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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Missing Player Not Found in Field Where Body Was Said to Be

Aired July 1, 2003 - 19:02   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR: There's no sign of Baylor University basketball player Patrick Dennehy, missing since mid-June.
Even after police searched a field where an informant said his body would be, no body was found. We're told the informant said the center was shot and killed by a Baylor teammate during an argument. This all found out in an affidavit that we discovered yesterday.

Ed Lavandera has the latest now.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A source tells CNN the week before Patrick Dennehy disappeared he was told that his two dogs could no longer be kept in his apartment.

On June 13, a day after Dennehy was last seen, a CNN source says he checked Dennehy's apartment to see if the dogs were still inside. Dennehy wasn't there but Carlton Dotson was sitting on the couch.

A search warrant issued to Waco police says the condition of Dennehy's apartment looked like he had not intended on staying gone for an extended period of time. On Tuesday Waco police would not elaborate on the search warrant and only say the information came from a credible source.

STEVE ANDERSON, WACO POLICE SPOKESMAN: Again, an affidavit is a court document. It wasn't intended to be a press release. The investigation still continues. We still have information coming in.

LAVANDERA: The search warrant says an informant told police he had heard that Carlton Dotson shot Dennehy in the head with a 9mm handgun after getting into an altercation. The informant told police Dennehy pointed a gun at Dotson first.

Police are treating this as a homicide investigation. But Dotson has not been named a suspect and he has not been charged with any crime. Waco police talked to Carlton Dotson last week near his hometown in Hurlock, Maryland.

And Waco police now say they should not have implicated Baylor players as potential suspects so early in the investigation.

ANDERSON: As far as using the word "suspect," that probably was not an appropriate term to use on our part Friday on that release. Again, these were individuals that from the beginning we were trying to talk to in order to locate Mr. Dennehy. LAVANDERA: Police say they've searched a 50-acre area north of Waco for Dennehy's body, but so far they haven't been able to find Dennehy, dead or alive.

(on camera) The search warrant affidavit filed June 23 says Dennehy's girlfriend recently told police that someone named Harvey had made threats against Dennehy. But police won't say who Harvey is. But authorities believe Dennehy might have emailed that information to some friends and that's why they needed a search warrant to analyze his computer.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Waco, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, Patrick Dennehy's disappearance shocked the students and faculty at Baylor University. So, too, has the possibility that his disappearance may be the result of a homicide.

Baylor University president Robert Sloan joins us now from Waco, Texas.

President Sloan, thank you very much for being with us. I know you have talked to someone in Patrick Dennehy's family. How are they doing?

ROBERT SLOAN, BAYLOR UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: Well, yes, I talked to Patrick's father, Patrick Dennehy Sr. And of course, he is, as with all the Baylor family, very concerned. And we just had a good father to father conversation and it went as you might expect.

COOPER: How much confidence do you have in the investigation thus far? I mean the police have already said, you know, they made a mistake in calling some of your students on the basketball team suspects back on Friday.

Are you confident the investigation's going all right?

SLOAN: Yes, I am. We have confidence in the local and national authorities who are involved in this. T

his, of course, is an unimaginable kind of situation. You have a missing person. You have someone of visibility as a student athlete.

We're all deeply concerned. In fact, I can tell you that our students and faculty and staff are, you know, this is a topic of conversation for them. I receive -- I've received countless e-mails and phone calls from the alums of Baylor. So we're all very concerned.

COOPER: I know classes are over for the summer, but I mean I'm sure there's students still on campus. What do you say to them? What do they say to you? How do you try to, you know, keep going in the face of all this?

SLOAN: Well, we do still have classes going. We'll have a second session of summer school. So we still have some students who will be coming back.

And you just try to keep it all in perspective. Right now we are just trying to deal with the facts as we have them. The police authorities are investigating and trying to follow up every lead. And as a university, we're doing our best to cooperate, facilitate contacts and communicate with the family and just, you know, do everything we can to express the concern that we have as a university.

COOPER: Understood.

Can you tell us anything about Carlton Dotson or this person, also talked about in this affidavit, Harvey? I mean, do you have any -- Carlton Dotson, I understand, lost his scholarship to play basketball at Baylor, was talking about moving on. Do you have any information about him?

SLOAN: Well, I don't really know Carlton in person. I'm like, all Baylor people, I'm a basketball fan, as well. And I've watched the team. I've seen the players play.

But Carlton transferred, I understand, to Baylor from Parish Junior College or Parish Community College. He's originally from Maryland. He played with us for one year. And my understanding is that he and Coach Bliss had a conversation and by mutual consent, because Carlton probably couldn't anticipate a lot of playing time, that he was going to -- was in the process of transferring and moving onto another university.

COOPER: All right. And described just right now as a person of interest, not a suspect, according to police at this time.

Robert Sloan, appreciate you joining us, giving your perspective. Thanks very much.

SLOAN: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, the search for Patrick Dennehy has taken a number of twists and turns, a lot of twists and turns, in fact. Reports of a shooting and a body in a field but no body has been found at this point. Missing from Texas, then his truck found in Virginia.

How is the investigation being handled? Just heard the university president saying he has confidence in it. And where does the investigation go from here?

We want to check in with CNN's Mike Brooks a 26 year veteran of the D.C. police, whose work with the FBI joint terrorism task force. He's standing by now in Atlanta. Some insight into this whole process.

Mike, thanks for being with us.

First of all, as you look at this investigation from the outside, how do you think it's going? I mean, police come forward on Friday, saying that suspects are on the basketball team, now they're backtracking from that. MIKE BROOKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I wanted to take that back. That's one of the things that -- they're not holding things too close too their vest, Anderson. If I was an investigator in this particular case, I would be holding some of the information a lot closer to my vest. I wouldn't be putting out there that these people are suspects.

The other thing is the affidavit. We wouldn't want that to get out because that -- the information in that affidavit, Anderson, is information that establishes probable cause for a search warrant signed by a magistrate. In that they say that some of the evidence, and they're talking about the evidence that is in Patrick Dennehy's computers they're looking at right now and analyzing, they're calling that evidence a violation of a Texas penal code and they cite the penal code for murder.

So these are some things that I would not have let out initially.

COOPER: Right. And just to be very clear to the viewers out there, this affidavit was what was used in order to get this search warrant and in the affidavit, an unknown, unnamed informant apparently told Delaware police that Mr. -- that Carlton Dotson had told his cousin -- we don't know if this informant is the cousin or is someone separate from the cousin -- told his cousin he had shot Patrick Dennehy. Again, this is an unknown, unnamed informant.

How -- If this is -- this is out there. It's been all over the television the last 24 hours or so. Why have police not moved against Carlton Dotson or tried to at least gain an understanding of his whereabouts?

BROOKS: Well, apparently the police have already interviewed Carlton Dotson at least one time. Apparently, a Waco investigator went to either Maryland or wherever there was to interview Carlton Dotson. But what information he gave them is not known.

Now the veracity of this police informant -- it was an informant of a police sergeant in Siefer (ph), Delaware, which is just a short distance up the road over the Maryland line from Hurlock, Maryland, where Carlton Dotson lives.

Now, the veracity of this informant we don't know. The law enforcement officer who has used him before, said he has been reliable in the past, so he was going on that information. But we're talking at least third-hand information here. So the veracity of that informant, Anderson, would also come into question for me.

COOPER: Mike, bottom line, can the Waco police handle this? The FBI has already been consulted. If this turns into definitely a homicide investigation, think the FBI's going to take it over?

BROOKS: We look at right now the cross-jurisdictional across the states. Right now the FBI played a minor role early on in the search of that field. The FBI in the Baltimore office of the FBI has not been contacted, I've been told by my sources, to assist in any interviews, any evidence recovery at all with Carlton Dotson or anyone else. Again they're calling Carlton Dotson right now a person of interest. But there are other people out there who they also are calling persons of interest not mentioned. That one name is...

COOPER: There is Harvey who was mentioned also in this affidavit. Obviously, a lot of speculation of that. We're not going to enter into that right now. Mike Brooks, we're going to leave it there tonight. Appreciate you following this for us. Thanks very much.

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