CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interviews With Family of Brian David Mitchell
Aired March 14, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, Elizabeth Smart, physically safe. What about psychological scars? And what of the strange couple suspected in her abduction? Who are Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee? What are they capable of?
Joining us from Salt Lake City with disturbing personal insight, Mitchell's ex-wife Debbie Mitchell, her daughter Rebecca and Debbie's children by Brian Mitchell, Sarah and Joey Mitchell.
We'll also hear from Mitchell's stepsons, Mark and Derrick Thompson. They tried to help police track down Mitchell and their mom Wanda.
And as Salt Lake City celebrates Elizabeth's miraculous return, we'll get an update on the teenager from member of her family.
Plus, exclusive. Don Johnson, one of TV's top cops. Was he really driving around Europe with $8 billion worth of securities? The "Miami Vice" star in his first interview about a customs stop that made headlines around the world. All next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We begin first in Salt Lake City with Debbie Mitchell and her daughter, Rebecca Woodbridge and her other daughter Sarah Mitchell and Joey Mitchell, who are the biological children of the suspect, Brian Mitchell.
Debbie, when did you first hook into the fact that your ex- husband may be the one involved with Elizabeth Smart?
DEBBIE MITCHELL, BRIAN MITCHELL'S EX-WIFE: Actually, when they said his name, and they suspected him, I knew that he would probably be the one that would had done that, more so than Richard Ricci.
KING: What made you think that he would do something like that?
D. MITCHELL: Because of the history of what he had in our marriage, and what he was doing with my children. And where they didn't came forward with information like that with Richard Ricci. No one ever came forward saying that he was that kind of person.
KING: Did you call the Smarts and tell them that?
D. MITCHELL: I did. The very next day.
KING: And what do they say? D. MITCHELL: They were -- I think more excited to hear more, they wanted to hear the whole story. So I told them completely everything I knew about him and my family. And I contacted the police after that.
But I also told them I felt very strongly that she was still alive. I never believed that she was dead. And if Brian was in fact the person involved that with this, he would not have killed her.
KING: So you -- knowing him as well as you did, you did not believe he was capable of murder?
D. MITCHELL: No, I didn't believe that.
KING: What do you think was his reasoning?
D. MITCHELL: Knowing that he was at the house, and knowing that he was involved with that family, in just a small way, I just reflected back on what he did to my children, and that this was something that he was still continuing to do.
KING: Rebecca Woodbridge, you were his stepdaughter, correct?
REBECCA WOODBRIDGE, BRIAN MITCHELL'S FORMER STEPDAUGHTER: Yes.
KING: What did he do to you that made you think that he might be involved in this?
WOODBRIDGE: He had sexually molested me for the five years that my mom was married to him.
KING: Did you tell your mom?
WOODBRIDGE: Yes, I did. And we had told authorities. And charges were pressed. And they dropped the charges against him and let him go.
WOODBRIDGE: They didn't say why. I feel -- well, this is hard. They didn't think that one, we were telling the truth.
WOODBRIDGE: ... that we were lying about it. And the bishop didn't believe my mom when she had told him. And they wanted to just act like nothing had happened.
KING: This is the Mormon bishop?
WOODBRIDGE: Yes, from my mom's church. The bishop at that time. He's no longer there.
KING: Debbie, as soon as you found out, why didn't you separate and leave him right away?
D. MITCHELL: I didn't find out about it until we were separated.
KING: Oh, I see.
D. MITCHELL: This came out afterwards. And it was reported.
KING: Were you shocked?
D. MITCHELL: Oh, yes. I had no idea he was doing that. He was mean to me. He was physically very, very mean to me during the course of our marriage. He'd beaten me up and was cruel in other ways.
But I didn't think -- I had no idea that he was doing this. This was like 17, 18, 19 years ago. My mind doesn't even go in that way. I had no way of knowing that.
KING: How old were you, Rebecca, when you were sexually molested?
WOODBRIDGE: It started when I was around 8 until I was 12.
KING: Those scars never go away, do they?
WOODBRIDGE: Parts of them do. I have closure in my life with what has happened. I'm able to move on. Now it's brought back up again...
WOODBRIDGE: ... and it's because nobody did anything. And they basically shooed it aside and let him go. And because of that, this little girl got hurt. And now I have to relive my entire past again.
KING: When his name first broke, did you think that he might have abducted Elizabeth Smart?
WOODBRIDGE: No, I didn't.
KING: So unlike your mother, who did, you didn't?
WOODBRIDGE: No. Part of me was just, no, he didn't do this. And part of it was because I didn't want him back in my life. So I didn't want to believe that he could do something like that.
KING: Sarah Mitchell, this is your father we're talking about, right?
SARAH MITCHELL, BRIAN MITCHELL'S DAUGHTER: Yes.
KING: Your biological father?
S. MITCHELL: Yes.
KING: How do you feel about him?
S. MITCHELL: I really have no feelings towards him, just the situation. I think it's sad. And it hurts me that this has to still be going on after this many years.
KING: Did he keep in touch with you?
S. MITCHELL: No. In no way.
KING: He did not? Joey Mitchell, he is your natural, your biological father. How do you feel about this?
JOEY MITCHELL, BRIAN MITCHELL'S SON: I feel at peace, that he's been detained. That he's will receive what -- the help that he needs to continue on in his life, if that's what he needs. I feel he needs help.
KING: You think he needs psychiatric or psychological help?
J. MITCHELL: I do.
KING: Do you love him?
J. MITCHELL: No.
KING: Sarah, do you love him?
S. MITCHELL: No.
KING: Brian Mitchell appeared in court in San Diego, with a charge of a robbery in a church. We'll show you a part of that appearance. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN MITCHELL, ELIZABETH'S ACCUSED KIDNAPPER: My wife and my daughter are staying with some friends presently in Lakeside and I'll be there, too. We're staying with some friends and the Lord Jesus Christ. I'm a minister for the Lord.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you living, Mr. Jansen? Do you have a place to stay?
B. MITCHELL: With these friends, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Debbie, what do you make of him referring there obviously to Elizabeth as his daughter? I know this is hard for you, Debbie.
D. MITCHELL: I haven't heard his voice for a lot of years, so it's so painful. This is the cover-up. It's just another way of doing things he wants to do without people knowing who he is. He's so good at that.
KING: Debbie, what does he want to do? Is he a religious fanatic? Would you term him that? Was he desirous of converting these people? Was it a case of polygamy, what? D. MITCHELL: He wasn't like that when I married him. So I never saw that side of him. I don't believe he's a religious fanatic. I believe that he's doing all this as a cover-up.
Who's going to go after someone that loves God? I mean, if he comes forth and says that he loves God and he's preaching, that's not going to let anybody think that he's a pedophile and child molester. No one's going to look at this. They're going to look at the, quote, "good things he does."
So it's just a cover-up for family and friends and anybody else involved in this.
KING: We'll be back with more of this group, and then more to come. Lots more to come tonight on LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be back with Rebecca and Debbie and Sarah and Joey right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B. MITCHELL: That was the worst night and worst week of my whole life. I had, for the first time in 22 years I got drunk that night. And the whole night was just a nightmare. And it was -- and this week in jail has been like Jonah getting swallowed by the whale. It's turned me right around. And I know I need to do what the Lord wants me to do with my life, and I'm deeply sorry. And nothing like that is going to happen again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imposition of sentence is suspended for three years on the following terms and conditions: he's to violate no laws...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Debbie Mitchell, during the period of your marriage, wasn't Brian very religious? Didn't he attend church every Sunday?
D. MITCHELL: We did. But going to church every Sunday doesn't make him really religious. It's just normal for a Mormon family to go to church on Sunday if you're active.
KING: But did he live by the Mormon concepts of family togetherness and did he, you know, pray a lot and do all the things that believing Mormons do?
D. MITCHELL: He just did the normal things. But that was -- outside closed -- outside the doors of our home, that's what people perceived him to do, but not inside our home. It was just -- he was just really cruel and mean.
KING: Why did you stay?
D. MITCHELL: I was told I needed to or I...
KING: He threatened you? D. MITCHELL: I was -- no, I had a -- I had -- someone in the church tell me that I needed to -- not in the church. I was just told by one of my leaders that I needed to stay. I needed to work it out, or I would have some problems.
KING: And this was someone who knew what you were going through?
D. MITCHELL: He did.
KING: Rebecca, were you surprised your mother stayed?
WOODBRIDGE: No. She didn't -- she didn't know what had happened until after they were separated.
KING: I know, but she was still being hit. She was still being certainly not treated well.
WOODBRIDGE: Yes, that -- we were being hit, too. And it was one of those situations where if we said anything, then we would be hurt. If we didn't say anything, we were just scared. We didn't know what to do.
KING: Sarah, was there a time that you loved your father a lot?
S. MITCHELL: I never got to know him to even try to love him. He wasn't around long enough, thank goodness.
KING: So you were never daddy's little girl?
S. MITCHELL: Not in the way most little girls should be, no. I wasn't ever.
KING: How do you feel about all this going on?
S. MITCHELL: I feel horrible that after this many years, it is still going on. I'm glad Elizabeth is home now, but to find that my biological father had anything to do with it is a horrible feeling, whether anything happened or not.
KING: Joey, how do you feel?
J. MITCHELL: I feel at peace. I feel that -- that the right thing will be done. I know that there's -- that there's a lot of -- it was a big price to pay, but I feel that what needs to be done will be done.
KING: You said you don't love your father. Would you want to visit him?
J. MITCHELL: No.
KING: Debbie, what do you make of the possibility that he may have been linked to a possible attempt to abduct a cousin of Elizabeth seven weeks after Elizabeth was taken? That story broke today.
D. MITCHELL: I just heard a bleep about that. That would not surprise me. That would -- that would, to me, would be more access to him to have another girl to pick up. I mean, he doesn't work in groups of one. No, he didn't in my family.
KING: How do you think he was able to keep her in a kind of prison for nine months while they also went public at times, walking down the street, going to a party? How was he able to do that?
D. MITCHELL: Not knowing how he did it, personally, I can only go by what he did to my children. He -- from a few of them that talked to me about this, he threatened them. That if he told anything -- this came out later in counseling after, of course, we were divorced.
But in hearing this, he threatened one of the children that if you told your mother, I will do this to your other sister. And so they were afraid to say anything because they didn't want their other sisters to go through what they were going through. And so a lot of mind games. A lot of horrible things that he did to them. He already had them afraid of them.
KING: Rebecca, does any part of you feel sorry for him?
WOODBRIDGE: Yes, I feel sorry for him, I feel bad for him, I pity him. I think he should have gotten help 18 years ago. And if he had, and people didn't decide to shove this under the carpet, this wouldn't have happened.
But by letting him out and -- that was telling him it was OK for him to go do this and continue to do this. And that's not right.
KING: Thank you all.
WOODBRIDGE: I feel sorry for him.
Debbie Mitchell, Rebecca Woodridge, Sarah Mitchell and Joey Mitchell.
When we come back, Mark and Derrick Thompson, the stepsons of Elizabeth Smart's alleged kidnap, Brian David Mitchell, and their mother is also incarcerated. Wanda Barzee, she is in police custody. Mark and Derrick Thompson are next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): As soon as they learned from us that police were looking for Mitchell, his stepchildren began their own search. We went along as they scoured down-and-out sections of Salt Lake City.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you guys doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you guys doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Brian Mitchell's stomping grounds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys recognize these people? It's Emmanuel and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know those two. I see them all the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He happens to be our stepdad and that's our mom, so....
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, he is your stepdad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about this guy? Where have you seen him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's been between, like, 5th South and 1st South on, like, Main Street. He walks from there and he goes like this. He walks like this. Like panhandle (ph) leg. Like he's in from Arabia or something.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When did you run him out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two days ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two days ago? So he's probably in town.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining us now from Salt Lake, Mark and Derrick Thompson, the stepsons of Elizabeth Smart's alleged kidnapper, Brian David Mitchell. Their mother is Wanda Barzee, also in police custody.
Mark, how do you feel about that? It's your mother. She's in jail.
MARK THOMPSON, ALLEGED KIDNAPPER'S STEPSON: You break the rules, you pay the price, regardless of who you are. I feel bad. But that's -- that's life.
KING: Do you love your mother?
M. THOMPSON: I do.
KING: Derrick, how do you feel about mom being apprehended, and with this guy, and now in police custody?
DERRICK THOMPSON, ALLEGED KIDNAPPER'S STEPSON: Well, I actually feel pretty good that, you know, that they found them, and that this has ended in an actual positive way.
So, as far as -- you know, it's tough, because it's your mom. But, you know, they broke the law.
KING: Why, Derrick, do you think your mom hooked up with this guy in the first place?
D. THOMPSON: Probably the -- they both had some -- they both were getting divorced. And just -- it's hard to say. She just probably saw some similarities in their lives. And just....
KING: What, Mark -- what, Mark was he like as a stepfather?
M. THOMPSON: We always thought he was kind of weird and creepy. He seemed normal at first. But he had a really weird way of talking to you, and looking to you -- at you. He had like a -- an empty look in his eyes. Soulless. He would just come up and touch me on the shoulder and squeeze in a weird way that just gave me the creeps.
KING: When did you, Mark, hook him to the Elizabeth Smart case?
M. THOMPSON: Well, my brother saw him on "America's Most Wanted," saw a sketch and his name and we knew right then that he probably had done it. And we jumped up and wheels were in motion right then.
KING: Did you contact the police?
M. THOMPSON: Yes, I called 911 and we e-mailed everybody, and we got in our cars and went looking for him that night.
KING: Derrick, did you say, There's a strong possibility that my stepfather could be guilty of this?
D. THOMPSON: I knew right away, right when he was profiled. There wasn't a doubt in my mind. And that's why I called my brother and I said, You know, we've got to find him. Because I knew. And that's why we went looking for him. We just, you know, just knowing him over the years, it was just something I knew that he was capable of.
KING: All right. Capable obvious, but what was motive, Derrick? What did he have to gain -- what was his point?
D. THOMPSON: What he would have to gain is a new wife, I believe. His belief of polygamy could have easily -- you know, I believe that was it.
KING: Mark, is your mother a practicing Mormon?
M. THOMPSON: Yes, she was, all of her life. She played the piano for the church and everything.
KING: Are you a Mormon as well?
M. THOMPSON: In their records. But I...
KING: You're not practicing.
M. THOMPSON: No.
KING: Derrick as well, doesn't -- is not active? M. THOMPSON: No.
D. THOMPSON: No.
KING: Now, what do you want to happen to him? His own children want him to get some psychiatric help and want nothing to do with him. Derrick, what do you want to happen to Mr. Mitchell?
D. THOMPSON: I want to see him brought to justice. You know, I personally never liked the guy, and I don't appreciate what he did to my mother. I mean, you know, she was never much of a mom to us, but, you know, maybe with some help she could have been somewhat of a mother.
But, you know, I just know the kind of person he is, and I'd like to see him brought to justice.
KING: Mark, what do you make of the possibility that he was trying to abduct a cousin of Elizabeth's? May have been in the house?
M. THOMPSON: I'm not surprised. I probably know he did that, too because his mom lived right up the street from that and he always stayed there. It's just too much of a similarity. And he was probably going for another one.
KING: His first wife thought, though, that even though he may have been involved in this, that he would never kill her. Did you agree with that? Did you think he would kill her?
M. THOMPSON: Hard to say. I lived with him and had gone camping and shooting with him a lot. He would always take me out bow hunting and shooting rifles. And he even shot our pet dog in a weird way and just came up and told me one day that he had shot it in the head. So I thought he could have killed her, yes.
KING: Derrick, did you?
D. THOMPSON: Yes. I -- you know, you don't want to think about it, but yes, you know, that was actually, you know, one of the first thoughts is he had probably done that, which is, you know -- but...
KING: Did he ever talk -- did he ever talk to you, Derrick, about polygamy?
D. THOMPSON: Not about polygamy, but we had some heated discussions about religion at times and stuff like that.
KING: Would you call him, Mark, a religious fanatic?
M. THOMPSON: Oh, yes. More than that probably. Yes. Yes, definitely.
KING: I mean, did he see himself as some sort of, we see it on one of the clips, a messenger of the Lord, Derrick?
D. THOMPSON: Yes. Oh, yes. Either a messenger of the Lord, or, yes, the Lord himself. It's hard to tell at this point.
KING: Did he ever harm you, Mark?
M. THOMPSON: No, he never harmed me. We had gotten in a scuffle once, and I moved out after that. So, that was at the end when he was seeing prophets and angels. And then we got in a big fight over me paying some rent, and I moved out.
KING: Did you move out, too, Derrick?
D. THOMPSON: Yeah, I moved out. I moved out before -- I lived there about a year, and it was just too creepy. I had turned 18 at the time. And it was -- it was time for me to go.
KING: Forgiving of your mother, Mark?
M. THOMPSON: That's a tough one, Larry. Yes, I'm very -- I'm sorry for her. And I just hope, you know, that she can be remorseful one day and realize that she's on, you know, Earth and not up in heaven.
KING: Thank you both for spending this time with us. Mark and Derrick Thompson, the stepsons of Elizabeth Smart's alleged kidnapper, Brian David Mitchell. Their mother, Wanda, is also in police custody.
John Walsh, who was with us the other night, obtained an interview tonight with the Smarts. And as we go to the break, here's a segment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN WALSH, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": There's a hero named Mary Katherine Smart, a 9-year-old girl who witnessed the kidnapping of her big sister, someone she looked up to. In the middle of the night, a coward came into this loving home and took her sister at knife point. And she thought and she thought and she worried and she worried, and she said one day, you know what, Dad, I think it was that other handyman named Emmanuel. I think that's who I saw that night, dad. That's who we need to talk to. That's who we need to find. That's what started the ball rolling. That little 9-year-old hero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're going to spend one more minute to see if Mark and Derrick Thompson have anything to say to Debbie Mitchell and Rebecca Woodbridge.
Mark, is there anything you want to say to the ex-wife of your former stepfather?
MARK THOMPSON: I'm sorry what you went through. I'm sorry things didn't happen back when they did that could have prevented all this, so we all need to stick together and be strong. And we all have something in common. And I'm glad that we've all gone forward with this and talked about it.
KING: Rebecca, anything you'd want to say to Derrick?
WOODBRIDGE: Basically the same. I think it's very unique that we all went through this, and the circumstances that brought us all down to meeting each other and together. And like he said, we do need to stick together and just make sure justice is served and Brian gets the help that he needs, and that...
KING: Derrick, anything you would want to say to either Debbie or Rebecca?
DERRICK THOMPSON: It's just, you know, too bad that he wasn't stopped so long ago. And maybe if he was, then things would have changed. But, you know, it's just -- it's good that the outcome is what it is, and it's just a good feeling to know that it's a positive outcome.
KING: And finally, Debbie, anything you would want to say to Mark and Derrick?
MITCHELL: I -- maybe a word of comfort. I feel that if anything like this would have come forth, like we brought forth 19 years ago to a bishop, I know now it would have been taken care of immediately because of the things that have been said by our prophet. But back then, this wasn't addressed the way it is now. So I don't think anybody else would ever go through what we went through.
KING: Best of luck to all of you. Mark and Derrick Thompson, Debbie Mitchell, and Rebecca Woodbridge.
We now welcome our kind of regular panel around here. Joining us in New York is Nancy Grace, anchor of Court TV's "Trial Heat" and former prosecutor. In Los Angeles, Mark Geragos, famed defense attorney. And in San Francisco Marc Klaas, the founder of the Klaas Kids Foundation.
Increasing questions -- we'll start with you, Nancy -- about the police handling of this whole matter, getting the picture, not sending it down to San Diego, this guy walking around. What do you make of it? Is this inept?
NANCY GRACE, COURT TV, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, you know, Larry, I normally side with the police and the prosecution. But the fact is, I think they dropped the ball. Not only did they not go forward with this sketch that Mary Katherine so accurately pointed out, the family had to bring in their own sketch artist to get the sketch made and then go forward with it.
You see his own family beating the street trying to find their dad. Where were the police? And tonight, I know there's a lot of congratulations going around, Larry, that she is found and she is safe. But Larry, this has been going on with this particular perpetrator for years, possibly decades, abusing children. We now know that.
MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, as Nancy says, she usually agrees with the police, and normally I don't agree with Nancy. Here I do agree with Nancy. And I'll give you a little segue, if I can, or a plug for Marc Klaas.
Marc always says that you can't rely on the authorities. You've got to get out there, you've got to search, you've got to do it yourself, you've got to create a media kind of frenzy or firestorm if you can.
This is a perfect example of it. This guy was in custody here. We saw the tape earlier tonight where he's in custody, he's addressing a judge. Perfect opportunity to pick somebody up. And presumably Elizabeth is out there at that point, living with this other woman who's in custody...
GRACE: A revolving door.
GERAGOS: ... I mean, this is just -- to my mind, this is unbelievable, as you look at that clip, that he wasn't found. And for anybody where -- you know, I have to say this, I reserved this from the other day. When that -- when those FBI agents and the other law enforcement were out there taking the cheers, now, I can understand their happiness or this or that. But there's a lot of us who might say that little girl was out there at least six months too long.
KING: Marc Klaas, do you agree?
MARC KLAAS, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION: Oh, boy, do I agree. You know, this child was found almost in spite of the authorities. This was about you and me and certainly the Smart family, and a bunch of vigilant citizens. And remember, you know, Jeannie Boyland (ph), the famed forensic artist, also went there. And whatever she did was never released to the public.
So -- and this whole business of this guy being picked up in San Diego just points to some of the dismal state of communications between law enforcement agencies in this country.
So, yes, this has just been -- it's been so sadly handled by the police.
KLAAS: They have an awful lot of questions to answer.
KING: Nancy, last night on this show, Patty Hearst said the first advice she would give to young Elizabeth is, Get a lawyer, get a psychiatrist, psychologist, and get a lawyer, because you're going to need to be protected in a lot of areas. Do you agree?
GRACE: Yes, I do. And Larry, after prosecuting so many child abduction and child molestation cases, they do go on. But Larry, they're never, ever the same. Patty Hearst is a great example of someone that went on but still has the scars. KING: Mark, agree, get her a lawyer right away?
GERAGOS: You know, I think the lawyer...
KING: A lawyer for Elizabeth Smart.
GERAGOS: For Elizabeth Smart, if I were her, I'd get a lawyer before I got the psychiatrist. I mean...
KLAAS: Oh, no.
GERAGOS: ... the first thing, the first thing she needs is somebody to sit down with her and sort through these things. And the reason I say that, Marc, I heard you saying, "Oh, no," the only reason I say that, really, is because she needs to heal. And unfortunately, the authorities a lot of times are not going to let her heal. And she needs a lawyer whose first and primary interest is making sure that this little girl gets taken care of.
KING: Marc, go ahead. We have abbreviated time tonight. Marc?
KLAAS: Sure. She needs a lot of help from a lot of professional disciplines. There's absolutely no question about that. I think the lawyers are going to rain down on this case from a lot of directions.
KING: We'll be calling on you a lot more during the week. We thank you all very much. Nancy Grace, Mark Geragos, and Marc Klaas.
Tom Smart is next, Elizabeth Smart's uncle. And then Don Johnson will be here to discuss that incident in Germany, which I know everyone's waiting to hear. What really went on?
And by the way, on Monday night on LARRY KING LIVE, we're going to have an exclusive interview, his first interview, with Congressman James Moran, the congressman who gave up his leadership post with the Democrats after making what appeared to be anti-Semitic remarks.
We'll be right back with Tom Smart. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOIS SMART, ELIZABETH'S MOTHER: I want you to know that I am the luckiest mother in the world. I am so happy and so thrilled. I am overjoyed with the return of Elizabeth. And thanks to you for your love, your prayers, your support. It was a priceless gift that we couldn't have done without you. So thank you, thank you, thank you!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: By the way, Merv Griffin and Cindy Adams will be with us tomorrow night.
Joining us from Liberty Park in Salt Lake City is Tom Smart, Elizabeth's uncle. What's going on, Tom? What's going on there?
TOM SMART, ELIZABETH'S UNCLE: Oh, well, we've had a little celebration here tonight. The city has gotten together and just celebrated her homecoming.
KING: How is she doing today?
SMART: You know, she's wonderful. She's -- I think Lois described it best. She -- you know, she gave you details. I haven't seen her today. I saw her yesterday for a few minutes. And my kids have all seen her and been with her. And, you know, it's -- everything sounds like things are going wonderfully.
KING: People are saying, Tom, though, that this is a honeymoon phase and kind of expected. But psychologists all over the network have reported that there will be changes in this child that you will observe. Do you expect that?
SMART: Yes. I mean, we're not downplaying the seriousness of what's gone on here. And we know that she needs to be shielded, not only what she's been -- what she's gone through, but also, you know, the notoriety that she has and stuff like that. She doesn't really want to be famous, or, you know, she's not ready for any of that.
And so it's hard to know how to deal with that. You know, everybody wants to hug her. And I want to, too. And I just tell them, you know, Give me a hug, and -- or give us a hug, or hug the person next to you.
You know, she -- you know, we've been very careful to protect her, as we did with Mary Katherine, from having, you know, people in her -- She just needs -- we know, we understand that things are going to be tough.
KING: Tom, you took these pictures, which have been all over the newspapers and all over television today, of the family and Elizabeth. Are you a professional photographer? These are great pictures.
SMART: No, Larry. I've been in the profession of media since I was 18 years old.
SMART: I've been a photographer -- I was the photo editor at "The Desert News" for 20 years. And, I mean, I'm (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- that's what I do for a living.
KING: Well, it shows.
SMART: Well, let me just say this, that's what I do for these -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE). These photos and my purpose was to get those photos out all over the world, so that the people can see that Elizabeth is fine, and to see her joy, and not see -- you know, and that's my only purpose in doing that. And, you know, we worked out a situation where that could be shared all over. And if there's anything that ever comes of those photos, it goes to the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children. And, you know, that's my only purpose is to try to do that.
KING: What do you make of the stories that Mr. Mitchell may have tried to take another child, Elizabeth's cousin?
SMART: Well, you know, I can't really comment too much on that, other than the fact that, you know, the family had a $3,000 reward, because nobody could ever figure that out -- figure that out. And the family always thought that that could be a very critical part of this investigation. And we went public with that a long time ago, and offered a $3,000 reward to solve that mystery.
KING: And Tom, what do you make of the criticism of the police that's mounting, that they had the picture, they didn't send it down to San Diego, this guy was walking around and no one spotted them, that they don't deserve the plaudits they're getting?
SMART: Well, I think that they're -- what they've said and what they've gone on record with speaks for themselves. And there's a lot of people who have worked very hard in that. And we would never want to impugn law enforcement or anything who -- you know, I don't think anybody didn't try to do the right thing here.
And, you know, we're just happy to have her back. How could we ever say we would want it to turn out any different that what we have today?
The other thing is, Larry, one thing that I have learned that you can always believe in is, never underestimate a bureaucracy.
KING: Give our best to Ed and Lois and to Elizabeth. Look forward to seeing you soon. Thanks, Tom.
SMART: OK, Larry. Thanks.
KING: Tom Smart, Elizabeth's uncle.
When we come back, actor, businessman, starred in "Nash Bridges" and "Miami Vice," and recently involved in an incredible story out of Germany. Here to talk about it for the first time, Don Johnson is next. Don't go away.
KING: Let me give you the story as we have it. According to German customs officials, investigators in that country are examining documents found in Don Johnson's car involving financial transactions, credit notes, securities, totaling $8 billion. The documents reportedly were found November 6 when Johnson's car was stopped during a routine check as he entered Germany from Switzerland with several other men.
German officials have been quoted saying they notified U.S. tax and customs officials because of the large amount. They also say there currently is no indication of illegal transactions.
DON JOHNSON, ACTOR: You know, this whole week has been this -- it would be -- it's comical, and funny in some ways, if it weren't so damaging and difficult. Last November -- Because some people were under the impression that this just happened, that I was in handcuffs in Germany or Switzerland or somewhere.
Last November, I was meeting with some American businessmen in Zurich for a film financing, for a film fund that I was putting together for my company. They gave me some bank statements and some resumes and some other documents, some things to prove that they could perform as investors. I said, Thank you very much. I got in the car. And I started off for Germany to look at the new Mercedes SLR. A great car, and I'm probably going to get one.
On the way through the German border, I got stopped. It happens a lot these days with traveling, because of -- since 9/11. I mean, everyone's being stopped for everything. And just like everyone else, I got out. I gave them my passport.
And they looked in my assistant's briefcase and saw these documents, saw the bank statements and the resumes and things like that. They didn't really quite understand what they were seeing. And they said, Gee, do you mind if we photocopy these? And I said, Sure, go ahead, copy, do whatever you want.
I signed some autographs. We joked around. They said, Hey, Greg (ph), good luck with your film financing, have a great time, and I took off and went to look at the Mercedes.
P.S., four or five days ago, in some magazine -- I guess it's a German tabloid in -- somewhere in Germany, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- I don't even know the name of it -- some tabloid journalist wrote -- I don't know how he came up with this fantastic idea.
KING: You did not have $8 billion?
JOHNSON: Do you know how much room it would take to put $8 billion? It certainly wouldn't fit in the trunk of any car you've ever seen.
KING: No, but you could have certificates where they...
JOHNSON: And by the way, do you think I had $8 billion, I would be sitting here talking about it?
KING: So you had no money?
JOHNSON: No, I had bank statements and resumes (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
KING: Of people who were going to invest.
KING: Did it totally -- where did they come up with $8 billion?
JOHNSON: I have...
KING: Why not $7 billion?
JOHNSON: I have no idea. Frankly, the deal fell apart, and I never really examined the documents.
KING: So what took so long between November and March?
JOHNSON: Now you're talking. I'd like to know that very same thing myself. Virtually nothing. I've never heard from any authorities. Not the German government, not the American government, not anybody.
KING: But "The Glasgow Herald" headlined -- this is the headline, this is Glasgow, Scotland, I presume -- "German Customs Suspect Miami Vice Star of Running Money Laundering Operation."
KING: Other headlines, "Things Aren't So Sunny for Don." "Vice or Price? TV Star Don Johnson Car-Shopping With $8 Billion to Spend." "Busted... "
JOHNSON: I could have bought the whole company for that.
KING: Here's another headline. "Busted With Billions."
JOHNSON: I know, huh? You know, this is -- I mean, it's funny.
KING: It is funny.
JOHNSON: It's funny. But the -- there's some ancillary things that are going on here. I have a new business with partners, and we're making investments and things. And the damage -- now, I've had two bank accounts closed just off of the news reports.
KING: You mean, the bank closed them?
JOHNSON: The bank closed my accounts off of the news reports. Not off of any real investigation. They didn't bother to check and see if there was any real investigation. They closed my bank accounts. My partners are looking at me like, with a jaundiced eye, going, What is going on here?
KING: So what was in the car was statements made by potential investors?
JOHNSON: Yes, potential investors.
KING: How much money was in the car? Money? Actual money?
JOHNSON: I probably had a few hundred bucks in my pocket and credit cards. And the...
KING: And the guys who inspected it didn't think anything of it?
JOHNSON: No. No, they...
KING: Why did they take pictures of it?
JOHNSON: Well, because -- you know, I think that they -- on the German-Swiss border, there's a lot of -- there's -- especially the way I understand it, after I've been, you know, done -- doing my own investigating, there's a lot of transfer of funds that German citizens do to Switzerland and vice versa, and other things.
So I think that anybody that comes through there with papers or documents that look like funds, or that look like it might have some financial bearing, they're going to say, Well, maybe we better just take a picture of it, you know. They took a picture of it. I drove on.
KING: Did any of these newspapers, journalists, contact you?
JOHNSON: By the way -- So many newspapers, the BBC, "The New York Post," I mean, everyone jumped on this story. And in the legal action, and I'm considering it, I am going to name each and every one of them. Now, they haven't...
KING: You're going to sue "The New York Post"? You're going to sue the newspapers?
JOHNSON: I'm going to -- I'm -- I'm going to, I'm going to...
KING: For doing...
JOHNSON: ... line up -- I'm going to line -- Because they perpetuated this story of money laundering, based on no evidence, based on no investigation, and it's caused me an unbelievable grief. Unbelievable grief.
KING: None of the papers called you?
JOHNSON: No -- well, they called. Actually, what happened was, about a -- about two weeks ago, we got an e-mail from a journalist at a television station in Germany. And he said, There's something about Don Johnson coming through the border, and was he stopped? And my immediate adviser, quite appropriately, handled it, and called -- e- mailed him back and said, He was stopped. He showed them his passport. They exchanged -- he signed a few autographs. He said, See Yasser Arafat, and they wished him luck, and he went on.
About a week later -- well, actually, last Monday, this tabloid wrote on -- in -- I guess according to the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- they actually did the television show and said I -- that there was some sort of investigation going on. And then the tabloid wrote that there was maybe money laundering.
Well, you say $8 billion, and Don Johnson, apparently that gets covered.
KING: Boy. Well, so -- now, you've had your run-ins with the press at times, have you not? I mean...
JOHNSON: You know something? By and large, the press has been very fair with me, and very...
KING: But you were once bad boy, to quote you, right?
JOHNSON: Well, you know, I mean, I think that they -- I think they sometimes the character. And the characters I played...
JOHNSON: ... and stuff like that mixed up with the actual person.
KING: So where do you, where do you gather, in this interval, where this came from? (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- I mean, you must be racking your brain to think...
JOHNSON: I truly think that because Sonny Crockett and Nash Bridges are characters that deal with money laundering and drug smuggling and these exotic...
KING: Do you think they associated the characters?
JOHNSON: I think that they -- I think that they don't -- I think they weren't able to delineate. And I also think that it's a sexy story, obviously. It was picked up by some of the most venerable news stations -- news outlets in the world.
KING: Did "The L.A. Times" run it?
JOHNSON: No, gratefully, they didn't. I'll tell you who didn't was Reuters, who I gave the interview to yesterday, to -- and I said -- You know, they had the sense, they said, You know, something doesn't smell right with this. Some -- and CNN didn't go with it. Smart. They don't want to be on my list.
KING: You're really thinking of suing people?
JOHNSON: Well, I don't know, I'll tell you what...
KING: How were you damaged? Other than the bank closing your accounts? Well, I guess you were, certainly.
JOHNSON: You know something? For the rest of my life, anytime somebody taps into the Nexus of Don Johnson, it comes up, Oh,yes, and at one time he was -- he was -- there was something shady about it. And forever, you have to answer that question to somebody. Tell me what happened at the border that day. No matter what goes on. That is -- that affects you on a business level, on a credibility level.
KING: And to you, when it happened, this was just a another momentary incident in your life...
JOHNSON: Like any other citizen.
KING: ... that you never gave a second thought to?
JOHNSON: Not one second.
KING: After you drove into Germany you forgot about it...
JOHNSON: Went to Germany -- yes, went to Germany, looked at the car, ordered one.
KING: You've ordered the car?
KING: Did you pay cash? Aha!
JOHNSON: Well, there is a...
JOHNSON: By the way, do you need a loan, or -- Well, I'll tell you something else that bothers me. From now on, every time I go out to dinner, I'm going to have to pick up the dinner check.
KING: Well, it must have hit you, I mean, to read $8 billion. I mean...
JOHNSON: Oh, my gosh. I mean, first of all, my son called me, crying. And, I mean, it was -- it's been terrible. It's been terrible. This has been one of the most difficult weeks of my life.
KING: Well, maybe, hopefully, this can put it away. I mean, you're being seen all over the world, it's being seen in Germany now, and hopefully this will...
JOHNSON: Your mouth to God's ears. And maybe the news agencies that picked this up and ran with it in the first place, they could buy themselves a little fair play here by running a good retraction. Otherwise, they're going on my list.
JOHNSON: Going off to Europe again?
JOHNSON: Oh, yes, of course. I -- listen, I enjoy traveling. And I enjoy traveling in a variety of countries. I'll go to Germany. I love Germany. Except one particular place in Germany.
KING: What's the car you bought?
JOHNSON: A Mercedes SLR.
KING: The new coupe?
KING: That's a coupe.
JOHNSON: Yes. It's hot. The doors go up like this. Zhhhut! You know?
KING: What does it go for, that car? Come on, you've got $8 billion.
JOHNSON: I could tell you, but then...
KING: What does it go for?
JOHNSON: Eight billion, yes.
KING: Petty cash. What does it go for?
JOHNSON: I don't know, in the -- it's a few hundred thousand.
KING: When are you on screen again?
JOHNSON: I don't know. I'm taking a break. Well, I was taking a break until my friends in Germany helped me get back on this film.
KING: You're back on the screen now.
JOHNSON: Hey, I...
KING: Don Johnson. It was just bank statements. Don Johnson, active businessman. And they didn't even, they didn't even come up with the money. You didn't even invest in a deal.
JOHNSON: Right, yes, that's what's really damning.
KING: Don Johnson.
And tomorrow night, Merv Griffin and Cindy Adams will be with us on a very special LARRY KING WEEKEND. Back to tell you more about the rest of the weekend and Monday, after this.
KING: Tomorrow night, Merv Griffin. Sunday night, we'll repeat our interview with Patricia Hearst. And Monday night, the first interview with Congressman James Moran, who has given up his leadership roles with the Democratic Party because of alleged anti- Semitic remarks that he made. Congressman Moran's first interview this Monday night.
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