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BTK Suspect Charged With 10 Murders in Wichita; Interview With Mountain Lion Attack Survivor

Aired March 1, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: The BTK suspect hears the 10 first degree murder charges against him. And now a prime-time exclusive. Kevin Bright, the man BTK couldn't kill -- his sister was stabbed and strangled to death by a man believed to be the serial killer, who shot and tried to strangle Kevin, as well. Also, Pastor Michael Clark, of the church where the suspect, Dennis Rader, was council president. And deputy DAs Kim Parker and Kevin O'Connor. How strong is this case?
Then Shannon Parker. A mountain lion attacked her near the edge of a cliff, ripped her face open, tore up her leg and left her without the use of her right eye. Her incredible tale of bravery and survival. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We start with Kevin Bright. He's in Livingston, Texas. His sister, Kathryn, was killed by man believed to be the BTK strangler on April 4, 1974. The same attacker tried to kill Kevin by strangling and shooting him. Kevin was 19 years old at the time.

What happened? Was that day or night? What happened, Kevin?

KEVIN BRIGHT, MAN BELIEVED TO BE BTK KILLED HIS SISTER, SHOT AND TRIED TO STRANGLE HIM: It was about 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon. And my sister and I returned to their house after an errand and just went through the front door and closed the door and started past the bedroom door there. And a man told us to hold it right there. And we looked over there, and he had a gun on us and told us he didn't want to hurt us, he just was needing a car. And he was wanted in California and was trying to get to New York and just wanted a car and some money. And we said, you know, Take anything you want.

KING: And then what happened?

BRIGHT: Then -- then he forced me to tie my sister up in the front bedroom, and on a chair. And then he took me into the other bedroom. He tied me up and laid me down on the floor on my stomach, and he even put a pillow under my head. And then he rummaged through the house for a little while, and then he came back in to where I was and pulled out a -- he had a stocking, knotted up stocking, pantyhose, and started strangling me.

And I fought and broke loose from the -- where he had me tied up and jumped up to the -- jumped up on my feet. And he pulled a gun from his waistband, and I -- I knew he was going to shoot me, and I grabbed ahold of his hand and arm and pulled it -- you know, pushed it back into his stomach and got my hand on the gun and the trigger and pulled it twice. And it didn't go off for some reason. And he jerked it away from me and shot me the first time there. And then I went to the ground, and he left for a while, and then he came back in a few minutes and grabbed ahold of me and he started strangling me again. And I fought him again, and he shot me the second time. And anyway, I played like I was dead, and he left again.

And then I looked around the room to see if there was any kind of weapon that I could use to, you know, use against him. And there wasn't anything there. I just decided I'd, you know, go for help. And so I was about 15 feet from the front door, and I got up and I went out the front door, and there's two guys across the street, two men. And one of them took me to the hospital and the other one called the police.

KING: Have there been permanent injuries from the shootings?

BRIGHT: Yes. There's some lasting nerve damage I've had.

KING: Was your sister shot?

BRIGHT: No, sir. No, Larry. She was strangled, and he stabbed her three times in the stomach area, in the abdomen.

KING: Did you see her body?

BRIGHT: No, I didn't.

KING: So you -- when you got up, you just ran out of the house?

BRIGHT: Right. And I...

KING: How old was your sister?

BRIGHT: Twenty-one.

KING: Well, obviously, you must have gotten a good look at him. Is this the guy?

BRIGHT: I'm thinking it is, but I haven't been shown any proof. You know, he -- he claimed -- he wrote a letter years later and claimed he'd -- he claimed seven victims, and he named six of them. But he never has said that he killed my sister and, you know, attacked me, so...

KING: But didn't you see him?

BRIGHT: Yes, I saw him. Yes, I've seen him, but I haven't seen -- I've seen a picture of him today. I mean, you know...

KING: And?

BRIGHT: ... his arrest picture, and I've seen a picture when he was graduated in 1963. So I haven't seen picture of him at that time, '74. You know, when that happened in 1974, I haven't seen a picture at that time, so I, you know...

KING: Well, does this -- does this suspect look anything like the person who attacked you?

BRIGHT: Yes, he does.

KING: Admittedly, it's some years later.

BRIGHT: Right. He looks -- you know, there's a lot of resemblance, I mean, a lot of features, his eyes, shape of his face. I still don't know how tall the man is. I gave the description that he was about 5-10, 180 pounds, between 25 and 30 years old. And you know, so...

KING: Did he have a moustache then?

BRIGHT: Yes, he had a moustache. And he had dark hair and dark eyes.

KING: And your father -- your father was invited to attend the press conference announcing his capture, right?

BRIGHT: Right, Larry.

KING: So then the authorities must assume that he was involved in the killing of your sister?

BRIGHT: Right. They -- you know, they came to the conclusion that my sister, Kathy, was the seventh victim, but I've never been told why they assumed it, other than, you know, the similarities, being tied up and strangled, which he did to the other victims. You know, that's how -- I assume that's how they come to that conclusion. But if they have any other evidence, I don't know what it is.

KING: Have they talked to you?


KING: The police have not talked to you at all?

BRIGHT: Not since -- no, not since his arrest.

KING: I mean -- You mean, they talked to you back then, when it happened.

BRIGHT: Oh, yes. I...

KING: But they haven't brought you into the -- you haven't been part of the current investigation?


KING: Aren't you surprised by that?


KING: We're going to take a break. You stay right with us, Kevin Bright. We'll be meeting two of the prosecutors. We'll be meeting Pastor Clark. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


JUDGE GREGORY WALLER: Do you understand that you're charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder?


WALLER: All right. I'm going to set this case for 9:00 o'clock in the morning on March 15. Bond will be in the amount of $10 million.



KING: Remaining with us in Livingston, Texas, is Kevin Bright. His sister, Kathryn, was murdered by a man believed to be the BTK strangler. Joining us in Wichita is Pastor Michael Clark, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church. BTK suspect Dennis Rader became the church president earlier this year, and the pastor has been in contact with the Rader family.

One other thing for Kevin. And Kevin, you remain with us. Did you hear gunshots involving your sister?


KING: She was strangled. So when did -- none at all. So when did you find out she was dead?

BRIGHT: Well, I was in intensive care for four days, and then I was, you know, taken to a private room, and it was shortly after that.

KING: Did you suspect the worst?

BRIGHT: Yes. I think so.

KING: Yes, logical. Pastor, what do you make of this?

PASTOR MICHAEL CLARK, CHRIST LUTHERAN CHURCH, PARK CITY, WHERE SUSPECT IS COUNCIL PRESIDENT: Total confusion, Larry. A range of emotions from A to Z. Nothing makes sense.

KING: Have you spoken to him since his arrest?

CLARK: I've not been able to. I've attempted to be with him on two occasions, but there was too many things going on and I wasn't able to see him.

KING: The authorities wouldn't allow it?

CLARK: It wasn't that. They had -- they were working with him, and that had a priority.

KING: but you expect to have access, do you not? CLARK: I'm hoping to see him by sometime noon tomorrow.

KING: Have you spoken to his wife or children?

CLARK: I've been in contact with his wife on three occasions. I have not spoken to his children at all.

KING: What does the wife say about this?

CLARK: Total disbelief, confusion, a lot of pain and bewilderment. I guess those are the words that best describe.

KING: All right. And tell me about this Dennis Rader that you know. He's president -- what is he, president of your church?

CLARK: Yes, he is. Dennis became president of our congregation in January of this year. He's bee on the council...

KING: Does the congregation vote for that job?

CLARK: The congregation votes for vice president, and then they move up to president the following year.

KING: What was he like to work with or for?

CLARK: Dennis was very easy to work with. He was a churchman. He was at church all the time, was available as needed. I found him to have a very pleasant personality.

KING: You are trained to counsel, to deal with people in grief. There's no training for this, is there?

CLARK: None whatsoever. No. I -- I mentioned a couple...

KING: What do you say to him?

CLARK: I don't say anything to him, Larry. My task is to be there, to listen to him, and let him speak to me first.

KING: Have you talked to people in the congregation?

CLARK: Oh, yes. We had a full house Sunday morning at worship. We've had opportunities for them to do debriefing through some trained staff people here in Wichita.

KING: What are they saying?

CLARK: Confused. Some of them are angry. They feel a sense of betrayal, a sense of sadness and concern for Dennis's wife.

KING: Does it appear to you -- and this is as layman -- that the evidence is overwhelming?

CLARK: I really don't have a lot of information on the evidence that they have available at this time. The law enforcement agencies are very tight-lipped about that, which they should be, so I don't know. I hear bits and pieces from the media.

KING: All right. Since it's so disbelieving to you -- you must be thinking about it all the time. Was there ever any...

CLARK: Constantly.

KING: Was there ever any indication from Dennis Rader? Did he ever discuss the story with you?

CLARK: Never. And we had plenty of opportunities. Being council president, Dennis and I have traveled back and forth to meetings, where we've been in the vehicles for an hour at a time. Never discussed this issue at all.

KING: There's two men in Wichita, never even recently, like a month ago, saying, What you do make of the BTK killer? He's writing to people again. You never brought that up?

CLARK: Never. I do not recall a time when Dennis and I had a conversation personally between the two of us.

KING: Has it ever been one of your sermons?

CLARK: No. I've not addressed it in my sermons.

KING: Haven't people in the congregation, Dennis included, ever discussed fear?

CLARK: I've not heard that. I've been at Christ Lutheran for four years now, and it was just in the last year that this topic started coming to the surface again.

KING: But you never discussed it with him, nor did he ever bring it up?

CLARK: Never, ever.

KING: Did you ever see him do a hostile act to anyone?

CLARK: I never saw any kinds of anger or rage out of Dennis Rader. Never.

KING: Kevin Bright, we know it's been some time, but the more you see the picture, does that help at all in your recollection?

BRIGHT: I'm -- I've been looking at it, and I've looked at the composite that the police, you know, sketched from my -- using my description of him, and you know, placing it side by side. And it's -- you know, there's a lot of resemblance there, and that's why I'm waiting to see a better picture of him during that time -- you know, closer to the time this happened, you know, that would put more concrete to me.

KING: But the indications are that it is?

BRIGHT: I'm leaning that way, yes. Like I say, I haven't got his height yet or nothing.

KING: I got you.

BRIGHT: You know, I'd like to know how tall the person is.

KING: Let me get a break, and when we come back, Kim Parker and Kevin O'Connor the chef district attorney and the deputy district attorney of the 18th judicial district of Kansas, Sedgwick County, will join us. They'll be involved in the prosecution of this case. Don't go away.


WALLER: In count 10, it's claimed that on or about the 18th of January, 1991, between that date and the 19th of January, 1991, in Sedgwick County, Kansas, that you did then and there unlawfully kill a human being, that being Delores E. Davis, maliciously, willfully, deliberately and with premeditation by strangulation, inflicting injuries from which said Delores E. Davis did die on January 19, 1991. Do you understand that you're charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder?

RADER: Yes, sir.



KING: Joining us now at the Wichita County Courthouse is Kim Parker, the chief deputy district attorney, and Kevin O'Connor, a deputy district attorney.

Kim, will you be the lead prosecutor in this?

KIM PARKER, CHIEF DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY, 18TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF KANSAS: No. Nola Foulston, the district attorney in this jurisdiction, will lead this prosecution. She's a very experienced trial lawyer, and she tries many of the cases here that are high- profile and important to the citizens in this community.

KING: Kevin O'Connor, if there were guilty...


KING: You will both be attending the court, though, right?

PARKER: Oh, yes. We will both be involved in this matter, as well as another assistant attorney, Aaron Smith (ph). This case is a massive prosecution, in terms of the amount of information involved and the number of charges that are alleged against Dennis Rader. And it will require all of us to work very hard and to be dedicated to this prosecution.

KEVIN O'CONNOR, DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY, 18TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF KANSAS: But, Larry, we have been -- Kim and I and Mrs. Foulston have been working with law enforcement since the letters started coming in last March. And we have monitored and -- the investigation since that time. So it's not something that has just been laid on our desks just yesterday or over the weekend. We were appointed from the very beginning to assist law enforcement and to monitor them in anything that they needed in their investigation.

KING: OK. Kevin, this is a "What if." If the defendant -- and does Kansas has have the death penalty?

O'CONNOR: Kansas does have the death penalty. There's been a recent ruling that has kind of put it on hold. We're hoping for the Supreme Court to review a decision by the Kansas supreme court. But these particular crimes in this case happened before the death penalty was reenacted in 1994. So the particular crimes that Mr. Rader has been charged with, he would not -- the death sentence would not be a punishment.

KING: Not applied. So Kim, therefore, if he pled...


KING: If he pled guilty to one or two of these, there'd be no trial, right?

PARKER: No. That's not necessarily true. At this time, the district attorney is not considering entering into any negotiations. We've reviewed the evidence in this matter and determined that charges were to be filed and allegations brought in 10 homicides.

KING: But if he were to plead guilty, what would be the sense of a trial, if he took life imprisonment, which is all you have that you can give him?

PARKER: Well, one of the things that's very important is that we have 10 individuals that were murdered. In each of their deaths -- we are seeking an accountability for each one of those deaths, not just one or two. And therefore, it would not be sufficient...

KING: I see.

PARKER: ... to accept a plea to just one or two.

KING: So he'd have to confess to all 10.

PARKER: The defendant in this matter would -- we would not be entering into negotiations for anything less than an admission...

KING: I see. But I mean, all...

PARKER: ... to all 10.

KING: ... I'm getting at is, if he confessed to all 10, putting a trial on would just be costing the state money.

PARKER: Well, whether or not a defendant wants to enter a plea of guilty is up to a defendant.

KING: Right. I mean, all I'm saying is...

PARKER: It's not a choice that the state makes.

KING: We might be able to avoid a trial.

O'CONNOR: That might be -- that would be up to -- that would be up to Mr. Rader.

KING: Right. I see that. Why has not Mr. Bright, an eyewitness, been questioned, Kim?

PARKER: It is our understanding that law enforcement has talked to him more recently. I'm not sure he understood your question. We were listening to that conversation.

KING: Kevin, when was the last time you were questioned? Kevin Bright.

BRIGHT: Last June. Yes, last June, Larry.

KING: Well, that's -- are you surprised, Kevin O'Connor, that he hasn't been questioned sooner, that you now have a suspect in jail and this guy witnessed him committing a crime?

O'CONNOR: No, not necessarily, Larry. The law enforcement officers here have worked tirelessly and dedicated themselves to solving this case, and they have not left any stone unturned. They've done everything they should have done in this case. And if they spoke with Mr. Bright, they had what they felt they needed from Mr. Bright, and that when any news or information need to go to Mr. Bright, I believe that that's exactly what they did.

KING: Wouldn't Mr. Bright logically be a witness, Kim?

PARKER: Mr. Bright will, in fact, be a witness, yes. And law enforcement makes efforts -- there's a number of individuals that are witnesses in this matter, and each one of those witnesses have been contacted that will be necessary in the production of a trial in this case. And Mr. Bright, he was given -- and contacted by law enforcement, and he'll be required to present himself at the time of trial.

KING: Pastor, if asked, would you be a character witness?

CLARK: For the Dennis Rader that I know, as a member of Christ Lutheran Church, I could say that I only know a Dennis Rader who is a very kind, caring person, very involved with his church.

KING: Kevin O'Connor, how puzzling, if this is the actual killer, is this to you, to hear a pastor talk about the president of his church and a person you regard was a horrendous individual, who's killed 10 people? What conflict goes through you, Kevin O'Connor?

O'CONNOR: Well, we filed charges after reviewing the information that was presented to us by law enforcement. And here we only charge cases we believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt KING: I know. But isn't this puzzling to you, that this person can lead two lives?

O'CONNOR: I think you can't -- when you look at anyone, you can't assume that -- and you hear it often and you'll see people on TV saying, Oh, they're my neighbor, I couldn't believe they did this. And I don't think anybody should assume that anybody next to you isn't capable of doing horrible things. And so you often hear people say that. But we believe and...

KING: I know that. But doesn't it make you wonder why?

PARKER: Yes, I think that our entire community has been in a great deal of pain and agony for some time. And when someone is arrested and charged with crimes of this nature, the individuals that are closest to them are always confused by what's happened and may be in disbelief. And it doesn't surprise me because we all encounter individuals that we hold in high esteem, and sometimes we find out things about them that are disappointing.

KING: Kevin Bright, what are your feelings about him now?

BRIGHT: My feelings is, I know there's not the death penalty, you know, is going to take effect in this -- in this situation so far, but the death penalty -- he executed the death penalty on my sister and all the other victims. And he's lived, you know, now 31 years after that. So you know, I'd just as soon he -- he stay in prison the rest of his life.

KING: Pastor, when do you expect to see Dennis?

CLARK: I am hoping to see him tomorrow, if his schedule is clear and I can get to him and spend some time with him.

KING: Thank you all very much. We'll be paying a lot of attention to this. Kevin Bright, Pastor Michael Clark, Kim Parker and Kevin O'Connor, who will, if this case does go to trial, if there are no guilty pleas down the line, be part of the team responsible for the prosecution of the suspect.

We'll be right back with an incredible story of bravery and recovery. Don't go away.


KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, Shannon Parker, who survived a mauling attack by a mountain lion while out hiking with friends in California's Sequoia National Forest, June 26, 2004. She lost the use of her right eye, suffered serious facial lacerations, deep wounds to her leg.

We'll be meeting her doctor in a little while. Dr. Robert Schwarcz, the visiting assistant professor at UCLA's famed Jules Stein Eye Institute. By the way, just as a word of caution, one of the photos we'll be showing of Shannon before she went into surgery that day might be difficult to see. And we'll give you a little advance warning before we put it up. What happened? Where were you? What did you do?

SHANNON PARKER, ATTACKED BY MOUNTAIN LION: Well, I was at the Johnsondale Bridge, Sequoia National Park.

KING: With friends?

PARKER: With some friends, three boys. Went out there to camp and...

KING: Do you do that a lot?

PARKER: No, I'm not a hiker. I don't enjoy the mountains what so ever. I lived in Santa Monica, actually.

KING: Why did you go for?

PARKER: Matias (ph), wanted -- my boyfriend at the time wanted me to go up and just hang out and have a good time.

KING: He's no longer your boyfriend, I bet?

PARKER: He's not. But that's OK. So, yes. I went up on Saturday, the boys went up on Friday. We were camping, and it was the boy's idea to go up to this hiking trail at the Johnsondale Bridge. And, you know, it was just a normal day. And I went for a hike. The boys -- about two miles into it, the boys decided to go down to the river, and kind of check things out, where I decided to just maintain -- or just stay up on the hiking trail and just kind of watched to see what they were doing. And for some reason, I just was tired and I wanted to go back to the vehicles, so thinking, you know -- not giving it a second thought, I turned around and headed back to the vehicles. You know, two minutes into this walk, I encountered a mountain lion. It was about...

KING: Where did he come from?

PARKER: He didn't come from anywhere. He had been stalking us, and was -- probably walking up behind. When I turned around, now I'm facing him. He knew, probably, instantly that I had turned around, and started coming towards him or her, for that matter -- and just kind of stayed still, and waited for me to approach.

KING: You didn't hear him or her trailing you?

PARKER: No. These animals are extremely sly, very quiet.

KING: Very quiet. Did he jump on you?

PARKER: You know, he waited until I got...

KING: We'll refer to him as him until we -- we don't...

PARKER: OK. He is perfect. That works for me. I waited until, you know -- I walked up, and he waited until basically I got about 20 feet from him. I made eye contact with him, and, you know, I remember everything, I was so aware of everything, I remember making eye contact with him. That's when his jaws came or his teeth came out and he's hissing. And he just went -- he lunged at me, and he pounced and he locked on to the right side of my face.

KING: Did you scream?

PARKER: You know, I didn't scream at this time -- at this point. There wasn't a lot of time for screaming. I was struggling to, you know, keep it from moving, keep it from repositioning. And I just remember the strength of the animal.

KING: What did he do after the bite?

PARKER: You know, he locked on. He pulled me down to the ground. You know, and I had no time to even react. The only reaction I could have was to just turn my face. Pulled me down to the ground. We were fighting. I remember just becoming -- just being so angry. I knew exactly what this thing was. And I knew, I had to fight in order to survive.

KING: What, did he run off?

PARKER: No, he didn't run off. He was there to -- He was there...

KING: He was going to kill you.

PARKER: He was there until the end.

KING: How did it end?

PARKER: We fought. I actually ended up falling down the hill, down the mountainside. Was able to miraculously get my feet positioned in a way that I was able to keep it in one spot on my face and not move. I had my whole hand in its mouth in order for it to, you know, not reposition itself. The cat was finally -- the cat finally fell off. When the boys arrived, Matias jumped down to my side. He was handed a knife from Jason (ph), one of the boys that was hiking with us, stabbed it twice in the neck. It didn't even phase the animal. So when that didn't work, Jason remained up above and he just got -- he started throwing boulders at its head. On the fourth rock that he threw it finally released me. And you know, it released...

KING: Did they kill it?

PARKER: The boys didn't, no.

KING: Who killed it?

PARKER: The forest rangers went back after I had gotten to safety.

KING: Went back and found him and shot him?

PARKER: Went back, found him and shot him. But you know, when it first released me, it wasn't done, the cat dame back for more. I mean, it -- it released me and Matias tried to push me back on to the trail. And it was stabbed to death -- it was stabbed in the neck and it still it came back, lunched at me and bit me in the right side of my leg. It was pretty big.

KING: How much pain were you in?

PARKER: No pain whatsoever. None.

KING: No pain?


KING: Is that shock?

PARKER: You know, I wasn't -- I don't even think I was in shock at that time. I was just survival. It was survival of the fittest, basically. You just fight and you just -- you don't have to think -- you don't have time to think about pain.

KING: How quickly did they get to you a -- did they helicopter you somewhere?

PARKER: You know, it took 45 minutes before the ambulance arrived.

KING: Why.

PARKER: Why? Because I was in such a -- I was up in the mountains, you know, there was nothing around. Yes, it took 45 minutes. And I was -- went down the mountain in the ambulance. And then from there, I was put into a helicopter and flown to KMC in Bakersfield. And then from KMC, put back in the helicopter and flown to UCLA Medical Center.

KING: Still no pain?

PARKER: None. No. None.

KING: Not unconscious?

PARKER: Totally conscious.

KING: I -- we guess we have one of the photos, we'll show, before she went into surgery. How quickly -- I think we'll put that up. How quickly did you go into surgery?

PARKER: Surgery. Well, I'd say about -- we can ask the doctor. I think it was seven hours. You know, they really -- they didn't -- when I arrived at KMC, the trauma center, the doctors basically had me stabilized, and just said it was way over their heads. Their heads.

KING: We'll be right back with Shannon Parker and more. And then later, in a little while, we'll meet with Dr. Robert Schwarcz. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We're back with Shannon Parker, who survived that mauling attack by a mountain lion. Shannon recently went back to the scene of the attack along with a video crew from ABC's "Good Morning America." Watch.


PARKER: And he just started throwing boulders on it. And it took four before it finally released. Matias pulled me up towards the mountain. The mountain lion was still in the same place, and it came and it jumped and bit the right side of my leg.


KING: Was it hard to go back?

PARKER: It was difficult, but, you know, I had -- I didn't feel threatened in any way. I was safe. That was the most important thing. It was nice to go back and just see the area where I was, because I wasn't there for very long.

KING: Would you take your glasses off?


KING: Can we get it closer, we'll see -- you have no sight in the right eye?


KING: And scars in the head, right?

PARKER: Yeah. The side. The side of the face. This has completely healed, but this is where one of the cat's fangs went in through this top part of my eye, through my eyeball, and then the other tooth went in here and completely pulled out my tear duct. And then not to mention, you know, my lip. The doctor can explain more about my lip.

KING: No -- no loss of sight in the left eye?

PARKER: No, thank goodness. It missed my left eye by just a centimeter.

KING: What's the condition of the leg?

PARKER: The leg's fine, you know, it's fine. I'm rebuilding somewhat of the muscle that's there. But as far as it preventing me to do anything, it's fine.

KING: How about psychologically, how are you doing?

PARKER: Can I put these back on?

KING: Yeah, you can put them back. PARKER: Great, thank you. Psychologically -- you know, I take it one day at a time. It's been a -- it's been -- it hasn't been the easiest thing to overcome, but each day it gets better. And I have a therapist.

KING: You have parents?

PARKER: Great parents, my mom and dad, and a great brother that have been there since the beginning.

KING: Did it have anything to do with the break-up with the boy?


KING: The accident?

PARKER: Oh, no, no, no.


PARKER: Not at all. That's of no concern.

KING: Do any of them feel any guilt for leaving you alone?

PARKER: No. No way. I do talk, you know, briefly with them. They're all in law school.

KING: What is someone to do about this? You don't want to stop hiking, right?

PARKER: Oh, no. You don't.

KING: What are you -- what can the public do to prevent something like this? Is this preventable?

PARKER: I think definitely. I think that, you know, there just needs to be some education out there, as far as maybe just even a sign. I feel like if there was a sign posted before I took that hike, I would have never split from the group. You know? I'm not a risk taker. I don't enjoy, you know, I don't even jump in the ocean because I'm scared of sharks. And it's the same type of deal, I'm educated in the fact that it's just common sense that you know there are sharks in the ocean. Well, I didn't know there were mountain lions, and it would be on this trail when I was hiking. So.

KING: Do you remember the fright?

PARKER: I remember the fright, not the very second it attacked. But I remembered the fright as it tumbled down the hill with it on me. There was a period of about two or three minutes before the boys walked up, that I knew I needed help. I was going to die if I didn't...

KING: You thought you were going to die?

PARKER: If I would be -- yeah, if the boys wouldn't have come. KING: We'll take a break, and Dr. Robert Schwarcz, visiting assistant professor at UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute, who was on duty that day, will join us. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had two officers advance down a narrow, windy, steep trail. About a half mile into the trail, my officers saw the mountain lion, which appeared to be injured.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It appears to just be a very strange, aberrant behavior that a mountain lion would identify a person as a food item.



KING: We're now joined, Shannon Parker and I, by Dr. Robert Schwarcz, visiting associate assistant professor at UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute, the Department of Orbital and Facial Plastic Surgery. He operated on Shannon in the immediate aftermath of the mountain lion attack and is scheduled for another operation with her on Friday. Also, the youngest looking doctor ever to appear on LARRY KING LIVE. Shannon is 27, you're 32.


KING: What, did you just get out of medical school? First day on the job, you get this?

SCHWARCZ: Exactly. Well, I got a couple of gray hairs, so I'm catching up.

KING: What was happening that day? You were on duty meaning?

SCHWARCZ: Right, I was on call. Well, I was sleeping at the time. It was 2 a.m. And I got a phone call saying that a young lady was bit by a mountain lion and was being flown in.

KING: So you rushed to the hospital?

SCHWARCZ: No. They told me they'd update me in a couple of hours. But being from New York City, I asked them what a mountain lion was first, and then figured out that I probably needed to come in.

KING: What was the first thing you had to do when you assess something like this?

SCHWARCZ: By the time I saw her, she was in the operating room already. So it was just assessing her wounds.

KING: What did you have to do?

SCHWARCZ: I cleaned her wounds out and sewed up all the wounds. Her eye was already addressed at the time. They repaired her ruptured globes, so they sewed up the eyeball that was open. And then her right upper eyelid was split open with some fat coming out. Her left lower eyelid was detached from her corner of her eye. Her nasal aqueduct (ph) system was severed. Her right upper lip was split open. And shifted out to the side, and her nose was -- the nostril was coiled out.

KING: Is your expertise in the area of the eye?

SCHWARCZ: It's eye and face.

KING: So you're going to be a plastic surgeon?


KING: Private practice plastic surgeon?

SCHWARCZ: Probably, yeah.

KING: Are injuries more difficult than prosthetics -- I don't mean prosthetics, I mean when they come in for a nose job?


KING: Is the injury more difficult?

SCHWARCZ: No. It's not more difficult. It's different.

KING: Just different.


KING: OK. Had you ever seen anything like this?

SCHWARCZ: I've seen a lot of pitbull attacks and dog attacks, but not a mountain lion, no.

KING: Why was she not in pain?

SCHWARCZ: Probably her endorphins were high, her adrenaline was high, and she was still in shock.

KING: Was she ever in danger of losing her life?

SCHWARCZ: Not when I saw her, but I'm sure she was when the mountain lion was with her.

KING: There was no hope of saving the eyesight in the right eye?

SCHWARCZ: I think she had three or four retina surgeries afterwards to reattach her retina.



PARKER: No go.

KING: Didn't work?

SCHWARCZ: Weren't successful, no.

KING: What surgery are you doing Friday?

SCHWARCZ: Going to remove the eye, put a prosthetic eye in, and readdress her left lower eyelid, to bring it in closer to the anatomical position.

KING: So it won't be -- where now her eye looks half-closed, it is going to be more in keeping with the left eye?

SCHWARCZ: Correct. Well, for the right eye?

KING: Yeah, in other words, you are going to put in, what, a glass eye, do they call it?

SCHWARCZ: It's a prosthetic eye, yeah.

PARKER: A prosthesis. I prefer to call it a prosthesis.

KING: Prosthesis, yeah. Same color, of course.

SCHWARCZ: Well, there's an implant that's put in the back that will fill the volume up so it won't look sunken in. Then the white of the eye, which will look pink at that point, will be sown closed. And then a month later, she will be sent to an ocularist who out of acrylic will make a shield that will look like the other side.

KING: How important is the patient's attitude?

SCHWARCZ: It's the most important thing. Her recovery in seven months has been remarkable. I don't think that I could have ever seen that.

KING: How do you explain this, Shannon, to yourself?

PARKER: You know, I definitely think a positive attitude. You know, this was the biggest tragedy I've ever been through. I've never even been through a tragedy, but maintaining a positive attitude, having great doctors around, great family, great friends, you know, people to just bring you up when you're feeling down.

KING: Do you have strong religious beliefs?

PARKER: I don't.

KING: Don't?

PARKER: I believe in God, yes.

KING: But you're not a church-goer?

PARKER: No. KING: Did you pray?

PARKER: I prayed a lot. I prayed a lot. You know, I just -- I remember saying, not screaming, but just saying, you know, God, please don't let me die, please, just don't let me die. I don't want that. I just don't want to die. I can't die. And I just with that repeating in my mind, I was able to continue to fight.

KING: There's going to be more surgery on the scars, or is she going to have that for life?

SCHWARCZ: Some of them will be readdressed, yes. We've been addressing them with some steroid injections and things like that, so they've gotten a lot better over the past couple of months.

KING: Have you socialized?

PARKER: Socialized, yes.

KING: Gone on dates?

PARKER: Well, I wouldn't -- I don't really want to comment on that. But I am definitely getting back into the flow of things.

KING: I mean, a woman worries about how she looks.


PARKER: Of course, and that was the biggest fear in the very beginning. You know? You don't even know how to prepare yourself to handle your entire face being disfigured in a way. And I remember -- I remember crying, and, you know, in the patient room, and Dr. Schwarcz walking in and him looking at me and saying, why are you crying? And I was just, like, I just look so horrible, and this is so bad. And he's like, you know what, there's not one thing on your face that I'm not going to be able to fix. And that right there, I mean, it just changed my attitude, it changed the hope that I had. It changed everything. And I -- then, I knew not only was I alive, but I was going to, you know, progress.

KING: Are you trained, Doctor, to look at things like this, so that it doesn't get to you, as it would say the layman would faint, let's say, at seeing some of the scenes you've seen? How do you train for that?

SCHWARCZ: I think you just become dull to everything and numb to things like that. And I just don't think about it. Maybe afterwards, a week later, I'll think about it. But as far as getting grossed out by things, you just build up a tolerance over a couple of years of training.

KING: So the first thing you see is what am I going to do? This is the problem, get to work on it?


KING: Have you seen terrible pitbull attacks?

SCHWARCZ: Yeah. Absolutely.

KING: Their teeth are amazing too, right?

SCHWARCZ: Yeah. I actually found a small fragment of the tooth in Shannon's left nasal...

KING: From the mountain lion?

PARKER: I had just heard that this morning from your pre- interview. I never knew that.

KING: I didn't know it either.

PARKER: Yeah. It's amazing.

KING: Wait a minute, the tooth was where?

SCHWARCZ: It was right by the bridge of her nose.

PARKER: Probably right here, yeah.

SCHWARCZ: The whole bone was exposed and everything, so the tooth was embedded in the bone.

KING: So the lion was hungry. That's the...

PARKER: It was very hungry, yeah. My dad describes that -- I was a little porkchop walking down the trail. So -- can I say that on television?

KING: Yeah. Even with a Jewish host. There's the thought that mountain lions don't do this, right? Aren't they supposed to be generally people-friendly?

SCHWARCZ: I don't know about mountain lions. Remember, I'm from New York City.

KING: That's right. And you're not a veterinarian.

SCHWARCZ: No, I'm not.

KING: Aren't they supposed to be people-friendly? You're not an expert either.

PARKER: No way.

KING: In fact, as a chicken, which is what you're a self- admitted chicken, why did you go?

PARKER: Why did I go for the hike?

KING: Yeah.

PARKER: To have fun. KING: There's animals up there.

PARKER: I had no idea there was this type of animal up there. I guess you could just say I was naive to wild mountain lions preying on little girls walking down the trail. You know? I had no idea that that's what I was getting into. And, you know, some say it's my fault. Some say it's not.

KING: Are they putting up signs now?

PARKER: You know, when I was up there, there was no sign.

KING: When do you go into private practice, Doctor?


KING: July. You're still associated then with the hospital?

SCHWARCZ: Yeah, probably will be, yeah.

KING: You're on call tonight?

SCHWARCZ: Not for the next couple of hours. You can have my pager, though, if you want it.

KING: Thanks, Doctor.

SCHWARCZ: Thank you.

KING: Great work.

SCHWARCZ: Nice meeting you.

KING: Good luck to you, Shannon.

PARKER: Thank you.

KING: And so Friday, more surgery. Right. And that will be -- the prosthetic eye will go in.

SCHWARCZ: And the left lower eyelid.

KING: We thank you both very much. Shannon Parker, who survived that mauling attack by a mountain lion, and Dr. Robert Schwarcz, visiting assistant professor at UCLA from famed Jules Stein Eye Institute and the Department of Orbital and Facial Plastic Surgery.

And I'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: The Jackson trial is under way. We'll have a panel of experts, many on the scene, on the coast here in California.

A man always on the scene, never, never more than a step away from instantaneously covering a story. Look at him. It's almost spring, so he's in a lighter color jacket. Nice move when it's snowing.


KING: Nice move when it's snowing. Anyway, Aaron Brown, the man of renown, is about to host "NEWSNIGHT." Get ready.

BROWN: Thank you, sir. Appreciate your comment on the suit, too.

KING: I like it.

BROWN: Thank you.


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