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Remembering Prince Rainer of Monaco; Interview With Linda Dufresne, Jeffrey Sparks

Aired April 7, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, she died in her fiance's arms on a New York street shot during a robbery. She was Nicole Dufresne, a beautiful young actress. And one suspect in the crime says her happiness made her a target.
In their first prime-time interview, Nicole's fiance Jeffrey Sparks and her mother, Linda Dufresne speak out about the senseless slaughter of a gifted woman they both loved.

But first, Prince Rainier of Monaco. He was Europe's longest reigning monarch and the man who married Grace Kelly. As we mourn his passing, an exclusive conversation with Prince's Grace's cousin, John Lehman. He saw Rainier last month. And he'll represent the United States at the funeral next week

It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

KING: You'll recognize the face as soon as you see it. He's John Lehman. He was the former United States secretary of the Navy. And he's a member of the 9/11 commission. He's expected to -- are you going with the U.S. delegation to the funeral?

JOHN LEHMAN, COUSIN OF PRINCESS GRACE OF MONACO: Well, I think the delegation hasn't been named, but I will certainly be over there.

KING: It's pretty obvious that you would go even if you weren't named, right?


KING: You were how related to Grace?

LEHMAN: Well, Grace was my mother's first cousin. And a very close friend. So, I spent a lot of time over there when I was in school and became very good friends with the prince.

KING: Did you know Grace very well?

LEHMAN: Yes. She was a bit older than I, but she and my mother were very close. And as a family, the Kelly clan is a pretty close family in Philadelphia. And we spent all our summers together in Ocean City, New Jersey. So, we saw a lot of her.

KING: I knew Jack Kelly very good. He died just walking down the street, right? LEHMAN: That's right. Well, he was jogging back from working out, a four-time Olympic rower, medalist. Won the Diamond Skulls twice. Quite a remarkable man.

KING: Tell me about your last meeting with the prince.

LEHMAN: Well, I saw the prince about two and a half weeks ago, just before he went into intensive care. And he was very tired, but he was very much himself and wanted to hear the latest jokes from New York, which he always asks for. He loves New York, always loved New York and missed not having been able to come over for the last few years.

But he was very tired after -- we were there for about an hour with him. He offered us -- he kept in the hospital his own little wine cellar and offered us very nice wine while we were there.

KING: He was very ill, right?

LEHMAN: He was a very tough personality. I mean, he suffered a lot of problems the last five years, but really bore them extremely well. He never really complained and kept his sense of humor, which was such a characteristic of him.

KING: He was madly in love with your cousin. Those were the reports, correct?

LEHMAN: That is absolutely correct. I have never seen a marriage more -- more devoted in both -- in every sense in that term. And anyone who saw the pictures or the films of Grace's funeral and saw the devastation on the prince's face. And the fact -- I mean, I was there for the funeral. I was there shortly before Grace died. And I was back a couple of months later. His hair turned white in the space of three months.

KING: And it's said he was disconsolate for a long time, right? He did not get over it. Maybe you never get over it?

LEHMAN: I don't think he ever got over it. Because They were really very devoted. They were the kind of marriage that they complemented -- they were very different, very -- very different kind of personalities, but very complementary. They both were strong personalities, but both had tremendous respect and admiration as well as love. And they learned from each other. They both changed over the years in good ways.

KING: Was Grace a loving, affectionate person?

LEHMAN: Oh, she was. She was a person who -- you know, her beauty really came from within. And she loved her family first. And she really wanted to help people, not in the sort of lady bountiful, abstract version. But she was constantly doing things to help, as Prince Rainier was. Help individual people from -- people from like, you know, the more prominent of her colleagues in Hollywood who got into trouble with their marriages. Grace would, several times, flew over to the United States to help friends through difficult times. Her famous relationship with Josephine Baker. When she really stood up for her here at the Stork Club, but then brought her through difficult years. And the prince was the same. I mean, he really helped people, but didn't want other -- he didn't want publicity about it.

KING: He didn't have an enormous ego?

LEHMAN: Well, I don't think anybody can be a sovereign prince without an ego. But it was an ego that certainly never got in the way of his judgment or his family, his devotion to his family.

KING: He transformed Monaco, too, didn't he?

LEHMAN: He did. Well, he was a much underrated person in that he was happy building Monaco into a different place that was centered more on growing opportunities for the Monegasques, for the people of Monaco. But he was one of the most astute observers of the international scene I have ever worked with.

And in a way, it's a shame that he was not able, because of the political constraints, to paint on a larger canvas, because his judgment and his ability to predict what was happening in the world was brilliant. He was a natural.

Yet, he was able to -- he had to keep absolutely out of politics and quiet. Because it would do great damage to Monaco. And Monaco was always a very, very useful catalyst between the United States and France and the United States and Europe. Prince Rainier was always deeply pro-American.

KING: And she was great for the country, wasn't she?

LEHMAN: She was terrific. She really helped to change Monaco into a very different kind of place. It was a bit of a sleepy backwater and became something very different.

KING: Did he have a difficult time with the daughters?

LEHMAN: Well, who of us with daughters have not? But the remarkable thing is how well he succeeded with the children in an environment that is almost unimaginable in the pressures, even more than normal public figures, because Monaco is a place where the paparazzi just love to go to.

And they could never move from the time the children were born, they could not step outside of that palace without paparazzi stalking them with telescopic lenses, with jumping out from behind cars. The children.

And so, the pressures on them were tremendous. But they were able -- Prince Rainier and Princess Grace were able to keep a family environment where it was very clear to the children that they came first. It was a very loving family.

KING: And by the way, we did an interview, an extensive interview with Prince Albert that we're going to repeat this Sunday night. And he is in charge now, right?

LEHMAN: Yes, he is. He is the regent and now has full powers.

KING: That interview will be repeated this Sunday night on LARRY KING LIVE.

When we come back, more with former secretary of the Navy John Lehman. Don't go away.


KING: The funeral will be one week from tomorrow, April 15th in Monaco. It's expected that he will be buried next to his late wife.

Our guest is the former secretary of the Navy, John Lehman. He is chairman of the Princes Grace Foundation, a cousin of the late Princess Grace and will be, of course, at the funeral next week. He's also a member of the 9/11 Commission. We'll get in a question about that before you leave.

You were telling me something interesting, she had an embolism before she went off that cliff, right? That wasn't a car accident, per se?

LEHMAN: No, there was a truck following down -- this was a switch back road above Monaco. In fact, it was one of the roads filmed in the movie "To Catch a Thief." And the truck driver reported she never touched the brakes, she just went straight off -- when the road switched back, she just went straight off. And then later in the hospital, they found that she had an embolism in her brain that had hit, obviously, while she was driving. So, she didn't know what hit her.

KING: These are going to be tough shoes for Albert, aren't they?

LEHMAN: Yes, but he's been preparing for it for a long time. Prince Rainier has been turning over more and more of the responsibilities over the last couple of years, and especially since the last six weeks or so when Prince Rainier has been in and out of the hospital.

Prince Albert really been acting, and now is formally the Prince Regent. So, he does have full authority now. He won't be formally crowned until the three-month period of mourning is over, but he's ready. He has been prepared. His father has trained him up.

And this is -- this is a more important job than just running the principality, because -- the principality -- reason that they've lasted 700 years, is that they've been a unique catalyst in European affairs. They obviously don't have armies and navies and air forces, they're no political threat to anyone. It's enabled them to often play a very useful diplomatic role. It's why they have a full vote in the United Nations, and have a potential influence on world affairs that is -- can be very, very helpful.

KING: Let me ask a couple of questions about the 9/11 Commission. Do you expect all the recommendations to ever really come in?

LEHMAN: Well, nobody bats 1,000, but I think we're going to get a large majority of our recommendations enacted, many of them already have been. The president has already put through executive orders that have enacted many of the changes we've recommended. Then Congress passed the legislation, which is really landmark legislation, in December. And that had about 97 percent of our intelligence reform changes in it. So, we are very happy about the course of events.

KING: How well do you think Mr. Negroponte will do?

LEHMAN: Well, I've known John since we worked on Henry Kissinger's staff nearly 40 years ago. John is one of the best prepared people and the most capable people I've ever worked with in government. He is very astute. He really understands the nature of the bureaucracy. He's been an user of intelligence for nearly all of that 40 years. He knows that in here a dysfunction of the intelligence establishment we have. It really doesn't work. It is -- it is just utterly dysfunctional, and He knows that. He has, clearly, the access to the president.

The president has put him in offices right next to him in the EOB. And he will have unlimited access. So, we're -- we're actually very excited about the opportunity here, because John is a person who understands the bureaucracy and knows how to get things done. So, as long as the president continues to support him, you're going to see some sparks fly and some fundamental changes. Because he's got to rebuild the entire culture of the intelligence community.

KING: Is it logical to expect something else to happen bad?

LEHMAN: Well, you know, the most important thing, as we said in our report, is to first recognize the nature of the threat and to be proactive, not to sit back and wait for them to come to us. Clearly, we know they have plans through the intelligence, through interrogations and so forth. There's no doubt, they want weapons of mass destruction. They want biological. They want germ warfare. They want -- they want to target here in New York and elsewhere, the subways, the train stations. They love to get a nuclear weapon. For 10 year's they've been trying to get a nuclear weapon, which is why non-proliferation is such a serious issue for us.

KING: So, we've got to be on guard?

LEHMAN: We've got be on our toes and proactive, and keep them on the defensive and go get them and go preempt any attempts by them to get any kind of a sanctuary in Pakistan or Iran or anywhere.

KING: When are you heading to Monaco?

LEHMAN: Early next week.

KING: Thanks. Thanks for coming.

LEHMAN: Thank you, Larry. Very good to see you. KING: Former secretary of the Navy, John Lehman. A tragic story next. We'll meet the mother and fiance of the late Nicole Dufresne murdered senselessly in New York a little over two months ago. Don't go away.


KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. The late Nicole Dufresne was an extraordinary young lady. She graduated magna cum laude from Boston's Emerson College. Her home state is Minnesota. She was an opponent of the death penalty, a strong environmentalist. She was raped in college, and recovered from that. And then on the night of January 27th here in New York City, that lovely young lady was brutally shot and killed.

We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE Jeffrey Sparks, her fiance who was with her when she died, and Linda Dufresne, her mother. She was killed on January 27th during a robbery in New York City. Where were you that night, Jeffrey? What happened?

JEFFREY SPARKS, NICOLE DUFRESNE'S FIANCE: We were out with our good friends, Mary Jane Gibson and Scott Nath, at a bar on the Lower East Side.

KING: Another couple?

SPARKS: Yeah, another couple.

KING: The four of you went to dinner...

SPARKS: Another couple. And it was Nicole's first night of work at her new job, at the Rockwood Music Hall.

KING: In which she was what?

SPARKS: Bartender.

KING: But her interest was acting and modeling and theater, right?

SPARKS: Absolutely.

KING: And had you had a wedding date?

SPARKS: We had not chosen a specific date. She had always been specific about wanting to be married in the fall, which was her favorite season.

KING: Linda, did you live in New York at the time or were you still in Minnesota?

LINDA DUFRESNE, MOTHER: I was still in Minnesota.

KING: And did you worry about her moving to New York?

DUFRESNE: I worry about my children all the time, but New York is a big place. And it was intimidating for her at first, but she, you know...


KING: ... what happened to her in Boston. She was raped in Boston, right? You had to live through that.


KING: How many other children?

DUFRESNE: I have a son, Zachary.

KING: Who is how old?

DUFRESNE: He just turned 25 yesterday.

KING: All right. What happened, Jeff?

SPARKS: We were walking home with Mary Jane and Scott.

KING: How late at night is this?

SPARKS: This is pretty late, about 3:00 a.m.

KING: So, you were out late?


KING: Was there a lot of drinking going on?

SPARKS: She didn't get off until about 1:00 a.m. or so. Wanted one...

KING: Was anybody drinking, or was it a...?

SPARKS: Yeah, we were all drinking, you know. Given that she didn't get off until about 1:30, we didn't have a lot of time to do a lot of drinking. You know, it was a school night.

KING: So, you're walking?

SPARKS: Yeah, we were walking. And we were approached by a group of people and there was an attempt at a robbery. And I was hit and she was shot.

KING: Did you see people approaching you with the gun? How many were there?

SPARKS: I -- I can't make too many comments on the specificities of what happened, because it is...

KING: You're going to have to testify at their trial, right?

SPARKS: Yes. You know, I just -- I need to only give my story to the jury, and in that kind of detailed sense, in terms of how many people there were and that sort of thing. KING: What happened to the other couple?


SPARKS: They were there and witnesses to it. Nothing physically happened to either one of them.

KING: The story in the paper was that one of the alleged killers said to your fiancee, give me your money or something, and she said something about, why don't you just shoot me? And he shot her. Without going into too much detail, in essence, is that correct?

SPARKS: I would just say to you and the audience, don't believe too much of what you read. I don't find a lot of it to be congruent with my own perception of the situation.

KING: Does your memory fade a lot, though, when something happens like that, it comes upon you? The whole thing took how long?

SPARKS: Not long. And I don't feel that my memory has faded at all. I feel like it's gotten more clear as time has worn on. I think during the moment, the shock was a real blast for my memory.

KING: How did you hear about it, Linda? Was she dead at the scene, by the way?


KING: Did not live in the hospital or anything?

SPARKS: Not to my knowledge.


DUFRESNE: My husband called me at 7:30 Thursday morning. I am (UNINTELLIGIBLE) my mother, just south of Minneapolis, and I was there with my mother. And my brother came over. My husband notified him first, and so that he would be there with me.

KING: And how do you tell someone something like this?

DUFRESNE: Well, all that could be said was that there was -- I remember my husband saying that there was a shooting. And, of course, you know, I'm thinking -- I wasn't thinking anything, actually. There's been a shooting. And he said, Nicole's gone. And I didn't -- I couldn't really grasp that. So, there was a lot of emotion and explanation.

KING: How do you cope with that?

DUFRESNE: You don't. I mean, you do and you don't. It's harder for me, because there's so many things that are coming up. You know, the trial is coming up, and I have a lot of things to think about, but Nicole and I were -- well, we often called each other soul mates. We talked often. And we talked about everything and anything. And sometimes things where I would say -- dear, my, you know -- she was a very open woman and very vibrant. So, I don't -- it's hard for me to focus on her being gone yet. And sometimes when it comes, it comes in huge waves.

KING: You were close mother and daughter?

DUFRESNE: Oh, yes. Very close with both of my children, but...

SPARKS: It's one of the tightest families I've ever seen.

KING: Really?

DUFRESNE: She was my goddess, and I was her hero and goddess, as she often told me.

KING: Did you approve of Jeffrey?

DUFRESNE: After all, I -- you know...


KING: But not immediately. Nothing's immediate.

DUFRESNE: Oh, no. He had to kind of pass the test, I suppose.

KING: What do you do, Jeffrey, by the way?

SPARKS: I have, up until Nicole's murder, I worked in the music business. Independent record business, doing PR.

KING: Now what?

SPARKS: I had to quit that pretty much right after the murder, because it was kind of a contentious issue in our relationship, because I worked all the time.

KING: So out of respect, you quit?

SPARKS: Yeah. You know, I couldn't imagine continuing on the same path, and now I'm dealing a lot with the business of death, which is, you know, something that...

KING: We're going to pick up on that when we come back. We'll be right back on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: Thus far, four people have been indicted in Nicole's murder. They have all plead not guilty. They remain in custody. The next court date involves pre-trial motions and discovery, that's scheduled for next week, April 14th. A scholarship fund has been established in Nicole's memory. If you want information online at the Web site, it's www.nicoledufresne -- that's all one word, and Dufresne is spelled d-u-f-r-e-s-n-e. That's French, right?


KING: Dot-com. You were pistol-whipped, right, Jeffrey?


KING: Do you have still pain from that?

SPARKS: Yeah, whenever I bump into it, yes.

KING: Were you hit first and then she was shot?

SPARKS: Definitely.

KING: But you held her as she died?


KING: What was that like? I mean, what, what...

SPARKS: I guess in a word, it was surreal. It was, of course, totally terrifying. It was my absolute greatest fear coming to pass. In fact, just that night, I had written that to a friend online, that that was my greatest fear.

KING: Of her being killed?

SPARKS: Of losing her.

KING: Losing her?

SPARKS: Losing her through death. I wasn't worried about losing her through any other way.

KING: Was there a particular illness you were worried about?

SPARKS: No. You know, New York is dangerous. I mean, I wasn't so much worried about her being murdered, but I was worried about her being run over by a car, or just -- anything.

KING: Because it is a lot safer city than it was. It's not in the top 20, I don't think.

SPARKS: Absolutely not. She would have been much more likely to have been murdered in a number of different cities throughout the country.

KING: You're right.

SPARKS: You know, I hope that people around the country won't get the impression of New York that, you know, through this story, that it's this extra-dangerous place. I think there's already that misperception in a lot of other cities.

KING: How do you feel about it, Linda?


KING: New York. DUFRESNE: Well, it was really interesting driving in today, when they picked me up. I was preoccupied with other things, and then all of a sudden, when we got into Manhattan, it was very, very difficult for me, because I hadn't been here.

KING: Your first time here since?

DUFRESNE: Yeah. Yeah. And I didn't -- I didn't expect that. You know, I didn't think about it. I just thought, well, you know.

KING: You weren't near where it happened, though, were you?


KING: Where did it happen? Where did this happen?

SPARKS: Lower East Side.

KING: So it was just Manhattan, right?

DUFRESNE: Yeah. It was just, you know, I guess, all of a sudden, it it's New York, and this is where the last time I saw her, and it was just very unusual.

KING: Did you know she was gone, Jeffrey?


KING: Before the ambulance came, right?

SPARKS: Yeah, pretty much.

KING: Police get there right away?

SPARKS: I think they got there some time after the ambulance. My recollection is that she stopped breathing just before the ambulance got there.

KING: Someone called 911?

SPARKS: I'm sure a lot of people did.

KING: There were a lot of people around? 3 a.m.?

SPARKS: There were definitely plenty of people around. I mean, Lower East Side is a very late-night section of Manhattan. And it was a Thursday night, Friday morning. So, there's definitely plenty of activity on the street.

KING: Did the accused run away?


KING: Were they later -- they were later apprehended?

SPARKS: Yes. KING: You're going to -- do you intend to attend the trial, Linda?

DUFRESNE: Yes, I do, the whole time.

KING: Some might say why? Why not put it away? You're not going to bring her back.

DUFRESNE: You mean why attend the trial?

KING: Why attend -- why, yeah.

DUFRESNE: Because she's my daughter. And I feel I should be there for her. She would have done that for me. And, I don't know. Maybe it's -- I think a lot of it is part of -- it's closure for me.

KING: Yeah.

DUFRESNE: Closure has been difficult.

KING: And of course, you'll testify.

SPARKS: Yes. And I'll also be there.

KING: You can't attend before? You can't watch the witnesses, what they say before you testify, I don't think.

SPARKS: You know, I'm...

KING: Because you can prejudice your testimony.

SPARKS: I'm not sure how that works, but I'm sure the DA will let me know.

KING: Has the DA been in touch with you?

DUFRESNE: He calls me, you know, lets me know, you know, keeps me abreast of what's happening.

KING: Have they been very good?

DUFRESNE: They've been wonderful.


DUFRESNE: Yes, just very sensitive and very kind.

KING: Is she buried here or in Minnesota?

DUFRESNE: Nicole was cremated, and we will spread her ashes where she wanted to be.

KING: She was opposed to the death penalty?

DUFRESNE: Yes, she was.

KING: So, are you opposed to it too?

DUFRESNE: I kind of knew that question probably would be asked. And yes, I was opposed to the death penalty. I am now, but it was something I really had to readdress when this happened.

KING: No kidding.

DUFRESNE: Because someone murdered my child. I knew that Nicole was opposed to it. And I also knew that Nicole was very -- felt very strong about our youths at risk, and having better prevention that would help them. And she was also -- wanted the gun control system to be changed.

KING: We're going to talk about that. You want the killer to spend life in prison, though?

DUFRESNE: Well, I think life in prison without parole would be appropriate. Yeah, would be appropriate.

KING: We'll be right back with more. We'll also include some of your phone calls. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The image is grainy, but you can make out a scarf worn by the suspect police say is the shooter. Investigators have now recovered that white scarf, as well as a .357 revolver they say was used to shoot aspiring actress Nicole Dufresne. 19-year-old Rudy Fleming of Staten Island is under arrest, charged with murder.

Last night, a memorial service was held in Seattle, the city Dufresne had lived in with her fiance and where she produced her first play. Meantime, in New York, friends and relatives toasted the 28- year-old at a restaurant.




NICOLE DUFRESNE: Fly back into the light, like nothing -- no nothing can secure her heights of imagined power better than the glow of her eyes, when she decided to she keeps breathing. And she keeps her eyes on the key ring a place to go.


KING: What was that, Linda?

DUFRESNE: Was that in Seattle?

SPARKS: No, that's in New York at the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Inn in West Village.

DUFRESNE: Yes. She was performing one of the poems she had written.

KING: She wrote poetry, right?


KING: You lived in Seattle for a while, right?


KING: Do have any -- before talk about -- we'll take some calls too before we talk about the gun lobby and the like. Do you have of what some call a guilt syndrome, that is, could I have done more? Should I have done more?

SPARKS: Absolutely. Oh, yes. Definitely. And in a lot of different contexts. You know, mostly in just the context that I knew she would have liked me to have gotten out of the city more and gotten out into nature, alone or with her. With her murder, there's the feelings of if I had just done this just a little differently.

KING: That's what I meant.

SPARKS: Yes, I thought that's what you meant. That extends beyond that, the guilt that you feel in the situation. It's beyond what just caused her death. It's the life that you had before that.

KING: Did you feel any blame toward Jeffrey, Linda?

DUFRESNE: No. I didn't feel any blame to Jeffrey. Just everything -- I realized that everything happened so quickly, that it's hard to blame anyone. It just happened.

KING: How are the friends who were with you taking all of this?

SPARKS: We're all getting through it day by day. You know, there's counseling going on. We -- we have become such a tight group of friends.

KING: You know them well, too, the other couple?


KING: Was any money taken?

SPARKS: I'm not even sure.

KING: Really?

SPARKS: I'm really not even sure what was actually accomplished as far as what their goal was.

KING: Lets take a call. Lynchburg, Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Hi, My question is to Linda. What do you do to get on each day?

KING: One cannot fathom the loss of a child. In fact, it's unfathomable.

DUFRESNE: As I said, I haven't really started the counseling -- group counseling yet.

KING: You have not?

DUFRESNE: No. I spent a month in Albany with Zachary.

KING: Your son?

And I just got back -- Yes, and then doing things with my mother. But that's -- that's coming up. I'm going to a memorial for parents and survivors of murdered children on Sunday. And through that organization, I'll be in group therapy and going to meetings. And I think that will be a great comfort to me. Day-to-day, I just really try to keep myself busy. And because it's such a surreal experience, having a child murdered, it comes in these enormous waves. Because you try to not think about it. And then it just sweeps over you and, you know, then I just deal with it emotionally and then try to get on.

KING: How is your husband dealing with it?

DUFRESNE: It's very difficult for all of us.

KING: Daddies and daughters though.

DUFRESNE: Yes, Nicole was his -- his buddy. They were -- read the same -- they were both prolific readers and read a lot of the same material. And intellectually, they had a bond and discussed a lot of that. So, yes, it's been very hard for him.

KING: How about her brother?

DUFRESNE: Well, right after -- right after we returned from New York, they -- Zachary and -- my son, and Nicole's best friend from high school, Diane Prismas (ph) -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- she has wonderful friends. They -- he put this memorial together in about a week or so. And it was the most phenomenal memorial.

KING: Where was it?

DUFRESNE: So, he spent -- it was at the first Unitarian Society of Minneapolis. And -- so, he was occupied with that. And that helped him a great deal. He felt he was giving her -- doing this for her. But I think they talked four or five times a week. And they were best of friends, very close, it was just the two of them.

KING: You said your mother is ill. How is she taking this? And How is she doing?

DUFRESNE: Well, it was hard for my mother, because she lost a son in '91. I had six brothers, I now have five and a sister. And it was...

KING: What was it, natural causes? DUFRESNE: No. It was an industrial accident. So, she was in tremendous pain listening and hearing me that morning, but she also then had to relive her own experience of losing a child.

KING: We'll have more in a minute, don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christmas 2004, the last pictures Jeffrey Sparks has of his fiance, Nicole Dufresne. A makeshift memorial now marks the site where Dufresne was killed in Manhattan, a city where she, like so many others, came to realize her dream of being an actress and a writer. Dufresne's murder took place on the Lower East Side, a neighborhood that's been transformed over the years and attracts many young people, prompting a question to the cities police commissioner about its safety.

RAY KELLY, NYC POLICE COMMISSIONER: The neighborhood is very safe as are most neighborhoods in New York City.


KING: Was she crying at a rodeo?

SPARKS: No. It was a sand storm.


SPARKS: There was sand blowing all around.

KING: Are you angry at the NRA, are you angry at the gun lobby? Are you taking it further than just this shooting?

SPARKS: Yes. Nicole and I were never big fans of the NRA or the gun lobby. And certainly, I'm way less of a fan than I ever have been. I think it's just nauseating, the amount of money that goes into lobbying our law makers to make it easier and easier to put handguns in the hands of kids. And of course, they'd say they're not trying to do that, but look what's happening. Look where they're showing up. Let's talk about reality, not what's on paper.

KING: Kansas City, Missouri, take another call. Hello.



CALLER: My question is, I know it's a long way off, but will they have cameras in the courtroom?

KING: Do we know?

SPARKS: I doubt it, but I don't know.

KING: It's up to the judge, right. I think in New York, isn't it up to the individual judge? SPARKS: I would think so, yes.

KING: There's no date of the trial yet, right?

SPARKS: The trial is a long way off.

KING: You wanted to tell a hot dog story.

DUFRESNE: I do, because it says a lot about Nicole being a very loving and protective and caring person. Every time she would -- before she went down into the subway after work, busy, everybody is busy. And she would buy the same homeless man three hot dogs every day. And he would look at her and say, are you going to have enough to eat tonight, sister? And she would always say, I'll be just fine. And this happened day in and day out and day in and day out. She was an extremely compassionate person. She loved immensely. She protected immensely. She was a fierce life force. She really was.

KING: Did anyone go and tell the homeless man what happened?

DUFRESNE: No. I mean, I don't know where -- she talked to her father a lot about that, when she would call Tom and...

KING: How did she get through the rape?


KING: That was in Boston, right?

DUFRESNE: Yes, it was in Boston. I believe it was her junior year in college. And...

KING: You didn't know her then?

SPARKS: No. She was with her boyfriend, Patrick Zeller, who did a lot to get her through that. And he's a good friend now.

DUFRESNE: She didn't tell us for a while. She...

KING: Yeah.

DUFRESNE: ... you know, the shame thing and all that, but then -- and she also was in a major performing arts play with her -- the chair of the Performing Arts Department of Emerson. She was assistant director to her. And Nicole, when I did find out, we wanted to bring her home right away, and she said, I can't. And I said, well, what are you talking about? She said, mother, I have a job to do. And so I flew in to be with her. And then right after that performance, we were on a plane, and she did get counseling right away and -- with a very dear friend.

KING: You have had one tough time.


KING: We'll be back with some more moments and another caller or two. Don't go away.


RAY KELLY, NYC POLICE COMMISSIONER: New York City detectives have taken into custody five individuals in connection with the shooting death of Nicole Dufresne last Thursday morning. We have also recovered the weapon we believe was used in the shooting, a .357 Taurus revolver. In addition, we've recovered a white scarf that may have been worn by a suspect in this case. Two of the individuals are from Manhattan; two are from Brooklyn, and a fifth is from Staten Island.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So this is day two of the trip. Tell us about it.

N. DUFRESNE: Day two. Well, the van has a busted engine, to say the least. We are in (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We are stuck. So, we have nowhere to go! But here we are in Oregon!


KING: What was that about? Home film?

SPARKS: Yeah. We, a couple of years ago, we took a trip down the West Coast from Seattle in the Volkswagen bus. And I had actually just put an engine in it before we left, just had it redone, especially for the trip. And we got about, you know, six hours down the Oregon coast and...

KING: It broke down?

SPARKS: Threw a rod, yes. So we had a little adventure with that.

KING: She looked like she was something.

DUFRESNE: She -- like I said, she was bigger than life, and she was very charismatic. And people were drawn to her. And she was -- believed in honesty. And she was so compassionate and loyal.


DUFRESNE: ... even with her busy schedule, always to just -- I mean, when we were here in New York, the friends were telling me that we just could never figure out how Nicole would sit down in her busy schedule, and work and everything, e-mail us, or call us just to encourage us in something, or to say, I love you, have a great day.

KING: It took three days to catch the suspect, right, and the gun was still found? SPARKS: Yes.

KING: They didn't throw it away or anything?

SPARKS: They didn't throw it away, thankfully.

KING: Big gun too. Right? Ithaca, New York. Hello.

CALLER: Larry, I was the victim of a heinous crime in New York City. A close friend was brutally killed. My question is, to your guests, did you feel the support of the New York City Police Department? For me, I was treated like a criminal. It was terrible. God bless you.

KING: Thank you. Jeffrey?

SPARKS: Thank you. I'm sorry to hear about your experience. I feel I was treated great by the New York Police Department. I think they worked their butts off to make this investigation move smoothly and quickly. I think that the -- I appreciate the media coverage that happened during that time. I think that certainly helped. A lot of people saw the security videotape and called in. And it was one of those calls that led to the tip that got the current suspects.

KING: Did you ever feel that sometimes the media is interfering, or do you think they were helpful?


KING: It's a two-way...

DUFRESNE: It's -- yeah.

KING: A double-edged sword?

DUFRESNE: It really is, Larry. I was so thankful that there was so much coverage, because I really think that that may have helped, but on the other hand, you couldn't go anywhere, and they had no sense of -- it didn't seem they were very sensitive, but, see, I'm a little Minnesota farm girl and I'm not used to that. But -- and being misquoted all the time. It got to the point where when I went home, there was even one newspaper that flew someone in from New York to drive down to my mother's farm and film my...

KING: For what purpose?

DUFRESNE: I have no idea. They actually came into the house and took pictures of my mother. I wasn't home. My mother is 84, you know. And that was -- that was invasive, very invasive. And calling me all the time for these just kind of sensational things. And it was...

KING: But on the other hand, it helped...


KING: ... capture the...

DUFRESNE: Yes, it did.

KING: So, a double-edged sword is a good term for it?


SPARKS: Yeah, definitely. There's your quality media, like we're experiencing here, and then there's others, you know.

KING: Best of luck to both of you. And may you -- may times be better.

SPARKS: Thank you very much.

DUFRESNE: Thank you.

KING: Linda Dufresne and Jeffrey Sparks.

Couple of program notes before we close things out. Tomorrow morning, the pope's funeral will begin at 3:00 a.m., coverage will start. It will all be repeated tomorrow night in prime-time, because we don't imagine there will be that many people watching at 3:00 a.m. So, tomorrow night in prime-time.

And Thursday night -- Saturday night, Heather McCartney, the wife of Paul McCartney, will host this program following the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla.

Prince Albert on Sunday night.

Right now, it's time to go back to Rome. "NEWSNIGHT" is once again being anchored by a man who seems like he's been there forever, Aaron Brown. Aaron Brown and "NEWSNIGHT" is next -- Mr. B.


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