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Victims of Violent Crimes Speak Out

Aired January 12, 2005 - 21:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said, "you can take the car, you can take the money, you can take anything you want and I won't say nothing. And then as (UNINTELLIGIBLE) pointed the gun towards her way, she said, I forgive you, and God will, too." And then she put her head down.


KING: Tonight, could you face someone who raped and murdered your mother or your daughter, and do it not for revenge and not just for healing and closure but to try to prevent future violent crimes? Meet some people who did. Jean O'Hara, somehow the brutal murder of her daughter and baby grandson led her to work for victims and convicts.

Sue Solice, 12 years after a hit man shot and nearly killed her, he one phoned her out of the blue to apologize and now they're friends.

Ellen Halbert raped, stabbed, and left for dead in her own home winds up revolutionizing the Texas state criminal justice system, the world's largest.

Linda and Amy White transformed by a jailhouse meeting with the prisoner convicted of raping and murdering Linda's daughter who is also Amy's mom.

And David Pelzer. He nearly died several times at the hands of his mentally disturbed alcoholic mother. How he uses that experience to inspire others. Their incredible story of courage and forgiveness, next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Good evening. Welcome to another edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Extraordinary stories, people overcoming incredible circumstances to go on. We begin with Linda White whose daughter Kathy was kidnapped, assaulted and murdered in 1986. She wanted to meet face-to-face with her daughter's killer and she did. Amy White is the young daughter Kathy left behind. She has since been legally adopted by her biological grandmother, Linda. So your grandmother is now your mom?

AMY WHITE, DAUGHTER: I call her mom.

KING: It was your mother that was killed.

A. WHITE: Yes.

KING: How old were you?

A. WHITE: I was 5.

KING: What happened, Linda?

LINDA WHITE, CONFRONTED DAUGHTER'S KILLER: She was missing. Kathy was missing for five days. She just failed to come home one night.

KING: This was where?

L. WHITE: In the Houston area.

KING: She was married?

L. WHITE: She was divorced.

A. WHITE: Engaged.

L. WHITE: But engaged. Amy and my son, Steve, and Kathy lived together. And she went and met a friend for dinner one evening, and Steve was taking care of Amy, and she just never came home.

KING: When was she found?

L. WHITE: She disappeared on Tuesday and she was found -- we knew about it on Saturday. The police found the two boys.

KING: Two young boys killed her?

L. WHITE: Two 15-year-old boys killed Kathy.

KING: Shot her?

L. WHITE: Yes. Shot her in the head.

KING: Why?

L. WHITE: Primarily because they wanted her car initially. And they had decided not to kill her, and they shot her in the leg, to disable her and enable them to get away in her car. They were high on drugs. When the shot rang out, I remember Gary saying, it was like it just brought them to some...

KING: Gary was one of the killers...

L. WHITE: One of the perpetrators.

KING: got to meet?

L. WHITE: Yes, Gary's the one that we've met. And Gary said it is like, it brought them though this realization, oh, my god, what we have done. That's when they decided they couldn't leave her alive. It was just a couple of desperate boys, stupid.

KING: How did you get through this?

L. WHITE: Probably mostly by grace. I had so many, so many friends. Such a great family and a great sense of responsibility to Amy.

KING: Do you remember your mother?

A. WHITE: Oh, yes.

KING: You do?

A. WHITE: I don't have the best short term memory in the world but I do have a long-term memory and very grateful for it.

KING: You remember little things you did?

A. WHITE: As I get older, some of those memories fade away and that makes me really sad. I do have silly little moments.

KING: How were you told about her death?

A. WHITE: The whole family, you and my dad, which is my biological grandfather, and my two uncles, Johnny and Steve, all took me into the bedroom, and they were all sitting down, and mom couldn't -- she couldn't say anything. She couldn't say anything. So my dad just basically said, Amy, your mother is dead.

KING: At 5 years old.

A. WHITE: At 5 years old...

KING: How did...

A. WHITE: I was greatly -- I think for a 5-year-old, I was greatly impacted.

L. WHITE: Oh, yes.

A. WHITE: By the situation. My mom was pregnant, just like two or three months. When I found that out, I had just found that out, I was so excited to have a baby brother or sister. When I found that out, I -- I ran out of the room, saying mommy's pregnant, but mommy's pregnant. I hid and -- it was -- to me, it was two losses.

KING: How did you decide to become the mother?

L. WHITE: Well, we were kind of parents all together. Kathy and my husband and I, we were all parents together, because Amy -- excuse me, Kathy had been divorced and she had been separated from Amy's dad since Amy was 1.

KING: So you legally adopted her? A grandmother can do that?

A. WHITE: When I was 11. We waited a little while. L. WHITE: We got custody.

KING: Why did you decide to call her mom?

A. WHITE: That's a funny story. They didn't want to go off and adopt me without -- it was my idea. I decided one year, what was it Christmas or I said, I want my birthday, I'd like to be adopted. I always called my biological grandfather dad but I always called her nana. And I kept on trying to call her mom and kept on trying to call her mom, and it just never worked out. And we went into that courtroom that day. What was it? March 20...

L. WHITE: March 29 when she was 11.

A. WHITE: I was adopted. It was a very emotional thing. We walked out of that courtroom, I called her mom and I've never called her nana ever since.

KING: Why did you go see the perpetrator and how old was he when you saw him?

L. WHITE: He was 30.

KING: 15 years later.

L. WHITE: 14 1/2, actually. I had gotten...

KING: Was he convicted as an adult?

L. WHITE: Yes. He has tried as an adult.

KING: Will they ever get out?

L. WHITE: Yes, they're both up for parole this year.

KING: What was it like to meet him?

L. WHITE: It was powerful to meet Gary. I had gotten involved with a program, a restorative justice program we have through our Texas department of criminal justice. I wanted to study that program. I was still going to school. And the more I got into it and met people that had done it the more I decided maybe I wanted to do it.

KING: Victims dealing with criminals?

L. WHITE: They're all crimes of extreme violence. You know, it's -- you sit and talk. It's a mediated dialogue. You prepare a long time.

KING: What was it like emotionally for you?

L. WHITE: Very powerful. There were things Gary told us no one else could have ever told us. He was enormously remorseful. In fact, he walked in the room crying. We knew ahead of time he was remorseful.

KING: He was able to tell you how your daughter died, what she said?

L. WHITE: What she said last.

A. WHITE: He held himself fully accountable.

L. WHITE: Absolutely.

KING: That benefited you to hear that?

L. WHITE: Oh, yes.

KING: Was she crying, was she afraid? She died peacefully, do you think?

A. WHITE: That's the most amazing thing above all, is he told us that right before they were talking, are we going to kill her, right before they decided -- they decided, you know, they were going to go ahead and go through with this, and Gary told us that he -- that she look at him straight in the eye and said, said, I forgive you, and God will, too. She put her head down, and they killed her.

L. WHITE: That was unbelievable for us.

KING: Do you forgive Gary?

L. WHITE: By my terms of forgiveness, I think I forgave him years ago. That's basically letting go of all that negative stuff.

KING: You want him to be paroled?

L. WHITE: I'm going to be OK with it. He has an adopted family now that care about him, which is something new in his life. He has a job to go to. He probably won't get paroled this first time, but I'll be OK with it.

KING: Will you appear before the parole board?

L. WHITE: We don't actually have a board but I do plan to talk to them.

A. WHITE: Write a letter or something.

KING: What about the other boy?

L. WHITE: I don't know very much about him, Larry. He's in a different unit. Had a lot of psychological...

KING: You didn't visit him? Gary hasn't kept in touch with him?


KING: What do you do, Amy?

A. WHITE: I'm the new president of the Texas chapter of Murder Victims' Families For Reconciliation, a non-profit organization that's international. We founded the Texas chapter. I go around and do a lot of speeches, tell my story.

KING: Do you really feel like this is your mom?

A. WHITE: Yes, I do. I mea, there's always going to be that hole in my heart that Kathy is not there, always. You know, but if it wasn't -- if it wasn't for her, I mean, I wouldn't be here. You know, it's like I had -- Kathy gave me life and, you know, like...

KING: She extends it?

A. WHITE: Yes.

KING: Incredible story. I salute you both.

L. WHITE: Thank you very much.

A. WHITE: Thank you very much.

KING: You ought I be very proud of this young lady?

L. WHITE: I am. I'm very proud of her.

KING: And you have her?

A. WHITE: Oh, I am. I admire her.

KING: Just he start of things. We've got quite a night in store. We'll be right back. Don't go away.


L. WHITE: For me, it was the most logical thing in the world, after this time together, what we gave each other. To have a hug at the end.


L. WHITE: We'll be watching you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trust me, I'll give you something to see in the bright light.

L. WHITE: That's good.




JEAN O'HARA, MURDERS OF DAUGHTER, BABY GRANDSON, LED HER TO WORK FOR VICTIMS & CRIMINALS: He told the police went in while he was being interrogated that he slapped the kid a few times and told him to shut up. The kid wouldn't shut up. Richard's answer to that problem was to take him out of his crib, take him turnover a doorway, where there was light, throw him down on the floor, and proceed to stab him 56 times.


KING: We're talking tonight about making positives out of negative. Nothing more negative than what happened to Jean O'Hara. She and her husband found the bodies of her daughter Nancy (ph), grandson Jesse (ph) and Nancy's boyfriend, Paul, all had been stabbed a number of times. What happened that day? You went to visit her?

O'HARA: We were going to go visit Nancy (ph) because we wanted to meet her boyfriend, Paul (ph).

KING: She was divorced?

O'HARA: She had never been married.

KING: Oh, but she had a baby.

O'HARA: She had a little boy, she was raising by herself.

KING: Where was this?

O'HARA: This was in Concord, California.

KING: So, you got to the house daytime?

O'HARA: I went to the house at noon, knocked, and couldn't -- got no response. I knew she hadn't taken the baby to the baby-sitter. I had that thing called a premonition that something was dreadfully wrong. I knew that we were going to go over there that evening, but Anderson (ph), he's my husband, came home from work. We went right to her house.

KING: So, you left at noon and came back that night ?

O'HARA: Left at noon.

KING: How did you get in?

O'HARA: I had tried to get in at noon. Didn't have the key to her apartment. And that evening, Jack did have the key.

KING: Your husband?

O'HARA: My husband, yes.

KING: Did you find three dead people a stabbed?

O'HARA: He opened the door, and what we saw was two adult people lying on the floor braced up against a couch, as though they were watching TV, a little TV was playing. And my husband just stepped over both of them, I'm not too sure how he got -- touched our daughter's elbow, he said, she's gone, call the police. I just brazenly went right on into the apartment, picked up the phone, dialed 911, said get something here quick, something horrible has happened. Meanwhile, Jack ran to the bedroom to see if he could find our little grandson, 23-month-old Jesse. And within probably a minute, he was back and said, he's gone, too.

KING: How did you live through this?

I mean, how did you even -- how did you go on?

O'HARA: That's an answer I have know -- a question I have no answer to. It's just through the grace of God that we are still here, that we have our sanity. And I feel that because of Nancy and Jesse, I've been forced to do all kinds of things.

KING: You used this to found the chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, right?

O'HARA: That is correct.

KING: What does that organization do?

O'HARA: They are a support group. They talk to the families of people who have lost a loved one to murder. We've learned through them that you have to have some kind of support. You have to be able to contact someone else who has gone through a similar circumstance, someone who can understand your feelings, because anyone that hasn't been there can't understand why you're angry, why different things.

KING: How long ago did this happen?

O'HARA: January 20th, 1986, 18-years-ago.

KING: You never get over it?

O'HARA: No. Oh, no.

KING: No, was the killer caught?

O'HARA: The perpetrator was apprehended, yes.

KING: What was the motive?

O'HARA: Robbery.

KING: Just robbery?

O'HARA: Robbery. He needed $30. Thirty dollars was the motive.

KING: Did you go to his trial?

O'HARA: Absolutely. Every minute of it.

KING: Ever talk to him?

O'HARA: No. We never had an opportunity to say word one to him.

KING: So this was just the breaks of the game, they were home, he was robber, goes in their house and stabs them all to death?

O'HARA: It was my understanding, through the evidence presented at trial, that he knocked at Nancy's door, Nancy opened the door, she had little Jesse by the hand, she invited him in because her husband -- her boyfriend, I should say, Paul, was there. She invited this young man in. She took the little boy, and went back to the bedroom and went to bed.

KING: How did your husband coming through this?

O'HARA: I think that he has buried his pain, men often do.

KING: He's still living?

O'HARA: He's still living, yes.

KING: Is he involved in this organization with you?

O'HARA: We are now Survivors of Murder Victims, is our support group. And he supports it wholeheartedly. He talks to the men that come into the group and explains what the man's -- what the male...

KING: What has the toughest thing to deal with, anger over the hurt?

O'HARA: Anger. You can allow the anger to eat you up or you can do something with it. I always recommend that anyone come to us, do something with the anger, do something positive with the anger. because if you don't, it can eat you up. It can cause cancer. It can heart problems. It can cause all kinds of problems.

KING: You -- are those the pictures of your daughter?

O'HARA: This is Nancy and Jesse.

KING: Do you wear that a lot?

O'HARA: I wear it everywhere I go, especially if I go to the youth authority or to prison or into the jail.

KING: What do you do in prison or jail?

O'HARA: I talk to perpetrators of crime.

KING: Perpetrators, too?

O'HARA: Oh, absolutely. You can't turn a criminal around unless you talk to them. And..

KING: Usually murderers or all kinds?

O'HARA: I never ask what their crime has been. I only tell them my story and tell them what it has done to me and my family. Tell them what it has done to...

KING: Let them know what happens to victims?

O'HARA: Absolutely.

KING: Do you want to meet and talk to the killer of your daughter?

O'HARA: I can't answer that because I don't really know what I would do if I saw him face-to-face today. I don't know what my emotions would do.

KING: Is he spending a lifetime in prison?

O'HARA: He was sentenced to three consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole.

KING: I salute you, Jean. You're a game lady.

Jean O'Hara, another amazing story of resiliency. More to come. Don't go away.


O'HARA: Richard didn't just take Nancy and Jesse and Paul. Richard took my life, too. Do you understand that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I do. Thank you.



KING: Our next guest on this extraordinary evening with extraordinary people is Dave Pelzer who turned his monumentally abusive childhood into a way of inspiring people to survive and thrive in the face of adversity. Using adversity as a plus. He's authored 5 best selling books.

You had a horrific childhood.

DAVE PELZER, AUTHOR: It was challenging at best.

KING: Tell us about it.

PELZER: I was raised in the Bay area. And unfortunately, my mother was an alcoholic. And for whatever the reason decided to vent her rage on me.


PELZER: Well, there was 3 of us at the time.

KING: All of them got hit?

PELZER: No. Just myself. We used to call it target child selection which the perpetrator selects one child at random to vent their rage or whatever. And it got to the point when I was age 4, I knew I was in trouble for things I didn't do. To the point at age 5 or 6 I was isolated to live in a basement, perform chores. My brothers weren't allowed to even look at me. To the point I was stabbed or starved for 14 days or burned on a gas stove or just swallow ammonia for these fictional crimes I never committed. KING: Where was your father?

PELZER: My father was fireman in San Francisco. But I think back at that time, Larry, the mentality was men brought home the bacon and let the women, not the wives, fathers or friends, take care of business.

KING: But he didn't know what his wife was doing to his son.

PELZER: By the time he found out, it was out of control and he didn't want to deal with her wrath as well. He was a passive observer. It was always a tragedy.

KING: Was she always drunk when doing this?

PELZER: I would say in the latter years, yes. But she was very pre-meditated what she would, how she would treat me when my brothers weren't around, the neighbors weren't around, how much she could hide from the teachers when I ran to school, of course, to go to class.

KING: Did you ever think of complaining to a teacher?

PELZER: Oh, back then we never said no to our parents, we never finked on our parents, per se. I mean, a lot of things were kept in a closet. I just had to learn at a very young age, if my mom doesn't feed me, I steal water, if she goes to strike me I just try to tighten up parts of my body.

KING: Now, I read here. Did you actually want -- you mom wanted She wanted you to lie down on top of a lit cook stove so she wanted to watch you burn.

PELZER: Yes. That was that one incident in which minutes before that, my mom had burned my arm on a gas stove, and then, of course, as you said, to have me lay down on the gas stove. That was the turning point in my life.

KING: How old were you?

PELZER: I was about 7. So, I have her hit me rather than burn me. So it was the less over two evils. And thank goodness my brother Ronald came home early from this situation. My mother tosses me to the bottom of of the basement. I purge, I cry, I let it out and then I felt the blisters from the palm of my hand to my bicep. And when I realized, Larry, if I can feel these blisters, I'm alive. Which mean, I'm not dead, which means I can manipulate, I can win.

And that was the turning point of my life. I raised my hand to myself and to God, and I said from this moment on, I will never quit and I will give everything my best shot.

KING: How long did you live with her?

PELZER: Until I was rescued at age 12.

KING: Arrested? PELZER: Pardon me, rescued...

KING: Rescued by?

PELZER: My four teachers, the nurse and the principal who put their careers on the line at the time, because we didn't have penal codes that we have now to protect children, or to protect those trying to protect children. So it was a very dramatic...

KING: They took you away from the house?

PELZER: Immediately.

KING: What did you father say?

PELZER: My father was separated from my mom at the time.

KING: Did your brothers remain?

PELZER: Yes, which was unfortunate. Because I remember going to my social worker and saying, hey, if you're going to rescue me, you have to take care of my brothers. But because of the -- I think at age 12, weighed 68 pounds, 68, 70 pounds. My case was rather gratuitive and the social workers were saying, hey, we'll take care of you, let's see what happens next, but let's take care of you now. Which wasn't fair to my brothers.

KING: How did they grow up?

PELZER: There was, of course, some abuse there, some psychological abuse. We call it feeding, once one child removed, they have a tendency to feed.

KING: Do you love your mother?

PELZER: Well, you know who I love, Larry. I love my mommy, who was the most beautiful creature on this planet, the best cook in the world who would do anything for her husband and her children. But the more she drank, and with the hatred from her abusive past, the more she became less of the mommy figure and more she became what I call the mother.

KING: Did she pass away?

PELZER: Both of them are deceased. But I had a chance to interview her before she passed away.

KING: You interviewed her?

PELZER: Yes. Because I used to be in counselling. And used to work in juvenile hall.

KING: How did she explain herself?

PELZER: She didn't.

KING: What did she say?

PELZER: She basically said when she had stabbed me, that was an accident. In her mentality was, if I can forgive her for the most incredible atrocity then I had to forgive her for the smaller things. Which tells me, Larry, the alcohol did not subdue her memory and knew exactly what she was doing at that time. Which makes her, to me, more deadly.

KING: Therefore, the puzzlement of all was why?


KING: Why you and not the others?

PELZER: She could have picked on any of my siblings, or brothers, rather. She just happened to pick on me.

KING: But why?

PELZER: There's no answer to that. I've talked to other law enforcement psychiatrists and so forth, they call it target child selection. These perpetrators pick a child at random, but they do it at an age in which they won't tell. I probably was abused between the ages of 2 1/2 and 3.

KING: How did you get from that to this?

PELZER: I always knew as a child if I can survive what I did without a lot of help, without let's say a college degree, without a Phil Jackson giving me play-by-play, if I can do that, then I can -- it took me six months to join the Air Force, I didn't speak very well, I was uncoordinated, but I made the decision, if I can survive my first 12 years, I can do this. I had a strong work ethic. In junior high, I worked 40 hours a week, because I knew I could work when I was a child.

KING: Who did you live with? Who was raising you?

PELZER: Oh, I had several foster parents. And as you know, the social workers, police officers and foster parents never get a fair shake. And here I am, you know, have the opportunity, the privilege of being on your show and talking to you. You're looking at, you know, 20 years, or maybe 8 years of solid work from these people who just invested so much time and energy into me so my son can go to college.

It's the old American dream, you come from less than humble beginnings, you adopt the mentality, if you can survive cancer, then you can survive the flu. I always knew in my heart, if I can survive this as a kid, I can do anything.

KING: So, you write books, you do motivational speaking on this topic, right?

PELZER: On resilient. A lot of people with a narrow mind, say oh, he's about abuse. I'm always about resilience, responsibility with a sense of honor.

KING: Can you teach it?

PELZER: Can I teach it? I teach it to my son. That's the most important thing in my life, to give him strong values and a sense of his accord what I expect of him and to be nice to his fellow man and to be responsible for his actions.

KING: Did you keep in touch with your brothers while you were in the foster homes?

PELZER: I tried, but my mom, of course, had a lock down.

KING: How about your dad?

PELZER: My dad, a little bit. And my dad, of course, was homeless before he passed away, which was a tragedy. And he died in my arms.

KING: Homeless.

PELZER: Yes, he was asked to retire from the fire department in San Francisco.

KING: Did he get a pension?

PELZER: I don't know if he did. He probably did. My mom probably got that. But I got to see my dad before he passed away, which was really tragic. He couldn't talk.

KING: So, what do with you do now?

PELZER: What do I do now? Let me see, make sure my son stays in college.

KING: And you do speaking?

PELZER: Lots of speaking. I work a lot with the armed forces now with the war going on. I'm kind of Robin Williams meets Dr. Phil, do a lot of comedy. The books, work a lot of in social services and law enforcement.


PELZER: Just down the street, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Ranch of Mirage. I'm the self-imposed chancellor of homeland security. You've got to like that. And a friend of mine says what about al Qaeda? And I said, have been attacked, the shut up I'm doing my job.

KING: You grew up with al Qaeda?

PELZER: I did. Yes, she was my bin Laden, Larry.

KING: Thank you, Dave.

PELZER: God bless you, sir. KING: God bless you. Dave Pelzer, what a story. More the come don't go away.


PELZER: I am not about child abuse period. I'm not here to blame my mother, I'm not here to play my violin. The truth of the matter is everybody has problems. Am I right about that, ladies and gentlemen?

Relationships, divorce, loved ones pass away, someone that didn't work as hard or diligent as you got that promotion. But if I've learned one thing, nothing can conquer or dominate the human spirit, period.




DALE JONES: I shot her one time. She went down. And I just stepped towards her because I was going to make sure I killed her. So, I went to point the gun and shoot her again. That's when the gun jammed. She looked up and seen me fooling with it and she ran out one side of the kitchen and out towards the front door.


KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, and this incredible story of overcoming adversity tonight. Sue Solis, who was shot in the stomach by man who was hired to kill her. She now works as a probation officer in northern California. March, 13, 1986, she opens her door, a man identifies himself as gardener, asks to use the phone. Once inside, he shoots and nearly kills her. The man was arrested and sent to prison. Twelve years later, he calls to apologize.

Someone hired him to kill you?


KING: Did they ever find out who hired him?

SOLIS: Yes, they know who hired him. But there were two people involved who were never arrested.

KING: Don't you feel bitter about that?


KING: You know who...

SOLIS: Not any more. I do know who hired him.

KING: Do you ever see that person?

SOLIS: Yes. Yes.

KING: How do you live with that?

SOLIS: You have to let it go?

KING: So, this guy was a hired hand?

SOLIS: Yes, he was a hired hitman.

KING: What happened? You opened the door, what happened?

SOLIS: He opened the door and asked if I was Susan? And I said, yes. And he said, well, I do yard work, and do you need someone to do your yard? And I said actually I do. So, I showed him the yard, the front and back yard.

KING: This was where by the way?

SOLIS: At by home in San Leandro, California. What I found out later he had put the gun to the back of my head as we were walking into the back yard and was going to kill me right then, but heard my son.

KING: Were you single or married or you had a child?

SOLIS: I was newly divorced.


SOLIS: I had two sons, they were 6 and 7. My son who was 7 was playing in a tree in the backyard. He made noise as kids do, and the shooter put his gun away. I found that out later, you know, 12 years later. But -- and then he asked to use my phone. So, I let him in the house and I looked at some bills to give him a little bit of privacy, and I didn't see him pull out a huge .380 automatic.

KING: Shot you where?

SOLIS: Shot me right In the middle of my stomach, came out my back and three inches into the wall

KING: Were you unconscious?

SOLIS: I fell to the floor. I looked up at him, he was pulling on a big black gun. I heard a voice in my head telling me you've been shot, you need to get out of the house. You need to tell your neighbors where the kids are.

KING: Some voice telling.

SOLIS: A voice, yes. And I listened to that voice and I got up and I ran to the front. I beat him out the front door. He grabbed my...

KING: Beat him to the front door.

SOLIS: Yes. He grabbed my phone and went the other way. And I didn't know the gun had jammed. I didn't know anything about guns.

KING: Oh, it jammed.

SOLIS: It jammed.

KING: Was he caught right away?

SOLIS: No. He as caught three months later.

KING: How did you survive?

SOLIS: A neighbor grabbed me and put me in his truck. And he had been a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. And then we headed off towards the hospital and we ran into a police car and fire engine that were sent to help. There was no time to wait for an ambulance. I went to the hospital and had an operation, four or five hours.

KING: Were you lucky the bullet went through you, rather than lodge?

SOLIS: I think so. And the interesting and actually, the miracle of it was, even though it was in the middle of my stomach, it missed 12 vital areas by fractions. If it had to go through me it went through the best spot.

KING: Who took care of the kids?

SOLIS: My sister. My sister took care of the kids and I was in the hospital for weeks, several weeks. And I had to be cut open top to bottom and...

KING: When he was caught, did you go to the trial?

SOLIS: Yes, I did. Yes there was a trail. He...

KING: Did he say who hired him?

SOLIS: He said who hired him a year later.

KING: When he called you, what did he say? Is he still in prison?

SOLIS: He's in prison on a new offense. But he was out -- no he was in prison on another offense at the time. He's probably a career criminal. But he called me at work and said, this is so-and-so, and I would like to apologize to you for what I did to you 12-years-ago today or 12 years ago. And I wasn't -- at my desk at that time. So, he called back a couple weeks later. And he said, I'd like to meet you. I'd like you to come and see me in the jail.

KING: Did you?

SOLIS: I said, I don't know if I could do that. So, I did eventually.

KING: And... SOLIS: Two months later, I went. The voice again said you need to go and talk to him.

KING: What was that like?

SOLIS: We cried. We both cried for a good hour. We both talked to each other for an hour about how our lives had changed because of that one incident. How mine life had changed and how his life had changed. He spent a good part of 12 years in prison, and I spent a good part of 12 years trying to heal from this crime.

KING: Forgive him?

SOLIS: I did forgive him.

KING: Why?

SOLIS: Because forgiveness releases you. Forgiveness is an act of self-love. It's hard to understand, but it's really true.

KING: What's it like to be shot?

SOLIS: Everything stops. It's very painful and everything stops. I mean, and then your will to live and will to survive kicks in. And I knew that I just wanted to heal. And I did not want to be a victim of that crime forever. Laying in the hospital, I had IV's in both arms, and I had demerol coming in every hour. And I thought, I want to get through this. I want to heal from this.

KING: Where do you think your resiliency comes from?

SOLIS: I think it comes from my faith in God.

KING: Your faith?

SOLIS: Uh-huh. It keeps me -- it gives me courage. It gives me courage to forgive, courage to go on, courage to keep growing and courage to take this bad thing and use it for good. Which I do now.

KING: Thank you, dear.

SOLIS: Thank you, very much.


DALE JONES, ATTEMPTED TO MURDER SUE SALS: Sue has been the one to surprise me because she is so selfless. She has been more concerned about my welfare. Here, I'm the one that tried to kill her and she's concerned about me.



KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, Ellen Halbert who survived being raped, beaten and repeatedly stabbed, left a career in real estate and has dedicated her life to crime victim services. Where? What happened? Was this in Texas?

ELLEN HALBERT, RAPED, STABBED IN OWN HOME: This was Texas, in Austin in 1986. A man broke into my home.

KING: Living alone?

HALBERT: No, I had a family, I was married and I had two children. My daughter had just moved out to UT, University of Texas, to go to school. My son had spent the night with a friend, my husband had gone to play golf early in the morning.

KING: This was daytime?

HALBERT: Daytime and I was taking a shower. When I walked from the shower to my closet to get a robe, I spotted this man, kind of in the corner of my bathroom dressed in a ninja suit with everything covered but his eyes. But in his right hand held high over his head was the biggest knife I had ever seen. It's funny, but I thought it was a joke. I laughed. I don't know, when you look back you wonder, but it's so bizarre to have a ninja in your bathroom. I thought it was some kind of joke.

KING: What did you do?

HALBERT: I told him to get out. And he knocked me to the floor and I said something else and he knocked me to the floor again. And then of course survival kicks in real strong and I knew it wasn't a nightmare, it certainly wasn't a joke. And what was I going to do to get out of this?

KING: So he raped you with the threat of the knife?

HALBERT: He did. He tied me up, bound me, had me hopping around a lot.

KING: Why you? Do you think he had you followed?

HALBERT: He was drifter and I think it was just the luck of the draw. I think he just happened to be at my house. My father had come to get my son to take him to football practice and he saw him put a key under the mat.

KING: Is he in jail now?

HALBERT: Oh, yes. He got life in prison which in Texas at that time meant 20 years so he'll be looked at for parole in 2006.

KING: Did you go to the trial?

HALBERT: You bet. It was empowering actually.

KING: You had to testify, right?

HALBERT: Yes, I did.

KING: Some rape victims don't like testifying because the defense puts them on trial.

HALBERT: Well, he had done so much to me with -- I had hundreds of stitches in my head from the stab wounds.

KING: It was more than just rape.

HALBERT: There was more than that. In fact they didn't even charge him with that because I was too sick to have a rape test. But it was talked about in the courtroom. And I didn't want to talk to anybody about it from the beginning. But of course we did.

KING: How did your husband handle it?

HALBERT: That would be a whole other story. Our marriage didn't survive it. I think he thought he handled it well. But he actually didn't handle it well at all.

KING: How did you survive it?

HALBERT: I actually wanted to come out of it stronger than I was before. It took me a long time. I cried for a year, I swear. Then I began to reach out. And within my reach were really good counselors and crime victims. They supported me enormously.

KING: Victims help victims?

HALBERT: Oh, yes.

KING: Like AA. You're all in the -- you've had something happen to you know that one else could experience.

HALBERT: And victims know what to say to you.

KING: Why did you leave a career to devote a life to this?

HALBERT: Well, this just stopped everything. My marriage crumbled. I had to do something else. Eventually a few years later I was appointed by then Governor Ann Richards to a board, the board of criminal justice that oversaw just about everything in adult prisons corrections probation parole.

KING: Is that what you do now?

HALBERT: No. I work for the district attorney in Austin, Texas, Ronnie Earle and I run his victim services division.

KING: Meaning you do what?

HALBERT: Which means I supervise other counselors as they work with crime victims and in some cases I come in and I work with crime victims myself. That's my daytime job. My nighttime job is I go in prisons and work with offenders.

KING: To do what?

HALBERT: To let them know what it's like to be a victim. I work with a program called Bridges To Life, Crime Victims Reaching Out. We go into prisons all over Texas and we have a 12-week program where a few of us sit in a room and every week we talk about different issues.

KING: Have you ever talked to the man who harmed you?

HALBERT: I wanted to. A friend of mine that worked with the program that we had to do that kind of thing went to see him and he wouldn't do it. He's not going to admit guilt.

KING: He said he was not guilty?

HALBERT: Oh, yes. My blood was all -- wedding rings in his pocket.

KING: What impact does it have on the prisoner when they talk to people who have been victims of crime?

HALBERT: They just -- a lot of them think that if all they did was sell drugs then they didn't have a victim. So those of us who know better we talk to them about well, you know, who took those drugs and who sold them to who and who ended up with it, did children end up with it and what did you do to your family? Then, when they hear my story and know I've come in there to talk to them, and to let them know what crime does to people. They can't believe crime victims come and talk to them every week for 12 weeks.

KING: When you live through something horrific, do you ever forget it?

HALBERT: You never forget it. Never forget it. It's -- healing is a journey, it's a lifelong journey and I work on it all the time.

KING: Are you naturally suspicious?

HALBERT: A little more but I'm also a pretty happy-go-lucky person and that part of me has not changed.

KING: You wouldn't let someone in the door you didn't know?

HALBERT: Oh, no. I sure wouldn't. I sure wouldn't.

KING: Are you afraid of knives?

HALBERT: I think about that. I really do because he did a number on me with his.

KING: You're helping a lot of people. I salute you.

HALBERT: I sure try. And I love what I do. Thank you very much.

KING: You ought to. Ellen Halbert. We'll be right back with more. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't understand for me, really what the families hope to get out of this process.

HALBERT: People who are victims of crime heal in different ways. Some really want to put it behind them and they want go forward with their lives and never think about it again. But then others have many, many questions. And the only person who can answer the questions that victims have is that offender.



KING: We wind up the show tonight with Sandra "Sunny" Schwartz, the nationally recognized expert in criminal justice reform, a proponent of so-called restorative justice. We've heard some incredible stories tonight.

What is restorative justice?

SANDRA "SUNNY SCHWARTZ, CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM EXPERT: Restorative justice is a new approach to crime and punishment. It's very basic elements that first and foremost, offender, unequivocal accountability. That, we think -- what's new about that. Unfortunately, in traditional criminal justice, the offender never takes the time to look at himself in the mirror, and say my god, what have I done?

KING: So, you like what all these people do tonight, confronting, going to prisons.

SCHWARTZ: Exactly. And restorative justice comes in many shapes and sizes. As you have heard today, some people want to face their attacker, it's a form of contextual closure, if you will. Some want nothing to do with it, but they choose to go into the prisons and talk to offenders and tell their story, not necessarily to their actual perpetrator. It's a way of, for the first time, many of the offenders in our jails have a sense of empathy. They stand in the shoes of that victim.

KING: How did you get into this?

SCHWARTZ: Well, I'm a lawyer by trade, and quite frankly, I was sickened by seeing people coming in and out of our jail. I started in the San Francisco Sheriff's Department in 1980. I now see the 3 generation of incarcerated people.

Traditional criminal justice is chaos. And I think it's important for those of us in law enforcement to be very frank and humble and talk about how we have failed. And it is a call to action.

Our own homeland security, if you will, is compromised by our own citizens. We have 2.1 million people incarcerated. 600,000 get out into your community and mine every year. And again, no one takes the time to say, what have you done? This is what you're going to do to stop your violence. You hurt your partner. How does your children feel about that? You're smoking dope every night. And the taxpayers are understandably so sick and tired of it, too. KING: So, who do you work for?

SCHWARTZ: I work for Michael Hennesy (ph), who is a very gutsy sheriff who allows us to do very...

KING: In San Francisco.

SCHWARTZ: In San Francisco -- very gutsy programs.

KING: And what do you do?

SCHWARTZ: What I do is create programs in our jail.

90 percent of our offenders are getting out, as I mentioned. So, we feel it's our professional obligation to do things different, to have them more prepared than when they came in. Because traditional jails and prisons are monster factories.

KING: You use victims as well?

SCHWARTZ: We actually work with the victims of the perpetrators in our program, called Resolve to Stop the Violence Project. We give them direct support, practical support, therapy, helping them with dental care.

KING: Do you try to find out why the criminal did what they did?

SCHWARTZ: Yes. In our experience -- we're not talking about the Charles Mansons, the 10 percent psychotic ones, we're talking about 80 percent, as you heard earlier, were victims have child abuse themselves. That's not to excuse it, unequivocal accountability.

KING: Abusers were abused, generally true.

SCHWARTZ: Abusers. If you look at any study, the vast majority of people who are incarcerated are abused themselves. The become perpetrators. It's unacceptable.

We're not about feeding their victimization and feeling sorry for them, we're about saying you deserve better. We as a community deserve better. And again, hold them accountable by providing programs that will enable them to be pro-social citizens, if you will.

I have had the good fortune to travel around the country and interview many victims and many perpetrators for a book I'm writing. And every single one is a cry for help saying we have to do something different in our jails. 2.5 months people spend in jail. People think we're locking people up and throwing away the key. It's a fallacy. People are getting out.

KING: Just to create room, right?

SCHWARTZ: It's unbelievable.

KING: How do you explain the resiliency of the guests tonight? SCHWARTZ: I think, it's a case by case basis. But the folks I've heard from who I've had the good fortune of interviewing, it's mind-boggling isn't it. They have the yearning to live.

Some of them have survived through enormous amount of therapy, some of them have survived by meeting their perpetrator, some of them have survived by talking to other offenders to stop demonizing human beings and believing in people's ability to change and they've seen it themselves.

It's a lot of hard work. There's nothing easy about this.

KING: How does it affect the prisoner -- the perpetrator to meet those he did the acts against?

SCHWARTZ: Certainly, there's some folks inside, prisoners who are inside who are completely devoid of their own humanity. It's about relearning, if you will, how to stop your violence and feel again.

Unfortunately, through our traditional system, no one takes the time -- they don't know the name of their victim. They don't even know the name. When a victim comes in, a survivor comes in and tells his or her story, they are shocked of the far reaching effect such violence occurs, not only the victim, but their family and the community, has a chilling effect on the whole unit. And many times, they're shocked. I'm shocked that they're shocked.

KING: Sandra "Sunny" Schwartz, nationally recognized expert. Righting a book. We'll have her back when that comes out.

And I'll come back and tell you about tomorrow night right after this. Don't go away.


KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. A look at extraordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Stay tuned now for more news around the clock on CNN, you're most trusted name in news. See you tomorrow night. Good night.


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