the public?
TUCHMAN: Well that was what was interesting, we had announcements yesterday that the schools would not be shut down, but what happened was a lot of parents called in saying, We're not going to send our kids to school if they are open. And that's why the prudent decision was made. They believed at that point to shut the schools down. But as the days go on, the plan is to open the schools and hopefully everything will work out well.
BLITZER: Gary Tuchman on the scene for us. We'll be getting back you to as well. Thanks very much.
So what did go wrong? Who did end up in the police trap? Let's go live to our Justice correspondent Kelli Arena. She's in our Washington bureau, who's been ahead of the curve, on top of the story all day long.
Kelli, tell us what happened.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the two individuals that were taken into custody were undocumented workers according to sources. One is said to be Mexican. The other Guatemalan.
Now, sources say they are being turned over to the INS and will be detained while they are pending removal proceedings. The sources say they are confident that neither of the two men is the sniper but what role, if any, they played that caused police to apprehend them is still unclear at this time.
According to our sources, it was intelligence that led agents to the area where the men were taken into custody. Sources say that a call came into the FBI tipline Saturday night after the last shooting. Someone on the phone speaking with an accent told police to look in the woods near the Ponderosa restaurant for a note.
Well, police did find a note there. We're told it was handwritten, somewhat lengthy and sources say that it hinted at a demand for money. Now the letter is currently in the FBI lab undergoing analysis.
Now police traced the phone call to a phone that's about five miles from where one of the individuals that was taken into custody was apprehended this morning. Federal and local agents were on site surveilling that area and others this morning. These two men -- well, one of the men came into that location, was apprehended. Another was apprehended just a little bit -- a little while away. But it looks like at this point that there are no charges at least relating to the sniper incident that are going to be filed, Wolf.
BLITZER: And so it could wind up being, Kelli, just two guys happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. ARENA: Well, you just took the words right out of one of my source's mouths. Exactly what he said. He says it is looking more and more exactly like that.
There was some suspicion, though, earlier in the day surrounding the two. Some officials were speculating that perhaps they had some connection to the letter that was found on site. That speculation, though, somewhat diminishing late in the day.
And, you know, one official said to me, Look, Kelli, if they're being handed over to INS, then that's a done deal, then obviously law enforcement has no interest in them.
BLITZER: Kelli Arena, doing some excellent reporting for us, as she always does. Thanks for that report.
False leads and a letter found in the woods -- where do police go from here? An in-depth look at the investigation, when we return.
Plus, the latest sniper victim fights back. We'll check up on him and the 13-year-old boy still recovering from his bullet wound.
Also ahead, is President Bush holding out hope for peace with Iraq? And what about North Korea.
But first, a look at some other news making "Headlines Around the World."
BLITZER (voice-over): Where's everybody? A strike today closed businesses in Venezuela. Opponents are trying to force President Hugo Chavez to resign.
Irish ayes have Europe smiling. There were celebrations after Irish voters approved a plan to expand the European Union. The Nice treaty, already approved by other European countries, will let the EU add new members in Central and Eastern Europe.
Here is the beef. They barbecued British beef in Paris for the first time in years to celebrate the end of a ban imposed during the mad cow crisis. The ban got to be a sore point in Anglo-French relations. Now, French consumers are getting their beef, and British farmers don't have a beef.
They do. It wasn't exactly a gay wedding, but in socially conservative Italy, it still raised more than a few eyebrows. Two men exchanged rings in Rome under a French law that gives legal rights to gay couples. Both men are Italian, but one of them also has French citizenship.
It was man versus machine, and at least the man didn't lose. After a series of matches in Bahrain, world chess champion Vladimir Kramnik battled a supercomputer named Deep Fritz to a draw. The man says he found the match exhausting. The machine was unavailable for comment. With apologies to the late Ed Sullivan, here is what we would call a really big shoe. In the Philippines, the home, after all, of Emelda Marcos, shoemakers hoping for a spot in the "Guinness Book of World Records" have completed work on an unusual pair of men's shoes. They're 18 feet long by 7 feet wide and no, we don't know what size that would be. And that's our look around the world.
BLITZER: Continuing coverage on the sniper attacks. Just ahead, at 20 after the hour, surviving the shooting, a doctor's race to save the latest victim's life, and at 50 after, the marathon manhunt, how searching for the killer takes its toll on police. All that coming up, much more on WOLF BLITZER REPORTS.
BLITZER: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Montgomery County, Maryland. Early in the day, hopes were raised that police may have cracked this case. Now, for many, worry and fear are creeping right back in. Is this a setback for the investigators? Are they communicating with the sniper or snipers?
Joining me now from New York City, Bill Daily. He is a former FBI investigator. He's director of operations for Controlled Risks Group, specializing in crisis management -- Bill, thanks for joining us.
A very, very, roller -- a roller coaster kind of day. I think in the history of investigations, that probably is not all that unusual, but with this focus, how unusual is it?
BILL DALY, FORMER FBI INVESTIGATOR: I think you're right, Wolf, is that normally a lot of these ups and downs in cases, the drama of it all, is played out inside of squad rooms and inside of government office buildings as they start to work through cases. This one is played out on national and international television. So every little walk, every little picture taken by police at the crime scene is documented. People try to read into it. But you're right, on this type of case, though, it certainly is, I think, impressive, the amount of police that have responded to this scene so quickly, and I think it is something that talks about how they actually have these people under surveillance, or what they were anticipating them to do.
BLITZER: Even if it was a false alarm or a dead end. I want you to listen, Bill, to the three very terse, cryptic statements the Montgomery County police chief, Charles Moose, made last night, this morning, and just within the past hour, and I want to get your assessment what he's trying to achieve. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES MOOSE, POLICE CHIEF, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND: To the person who left us a message at the Ponderosa last night, you gave us a telephone number. We do want to talk to you. Call us at the number you provided.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOOSE: We are going to respond to a message that we have received. We will respond later. We are preparing our response at this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOOSE: The person you called could not hear everything that you said. The audio was unclear, and we want to get it right. Call us back so that we can clearly understand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Without obviously saying or doing anything that might undermine this investigation, Bill, what can you tell us, what is Chief Moose trying to do here?
DALY: Well, it is apparent they're trying to establish or have established on a very preliminary basis, some type of dialogue and they are hoping to continue that, and it appears in the last comment that there was some technical issue here that whoever received the call could not hear it for whatever reason, whether the line was poor, whether the quality of speech was poor, and I believe that this is the first step and a very hopeful step towards talking to this person or persons and trying to, you know, de-escalate this.
I also think, Wolf, what we saw earlier as this person or persons look on, has to be reassuring in the sense that in this country is that -- here we are looking at somebody who has killed numerous people and yet the police take care and tactic and remove the people without incident, without shooting them. So I believe that if the person looking on and fearing capture this should alleviate some of that concern.
BLITZER: It sounded to me, of the years I've been covering these kinds of situations, almost like a hostage kind of situation where you negotiating with hostage holders, trying to release hostages. Did that run through your mind?
DALY: Yes. That's exactly right, is that during the course of these type of conversations, let's call them, there is an establishment of trust and confidence, and that's why it is important for all of us who talk about it, talk about it in public, to be careful because we don't want to undermine that in any way, because I do believe the police are acting with the best faith, with the best support and resources available to them and the fact that they're being cryptic is not trying to keep the public out of it, but trying to establish a one on one relationship so that we can hopefully bring this thing to a close.
BLITZER: Let's hope we do that very, very soon. Bill Daly, as usual, thanks for your insight. We always appreciate that.
DALY: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you. And here is your chance to weigh in on this story. Our web question of the day is this: do you think authorities will ever catch the sniper? We'll have the results later this hour. Vote at CNN.COM/WOLF. While you're there, I want to hear from you. Please send me your comments, your questions. We'll try to read some of them on the air each day at the end of this program. That is also, of course, where you can read my daily online column. CNN.COM/WOLF.
The victim of this weekend's shooting struggling to stay alive. When we return, sniper survivor, the medical outlook for a man who beat the odds.
And a letter left behind at the scene, police respond with a mysterious message. Is it for the killer or someone else playing a cruel game?
First, our weekend snapshot.
BLITZER: A murder case stemming from race riots more than three decades ago drew to a close Saturday in York, Pennsylvania. A jury found York's former mayor, Charlie Robertson, not guilty of conspiring to murder an African-American woman. The killing happened during the city's 1969 race riots. Two other white men were convicted.
In northern Mexico, stranded American tourists started heading home last night after protesting fishermen ended their human blockade across a major highway. The road connects a Mexican resort to the Arizona border. The protest began Saturday.
Hundreds of mourners gathered in New Port Beach, California, yesterday to pay tribute to an American who died in recent bombing attack on the Indonesian island of Bali. Steven Webster (ph) was on a surfing trip to Bali to celebrate his 41st birthday.
You can't tell people in Minnesota and North Dakota that it is not winter yet. The region is digging out from its first major snowfall of the season. Up to 10 inches fell in central Minnesota over the weekend.
And in California, the Giants and the Angels are taking a break from their match up in the World Series. Today is an off day. In last night's action, Anaheim tied the series at one game a piece, beating San Francisco 11-10.
The action picks up again tomorrow night with Anaheim at San Francisco, and that's our "Weekend Snapshot."
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Montgomery County, Maryland. The man who was wounded in Ashland, Virginia, Saturday had surgery once again today.
CNN's Michael Okwu is in Richmond, and he has the latest -- Michael.
MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, hello to you. The man and now the 12th victim to be targeted by this sniper has not yet been identified by authorities to the public, but we do understand that he's 37 years old and that he's in stable but critical condition. In the words of his doctor, he has a "long way to go."
Now, he underwent his second operation today, one of several that his doctors say that he will have to endure in the coming days if not the coming weeks ahead.
Now, a single bullet was removed from his body, in the words of his doctor, again, a bullet that appeared to be deformed, that had a very explosive effect on some of the vital organs in his abdomen, specifically they say his spleen and parts of his stomach and pancreas were removed and apparently he lost four to five liters of blood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. RAO IVATURY, MEDICAL COLLEGE OF VIRGINIA: Since last night, he has stabilized. He remains stable. He is conscious. He's responding to his wife's voice, he's moving all the extremities, his vital signs have remained very stable, and all his numbers are coming back to normal. So he's in a relatively stable but critical condition, there is still a long way to go. We expect a lot of complications because of all the injuries he has received, all the amount of blood he's received. It is going to be a stormy course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OKWU: Now, you heard the doctor mention his wife. She has been at his bedside since this happened on Saturday night. This is a very, very unfortunate case of bad timing, and just unfortunate timing. Apparently, this couple is from out of state and they were simply passing through, making a very brief stop at the Ponderosa restaurant when the shots rang out on Saturday night.
Now, the doctor says in a best case scenario, this man will be able to leave the hospital in about two to three weeks. In the worst case scenario, in several months. We understand that he's still not yet able to talk, but as his doctors so aptly put it, he is -- he is very lucky to be alive -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Michael Okwu on the scene for us, thanks for that report. Let's learn a little bit more about these bullet wounds. We have asked Dr. Dennis Wang to join us. He is director of trauma services at the Washington Hospital Center -- Dr. Wang, thanks for joining us.
One of the things that Dr. Ivaturi in Richmond made a point of saying, infection, he's worried about infection. What does that mean?
DR. DENNIS WANG, WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: What it means is that the bullet actually went through part of his stomach and the stomach carries a large amount of bacteria and with the devowelized (ph) tissue surrounded by the bullet itself, so it can cause infection. The patient, as he said, lost four to five liters of blood, and with the amount of shock that the patient has, our immune system sort of took a big hit, and was unable to even clear some of the basic bacteria that a normal, healthy patient be able to clear.
BLITZER: He also made a point of saying that he had just eaten, and the food that was still in the stomach, obviously, could further complicate this problem of infection.
WANG: Correct. As we know, we have bacteria from our mouth, all the way down in the proximal portion, and certainly it can spread bacteria and food products and bacteria sort of lives in the environment where there is devowelized (ph) tissue, blood, and so on and so forth. So that is also a potential, probably a little further down the road at this point.
BLITZER: This bullet, Dr. Ivaturi says, effected -- went through the pancreas, the spleen, the kidney, the stomach. We have a graphic, we'll have a little picture to show our viewers, but there is obviously an enormous amount of damage that could be done, and a lot of surgery is going to be required when you look at the potential damage there.
WANG: Right. When you look at the picture, the bullet is mainly -- if you look at the right-hand side, where the stomach and the spleen is. When the bullet went -- passed through that area, just as I -- again, a rifle bullet, which carries a lot of kinetic energy, and so instead of a simple handgun bullet which just sort of lacerate whatever organ it goes through, this rifle bullet carries a lot of energy and causes damage, a surrounding zone of damage, by passing the energy to the stomach, the spleen, the pancreas, sort of shatter those organs as it passes through the body.
BLITZER: How lucky is this 37-year-old man, who we are told is about 6 feet tall, 200 pounds, was in good health. How lucky is he to be alive right now?
WANG: I think the bullet, all he needs is travel several inches in another direction, could have hit the heart or could have hit the major blood vessel, something called the aorta, going right down the middle of the body. If any one of those all are hit, he would have no chance of making it to the hospital alive.
BLITZER: And you know Dr. Ivaturi in Richmond. He's in good medical hands?
WANG: Oh, Dr. Ivaturi is a nationally renowned surgeon. Actually, his specialty specifically involved dealing with these major injuries, with shock and reoperation. The condition he's described, he's one of the leading experts in the country. BLITZER: I know you've been looking into the case of the 13- year-old boy who was shot, also in the torso, at Prince George's county. He's still recuperating. How is he doing?
WANG: The latest report we have obtained from Children's Hospital has been that his condition has been upgraded to serious from critical. So, that means he's making expected improvements, and he's getting better.
BLITZER: His gunshot wound was different, though, than the 37- year-old man.
WANG: Slightly different, slightly a little bit more in the upper -- toward the upper portion, the lower chest. So, his (UNINTELLIGIBLE) involved both the lung, part of the diaphragm, which is the muscle that helps us breathe, and also the spleen itself.
BLITZER: Dr. Wang, thanks for coming out. Thanks for your expertise. Really appreciate it. Good luck to you.
WANG: It was a pleasure.
BLITZER: Thank you very much.
And the sniper's eleventh victim is being remembered as a spirited woman with a generous heart. A funeral was held today for Linda Franklin, more than it 200 mourners gathered to say their good- byes at a church in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of Washington. Franklin was a 47-year-old FBI analyst. She was gun downed in a shopping center parking garage one week ago in Falls Church, Virginia. Our deepest condolences to the entire family.
Is the killer trying to communicate with police or is there a hoax in the works? A letter left at the scene of Saturday's shooting may provide a break police are looking for. An update on what we know so far when we return.
Plus, what may be the first appearance of Jesus in written form. An archaeological discovery that may provide a biblical clue, but first, today's "News Quiz.' According to historians, Jesus spoke what language? Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, English? The answer coming up.
BLITZER: Welcome back to CNN. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Montgomery County, Maryland. Cryptic developments in the sniper investigation.
We turn back now to the frustrating search for a serial sniper. Investigators have once again delivered a mysterious message through the news media. CNN's Kathleen Koch joins us once again here in Montgomery County. She has more -- Kathleen.
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, baby steps today in the dialogue that police are trying to start with someone involved in the sniper shootings. We don't know if it is the killer, an accomplice, perhaps, or someone else. Now, the chief last night asked this person to call. Then this morning the chief said that the police were formulating a response. And then this afternoon he indicated that the communications were garbled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE: The person you called could not hear everything that you said. The audio was unclear and we want to get it right. Call us back so that we can clearly understand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOCH: Now, we at this point, have no promises from the police of another briefing this evening or another message though clearly authorities are not hesitating whatsoever to use the media as a conduit in this case. Police Chief Moose himself today instead of expressing anger or frustration with the media actually saying he appreciates our help on this one. And he would not, however, respond to my question as to whether he or police are in any way more encouraged or optimistic now that they have opened this very beginning stages of a dialogue with someone involved in the case -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Kathleen Koch reporting once again for us here in Montgomery County. I think I can speak for all of us in the news media out here and I think all the news media reporting on this story were more than happy to be used if it can help in this investigation.
More clues now to the serial killer are being brought to light. There is this latest message, of course, from the authorities and that letter that was found near the recent sniper shootings. Once again, Jeanne Meserve is following all of the developments.
It's been a roller coaster kind of day, ups and downs and expectations raised and dashed.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been a roller coaster kind of week, actually. Today, definitely a sense of change of tempo, people very upbeat, feeling this case was unfolding very rapidly. One official telling me, "Hey, on a scale of one to 10, we think with these arrests in Richmond, we're up there on a seven in terms of optimism, very upbeat." Then of course, it turns out that was largely a red herring. These men apparently just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Things quickly deescalating.
It reminded me a little bit of what happened last week, Wolf, after the Falls Church shooting where you had the witness who had given police a very specific description about the shooter, about how he operated, even about his weapon, about his vehicle. That witness, however, later discredited and all that information had to be discarded. Let me mention that that witness was in court today. He was arraigned in Fairfax County. His name is Matthew Dowdy. He is charged with giving false information to a police officer in the course of an investigation. He -- a trial date has been set for November. He's being held without bond -- without bail, rather -- no bail set for him. And we learned a little bit about his past criminal record. Apparently, there have been 10 arrests, seven felony convictions, nothing about what motivated him here.
I'd say the big difference between the high and low today and the high and low last week is still today you have this line of communication that apparently has been established, that the police are working. You to believe that that is a very, very significant development here. They don't feel that they're back to ground zero, which was the impression of some of the detectives on the case last week.
BLITZER: Getting back to Matthew Dowdy, the man who provided false information allegedly, do you get the sense they want to make an example of him so that others don't come forward and do the same thing?
MESERVE: Very definitely, very definitely. Although the initial conversations we had with the Fairfax County commonwealth's attorney were we have other priorities. That's catching the sniper. We're going to go slow on this. There were people close to this investigation who felt they had to move quickly with the prosecution here to send the message -- we won't put up with this. We can't have people messing with the police when you have this sort of life and death situation.
BLITZER: You've got Montgomery County, where we are now, Prince George's County, several counties in Virginia, the District of Columbia, the FBI, other federal agencies. How much of a jurisdictional issue, problem, is there if there is a jurisdictional problem?
MESERVE: Well, sources I've talked to indicate there is a problem and it came to light very sharply today when they were dealing with the arrest down in Richmond. I talked to officials here in Montgomery County who felt they weren't getting the information they needed from down in the Richmond area. I talked to officials in Virginia who felt they weren't getting the information they needed from Montgomery County. So both sides feeling a little out of sorts about that.
There also are issues about federal agencies and local jurisdictions. There also are issues between police and civilian authorities who have to be somewhat well informed in order to make decisions that affect everybody's everyday life, so a number of issues here.
One person I spoke to yesterday said there has to come a point where they look again seriously at the matter of whether this become a federal investigation. The geography alone here is making this quite daunting. You now have connected shootings ranging from Ashland, which is a suburb of Richmond, to north of Washington, D.C. It is hard for detectives to sit down and have the sort of face-to-face interchange that these sorts of investigations require. And this individual saying they're really going to have to address the geography issue.
BLITZER: And so if that happens, if a federal agency takes charge, I assume it would be the FBI. MESERVE: I assume it would be as well. It's only assumption. I can't tell you whether those conversations are actually taking place. I can't tell you, of course, whether there's has been a decision or not on whether to make that move. The question has been asked repeatedly -- will this become a federal investigation? The answer until now from the podium has been we don't need to do that. It really wouldn't make any difference. But I think that this sprawling nature of the investigation continues to change and I think they're going -- according to my sources, they're going to have to revisit the issue.
BLITZER: And yesterday when I interviewed the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, she said the president is being briefed every morning by the FBI director, very often by the attorney general. He has full confidence in the local, state and federal investigators involved in this. So we'll continue to monitor all of this.
Jeanne Meserve, thanks for that report.
MESERVE: You bet.
BLITZER: President Bush meanwhile is speaking out on Iraq and North Korea, but he talked more of peace than of war. We'll go live to the White House when we come back. Plus, the toll taken on police officers. When a serial killer is on the loose, how do they deal with the pressure? It can be enormous. I'll speak to a former detective who's been there.
BLITZER: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Montgomery County. We'll get back to do our coverage of the search for the sniper in the Washington area in just a few moments, but there is other important news unfolding right now. President Bush offered his first on-camera reaction today to the news that North Korea has a secret nuclear weapons program. Our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux is standing by, and she has details.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this Bush administration is really engaged in a full court press to try to force North Korea to disarm. Earlier today, Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly met with the Japanese foreign minister to make that case that North Korea must be isolated economically. Earlier this afternoon, President Bush hosted secretary-general of NATO, Lord Robertson, at the Oval Office. They discussed the need to expand NATO, but also the growing threat of terrorism around the world, specifically Iraq, North Korea and other rogue states.
And as you mentioned, Wolf, President Bush for the first time directly addressing North Korea's admission that it has nuclear weapons. The president emphasizing the need to use diplomatic channels, economic pressure as well as alliances to force North Korea to disarm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I view this as an opportunity to work with our friends in the region and work with other countries in the region, to ally against the proliferation of serious weapons and to convince Kim Jung Il that he must disarm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: And Wolf, the administration also threatening to use its economic might to force North Korea to disarm either through economic sanctions or pulling fuel assistance and those U.S. funded power plant projects as well -- Wolf.
BLITZER: He also spoke about disarming Iraq. What was his message on that from?
MALVEAUX: Very interesting, Wolf, because we've heard this administration empathize the distinction -- the difference between the two, North Korea and Iraq -- saying that, yes, they are willing to use military force against Saddam Hussein if necessary for him to disarm Iraq. But the president seemed to have a much softer position. He's really de-emphasizing disarmament and instead talking about -- rather not talking about ousting Saddam Hussein but disarmament.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We've tried diplomacy. We're trying too one more time. I believe the free world if we make up our mind to can disarm this man peacefully. But if not, if not, there is -- we have the will and the desire, as do other nations, to disarm Saddam.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Wolf, this is really the most conciliatory language that we have heard from the president. This language, of course, comes at the time when there is a resolution before the U.N. Security Council. The U.S. anxiously awaiting to see if it gets the approval from the permanent five -- Wolf.
BLITZER: You signal, Suzanne, maybe an explanation why this more conciliatory or apparently more conciliatory tone, trying to get that Security Council resolution passed in the coming days. Is that what you're hearing?
MALVEAUX: Absolutely, that is part of it. And there's a back and forth. We heard Secretary Powell yesterday suggesting that perhaps if Iraq were to disarm, perhaps Saddam Hussein would actually survive this regime change. That point really being pressed today with Ari Fleischer, White House spokesperson. What does regime change mean? This administration emphasizing the need for that, but really kind of unclear at this point whether that means that Saddam Hussein must go.
BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux at the White House, thanks for all that information. We appreciate it. When we come back, inside the mind of a serial killer. What clues can police learn from the past? We'll talk to a lead investigator on the Son of Sam case. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Montgomery County, Maryland. What toll is the sniper taking among the investigators working desperately trying to stop the killings? Joining me now from New York is Joe Coffey. He's a former NYPD detective. He played a key role in the Son of Sam investigation a generation ago.
Joe, thanks for joining us. I see these police officers, the other law enforcement authorities on a day-to-day basis. The pressure must be enormous. You've been in their shoes. Talk a little bit about that.
JOE COFFEY, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: Well, the pressure comes from many quarters and it is enormous, as you pointed out. You getting it from the press, you're getting it from the public, you're getting it from the police department that you serve and you're also getting it at home. In my case, I had a 16-year-old daughter at the time, and Berkowitz's targets were young, good-looking girls. So the pressure comes from all quarters and it is enormous and it takes a toll.
BLITZER: And so, how do they deal with this? It's been almost three weeks -- tomorrow, it will be three weeks since the first shooting and I don't think any of them have taken any time off. They're working almost around the clock. Is that smart because who knows how long this investigation can continue?
COFFEY: Well, we went for nine months without a day off during the Son of Sam investigation. The actual case itself ran 13 months from the first incident to the last. We have a luxury that these gentlemen don't have. And our luxury was that we had weeks and sometimes months between each incident to collect our thoughts and develop patterns and get things together. These poor guys down in that area don't have that luxury.
BLITZER: Is it a smart situation where they have this committee, this interjurisdictional work, the counties, the local authorities, the state authorities, the federal authorities, all of them working on this overall task force? You think that makes sense?
COFFEY: Well, they have no choice really. But in our case we were very lucky because we had exclusive jurisdiction. We had no interference. When you deal in a situation where you have multi jurisdictions, you're going to have turf battles. You're going to have feuds.
One interesting aspect I'd like to point out here, this alleged note that was left by the Ponderosa in Richmond, Virginia, it is interesting in that the response to it was given by Chief Moose up in Montgomery County. That would indicate to me that either that note was addressed to him personally or the number they left on that note was the hot line. My reaction to that was why didn't the Richmond police respond to that note?
BLITZER: And what do you think the answer might be? COFFEY: I think it was addressed to Chief Moose personally or the number that was left is the number of the hot line.
BLITZER: What do you think this person is leaving these notes and asking for some sort of communication? Cryptic as it may be, what's he trying to achieve?
COFFEY: Well, in Berkowitz's case, when these serial killers drop messages, drop notes, phone calls, whatever, they're taunting the police. In Berkowitz's case, he was absolutely taunting the police. I was the first one to interview him when he was captured and he verified that thought. They like to show you they're smarter than you. The bottom line is ego. In fact, Berkowitz today wrote a letter to another competing news network of yours reiterating his quest for the limelight.
BLITZER: When you take a look at some of these law enforcement authorities right now, Joe -- and you understand you've been there, you've been in their shoes -- what advice do you have for them as they pursue this investigation?
COFFEY: Well, like I said it took 10 years off my life, don't let that happen to you. Treat it as a case, like any other case, even though the pressure is insurmountable. You have to keep your thoughts together. You have to be able to look yourself in the mirror every morning when you shave. Just keep going. Plow on. Handle it like a normal case.
In our particular case, in the Son of Sam, we didn't do that. We got personally involved and it took its toll.
BLITZER: Joe Coffey, thanks for your insight. I know I can speak for you when I say all of us wish these law enforcement authorities, officers, only the best as they cope with this investigation, the day-to-day tale -- toll that it's obviously taking on all of them. Thanks, Joe, for that information.
And we're going to take a quick break. When we come back, time is running out for you to weigh in on our "Web Questions of The Day." Do you think authorities will ever catch the sniper? Log on to CNN.com/Wolf. We'll get the results when we come back. We're also standing by for a briefing from Richmond, Virginia. We're expecting the sheriff to come out momentarily with some more information. We will, of course, have live coverage here on CNN. You're looking at a live picture from Richmond at that microphone. We'll be there when the sheriff emerges.
BLITZER: Earlier we asked, according to historians, Jesus spoke what language? The answer, the Semitic language, Aramaic, which was an international language of the Near East from the seventh century B.C.
In our "Picture of The Day," we focus on an artifact stirring excitement among religious scholars. Experts say an inscription found on a limestone burial box for bones appears to provide the oldest archaeological evidence yet of Jesus. The box, which one expert dates to the year A.D. 63, was recently discovered in Israel. The inscription reads in Aramaic, "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." While scholars say it's impossible to prove without a doubt that the references are to Jesus of Nazareth, one expert says it's very probable that's the case.
Now, here's how you're weighing in on our "Web Questions of The Day." Earlier we asked, do you think authorities will ever catch the sniper. Seventy-four percent of you say yes, 26 percent of you say no. You can find the exact tally and continue to vote on my Web site, CNN/com/Wolf. Remember, this is not a scientific poll.
Time to get some of your e-mails. Maria writes this -- "The Justice Department needs to put a muzzle on the media. The killer or killers is planning strategy based on the news reports. All these Monday morning quarterbacks, i.e. psychologists, profilers, shooting experts, criminologists, and the like, are looking for their five or 10 minutes of fame and Chief Moose is playing into their hands by giving press conferences with nothing to say."
Norman writes this -- "You just have to talk about the surveillance planes and so the shooter moves 90 miles away so he won't be seen. Why do you think the public needed to know this? Just whose side are you guys on?"
And Stan writes -- "If it isn't terrorism, it has surely put the idea in the heads of terrorists. Remember that these are the people prepared to blow themselves to bits."
That's all the time we have today. Remember, we're standing by for a news conference from Richmond, Virginia. The sheriff expected to emerge very, very soon. CNN, of course, will have live coverage. I'll see you back tomorrow. Until then, thanks very much for watching. "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE" is up next.
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