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A 9-year-old Girl Disappears Overnight From Bedroom in Florida; Possible Break In BTK Killer Case

Aired February 25, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, a desperate family pleads for the safe return of a 9-year-old girl who vanished from her central Florida bedroom sometime Wednesday night, setting off an intense police and FBI search. And now John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted" joins us to ask crucial questions of little Jessica Marie Lunsford's father, Mark, and her aunt, Susan. Also with us, Ed Smart. His daughter, Elizabeth, was abducted from her bedroom and found alive.
And then later, a possible break in the 30-year-old murder mystery. Wichita, Kansas, police are questioning a person of interest in the case of the BTK killer, blamed for eight murders since 1974. Could they be close to an arrest? John Walsh will weigh in on that, too, along with a woman who says she could have been BTK's ninth victim, and Larry Hatteberg, the Wichita anchorman who's tried to communicate with the killer on the air. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin by checking in with this terrible story down in Florida of another little girl gone missing. This is Jessica Marie Lunsford, 9 years old, disappeared from her bedroom sometime late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. There you see her picture. An intense search is under way.

John Walsh, are you covering this on "America's Most Wanted"?

JOHN WALSH, HOST, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": Yes, we are, Larry. We're going to put it on tomorrow night, if she's still missing. And I've doing it on my little radio minutes on the ABC radio network. And we've got all kinds of people on the ground there, people from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Team Adam, that specializes in missing children, helping the sheriff there. I think he's got all the resources that we could possibly muster. But we're just praying that this little girl is alive and that we have a happy ending, like Elizabeth Smart's ending.

KING: Mark Lunsford, can you hear me yet? OK. The father is not ready yet.

John, as time goes on, the odds get worse, right?

WALSH: Oh, every second counts, Larry. The Justice Department did a pretty chilling survey years ago and said 99 percent of the kids that are missing in a stranger abduction case are dead within the first four hours. So the odds aren't good for the recovery of this little girl, but I always hope for a miracle. And you've got a wonderful dad on there tonight, Ed Smart, who never gave up on his little beautiful little daughter, and we got her back alive after nine months. So the odds aren't good. Time is of the essence. Every second counts. But we're praying this little girl, whoever has her will come to their senses and say, I can't do this, I've got to let her go.

KING: We're not able to check in yet with the father and the aunt. The mother does not live with the little girl?

WALSH: No, she is -- they're estranged or divorced, and she lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. She's been eliminated by police. Of course, they have to rule out the family, thinking, Well, maybe because Dad got custody, that maybe Mom was up to no good with somebody else and came in and got her. But that's not the case. They've ruled her out.

But the grandparents were in the house that night. And Dad came back to wake her up and check on her, and she was not there. So just like in a lot of cases, the Danielle Van Dam case in southern California, in San Diego, a girl taken from her bedroom in the middle of the night, Elizabeth Smart taken from her bedroom in the middle of the night, it's happened before, and we just got to pray for the best.

KING: And this is a case where you almost wish that the mother had taken her.

WALSH: Oh, absolutely, Larry. I mean, there are about 300,000 non-custodial parental abductions every year, where the parent who didn't get custody takes the child. And yes, that's a terrible thing and that's a wrong thing to do. But most of the time, those kids are alive, they're just somewhere they shouldn't be with the parent who didn't get custody.

But that's not the case. I mean, I think everybody's still baffled. The leads aren't very good. We've got every possible resource on the ground, from bloodhounds to K-9 dogs to helicopters to specialists, everybody looking for this little girl, and nobody's gotten a break in the case yet.

KING: What do you say -- you're always in that position, John -- when you have to talk to the parents? Or in this case, and we'll be talking with them in a moment, the father. What do you say to them?

WALSH: I always say, Remember who the real victim is. As tough as this is for you, as grueling this is for you, as much as your heart is breaking, as scared as you are, you've got to make yourself available to the media. You've got to make yourself available to the Larry Kings and every other show out there because your daughter's out there somewhere, praying somebody'll find her. You got to be strong. You got to hope for the best. And you got a guy on here that never gave up. He and his wife never gave up for nine months looking for Elizabeth. She went home alive.

KING: And let's check in with him now. In Salt Lake City is Ed Smart, the father of Elizabeth Smart, abducted from her bedroom, wasn't seen until nine months later. First, how is she doing, Ed?

ED SMART, DAUGHTER, ELIZABETH, RECOVERED AFTER ABDUCTION FROM HER BEDROOM: She is doing best-case scenario. She's just doing terrific.

KING: Is she doing harp recitals, too?

SMART: She is. In fact, she's playing right now.

KING: Really?


KING: Well, I thank you for spending some moments with us. What do you say to a Mark Lunsford?

SMART: Oh, it's the hardest thing you'll ever go through. But you know, the public out there is your greatest resource. There is no question that having everyone looking for her is what's going to find her. And I mean, that is what found Elizabeth, and the prayers of the nation.

KING: Now, you -- do you agree with John Walsh that he should use the media?

SMART: There is no question. That is the only way to go forward. Without them -- I remember how -- you know, the only thing I could think of that morning was, We've got to get this out. We've got to have everyone's help looking for her. And that was -- you know, it was tough to get out there, but, boy, we just knew that was the way she was going to be found.

KING: We're going to have John Walsh and you both talk to Mark Lunsford. He joins us now from Homosassa, Florida, along with Susan Lunsford, Jessica's aunt.

Mark, how are you holding up?


KING: How are you holding up?

MARK LUNSFORD: Well, I'm doing the best I can. It's -- today's been a really good day for me. I've got a lot of high hopes, and I really believe that we're going to find Jessie.

KING: What caused those high hopes?

MARK LUNSFORD: Well, I mean, you know, yesterday was really hard on me. I mean, I had a lot of bad thoughts. But then with all the support that we've been getting and the people that's been talking to me, you know, the sheriff's department, I mean, they're -- you know, they're just really great people, and they're just really making me feel good. I mean, everything's been going so fast and spreading out real fast. I've got family in other states, and they knew about this yesterday.

KING: Is Jessica an only child?

MARK LUNSFORD: No, sir. KING: What other children do you have?

MARK LUNSFORD: I have a son -- two sons and a daughter in Ohio, and I have another daughter in North Carolina.

KING: But Jessica's the only child with you, right?

MARK LUNSFORD: Yes, sir. She's the last one that I have to raise. And it's just -- I really want to finish what I started!

KING: Sure. Did you go into her bedroom and she wasn't there? What happened?

MARK LUNSFORD: Well, I mean, I came in that morning to, you know, get ready for work. And I had spent the night with a friend. And I came in that morning to go to work, and her alarm clock was going off, which is a normal thing. And when I went -- I came in, I went to my room, changed my clothes, went to the restroom, you know, got ready for work, you know, and -- but the alarm clock was still going off. And so I thought, Well, you know, Jessie's got to get up. And so I opened up her door, and she wasn't in her bed.

I then went to my mom and dad's room, which is her grandparents, and -- Hey, you know, is she in bed with you guys? You know, Did she come in here? And they're like, Well, no, she's not in here. I searched both bedrooms. I searched the house. I checked all the doors. And she wasn't in the house.

KING: Did you call the police right away?

MARK LUNSFORD: As soon as I done that and I didn't find her in the house, I told my mom to call 911. I then went outside and looked around the yard, checked all the vehicles that were there, walked through the neighborhood, next door, the lot next door.

KING: Mark, do you have any tendency to -- everyone feels strange and weird developments when things like this happen -- any tendency to say, Why didn't I stay home?

MARK LUNSFORD: That was -- yes. Yes.

KING: Obvious. Susan, you are the aunt on what side? Are you Mark's sister?


KING: Were you very close -- are you very close to Jessica?

SUSAN LUNSFORD: Yes, I am. I'm from North Carolina, but even when Mark lived there, I took care of Jessie when he worked. And Jessie's just a wonderful little girl.


KING: Are you visiting in Florida? SUSAN LUNSFORD: I'm here because -- at this time, I'm here because of what has happened. Our family is very close, and when my mom called me and my dad, I -- my daughter and I got in the car and drove down here.

KING: We'll be right back with Mark Lunsford, Susan Lunsford, John Walsh and Ed Smart. Don't go away.


KING: We're back. Mark Lunsford, was anything -- what time did you -- when was the last time you saw your daughter?

MARK LUNSFORD: Just before she went to bed. I mean, I came home from work, I take my shower, I ate dinner. We watched TV. I spent time with Jessie. When she got ready to go to bed, she was taking her shower, and then when she got out of her shower, you know, it was time for me to go out for the evening, for what I had planned for the evening. And she kissed me good night and she told me she loved me, because that's what we do. And that was the last time I seen her.

KING: She had not said anything unusual happened that day? She'd gone to church, right?


KING: She hadn't gone to church? Nothing unusual? She didn't say, like, someone was following her or something?

MARK LUNSFORD: No, she did go to church, but no, she's never mentioned anything. I mean, the community that we live in -- I mean, you know, she -- you just don't -- I mean, nobody ever -- you know, I just never noticed anything. We don't know of anybody, nothing.

KING: All right. Ed Smart, before John Walsh asks him, Ed, what would you say to Mark?

SMART: Boy, my heart goes out to you, Mark. I just feel horrible. I know what that feeling is like. But I would -- boy, I just -- you know,, there's a possibility that she's out there. And you know, I'm sure that everyone is praying for her. And you know, keep your hopes up and, you know, rely on your family. My family was so wonderful in helping us get through there.

And there was no -- I remember the second morning, when we went down to the search center, I was absolutely overwhelmed by all of the people that cared and were trying to help us. And I know that brought me a lot of comfort and a lot of hope. And just know that there are a lot of people out there that really care and are wonderful, working to try and bring Jessica home for you.

KING: Ed, what does he do with the low periods? There have to be low periods Mark's going to face, let's say in the middle of the night tonight.

SMART: You know, those low periods are there. And boy, you know, the times that Lois and I got up and walked the halls and we -- you just have to rely on each other, on your sister there to help you get through those low times. But just know that there are a lot of people that care, and they're going to be out there searching and finding her. And with the help of everyone, we will find her.

KING: There were no signs of forced entry. John Walsh, do you have anything to say to or question of Mark?

WALSH: No, I think Ed hit the nail on the head. You know, you're just going to have to be strong. As I said before, I know that Mark's going to remember who the real victim is, and that's Jessica. Jessie's out there. And with his sister there and his family, as hard as it is, Mark, as unbearable as it's going to be -- and it took two weeks to find Adam's remains, and those were the worst two weeks of my wife, Revay's (ph), and my life. But you can't give up. She wants -- she needs Dad. She needs Dad to hang tough and to say, I'm looking for you, Jessie. We're still here. We're going to do everything we can. Because Ed Smart is right. He never gave up. He and his wife for nine years. (SIC)

And Larry, it's a kind of a trivia fact, but the -- putting the composite of Brian David Mitchell -- it was on your show. That's why the media is so important. You allowed me to put that composite that Ed Smart gave me that led to the capture of Brian David Mitchell nine months later.

So Mark, you and that whole family, you got every resource you could possibly have. People are there from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. You got a great sheriff. You got great law enforcement looking for her, for Jessie. And you just got to stay -- you got to say strong for your beautiful daughter.

KING: Mark, have you been in touch with...


KING: Mark, have you been in touch with your ex-wife?


KING: Has she been calling about her daughter?


KING: Don't you count that unusual?

MARK LUNSFORD: Well, my ex-wife didn't know that we were here in Florida. You know, we just recently moved over. We've been here a year this month. There hasn't been a lot of contact. We've always lived so far apart and not knowing where each other is. It's a long, dragged-out story, you know, our break-up, and with the child. But I know Angie loves her daughter, and I know Angie is worried to death about her.

KING: Well, so she knows now where her daughter -- she knows where you are now and that her daughter is missing, but she still hasn't called you?

MARK LUNSFORD: No. I don't know that she has any resource to even, you know, get a phone number for me or -- you know, or anything.

KING: Susan, is the family strong through this? How are you dealing with it?

SUSAN LUNSFORD: We're all leaning on each other. We love Jessie and we love Mark, and all of us are standing together to hold each other up through this, even through the bad times. John was right, there are low times. And we're going to get through every bit of it, and we're going to find Jessie!

KING: Is there any possibility, Mark, that she ran away?


KING: No thought in your mind that this is a runaway?

MARK LUNSFORD: Not at all.

KING: All right. I'm going to take a break...


KING: We're going to come back and include some phone calls. Ed Smart will remain with us until the bottom of the hour. We'll continue this for two segments more and then get to another case, as well. And John Walsh will with be with us throughout the program. And we'll be back with some of your phone calls after this.


SHERIFF JEFF DAWSY, CITRUS COUNTY, FLORIDA: This doesn't fit her character, a young girl this age walking out in a nightgown, no shoes. There is one bit of information. She did -- there is one doll that's missing. I'm not going to tell you what it is, but there is one doll that was taken out of the room, we have found since. We did not know that up until a little bit ago because of the emotional state of the family. Understand that we're not trying to keep (UNINTELLIGIBLE) It's just the emotional state of the family. And we keep going over and asking the questions, and that's the reason why we keep interviewing. So with that, we have some a little bit of additional information. What it means, we don't know.




DAWSY: We are turning every rock that we can turn and following every lead we can possibly follow, but we have not received anything of any credible information.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Mind-boggling. Before we take some calls, John, why no Amber Alert?

WALSH: Well, they did start with an Amber Alert, Larry, and then they rescinded it after they got more information. Sometimes the Amber -- you know, there's certain criteria that you have to be absolutely sure that it was stranger abduction. But they did issue the Amber Alert initially, and I think now it's just turned over to the national media.

KING: Ed Smart, you were involved in that Amber Alert, getting it passed and everything. What do you mean by -- what do they have to know?

SMART: Well, they have to know that, you know, there's imminent danger, that she hasn't just, you know, walked off with a friend. They have to -- as John mentioned, those criteria are so important to meet, otherwise, this would become totally ineffective. And you know, sometimes it's frustrating that it doesn't go right out, but until they really can confirm this criteria, it's an issue that, you know, really has to be met so that the Amber Alert continues to be effective.

KING: Let's talk a call. Tampa, Florida. Hello.

CALLER: Yes. Mr. Lunsford, my heart goes out for you. I feel your pain. I hope the best for everything here. What I want to know is, has any and all family members, i.e. possible jealousy, older sons, older kids -- have they been ruled out and accounted for?

MARK LUNSFORD: Oh, well, most definitely. There's nobody here. All the kids -- all the kids are grown and have families of their own. They live in other states.

KING: So there is no suspect of any kind, Mark.

MARK LUNSFORD: No. As far as I know, there's not. As far as information like that, the best source would be the sheriff's department. I don't know much more than you guys do.

KING: What do they tell you?

MARK LUNSFORD: Right now, they tell me there is no suspects and that they're just trying to do the best job that they can.

KING: Ed, did the sheriff -- did the people in -- authorities in Salt Lake tell you things they didn't tell us?

SMART: Oh, certainly, they did. They -- I was in constant contact with the police, and there were a lot of things that came up that they, you know, would hold back, hoping it would materialize into something that would -- if it went public, might not work out. So there are reasons to hold things back.

You know, my concern was, you know, was there a sex offender in our area that, you know, might have got her? And that's something that we don't -- you know, we don't know, and I'm sure that the sheriff's department, the police there are working on it. But you know, there are, you know, transient sex offenders also. And it's just -- it's an issue that I think we're dealing with as a nation.

KING: John Walsh, is there a rule of thumb on what police will tell the family and the public?

WALSH: Well, it's on a case-by-case basis. First, I believe good police work is when they do a parallel investigation. They take the family, polygraph them, look at them closely. And at the same time, they're interviewing every sex offender in that county that is registered under Megan's law. You know, Megan's law mandates sex offenders register. So there has to be parallel investigation. Sometimes they don't tell the parents everything because they don't want the parents to slip up and say it on national television and compromise the ongoing search.

But you have to take it case by case. But this family has been eliminated, and now they've got to look long and hard about anybody that was in that yard, anybody that might have worked on that house, anybody she met in that church group. And certainly, any registered sex offender within that county should be questioned and found out if they're where they're supposed to be and where were they Wednesday night.

KING: Conshohoken, Pennsylvania. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry?


CALLER: I just want to ask a question. Is this routine that her father goes out? Was anyone baby-sitting this little girl the night she went missing, or was she alone in the house the whole night? I mean, if he did this routinely, went out, like, and left her alone, maybe one of his friends may have known this and one of his friends could have done something like this.

KING: Well, thank you, ma'am, but the grandparents were home, right, Mark?

MARK LUNSFORD: Yes. That is correct. Jessie's -- I mean, I know it happens but, no, I mean, I don't see how anybody would want to leave a child at home while they go out for the evening without someone watching them.

KING: Is there a tendency, Ed, to feel guilt?

SMART: Oh, certainly. I mean, What could I have done? You know, How was it that I didn't hear her in the house? I mean, there were, you know, all sorts of feelings of guilt, you know? Just the whole disbelief that it's even happening is just so, you know, horrendous. It's just -- it's hard.

KING: But you are case in proof, Ed, before you leave us, that the Lunsfords should not give up. SMART: Absolutely. You know, as hard as it is to go forward, just keep the faith that, you know, she is out there and that with everyone's help, they're going to find her. And I just -- you know, my heart goes out to you and your family. I just -- I know how hard that is, and I hope that everyone is working together to try and bring her home safely to you because I just know those minutes and hours and days are just a living nightmare for you.

KING: Thank you very much, Ed. Thanks for joining us. Ed Smart -- his daughter's in concert tonight, which is great news, isn't it? We'll come back with more moments with John Walsh, Mark Lunsford and Susan Lunsford, and then we'll get into the possible break in the BTK case. We'll be right back. Don't go away.


DAWSY: The sheriff from Hillsborough County, David Gee, called me earlier this afternoon, advised me that they had located a body down there and it may match our girl here. And as I say, an emotional roller-coaster. We have confirmed that it is not our girl. I repeat, it is not our girl. For that sake, we're very happy. Our hearts go out to whoever this little girl's family is.



KING: We're back with John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted" which airs on FOX on Saturday nights. It airs at 9:00 Eastern, 8:00 Central. Since the show's launch, "AMW" has helped authorities capture 830 fugitives.

In Homasassa, Florida is Mark Lunsford, Jessica Lunsford's father and Susan Lunsford, Jessica Lunsford's aunt.

By the way, we've been showing phone numbers that the public can call. John Wals, what's the phone number of "America's Most Wanted." Because they can call there, too, and be unanimous, right?

WALSH: Absolutely. I think that's what's been the key to our success over the years. 1-800-CRIME-TV. We don't let cops answer the phone.

Lots of people don't want to talk to cops. They're either afraid of revenge or retribution. They don't want to get involved in a trial or something like this. So I say, if there's somebody out there that thinks they know anything.

And it's always the inconsequential tip, Larry, that breaks a case. It's the tip people think isn't really that important. They can call 1-800-CRIME-TV. We'll take the tip, pass it on, we don't need to know your name. No matter what you think is inconsequential, it may be the tip that breaks this case.

KING: Take another call, Port Richey, Florida. Hello. CALLER: Yeah hi, good evening, Larry. I'd like to ask Jessica's father. On earlier reports down here in Florida that the grandmother said that Jessica had a dog. Did the dog do any barking that night? Or any kind of unusual things going on around the house the dog would bark?

M. LUNSFORD: Well, it's a small daschund. And when he sleeps, he has to be under a blanket. He likes to burrow hisself under a blanket. And when he does things like that, he can't hear you come in. He can't even hear me coming in from work.

But if he's out and he's not under his blanket, he'll raise more cain than a big dog.

KING: Mark, the dog was there, right? The dog wasn't taken?


What do you make of this piece of information about the doll being found?

M. LUNSFORD: I don't know of any information like that.

KING: I thought a police officer said they found a doll.

M. LUNSFORD: I don't know.

KING: Maybe I'm wrong. John, did he say that?

WALSH: No, he said there was a doll taken. And what they're doing is they're not giving the description of the doll. What you talked about earlier. Police don't give out any information, so if they found the doll or someone calls them and says, I saw this little girl with this kind of doll, that's a good tip. But no, it's a doll that's hers that is missing from the house.

KING: I see.

John, a predator of the worst kind, what do they see them somewhere and follow them? Do they know what's going on in the house?

WALSH: Not necessarily that they know what's going on in the house. But they know who's in the house. For example, little Danielle van Damme, down in San Diego. It was a neighbor who met her while she was trick or treating. He was a pedophile obsessed with her. He made friends with the family and got in the house by coincidence. He knew what was happening.

In Ed Smart's case, it was Lois and Ed with their wonderful, charitable generosity, having a homeless guy. They have many, man Morman families do that in Salt Lake City, have people come work on the house. That Brian David Mitchell, that creep only worked on the house 1 day, saw Elizabeth and was obsessed with her and came back to kidnap her.

So, many times, it's somebody in the neighborhood. That's why they say they have got to interview every registered sex offender. But these guys get obsessed with it. They figure they will make their move and pick a time they can get away from it.

I know, everybody says the same thing, how can they get your child out of your house. Well, Ed didn't have the security system on thatn ight, lots of people don't do it. He lived in a beautiful neighborhood in Salt Lake. The van Dammes didn't put their security system on. There was a door unlocked in this house. And these predators are good at it. Larry, they're good at grabbing these kids.

KING: Tyler, Texas. Hello.

CALLER: Yes. I would like to know if they've questioned any of the neighbors in that neighborhood?

KING: Mark, do you know if they questioned your neighbors?

M. LUNSFORD: As far as I know, they have questioned everybody within the area. But like I said, the best source for that information would be the sheriff's department.

KING: I want to tell you, Mark, we wish you the best. We'll be following this closely. We'll stay on top of it. All the help we can be, we'll offer.

Susan, I know your prayers are there with your brother. We wish you both the best.

And John -- anything you want to add, Mark?

M. LUNSFORD: Yes, sir. I mean, I just can't say it enough, that, you know, somebody out there knows something. I mean, if you people just please call, just help us look for her. I mean, any information that you could have. Thank you.

KING: Thank you, Mark.

John Walsh will remain with us. We'll look at the possible end of the BTK case after this.


KING: There may be a break in the BTK case. The initials come from the perpetrator's bind, torture, kill. That's been going on for years in Wichita. John Walsh remains with us on the phone. Larry Hatteberg, the anchor at KAKE TV in Wichita. He's covered this case since its inception. Cheryl, we're not going to show her face, possible killer target back in 1977. She will remain anonymous, still in fear. And in Atlanta, David Mattingly, the CNN national correspondent who has covered this story.

Larry, what's the latest?

LARRY HATTEBERG, KAKE-TV ANCHOR: The latest is tomorrow morning at 10:00, the Wichita Police Department is holding a major news conference Saturday morning. That's very unusual for them. There's going to be a host of dignitaries there, including a Kansas Congressman, the mayor, and the police chief, and the head of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

Now that is very unusual. So, we believe that there has now been a major break in the BTK case. We believe that they're going to announce that they have BTK in custody.

KING: Is that due to -- it would have to be DNA, Larry?

HATTEBERG: It is due apparently to DNA. I know that they are waiting now for a second result, which may already be in by this time, a second result to confirm an original DNA testing.

Now, what happened about mid-morning this morning, teams from the FBI and the Wichita Police Department executed search warrants on a house that is in Park City. Now, Park City is a little suburb of Wichita. Shortly after that, the man was taken into custody and is being questioned by the FBI and the Wichita Police Department all afternoon.

But what really makes this case different at this point is this news conference tomorrow morning they are having dignitaries there. We also know that members of the family are being briefed prior to this news conference. That's why at this point, we are probably about 90 percent certain, according to sources that we have here at KAKE. Sources who have talked to us, tell us that they do have BTK in custody. 90 percent certainty. We will know for sure tomorrow morning at 10:00.

KING: Members of the family of victims?

HATTEBERG: Right. Members of the victims' families tomorrow morning will be meeting prior to the news conference with members of the Wichita Police Department and the FBI. So that is very highly unusual.

And, I don't think they would invite a Kansas Congressman there if they were going to have bad news.

KING: David Mattingly, if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck and walks like a duck, it is a duck. It looks like they are going to make an arrest, doesn't it David?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And if they do, that would show this case is something police were not willing to let go of for 30 years here. They've been on this since the first killing in 1974. If this proves to be the case tomorrow, there will be a great sense of relief in the city of Wichita. Because if you look at it, this killer has been able to terrorize multiple generations of residents in Wichita with his on again, off again killing spree and with his non-stop letters to the media in the last year or so. That flurry of communications in which he sent cryptic letters and packages.

Great deal of anticipation leading up to wondering what was he going to do next? Was he going to kill again or looking for a way end to this story? We may get our answers tomorrow.

KING: John Walsh, what you do make of this? Does this sound like someone that wanted to get away with it so long?

WALSH: Well, my personal opinion is, it's not so much that he wanted to get caught, he wanted to play with the police, torture the victims there in Kansas City and brag about his accomplishments.

KING: In Wichita.

WALSH: I mean, I'm sorry Wichita. I'm not so sure that he wanted to get caught. I think he always said in his letters and his communiques he didn't understand why he wasn't more famous than Ted Bundy or any other serial killers. I think it's just his arrogance and stupidity.

We've been working this case very closely for a long time. I went and did a whole special there. I brought a couple of software experts with a new type of information software, security software that the Kansas Police, as both these gentlemen have said, they have never given up working on this case. And I think that combination of things and his arrogance is one of the reasons he's caught.

Now I agree, I'm 99 percent sure that they've got the right guy. I mean, they had a person of interest a few months back and the media blew that way up when the chief said, wait, don't rush to judgment, we aren't sure, we're looking at this guy, we took everything out of his house. It turned out to be the wrong guy. He's suing the police department and some of the media there. But I absolutely believe that this is the guy.

KING: Cheryl, why do you believe that you were a proposed or intended victim?

CHERYL, INTENDED VICTIME OF BTK: Because, when BTK killed Shirley Vianne previous to his arriving at her house, her son had spoken to him on the sidewalk, closer to my house, and been shown a picture of a woman and a child. And the BTK asked the child, do you know who this is? And the little boy said no.

Then, the little boy said, the man went to a house and knocked on the door, and he went home, but then this same man later arrived at his house to kill his mother. And when the police said, well, take us and show us what house he went to originally, and the little boy brought the police to my house.

KING: How have you felt all these years?

CHERYL: You know, after -- after the murder, I lived in quite a bit of fear for a long time, until I finally did move out-of-state.

And eventually, I think I kind of tried to quit thinking about it. I rarely talked about it to anybody except close family members. Just didn't think about it for a number of years.

And then last year, for some reason, I shared it with my best friend of 20 years. She was just astounded that I had never told her about this before. Then, the very next month was when he started -- started corresponding again.

KING: How do you feel about this news tonight?

CHERYL: I'm really excited. You know, there's part of me that still has the fear. After he started contacting people again, I've kind of started living in a little more fear the past year. There's a little part of me that wonders if maybe they've got the wrong guy and now the right guy will show up and tell me, you shouldn't have had that false sense of security.

KING: Larry Hatteberg.

CHERYL: I'm not over my fear.

KING: I understand.

Larry Hatteberg -- Larry leaves us in a couple minutes. Would you say it's safe to say they better be right?

HATTEBERG: I think at this point they better be right. All arrows are pointing in the right direction. You know, Larry, even on your show last week, there was great criticism of the Wichita Police Department. And when we were on your show last week, we said we didn't feel that criticism was justified.

What we couldn't say was that we felt they were pretty close to making a break in the investigation from many of the things we were picking up.

So, the Wichita Police Department has received a lot of criticism over the last few months because they haven't broken the case. But really, it's two separate cases, the cases from the '70s and '80s. And of course the case from the last 15 months.

And so a lot of that criticism of the WPD, I think, has been unjustified. And at 10:00 tomorrow morning, I think they are going to be very, very happy.

KING: Do you think a fair trial's possible?

HATTEBERG: Certainly, I think a fair trial is possible. We have a long way to go before we get there. What we want to do is get past the news conference tomorrow morning and see what they say there.

KING: You're not kidding.

Thanks so much, Larry, for your contributinos. We'll be calling on you, again, I'm sure.

Larry Hatteberg has another commitment. He'll be leaving us. David Mattingly, Cheryl and John Walsh will remain. We'll also include your phone calls. And we'll be back following these words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WALSH (voice-over): Police say the monster who called himself BTK, for bind them, torture them, kill them, has murdered at least 8 people in Wichita, Kansas. We've been telling you about the taunting messages he's been sending to the police and the local media.

Well, he's just sent another one one. Wichita TV station KAKE got a postcard apparently from the killer on Thursday. You can read the postcard and see all the other clues we have on the BTK case at our Web site,



KING: David Mattingly of CNN also has to leave us fairly shortly, so I'll ask you what I asked Larry Hatteberg. They better be right, right?

MATTINGLY: Well, you would have to think so. They've put an awful lot of time into this case, and they're calling this news conference with the congressman, as Larry Hatteberg reported, and with the FBI there. So this person of interest, as they've been calling him all day long, could very well be a person of very high interest in this case, and we're about to find out with this news conference tomorrow exactly what they've got.

KING: Would you say, David, just from your vantage point there, that this turned out to be pretty good police work?

MATTINGLY: It's hard to say from this vantage point, because in the last year or so, the Wichita police have been very quiet about what they've been doing in this case. The killer has been sending these communications, raising public concerns all over again, just as they were back in the '70s. They've been very anxious to go through every piece of information that killer's provided and to find out what he is trying to tell them. Is he giving them the clues that will lead them to him? And we will probably also find out if it's in fact they do have their man, we will find out what possibly led them to him, and a lot of people following this case believe that the answers have been in those communications all along.

KING: Thanks, David. David Mattingly of CNN, our national correspondent. I'll get right back to John Walsh, got a few more things with Cheryl. Cheryl, why did you stay in the neighborhood?

CHERYL: At the time, I actually had just bought a home there. It was my first home. And it wasn't that easy to leave, financially.

KING: Did you keep a gun in the house?

CHERYL: I actually had a shotgun that a former roommate had left in the house, and I didn't have any bullets or anything for it, but I did keep it next to my bed. And I figured, if I needed to, I could use it as a club.

KING: Do you think, Cheryl, there's a possibility you know this person?

CHERYL: I think he looks familiar.

KING: You've seen pictures?


KING: Who showed you pictures?

CHERYL: I looked it up on the Internet, and...

KING: His picture's on the Internet already?

CHERYL: Not anymore there's not. The site -- the site crashed.

KING: John Walsh, what do you make of that?

WALSH: Let's quit beating around the bush here, Larry. David Mattingly doesn't want to give begrudgingly the cops the credit. I think they did a damn good job. They worked long and hard on this case.

KING: I mean, what do you make about Cheryl saying she's seen his face on the Internet?

WALSH: Obviously, she can't say anything. She's honoring the request of the Wichita police, which I am too, that, you know, not to discuss anything until they break the news, until they're absolutely sure. They're 99 percent sure, Larry. They had been criticized. And it was the media that created the fury the last time. And you know how that can be, Larry, the media said, well, they got the guy, they've been searching his house. It wasn't. It was a person of interest.

I know that this lady -- first of all, I got to say, she is very, very lucky, because BTK in 1979 went into a woman's house and waited all night for her to come home, and she didn't come home by luck and circumstance; he didn't kill her, she got away lucky, and he wrote her a letter about it that she has no idea how lucky she was. So this lady is very, very lucky, and she can't really say. But I'm sure we'll know, and I mean, let's call, you know, as you say, if it looks like a duck, it is a duck. I think they got the guy. I think it was good, hard police work, it was a combination of a lot of factors, and BTK's arrogance, I think is one of the things that took him down.

KING: I want to spend a couple more minutes with John. Cheryl, thank you so much. We hope everything works out for you, and you have a better peace of mind the rest of your life.

CHERYL: OK, thank you, Larry.

KING: Thanks, Cheryl.

There is a case, before he leaves us, that we want to check in with John Walsh on. It's something occurring in New Jersey. Let's watch this clip and then we'll ask him about it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALSH: This is Aman Garros (ph). Over the past decade, most of his family has moved here from Egypt. They all settled in a Coptic Christian neighborhood in Jersey City, a town just across the Hudson River from New York.

Faith was especially important to one family member. Hossam Armanias (ph). He proudly preached his beliefs in Internet chat rooms, but his friends say that he discovered not everyone in his new home was so tolerant. They say Muslims in the chat room didn't like Hossam's (ph) Christian preaching.

WILLIAM, FAMILY FRIEND: And the Muslims said, if you don't stop, we're going to kill you. He said, if you want to kill me, try, because this is a free country.

WALSH: No one really gave the threat a second thought, until January 14th. Police found Hossam (ph), his wife Omal (ph) and their daughters, 15-year-old Sylvia and 9-year-old Monica, murdered in their home.


KING: We have a minute left, John. What's the latest on this case?

WALSH: Larry, people are speculating it was a burglary because his pant pockets were taken out and his wallet was missing, but there was jewelry found in the house. And let me tell you, this family was bound and gagged and the whole family, including those two beautiful girls, throats were slit.

Now, he had threats from Muslim extremists, from that very nasty jihadist extremist community. I think people have to take it serious.

My guess is the way they got even like they do in Iraq and in other parts of the world, they silenced this man and his family for being outspoken and critics of, not all Muslims, let's get it straight, Muslim extremists, and he was a Coptic Christian from the Middle East, and I believe this family's throats were slit by some extremists that are here in the United States. I can't believe the media isn't covering this story much closer. For years, we ignored, you know...

KING: I know.

WALSH: ... the bombers that lived in Jersey City that bombed the towers in 1993. They lived in New Jersey for a year. This story needs more coverage.

KING: Thanks, John. As always, John Walsh, on top of so many scenes. I'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about an exciting show coming Monday night. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We'll repeat some outstanding shows over the weekend, and Monday night, we're going to turn to NASCAR. Jeff Gordon, the raining champ of Daytona, will be with us. So will Kyle Petty and Richard Petty and Darrel Waltrip. It's going to be a hell of a night Monday night.


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