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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview with Paul Riedel, Sal Algeri; Interview with Sven Sjodin, Chris Lang
Aired April 22, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive, his wife hired her lover to kill him and the hitman got the wrong guy. Then after his best friend was murdered by mistake, his wife had the hitman's baby, which he thought was his. He's Paul Riedel, now he speaks out for the first time on a twisted, tragic and true tail of betrayal and survival.
We'll also hear from Sal Algeri, the father of the murder victim.
And then exclusive, in his first interview since last weekend's tragic discovery of his sister Dru Sjodin's body, her brother and with him Dru's boyfriend Chris Lang.
They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: We begin with a really bizarre story. We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE Paul Riedel. His ex-wife and her former lover have been convicted, they are in jail, of murder and conspiracy for plotting to kill Paul. As a result of the plot, Paul's best friend and business partner and the godfather of his and Leann's son was fatally shot by mistake.
What the hell happened? She left you -- what happened? You were married, and you had a baby boy right?
PAUL RIEDEL, WIFE HIRED HITMAN: Yes, my son Nicholas. Actually, we were married in July, had my son in February, like six months after.
KING: Was it a happy marriage?
RIEDEL: Yes. It became turbulent after five or six months. But the first beginning -- it wasn't a long marriage. We were only married for a year.
KING: She left you, took the baby. And she had a son already from a previous marriage.
RIEDEL: She had a son already that was 12 or 13 years old.
KING: You were his stepfather?
RIEDEL: I was his stepfather, yes. KING: And they went down to Florida.
RIEDEL: One day I came home and they were gone. They went to Florida. Obviously, I was very concerned. I mean, Nicholas is my only son. It was very important to me to be part of his life, so I didn't want my son -- I couldn't have a normal relationship with my son if he was 2,000 miles away.
KING: What happened? She filed for divorce in Florida?
RIEDEL: I actually filed for divorce in New York and -- every father, every parent has a god given right, the law says that they must live 50 miles within where the other parent lives. So we actually filed the papers, my lawyer did, Steven Constatino, filed the papers to bring her back to New York so I could have a normal relationship with my son.
KING: Did she come back?
RIEDEL: Yes, she came back only after the courts told her either come back or they're going take the child from her.
KING: Did you ever try to reconcile?
RIEDEL: The funny thing, is when she came back, obviously it was very important for me to try to have a normal relationship with my son. So, we tried to work on reconciling and getting back together. So, we reconciled probably a couple months after that.
KING: Then it didn't work? Or did she get pregnant?
RIEDEL: We were in New York and -- in December of -- in December of 2000. We were living -- still living together in January 2000. There was the murder -- that's when we decided to reconcile in December. In January is when Alex got shot and killed behind the gym.
KING: Was she pregnant at the time?
RIEDEL: She was pregnant in March. This was three months after the murder. But before that, when the murder happened, I let her go back to Florida. Because I wanted my family to be safe that was the thing that was most important to me, so I sent her back to Florida.
KING: You had no idea she was connected with the murder?
RIEDEL: Absolutely not.
KING: How was your partner -- he was your business partner?
RIEDEL: He was my business partner, and my best friend.
KING: How was he murdered?
RIEDEL: He was -- we own a health club together, golf and fitness club in Long Island. And he went back to get a CD. Somebody asked him, one of the girls, asked him -- we have an aerobics class, one of the girls asked him if he could get a CD for them. He went back to the car.
This guy waited in the dark behind a dumpster and just came out and ambushed him. He was a real strong willed guy. He made it back into the club. Just, he didn't make it.
KING: Died there?
KING: You had no idea who did this killing? Were there motives? Were the police investigating? Were there suspects?
RIEDEL: Well, I mean, the thing about it, obviously, I mean, since me and I were partners, I probably became the No. 1 suspect at first. And it was -- Al didn't have no enemies. He was just a really, really good guy. You know, he was not unliked by anybody. So there really wasn't no motive.
KING: How did this work down to your wife's lover? How did they catch this?
RIEDEL: The head detective on this case, his name is Bob Anderson, he was very...
KING: He worked it?
RIEDEL: He worked it. He was a very good investigator. I guess there was a guy who got arrested for something. Of course, once he got arrested, he led them to some information that he had. Then they took it from there. They were very diligent.
KING: So the person who killed your friend was your wife's lover. And there was another guy involved, right? He assisted in the killing?
RIEDEL: Yes. There was another guy that he drove down with him.
KING: Is he the one that tipped him?
RIEDEL: He didn't tip them. Actually, he testified against Leann and Ralph at the trial.
KING: When you found out it was your wife that had planned this, right? It was her that put him up to it?
KING: How did you learn it?
RIEDEL: I didn't learn it until -- I learned it from the media that came to my house. I pulled up at my house and there was news cameras all over. I was -- had no idea what was going on. They were like, how do you feel about this? I thought -- I thought it was a joke. Obviously it wasn't a joke, because there was five different media stations there. But it was shocking to say the least.
KING: Is Nicholas with you?
RIEDEL: Nicholas at that time was -- the funny thing, is when she went back to Florida, after seven months, six months and two weeks, if you live in another state, which Florida being that state, after six months you can get jurisdiction comes from that state. Once she had got jurisdiction and lived there for 6 months, she actually served me. I was going back and forth the to Florida and New York. I was staying there...
KING: When the killing happened, Nicholas was with her?
RIEDEL: Nicholas was with her, but afterwards -- she was in Florida for 7 months and then she filed for divorce. And now they are allowed to stay in Florida. I had no other choice, but to fly back and forth to see him.
KING: But of course, once she was arrested...
RIEDEL: That was 12 months after the fact. I mean, I was flying back and for to Florida.
KING: You must have gone berserk.
RIEDEL: To say the least.
KING: You had no thoughts she would try to kill you?
RIEDEL: I had no thoughts she would try to kill me. It's very -- yes.
KING: How did he kill the wrong guy?
RIEDEL: Me and Alex, we look very similar. I mean, he was a little better looking than me, but we drove the same cars and we had the same stickers in the back. I guess they just -- it was just -- everybody sometimes they say, you're lucky. I don't feel lucky, because I would have took that walk. I would have never asked him to do it. And whatever happened. That's a burden I'll always carry.
KING: What was her motive?
RIEDEL: We were going through a custody battle with Nicholas. And I was -- I think she understood that I wasn't going to allow -- I was very determined to play a part in my son's life and there was no other way that I was going to stop looking for that relationship. She figured she needed me dead.
KING: She was tried in Long Island?
RIEDEL: She was tried in Long Island, yes.
KING: And they were both tried together, right, her and the killer, but with separate juries?
KING: What was the sentence?
RIEDEL: They didn't sentence yet. I think they get sentenced at the end of this month. But they get convicted of first degree murder. Which is serious.
KING: That could be death penalty, right? Was it a death penalty?
RIEDEL: I don't think they went for the death penalty on this case. It was kind of a controversy at first, but they didn't
KING: Did you attend the trial?
RIEDEL: I -- you know, I testified in the trial. It was something that I twisted and turned about. I felt like I needed to do what was right for Al, so I testified at the trial.
KING: As to the conditions of the marriage?
RIEDEL: As to things that happened in the marriage. But I didn't attend any other part of it. I wasn't looking for -- it was hard enough.
KING: What a weird set of circumstances. We'll be right back with Paul Riedel. We'll be joined in a little while with Sal Algeri, the father of the murder victim, Alex Algeri, totally an innocent bystander in the sense, in all of this. Incredible story. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIEDEL: Heartbroken for Al. I mean a bullet that was meant for me -- Al's gone. My son would have been without a father.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul Riedel is lucky to be alive, but he lost his best friend in a fatal case of mistaken identity. Police say 2 hitmen from Florida wanted to kill the Amityville gym owner, but ended up killing his business partner, Alexander Algeri instead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DETECTIVE SGT. EDWARD FANDRY, SUFFOLK COUNTY HOMICIDE SQUAD: At about 7:23 last night, one of the owners of the Dolphin Fitness Club here at 8892 Merritt (ph) Road, Amityville, stepped out back to get something from his car. He's 32-year-old Alexander Algeri. Moments after stepping outside, he came back into the gym, fell to the floor and said he was shot. Amityville Rescue was called and they transported him to the Brunswick (ph) Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter of multiple gunshot wounds.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: We have to clear up some things. I'm glad your attorney was able to come over and explain it. There was a one-year difference between the arrest of the actual killer and the arrest of your wife. Took it that long to get that evidence, right?
KING: You let your wife go down to Florida with your son because she told you there was a Mafia killing. Explain that.
RIEDEL: Yes. There was -- she told me there was a hit. There was a Mafia that was supposed to be out on my life.
KING: You believed that?
RIEDEL: I didn't see how it was possible, but obviously when something like this happens, you're just -- your emotions, you're really not clear thinking. My thing was just to protect my family.
KING: So you sent them down?
RIEDEL: I sent them down to Florida, yes.
KING: And that's how she got to be there over six months.
RIEDEL: She had to be over there six months. Then she turned around and filed for divorce. Now I had no fight to bring my son back.
KING: You've got no connection in your mind between her and the killer? You didn't know if she knew the killer?
RIEDEL: Not even an inkling.
KING: We have this statement from Lee Ann Riedel's attorney Bob Barkett (ph) to broadcast on the show tonight. Here's what he says. "While we pray for Mr. Algeri and his family, we'll continue to work for Lee Ann's vindication. As we all aware our justice system is not perfect. Unfortunately, Lee Ann's first trial was littered with prosecutorial misconduct and judicial errors. It was not surprising, therefore, that the jury reached an unjust verdict. Lee Ann Riedel is innocent and we are confident that an appellate court will reverse the conviction. We look forward to a fair trial and to Lee Ann's exoneration." What was her defense?
RIEDEL: I think her defense was that she was having a relationship with this guy. Not that I think. She was having a relationship with this guy. As we were trying reconcile, as you mentioned before, that he was jealous and angry and he came down and just did this on his own. I just don't know how he could have got some of the information that he got. The car I drive and how I looked and things like that.
KING: The jury didn't believe what she said?
RIEDEL: No. KING: Her explanation was she's innocent and this guy is just a crazed ex-lover.
KING: Did she give birth to this other child?
RIEDEL: She gave birth in December to this child. And through that whole time, even until his arrest in April I thought that was my child, too. That's another thing that was -- I was going through that. I didn't understand it.
KING: So you sent her down to Florida pregnant. You thought she was pregnant with your second child.
KING: Then you find out it's his child.
RIEDEL: I find out that it's his child, yes, when he got arrested.
KING: Did they do DNA?
RIEDEL: They signed statements when he got when he got arrested that they admitted that it was his child and she actually said, I have had a child with this man but I have no idea why he would try to kill my ex-husband.
KING: Where is the child now, that child?
RIEDEL: As far as I know, that child is with her sister in Long Island.
KING: And Nicholas (ph) is with you?
RIEDEL: Nicholas with me.
KING: What's been the effect of all this on Nick?
RIEDEL: He's my hero. He is just an unbelievable child. I tried to keep him very close to my hip. I don't get a baby-sitter. I don't get a nanny. My job allows me to do that. I own health clubs so we have a nursery so we have a very loving relationship. We're very close. He's just very busy. Very happy. I actually -- of course, I don't have any answers. I don't know about this stuff. So I go to find out from child therapy. They just think he's doing great. Obviously there's going to be a time when he's going know. I'll work on that. I'll do whatever it takes to not allow him to be a victim as much as I can.
KING: Does he love his mother?
RIEDEL: He did love his mother. I don't think -- I don't think that she was a bad mother. It's a sad, sad situation. But, I don't know if he's probably not going see her again. As much as -- I don't make decisions based on what's right for me. I make decisions on what's right for him. Right now it's a lot of -- the burden of not knowing how to handle the situation or how -- what's right for him. He doesn't ask much about any of the situation. He really -- not at all. I don't understand why. Like I said, I go to child therapy to find out.
KING: Some bad things came out about you during the trial. You were portrayed as violent and abusive. Under cross-examination you admitted that you dealt cocaine and had been using it. Denied using steroids although you told the judge you used steroids that led him to deal drugs. Testified about gambling, said you were a bookie. So you had a black shadow around you.
RIEDEL: The dealt drugs part, I was 19 years old. It's funny, but the whole -- why I was so determined to be there for my son is, there's an old saying that any fool can learn from his own mistakes. Takes a wise man to learn from others. I didn't have a father growing up, so I was very -- I made some questionable decisions. Yes, I dealt drugs when I was 19 years old. I went to prison for six years. It was tough. I was a big kid. I fought a lot. I got stabbed. I almost died. I went through some tough times. When Nicholas was born, so much changed. It opened up a different side of me. I mean, that was irrelevant. I never, ever put my hands on my wife.
This was about a custody battle. This was about a woman who wanted to move to Florida and be with her lover. I wasn't going to allow that to happen. I love my son and I felt and I feel to this day that he needed me. I wasn't asking for full custody of my child, I wasn't asking to take him from his mother. I just wanted what God allows you to have. What any basic parental rights are. I wanted a relationship with my son and I couldn't do that 2,000 miles away.
KING: Is the business successful? Is your life in order?
RIEDEL: My business is very successful. My life is in order. My life right now is about my son. And there's things that I -- that you live with every day. The burden of a great man died because of something that was meant for me.
KING: Do you have guilt over that?
RIEDEL: I feel like I have a severe obligation to be a good man and do the right thing by my son because I feel like I owe that to Alex. I feel that I have a severe obligation to my son.
KING: What's your feeling toward your wife?
RIEDEL: I don't have any hatred. I'm confused. I just wish he didn't do it. I don't understand how they could have done this. I just -- when I went to trial and testified, I just feel that, justice has to be served for Alex. I try to keep out those feelings.
KING: Was it hard to look at her?
RIEDEL: I couldn't look at her. KING: Let me get a break. When we come back, we'll field some phone calls. In the segment after this one, the father of this victim -- totally innocent victim, Sal Algeri is the father of Alex Algeri will join us. We'll be right back. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the owners was shot here tonight. I was getting ready to leave. I walked around. He had fallen on the ground. Nobody knew what was happening. It was a little bit of a panic. He said before he fell that he had been shot. He had -- I noticed three bullet wounds. One under his chin and one in the side of the neck and one in the shoulder. He wasn't breathing. Very faint pulse. I administered CPR. There was a nurse. She was helping out, also. But I think he was gone before he left here tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You walked out. You didn't see no wounds or nothing. He had a little blood on his chin. He said, I was shot, and he fell to the ground. We thought -- he's an electrician, so we thought he said he got a shock. Because we are doing renovations, and we thought he's doing electrical, and that's the first thing we thought, he got a shock. When he fell to the ground, we just thought he slipped or something. Then we just seen he wasn't breathing. Called the paramedics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Should be also cleared up that one of the witnesses testified that your wife did get a little ticked, right, at the fact that the wrong guy was shot?
RIEDEL: Well, yes. She -- one of the guys testified that right after -- first she testified that right after the death the judge told her she had to come back to New York, that she said -- she told him, we want you to -- supposedly, first, a scheme to break my legs or scare me. Then after that decision the judge told her to come back to New York, she said told the guy, I want you f'ing dead. And he also -- I'm sorry.
KING: Your lawyer said there was a witness who at the funeral...
RIEDEL: She went to the funeral with me after that.
KING: She went to the funeral of your friend?
Who she knew, too, right?
RIEDEL: Yes. She -- he testified that he -- that -- she was -- he was with Salierno and Lee Ann in the room when she said, I can't believe that you shot the wrong guy. I had the face his girlfriend knowing that I was responsible for the death of Alex.
KING: Wow. Salerno is the killer, right?
KING: Memphis, Tennessee, hello.
CALLER: Hi, how are you?
KING: Hi, what's the question?
CALLER: My question, is what happened to the hitman? Was they ever caught? And if they weren't caught, are you scared they're gonna -- come after you.
KING: The hitman was convicted right?
RIEDEL: The hitman was convicted of first degree murder. I'm not scared. He was just some jerk.
KING: What was the reaction of neighbors, friends, to all of this?
RIEDEL: I think that, you know, like a lot of people just had a lot of questions. And a lot of people, I mean -- actually, lot of people kind of pointed the finger at me, like I was responsible.
RIEDEL: You know, like when you talked about my past. And you know, I did have a past, I went away when I was younger. Just, you know, we were partners, I guess maybe it seemed like I had something to gain by it. And Alex just had no enemies. He was just a really nice guy. He had no enemies.
KING: So your wife is probably in a bizarre sense, really sad over couple things here. She's facing long-term jail and the wrong guy was killed.
RIEDEL: You know, when all this came about I thought about -- because we lived together the six months before she filed divorce in Florida. And she knew she was obviously responsible for this murder. And she never showed too much emotion. I always, thought that was very funny, because I was very emotional about it.
KING: Long Island, New York, hello.
CALLER: Do you think this was from the gym or what's your feelings toward your wife now?
RIEDEL: Towards my wife now?
You know, I try not to have -- I don't think -- I keep my feelings and everything based upon my son Nicholas. I don't have the energy right now to have -- to keep my feelings on that.
KING: Did your wife want the gyms?
KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) thing?
RIEDEL: I'm sure that they felt they had a lot of monetary gain to gain by this.
KING: You live with this every day?
KING: Because obviously you chose the wrong woman?
You got betrayed and your best friend died because of it. Must be hard to live with this.
RIEDEL: It's hard, but it's not as hard on me as it is on Alex's family and Alex. I mean, the true victims here of them.
KING: The sentencing is when?
RIEDEL: I think it was set for April 28th, and I think they adjourned it. Not sure if they have an act date.
KING: Southington, Kentucky, hello.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: Yes. I was wondering, as far as Al and his family, what does his family -- I mean, my prayers go out to him and his family. What do they feel as far as prosecution?
What would they like to see?
KING: Sal will be on, right?
RIEDEL: Sal will be on. They're just -- they're really nice people. And, I mean, I'm sure that they want justice for Al's killing. Nothing's ever gonna make it right.
KING: Never come back.
KING: We'll take a break, and when we come back we'll meet Sal Algeri, the father of murder victim mistakenly killed in this strange plot.
And then we'll meet Sven Sjadin, the brother of the late Dru Sjodin and Chris Long -- Chris Lang, rather, her boyfriend.
Bob Woodward returns, part two with Bob Woodward tomorrow night. Don't go away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody knew what was happened. There was a little bit of a panic. He said before he fell that he had been shot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stunned witnesses at the Dolphin Fitness Club did what they could to save the life of the 32-year-old co-owner Alexander Algeri without any luck. They say, he had just stepped out the back door club and was shot at least three times. Police have been looking for his killer, an investigation which recently led them to Miami, where detectives arrested 31-year-old Scott Paget. Paget, in turn, led investigators back to Scarsdale, New York where they arrested 34-year-old, Ralph Salierino.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Detectives say Salierno and an accomplice Scott Pegett (ph) had seen pictures of the muscular Dolphin Gym owner. And when they saw Algeri going to his SUV, thought it was him, firing 3 shots.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately for Alex Algeri he looks very similar to Mr. Reidel and he also happens to drive the same black SUV.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What a story. Paul Reidel remains with us. His ex-wife and former lover -- is she your ex? Are you divorced?
RIEDEL: We're divorced now.
KING: Convicted of murder and conspiracy. Joining us now is Sal Algeri, the father of the murder victim Alex Algeri, mistakenly killed in that plot.
How did you hear about your son's death?
SAL ALGERI, FATHER OF MURDER VICTIM: I had just gotten home from work. We were getting ready to sit down for dinner.
KING: You and your wife?
ALGERI: Yes, my other son and my stepchildren. And we get a phone call. It was Vincent Salierno was on phone. He told us Alex was shot.
KING: Who is he?
ALGERI: He's one of the friends from the gym. He's Paul's friend and Alex's friend. And...
KING: Tell you he was dead? ALGERI: No. He said she was shot. He staggered in. He still had some vital signs, how minimum they were. And they told us that they were going take him to Brethern Hospital. So, as soon as we heard that, my wife and I got out and went down to the hospital.
When we got there, you know, I wanted to see him, but they wouldn't let us see him. And I say after we were there half an hour, 45 minutes, they came over and told us that he had died.
KING: The tragedy of losing a child is unbelievable.
ALGERI: Yes. Not supposed to happen that way.
KING: Did you think, who did this? Were you thinking suspect? Why?
ALGERI: Well, you know, one of the things -- lot of things go through your mind when something like this happens. You start thinking of who may have been involved with this. All right. And you get a lot of thoughts, all right. These thoughts just keep carrying on. You talk with the detectives and see what they have. But they don't normally tell you anything.
KING: Frankly, did you ever suspect Paul?
ALGERI: To be honest with you, we did yes.
KING; Thinking he would want the whole business for himself? That would be the motive?
ALGERI: No, I don't think so. There was some things going on at the time, all right. It just seemed...
KING: Between them?
ALGERI: Minor stuff. They had some minor differences.
KING: Did you know he felt that way, Paul?
RIEDEL: I'm sure he would. That's normal. Do I -- am I upset about it? No, not at all. He's a parent. He lost his son.
KING: Did you confront him, ask him questions?
ALGERI: No. We really didn't see each other during this time.
KING: You didn't?
ALGERI: No. We had stayed away from each other.
KING: When you learned the truth, how did you feel?
ALGERI: Well, to -- you mean the truth about the whole experience?
KING: Yes. It was supposed to be him? ALGERI: I really couldn't believe it. But, you know, as we were going along with the investigation, it had came back to us that the only thing that -- the only thing that could have happened here was mistaken identity. All right? So we were ready for something like that. It just that we didn't suspect that it would have this kind of turn to it.
We thought maybe it was somebody else that had something against Paul, they were trying to get him and got my son by mistake. The reason why -- the main thing was that they both drove the same vehicle. They both had the same identification on the vehicle. That's all you look for.
KING: So knowing the whole truth now, the circumstances, how does this -- first of all, how do you feel toward Paul? I mean, do you ever say, he should be gone and your son should be alive?
KING: Mixed emotion?
ALGERI: You have mixed emotions about stuff like that. You think about it. And it's difficult to say. All right. Sometimes -- sometimes you say well, you know, it was meant for him, but my son got it. And the reason why is -- and the reason is that this guy, you know, he was greedy. He wanted money, she wanted money. I think she was -- in a way she was selfish, because she didn't want to share custody with Paul.
KING: Did you know her?
ALGERI: I was invited to their wedding and I guess I met Leann -- I seen Leann maybe two, three times.
KING: Did you go to trial?
ALGERI: Yes. I was there every day.
KING: Every day?
ALGERI: Every day.
KING: What was it like for you?
ALGERI: It was difficult. It was difficult, especially when I stayed there for the period when they went through the medical examiner. That's the time when I found out what happened to my son.
KING: Why did you have to sit through that? Why did you sit through that?
ALGERI: I felt that I had to do it for my son. I felt it was something I had to do.
KING: Paul, what are your thoughts towards Sal?
RIEDEL: I love Sal. I mean, I loved Alex. He was my best friend. I'll go to grave with him being my best friend. And I...
KING: You didn't talk during that period of time.
RIEDEL: It hurt me. But, I completely -- what Sal's going through, I can't even imagine. I can't even relate to what I went through to what they went through. And, you know, I'm just happy -- that it's funny that when the trial went on, the high point of this whole thing was probably right before the trial they called me in right before I was about to testify. They just talked to me. It was a huge, huge, huge relief to me.
And, you know, we don't talk much because I know that I'm kind of a reminder of something bad and that would be selfish. But, my heart is with them every day and it will be to the day that I die. Just like Alex's will be. I have no...
KING: Did you travel out here tonight?
KING: Talk together on the plane? Are you conversational? What's the situation between the 2 of you?
ALGERI: We talk to each other. We didn't travel out here together, we met here once we got out here. And we talked. We met last night. We had breakfast this morning and we discussed some things.
KING: Do you know Nicholas?
ALGERI: Yes. I met Nicholas today for the first time.
KING: Cute little boy.
ALGERI: Yes. He's a cute little boy. Very active.
KING: What was Alex like?
ALGERI: Alex was a very loving person. He had a lot of friends. He was your friend, you had a friend for life. He was very loyal. He's -- he's the type of person that once you were friends with him, you had a friend for life and he would do anything he can for you. If you were in a situation where you needed some help, he would help you out.
KING: How is your wife taking it?
ALGERI: Alex's mother took it very difficult.
KING: She's not your wife?
ALGERI: Right. We're divorced.
KING: She took it very hard?
ALGERI: Oh, yes, of course. Everyone took it hard in the family.
KING: Brother, too?
ALGERI: My brother -- his brother, his sister. It's something that's devastating. It's something that's always there. You get in family situations and he's not there.
KING: Do you want the perpetrators to die?
ALGERI: No, I don't want them to die. The law doesn't -- the law provides for -- I think what it's going to be is 25 to life. That's what the sentencing provides for. But the...
KING: You don't want to see them killed by the state?
ALGERI: No. No. That would be easy for them. Let them experience the situation over and over again.
KING: What do you think?
RIEDEL: That's a tough question.
KING: Mother of your son.
RIEDEL: Yes. And you said it. She's still the mother of my son so it's a tough one for me. But I feel that for what happened to Alex yes, they should pay the consequences. I mean, I don't wish death on anybody. That's god's will, not mine. They were convicted. They should do...
KING: Did you ever talk to the killer?
RIEDEL: No. No.
KING: Never exchanged a word in court for anything or...
RIEDEL: Absolutely not.
KING: When's the last time you talked to your wife?
RIEDEL: Funny thing is that even after she was calling to talk to Nicholas and before she got convicted, I didn't feel that it was my place -- until she got convicted, to take my son's mother away from him.
KING: She spoke to him? You let him answer the phone?
RIEDEL: I would let him talk to her. Like I said, I tried to do what's right for Nicholas. Now that she's convicted, I don't think that it's right. I don't think he's going to see her ever again.
KING: Does she call him from prison?
RIEDEL: She still tries to call. I haven't allowed her to talk to him. I don't think I am going to allow that.
KING: How do you do on, Sal?
ALGERI: Well, you have to go on I know Alex is with me all the time. I feel him all the time. And in special situations you -- you have situations in your life where you have tough times. He helps me keep going because I know he's there and I know he's helping me.
KING: Nobody deserves to be killed. Especially accidentally, intended for someone else.
ALGERI: Absolutely right. The whole thought to begin with was wrong. You shouldn't intend to take anybody's life. Especially something like this. They had disagreements. That's what they have divorces for. She could have gotten what she wanted without anybody getting hurt.
KING: Best of luck to you, Paul. Sal.
ALGERI: Thank you very much.
KING: Paul Riedel and Sal Algeri. Speaking of tragedy, Sven Sjodin, the brother of the late Dru Sjodin, you remember the 22-year- old college student who disappeared from a North Dakota shopping mall and was found later killed. Her boyfriend, her brother, next. Don't go away.
KING: Welcome back. Speaking of not deserving to die. 22-year- old college student Dru Sjodin disappeared from a North Dakota shopping mall on November 22 of 2003 generating national headlines and an intensive search. Convicted sex offender Alfonso Rodriguez was arrested for her kidnapping in early December. He has pled not guilty. He had a subsequent arraignment. Her body was found this past weekend near a wooded ravine in Polk county near Crookston, Minnesota. A preliminary autopsy report says that Dru, the lovely Dru was a victim of a homicide. Joining us now in Pequot Lakes, Minnesota is Sven Sjodin, Dru's brother and Chris Lang, Dru's boyfriend. Sven, how did you learn that they had found your sister?
SVEN SJODIN, DRU'S BROTHER: I actually got a voice mail from my father, telling me that she was home. She's with us.
KING: Did you expect it, Sven?
SJODIN: I think we all felt it, the Friday leading up to it, we all just kind of had that deep feeling in our hearts. We were kind of expecting it this weekend.
KING: Chris, how did you hear?
CHRIS LANG, DRU'S BOYFRIEND: I actually found out in a way that I couldn't have written better if I have to find out the terrible news. I was in the truck with Linda (ph) and Allen (ph) and my Uncle Bob (ph) and Linda's dear friend Lizzie (ph) when we got the phone call to go back to the school. We had been handing out sandwiches to the searchers out there looking. Once that call came, we all knew. KING: And your immediate feeling was what, Chris? You say it was not unexpected. But it still becomes a fact. What went through you?
LANG: Yes. Well, you pray for the best the whole time. Unfortunately, we got the worst news. Just emptiness. Just all the efforts had stopped. She was found. She was home. But it literally just empty. There it is.
KING: Sven, how has your mother, dad and stepfather, how are they dealing with all of this?
SJODIN: You know, I'd say we're all doing well. They're doing well for the circumstances. We have a great strength amongst our families. We've been given strength from above. We just thank God that she's not lost any more. We know where she is now. It's a slight peace but also disturbing in the same...
KING: Some of her sorority sisters have visited the site where she was found. Do you plan to go, Sven?
SJODIN: Yes, I will go. I will go. I'm not sure what day. I haven't planned it yet. But, yes, I will definitely go.
SJODIN: In fact, I believe one of my uncles is taking a field stone and going to be placing it there as a memorial. I'm not sure when that's going happen. More than like I will definitely be there for that.
LANG: There will be flowers and cards there.
KING: One of the girls told the "Grand Forks Herald" that it was emotional but it gave us a good sense of peace knowing where she was instead of guessing like we had to for so long. Is that why you're going to go, Sven?
SJODIN: Yes. yes. I need to know the resting place of my little sister. My best friend, yes.
KING: Chris, what's the reason you're going to go?
LANG: You know, just -- that's where she was. And, you know, I do -- I would like to say, though, that I have learned a lesson through this horrible experience.
KING: Which is?
LANG: That lesson is that it really is a good world out there. Everybody -- for every monster there's about 1 million really wonderful people. And I have experienced it through, be it from the National Guard bringing an army to search for Dru all the way down to an e-mail from a stranger in Japan. To a girl giving me a hug in a cafe. All those efforts, they all come from one place, from the heart and they all mean the same. They all weigh the same. Because it is amazing to me what the world has done to support Dru and love Dru. And I truly believe in my heart that it is what brought her home and what is keeping us going along with her smile and this incredible, incredible love that she has coming from her.
KING: Funeral will be held...
LANG: I want to thank everybody that was involved.
KING: Funeral will be held this Saturday. Hundreds are expected to pay respects. The service will be held Saturday afternoon at the Grand View Lodge in Nisswa near her hometown of Pequot Lakes. The funeral home in charge tells us, Sven, that it has received more than 1,200 messages via web link attached to her obituary. The messages have been given to the family? What have you been hearing, Sven?
SJODIN: Just love and support from across the world. She was just such a magical person, I never thought that she would affect millions of lives like she did. Actually, I knew she would. I just didn't feel in this way. People just pouring out, you know, "we love you and we're praying for you, you're a tremendous strength for us" and people just pouring themselves out to us.
LANG: She's captivated everyone.
KING: She sure -- all you have to do is look at her picture.
We'll take a break and be back with more of Sven Sjodin and Chris Lang on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Bob Woodward returns tomorrow night. Don't go away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLAN SJODIN, FATHER OF DRU: It's a bitter sweet day. It's kind of what we've been preparing ourselves for mentally. But, you know, it's just devastating day, obviously. We don't have our little baby any more. She's going to watch over us. She's going to lead us. She's going to direct us and take care of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That, of course was Dru's father. Family is asking for donations in lieu of flowers, the Dru Sjodin Scholarship Foundation. Lake State Bank, post office box 366, Pequot Lake, Minnesota, 56472. You can also contact the Pequot Lake Library (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And Pequot is spelled P-E-Q-U-O-T.
Our guest are in Cross Lake, Minnesota, about 10 miles from Pequot Lake.
Sven, are you outraged that Mr. Rodriguez was out of prison? That she should have been kept in prison?
SJODIN: I'm not focusing any energy toward Mr. Rodriguez. It's my time for -- my peaceful time thinking of Dru and reminiscing, and remembering Dru as it was. I don't think I'll ever waste any energy on him. Only toward positive things.
LANG: That's exactly right. Energies have always been for Dru. And all that love brought her home. All that -- those prayers brought her back to exude any energy toward him is a waste of your own. So...
KING: Suspect could mean death because he could face a federal kidnapping charge.
Would you go to the trial, Sven?
SJODIN: You know, I'm not sure. That hasn't even entered my mind at this point. You know, it's just been spending time with family and remembering the pictures and remembering the times when we -- when we had fun together and all the places we had went. It's all about Dru. Our energies are all about Dru.
LANG: She's in our hearts forever.
KING: Chris, were you going to get married?
LANG: I would have loved to had that opportunity. And, yes, I was definitely thinking that.
KING: Had you proposed?
LANG: I hadn't, but she knew how I felt. I have no regrets about sharing my love for Dru with her. And she -- I am so honored that she loved me. And that love will give me strength forever. Forever.
KING: Sven, she so adorable, what kind of sister was she?
SJODIN: Greatest person on earth.
KING: She looks so adorable.
SJODIN: Yes. You know, we just heard a story from someone that -- she was in Las Vegas several months back and she ran into a person on the street. They struck up a conversation. The lady happened to have a child the same age as Dru, and you know, they ended up hanging out for the day and having fun. You know, she was just that magical person, that could walk into a room and everyone wanted to be around her and be with her. She had such a beautiful smile. And she just made everyone happy. I mean, you could have the worst day on earth and just see her smile and she'd talk to you. And she'd befriend, and she'd love you and she wouldn't even know you.
KING: Yes. SJODIN: Just a very deep heart.
LANG: You'd feel like you knew her all your life, with five minutes with her.
KING: Even the sheriff wept as he announced the news that her body had been found. And he said, simply, Dru is home. Are you expecting a lot of people at the funeral Saturday, right, guys?
SJODIN: You bet.
KING: Will you both speak at the funeral?
SJODIN: I believe we will have our time. I'm not sure about exact plans, if we will be up there. But, yes.
LANG: We'd like to.
KING: Thank you both very much. We know how difficult this has been. Wish we could have known her.
SJODIN: Thank you, Larry.
LANG: Thank you, Larry, very much.
KING: Sven Sjodin, the brother of Dru Sjodin and Chris Lang, Dru's boyfriend. The funeral will be this Saturday. And in lieu of flowers they ask that you help the Dru Sjodin Scholarship Fund.
I'll be back in a couple minutes to tell you about tomorrow. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night the return of Bob Woodward. He'll get a chance to respond to the many charges, counter charges, sayings, non- sayings that have gone on during the week since he was with us on Monday.
Right now it's time to turn the tables over to a man who's turned many tables over in his life. Keep turning tables. Aaron Brown, the host of "NEWSNIGHT." Go get them Aaron it's your's.
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