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Interview With Stacey Lannert

Aired April 11, 2005 - 20:00:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, CNN HOST: Tonight, an exclusive jailhouse interview with Stacey Lannert, behind bars after being found guilty of the 1990 murder of her father, sentenced to life without parole to a Missouri prison. Stacey claims she killed her father in a rage after suffering years of brutal, unending sex abuse by her father. It all began when Stacey was just eight- years-old.
Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight.

Thomas Lannert, murdered by his own daughter, just 18-years-old in 1990, shot to death while he lay on the sofa, unarmed. Now, his daughter, Stacey Lannert, claims she killed her dad because he was a sex predator who raped her repeatedly, starting when she was just a little girl.

Tonight, behind bars, Lannert in an exclusive jailhouse interview describes what happened the night she murdered her father.


GRACE: Tell me about that evening, how you ended up shooting your dad.

STACEY LANNERT, LIFE IN PRISON FOR KILLING FATHER: It had been building for an extremely long time.

GRACE: But what I don`t understand is, that evening, you went out with friends, charged it all to your dad, had dinner, went to the VP Fair, kind of like the World`s Fair.

LANNERT: Kind of, it was a Fourth of July program in St. Louis. Well, you know, I lived my life in a basic nightmare. And you do whatever you can do to make life normal. And so you can -- I could have went through the most extreme circumstances and still tried to appear normal to everybody else.

GRACE: That night, after you had been out with your friends, was your sister with you that night?


GRACE: You went back to the house. What happened?

LANNERT: I wasn`t going to go back. I was just going to leave because we had had an altercation earlier in the evening.

GRACE: With your dad?

LANNERT: With my dad. And it was huge.

GRACE: Over?

LANNERT: Numerous things, me being 18, not wanting to be abused anymore.

GRACE: You went into the home that evening -- your father was inside -- through a window. Stacey, a lot of people would think...

LANNERT: I know.

GRACE: ... that crawling through a window when you could go through the door is a little unusual.

LANNERT: Right. But we always entered and exited through that window, especially when he was asleep. And I went in to get the dog. And then I was just going to come right back out...


GRACE: Through the window? I mean, if I go home, I very rarely crawl through the window to get in.

LANNERT: Right. But your drunk father isn`t passed out on the couch either waiting for you to return to who knows what`s going to happen. And we weren`t supposed to go upstairs. We were supposed to go in, get the dog, get some clothes, and leave. And she went back upstairs, and I heard him, heard her. There was the rifle downstairs. And I just lost my mind.

GRACE: Now, at the time, you told police your dad was asleep on the sofa.


GRACE: So when you say now say you heard him and you heard her, how could that be, that you heard him, but earlier said he was asleep at the time you shot him?

LANNERT: Because I didn`t want her to get in trouble.

GRACE: OK. And then what happened?

LANNERT: I heard him.

GRACE: Heard him what?

LANNERT: She had woke him up. And he was drunk. And I just heard him yelling, and I got scared. And I panicked because I had wanted to leave. I had wanted this to be the last time we were ever in there. And I just thought, you know, we`re leaving one way or another.

And that rifle was downstairs. And I picked it up. And I went upstairs. And by the time I got back upstairs he was passed -- he wasn`t passed out, he was laying down on the couch again. And I just thought -- you know, I don`t ever want to be back here again. I don`t ever want to feel this way again. I want everything to stop and go away. And I shot him.

GRACE: You shot him. Then what happened?

LANNERT: He started screaming my name, because I had hit him in the collarbone. He got shot in the collarbone. And he thought he had broken his collarbone. So he yelled my name, for me to call the police and get help, call an ambulance for him.

And I was just extremely panicked because I had just shot him, this person that I`m so terrified of. What was I going to do now?

GRACE: So when he tells you to call 911, what did you do?

LANNERT: Sent Christy to look for a telephone, to go get the telephone and to call 911, because that was it for me right there. I just thought, "OK, well, he`ll go to the hospital and we`ll just leave." She went searching for a telephone and made him something to drink. And I turned on the porch light and opened the front door.

GRACE: You say you made him something to drink?

LANNERT: Yes, he wanted something to drink. So I made him something to drink.

GRACE: What?

LANNERT: A diet soda, poured it in a glass, gave it to him. I was trying to help him.

GRACE: And then what happened?

LANNERT: Then Christy couldn`t find a telephone. So he got mad because it was taking so long for the ambulance to come. And he started screaming, and yelling, and calling us all kinds of names, and threatening us. So he started calling me a slut and saying that the phone was turned off because I always wanted to call all these guys. And that wasn`t true.

GRACE: So when your father began berating you for not finding the phones, what happened next?

LANNERT: Right, I just -- you know, I thought this is never going to end ever. And he was threatening. He wasn`t just saying, you know, calling me names. He was, "Wait until I get up from here. Wait until I get better," saying we couldn`t do anything right.

GRACE: And so what happened?

LANNERT: I panicked. And I shot him a second time.

GRACE: Did he see you before you shot him? Did he see you point the gun?

LANNERT: No, there was a ledge. There was a ledge behind him. He was on the couch. And I sat the gun on the ledge, and I closed my eyes, and I pulled the trigger.

GRACE: And then what?

LANNERT: I dropped down onto the floor, just fell down. And I didn`t know exactly if I`d hit him or not, because I wasn`t looking, wasn`t aiming. And I just kind of fell down and waited to hear if he was coming after me or if there was -- what was going to happen. I didn`t know what was going to happen. And I was scared.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stacey Lannert says the years of abuse eventually led to this. At 18, she was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of her father, Tom Lannert. Early on July 4, 1990, Stacey shot her dad with a rifle as he slept on a couch in their St. John home, not to kill him, she claims, but just to make him leave Stacey and her sister alone.




LANNERT: ... and I decided at that moment that I was going to do it, I was going to kill him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was the gun already loaded?



GRACE: Stacey Lannert, sexually abused for years. She claims it all started when Stacey`s father wanted to play a kissing game called "Touch Tongues" with his eight-year-old daughter.


LANNERT: We used to play a game called "Touch Tongues." We`d just stick our tongues out and then run into each other and then pull back.

GRACE: You and your dad.

LANNERT: No, my mother actually originated the game. And it was just funny. It was the kind of thing where you`d do it, and you`d squeal, and you`d laugh. It wasn`t a sexual overtone at all whatsoever. It was more, you know, then squealing.

And he said he wanted to play that game. And so I was OK with that. I would have done anything to make him happy at all, because he`s my dad, and I loved him. And so we played the game. And then he told me he wanted to play it differently.

GRACE: What do you mean? What did he do?

LANNERT: I kissed him, actually kissed him. He showed me how to kiss.

GRACE: French kiss?


GRACE: OK. So it was not touching tongues and squealing anymore?

LANNERT: No. It`s hard for me to talk about, because I`m so ashamed.

GRACE: You were eight.

LANNERT: I know, and I know that. And I tried to tell myself that. But it doesn`t make it much better.

GRACE: Where did this occur, this first time your dad had you perform oral sex?

LANNERT: It was in the basement or family room, and I didn`t like it, because there was some white stuff on him. And it was bitter to me. And I didn`t want to play anymore.

So he went and got marshmallow cream, and put it on himself, and told me just to lick it off. And then I sat back on his lap. And he told me how much he loved me, and, you know, that that was our game, and that I shouldn`t tell anybody about our game.

GRACE: Where was your mom during all this? I know, Stacey, that you do not blame your mom.

LANNERT: Sometimes she`d be upstairs, sometimes she`d be shopping, sometimes she wouldn`t be home, or she`d be with Christy doing some kind of schoolwork or something. It wasn`t unusual for my dad and I to be in the basement alone together at all.

GRACE: Was that like the family room?


GRACE: With the den and the TV and all of that?

LANNERT: Yes, not that I`m trying to make excuses for my mother, but I can understand, looking back on it, how it would seem. I was Daddy`s girl.

GRACE: How long did the oral sex game go on?

LANNERT: Until I was nine.

GRACE: What changed when you were nine?

LANNERT: There are times that -- still just licking. He wanted me to -- gosh, this is terrible. He wanted me to suck like a popsicle. It had got to the point where, if I did that, he would -- in my mouth. And I didn`t like...

GRACE: Come?

LANNERT: ... yes. And I didn`t like that. He said he wouldn`t do that again.

GRACE: Then what changed?

LANNERT: We`d play the game. And he had my mouth -- I can`t say it. I`m sorry. I can`t say that part. But...

GRACE: I want the governor to know what happened.

LANNERT: Oh, I know. But I am so just -- to me, it wasn`t a bad thing. It was, you know, my daddy loving me at that moment. And then he`d show me all kinds of attention. And so it made him happy. I made him happy. I had the power to make him happy. And I was proud of myself for making him happy.

GRACE: But then everything changed. What happened?

LANNERT: It changed. He told me to swallow. And I wouldn`t. And then he told me, "You think you`re too good to swallow? You`re just like your mother," and got angry with me. I had never seen this side of my dad before.

So I ran into the bathroom and spit it out. He caught me right as I was coming out of that door and threw me down on the ground. And he raped me right there on the floor in front of the stove.

I fought. I did fight him. And I tried to get away. And I burned my hand. And I burned my arm. You can see that scar right there.

GRACE: I remember that.

LANNERT: That`s all I have left.

GRACE: After that rape, what, if anything, did he say?

LANNERT: He didn`t say anything to me at that moment. And I couldn`t believe what had just happened. I was in so much pain, you know? I felt like I had just been torn apart. And I was bleeding.

And I looked at him. And it was my dad that had just hurt me. He looked down on me. And then he said, "Get dressed."

I ran upstairs. And I went looking for my mom. And she wasn`t there. And then I went and locked myself in the bathroom and just tried to scrub everything off of me.

Dad was waiting for me outside the bathroom door. And I looked at him, just with hate. That was the first time I ever felt any emotion for my dad besides love. And I told him, "I`m going to tell mom." He said, "Do you think she cares? Why do you think she`s not here? She knows. She`s just glad it`s not her."

GRACE: This is nine-years-old, correct? After that first rape, what happened?

LANNERT: The next day, at breakfast, he looked at me like nothing had ever happened and said, "Good morning, tiger." And I didn`t know what to do.

GRACE: How often would your dad have sex with you?

LANNERT: It happened at least once a week until my mom left him. Sometimes a little more than that.

GRACE: For how many years did that -- before your mom left?

LANNERT: For three more years.

GRACE: Age 12?

LANNERT: Age 12.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stacey won`t stay in there if this effort is successful, a petition for clemency. It asks that Stacey`s sentence be commuted to life with a possibility of parole and that she immediately be considered for parole. It was filed by her appeal attorney, Ellen Flotman and attorney Mike Anderson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wonder who let her down more, the father, or us as a society.


GRACE: Stacey Lannert, found guilty of the 1990 murder of her father, after years of horrific sexual abuse, she says. Well, unlike many victims, Stacey did tell people about the abuse from her father but it didn`t seem to do very much good.


LANNERT: You know, when this happened in 1990, I didn`t have anybody that I was close to that I really could tell, although I did try to tell the guidance counselor and my babysitter.

And my babysitter actually asked me. And I was scared to tell her, because her husband was a police officer. And Dad had told me not to tell her. You know, she had told me about herself, and she had been abused, and asked me if mine was similar. And I cried and said, "Yes."

And she told my mom that he hurt me and that he was molesting me, with me right there. And mom said that she was going to get me help.

GRACE: How old were you at that point?

LANNERT: I was 12.

GRACE: So your mom did know?


GRACE: Did she get you help?

LANNERT: No. She moved to Arizona with my dad`s best friend from college.

GRACE: And what about the guidance counselor?

LANNERT: I was 17. And I was getting my file to go live with my mom. And she had asked me why I was leaving. And I had told her that I was being raped in my house.

GRACE: And what did she say?

LANNERT: She told me, "Good luck," gave me my files, and I left. And then when she was contacted by the police, she said that she thought that I was lying to cover up for some absences or something.

GRACE: Did she ever take you to a psychiatrist?


GRACE: At what age?

LANNERT: Twelve.


LANNERT: My cousin had -- well, it was my mom`s first cousin. My mom was gone, shopping. And my sister was outside playing. And dad and I were in the basement. And one of the attacks had just occurred.

And my cousin came in and just saw the devastation on my face. And he came out of the bathroom wearing just a little half robe and said he had been in the shower, but his hair wasn`t wet. And he acted kind of nervous.

So she saw the look on my face. And she had been abused, too, so she just knew that -- or she felt that he was molesting me. And she told my mom.

GRACE: What happened?

LANNERT: My mom had my grandmother ask me if he was abusing me. And I told her no. And then I had to go to this psychologist.

GRACE: Did you tell the psychologist?

LANNERT: No, no.

GRACE: Do you know what the psych told your mom?

LANNERT: Yes. She told her that I had all the signs of someone who had been abused. What you have to understand, before I went to see the psychiatrist, my dad would tell me, "Do not tell her. Do not tell her."

GRACE: After your father`s death, did you ever tell any of the detectives what had happened to you?

LANNERT: I told Detective Schulte. He looked at me, and he said, "Did your dad abuse you?" And I said, "No," and I cried harder. And he looked at me like he was looking right through me. And he said, "I know."

GRACE: Did you tell him?


GRACE: Why did you not tell the jury? I find it very difficult to believe that if a jury had heard this story they would have convicted you on murder one.

LANNERT: I wasn`t asked, and it didn`t make a difference because we couldn`t bring it into court. It wasn`t relevant. All that they cared about was what happened on July 4th. So basically what they were saying was that I`m just a murderer.

GRACE: You have been appealing this for some time now. And I read this last appeal. And the court writes, "In light of the years of sex abuse, Lannert and her sister endured in their father`s home, I believe it`s reasonable to conclude Lannert`s father is the true aggressor. It`s deeply troubling the jury was not informed of the abuse Lannert suffered, her fear, her rage, that her sister could be victimized by their father." And at the end he says, "Sorry."

LANNERT: I know. That`s all anybody ever says.

GRACE: Stacey, you have lost in the court of appeals. Your only hope now is the governor will hear this and act. If you could speak to the governor now, what would you say?

LANNERT: Governor Blunt, I know that I shot my father. He raped me for ten years. I wasn`t able to say it at the time of the trial. I wasn`t able to say it to the jury, but I have to say it now so that someday I might have a life.

You`re the only person who can give me that life at the stroke of a pen. You can change my world and give me freedom that I have never known. Please look into my case and into my situation, and if you believe me, please do the right thing.



THOMAS ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. I`m Thomas Roberts. And here`s your "Headline Prime Newsbreak."

An American contractor working at a construction site in Baghdad has been kidnapped. That word now from the U.S. embassy. It won`t reveal the name of the man or his company but says his family has been informed.

A lengthy standoff near Irvington, New Jersey, has ended safely. Police say this man surrendered after his mother pleaded with him. Earlier though, this afternoon, he held his four-month-old daughter and the baby`s mother hostage in a car for more than three hours. That was after he allegedly shot the child`s grandfather and then led police on a high-speed chase.

The mother of the boy who made allegations of sexual abuse against Michael Jackson in `93 took the stand at his trial today. She testified she allowed her son to spend nights alone with Michael Jackson after the singer sobbed and pleaded with her. The boy, who is now 25, refuses to testify.

Well, another all-time record for gas prices. The latest Lundberg Survey puts the average for regular unleaded at $2.29.

I`m Thomas Roberts. We take you back for more of NANCY GRACE.


LANNERT: I thought that she knew because there would be times when I would scream, scream, because I wasn`t letting him just attack me. I was fighting him in the beginning. I had bruises. And I would scream.

And she would be home. And she would yell down the stairs, "Is everything OK?" And he`d say, "We`re just playing." And she`d leave.


GRACE: After being sexually abused herself, Stacey`s mother says she was unable to help her daughter, to save her in any way.

Joining us tonight is Stacey Lannert`s mother, Deborah Underwood, and her defense attorney, Mike Anderson.

Welcome to both of you.

First, to Deborah Underwood. Deborah, it`s confounding to a lot of people that you did not know, according to you, that your daughter was being molested by your husband. Response?

DEBORAH UNDERWOOD, DAUGHTER KILLED SEXUALLY ABUSIVE DAD: That is correct. There were times when I would hear squeals that she would make in the basement, and those were the same squeals when my father molested me that I would hear.

And when I said anything to my husband at the time about it, he would tell me I was making a mountain out of a molehill, and I wasn`t like his perpetrator father -- you know, my perpetrator father. And he always basically just made me feel like I was like one-inch tall whenever I would confront him with anything like that.

GRACE: Did you ever speak to Stacey and ask your daughter about it?

UNDERWOOD: You know, Nancy, I don`t think that I did. I had my mother talk to her about it. And she said that there wasn`t anything, you know, that her father would never touch her in a way like that.

GRACE: Well, Deborah, it`s my understanding, after having spoken with Stacey, that a psychiatrist told you, when Stacey was about 12-years-old, that the psychiatrist believed Stacey had been molested, that a babysitter told you this, and that a cousin told you this.


LANNERT: My babysitter actually asked me. I was scared to tell her, because her husband was a police officer. And Dad had told me not to tell her. You know, she had told me about herself, and she had been abused, and asked me if mine was similar. And I cried and said, "Yes."

And she told my mom that he hurt me, and that he was molesting me, and with me right there. And mom said that she was going to get me help.

GRACE: Did she ever take you to a psychiatrist?


GRACE: At what age?

LANNERT: Twelve.

GRACE: Do you know what the psych told your mom?

LANNERT: Yes. She told her that I had all the signs of someone who had been abused.

My cousin had -- well, it was my mom`s first cousin. My mom was gone, shopping. And my sister was outside playing. And Dad and I were in the basement. And one of the attacks had just occurred.

And my cousin came in and just saw the devastation on my face. And he came out of the bathroom wearing just a little half robe and said he had been in the shower, but his hair wasn`t wet. And he acted kind of nervous.

So she saw the look on my face. And she had been abused, too, so she just knew that -- or she felt that he was molesting me. And she told my mom.


GRACE: Is any of that true?

UNDERWOOD: You`re hitting me up with a lot at one time here, Nancy.

The psychiatrist said, or the psychologist, whatever she was, said that Stacey had symptoms of a rape victim. That`s when I asked my mother to talk to her, and nothing was brought out. Everything was denied at that time.

Of course, that`s one of the toughest things that a child that`s being molested or raped can admit to. And the babysitter basically told me that her father hurt her. I never heard the word "molest" or anything like that, just that he hurt her.

GRACE: Well, did you ask the babysitter how, what happened?

UNDERWOOD: No, I didn`t. I didn`t.

GRACE: Why? I mean, Deborah, I just don`t understand.

UNDERWOOD: I guess I didn`t really understand.

GRACE: If somebody told me -- if I had a small daughter and I was told a grown man hurt her, I would just naturally say, "What happened? What are you talking about?"

UNDERWOOD: And you know what, Nancy? You know what, Nancy? I should have. I should have. I think that I was just too meek at the time and didn`t -- I just didn`t ask her to go into it. I don`t know.

GRACE: Well, what about the cousin? Did a cousin also tell you that they thought Stacey was being molested?

UNDERWOOD: She said that she saw a look in Stacey`s eyes that looked like she had been shattered. And it was the same look that she felt that she had when she was sexually abused.

GRACE: Well, Deborah, I don`t want to be hard on you, but you`ve got three people telling you that your little girl...

UNDERWOOD: That maybe, maybe.

GRACE: Maybe, including a doctor. You found the child`s bloody underwear?

UNDERWOOD: Yes, Nancy. It`s not uncommon for girls not to come to their mother and tell them when they have started menstruating.

GRACE: At age nine?

UNDERWOOD: I don`t know what age she was.


GRACE: And your mom and dad split up when you were 12, and your mom went to...

LANNERT: She eventually went to Arizona.

GRACE: Arizona, and then Guam. Did you go with her?


GRACE: Why did your mom decide to leave you there with your father?

LANNERT: It was easier.

GRACE: For who, her?



LANNERT: Well, you know, my mom was in a very abusive situation until she was 18. And then she married my dad when she was 18. And I think she just wanted to have her own life for a moment.

GRACE: When your mom moved away, how did that make you feel?

LANNERT: I felt just so -- it confirmed everything that he had said. And it confirmed in my mind that she knew, and that she left me with him, and that she didn`t care about us.

And you have to understand, too, that I had, like, my Grandma Lannert, who`s also very domineering -- of course, my dad`s mom -- telling me that she didn`t love us, she never had loved us, that, you know, even a wolf doesn`t leave her pups, you know? So it was to the point where I was really angry with her.

GRACE: At your mother?



GRACE: OK, last question in this vein. When you left your children and moved to Guam, did you have any concern that your girls would then be alone with the alleged perpetrator?

UNDERWOOD: You know what, Nancy? I believe that their father loved them and that he would not hurt them. And that`s basically what I felt. And maybe that was part of being in denial, I don`t know. Maybe it wasn`t being strong enough emotionally. I don`t know.

But all I know is that, you know, you trust your husband when you`re married to them to be alone with your child. And if the children would have come to me and said that things were happening, if these things were happening, I would have believed it.

But I couldn`t go on just my gut feelings and what people were saying that they thought was happening, because there wasn`t anything to go on. If I could have caught him in the act, I would -- I would have gone to the police.

GRACE: Caught him in the act?

UNDERWOOD: Yes, if I would have caught him and seen this going on, I would have done something.

GRACE: Ma`am, your daughter told me that this full-blown sex started when she was just a little girl. I`m talking ages seven-, eight-, nine- years-old. You really believe a child that young could come and articulate to you? She probably didn`t even know what sex was.

UNDERWOOD: No, you`re probably right.


LANNERT: I put the gun on that little ledge, and I pulled the trigger. I thought to myself that he didn`t deserve to live. So I shot him again.



LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Why don`t you believe Stacey?

BOB MCCULLOUGH, PROSECUTED STACEY LANNERT: Well, Larry, I have to tell you, she tells a very compelling story that I just saw. The problem is, it`s not true, and much of what she said tonight is the first time we`ve ever heard that. She tends to add a great deal to her story every time she tells it, wherever she happens to tell it.

And I have to say, none of that was mentioned at the trial. She sat at the front of the jury. She had every opportunity. To tell you that her lawyers never asked her about it, that`s just nonsense. That was the only discussion practically we ever had with her was it was about the sexual abuse and whether it existed or not.

So the problem is, she creates this. And each story that she tells in and of itself is compelling. But when you put them together over a period of 13 years, it`s clear that she makes it up.

KING: Ellen, why is Bob McCullough wrong?

ELLEN FLOTMAN, ATTY. FOR STACEY LANNERT: Stacey has told more and more details over the years. She has not ever said anything that`s been inconsistent. I`ve represented her for ten years now, and it`s taken her until the last five years to be able to tell this at all.

She has added more detail. Nothing has changed. She is telling the same story over and over.




KING: Christy, the story that Stacey just told, true?


KING: Did your father abused you?

CHRISTY LANNERT: He raped me one time.

KING: He did?


KING: And you tried to have him killed, right?


KING: Didn`t you, did you plead guilty to conspiring?

CHRISTY LANNERT: I pled guilty, but I didn`t...

KING: Why did you plead guilty?

CHRISTY LANNERT: Well, Stacey and I have talked about it, because I was with her at the same place. And she said, you know, it`s too big of a risk if it went to trial. And it just seemed like the easiest way.

KING: Nothing ever happened with that? I mean, you pled, and they dropped the charges?

CHRISTY LANNERT: No, I did, I served -- I got a five-year sentence, and I served about two-and-a-half.

KING: As a what, as an accessory to the murder?

CHRISTY LANNERT: Conspiracy to commit.

KING: And you pled that, why? Since you didn`t shoot and you didn`t plan to shoot, or did you?



GRACE: When I interviewed Stacey Lannert`s mother, I asked her why she didn`t tell the jury about her daughter`s years of rape, of sex abuse, and suffering.


GRACE: Did you testify at the trial, Deborah?


GRACE: Did you tell the jury about the molestation?

UNDERWOOD: Nancy, I didn`t know she was molested. How could I tell them that she was molested?

GRACE: But this was...


UNDERWOOD: How could I tell them something I didn`t know, that I didn`t see?



GRACE: Where was your mom during all this? I know, Stacey, that you do not blame your mom.

LANNERT: Sometimes she`d be upstairs, sometimes she`d be shopping, sometimes she wouldn`t be home or she`d be with Christy doing some kind of schoolwork or something. It wasn`t unusual for my dad and I to be in the basement alone together at all.


MIKE ANDERSON, ATTY. FOR STACEY LANNERT: Nancy, could I jump in here just a minute?

GRACE: Yes, please, go ahead.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Nancy. I appreciate that.

I`ve known Deb for quite a few years. And I have the same questions that you`re asking whenever I first met her. How could any mother be around this and not know?

I think it helps whenever you understand a little of Deb`s background. Deb was molested herself as a young child. I think what we see a lot of times in these cases are victims of abuse who know. Of course, she knew. She had to know at some level what was going on here.

But she didn`t know how to deal with it. She didn`t know, as a victim of abuse -- let`s not forget that these abusers are manipulative. They`re very manipulative. They not only manipulate the children that they`re abusing, but they manipulate the people around them.

He convinced Deb that she was making this up, she was thinking the worst of everyone. How could she possibly think that a father would do this to her own child? This man manipulated everyone around him, including Deb.

Deb is standing by Stacey today, and we appreciate that. And we know that she wants to do everything she can to help Stacey. It`s unfortunate that Deb was young, she was manipulated, she was a victim of abuse herself at the time. Had she been a stronger person, had she been a more educated person -- and I`m sorry, Deb, I don`t mean to demean you -- but had she had more information about the signs of abuse and what happens in cases of abuse, she may have been able to come forward.

GRACE: Mike, I appreciate your defending Deb. And there are many, many women out there that have been victims themselves.

But in my mind, frankly speaking, her having been a molestation victim should have made her more in tune to what was happening with her own daughter. I mean, really, Mike Anderson...

ANDERSON: I agree with you, Nancy. I agree.

GRACE: ... I respect so much what you`re trying to do for Stacey, all right? But when you find your little girl`s bloody underwear hidden, when you hear squeals from the basement of pain...

ANDERSON: Let`s not forget, Nancy...

GRACE: When a psychiatrist tells you, "I think your daughter is being molested."

But all that aside, let me ask Deborah Underwood what she is doing today, 2005, to help your daughter, Stacey, who`s behind bars for life for the murder of her alleged child sex molester.

UNDERWOOD: Well, for one thing, I can never do enough, OK? We`re going to Washington, D.C. There`s a national race to stop the silence and stop child sexual abuse.

And in the meantime, there`s a group of people called Freedom for Stacey. And we`re planning on doing things. We`ve been to Jefferson City. Mike was there. And we rallied for Stacey, the last day that the governor -- that Governor Holden was in office. And we`re going to do more of these rallies, and we`re going to get public support.

GRACE: When?

UNDERWOOD: We`re in the process of doing that.

GRACE: Have you spoken to the current governor?

UNDERWOOD: I think Mike has or a representative...

GRACE: Have you?

UNDERWOOD: No, I have not.


UNDERWOOD: I didn`t know you could just call the governor and talk to him, Nancy.

GRACE: Have you tried?

ANDERSON: Nancy, Deb did speak with Governor Holden the last day, I believe, that he was in office, or one of the last days that he was in office. Unfortunately, he wasn`t willing to hear the case at that time.

We hope that our new governor, Governor Matt Blunt, will be willing to sit down with us, to sit down with Deb...


GRACE: Oh, please, please, Mike. With that, I agree with you and Deborah. The last governor, he`s hiding out. He doesn`t want to address this. Nobody can get him to address this. Not you, not Deborah, not anybody, because he left Stacey Lannert holding the bag, all right? And a new governor came in.

ANDERSON: You`re not going to get any argument from me there.

GRACE: Yes, on that one, I agree with you and Deborah.

But what I want to know is this, Deborah: No offense, ma`am, but you were deaf to your daughter`s pain when she was a child. What are you doing now to get her from behind bars?

UNDERWOOD: You know, Nancy, if I could go there and set her free, I would. But I`m basically bringing her plight to people so that they can be supportive and help write letters to the governor so that he will end up taking a look at this case and let her out.

GRACE: Deborah Underwood, you`re Stacey Lannert`s mother. I wish you the very best.

Also, to Mike Anderson, I wish you success.

ANDERSON: Thank you.

GRACE: But I know this much: If I were behind bars for killing my child molester, my mother would be laying on the front steps of the capitol.

Thank you for being with us.

UNDERWOOD: Thanks for that suggestion, Nancy.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Nancy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As Governor Holden`s term is coming to the end, the friends and family of Stacey Lannert hope that he will grant her clemency during his last days in office. She was convicted of first-degree murder in 1992 and sentenced to life without parole.

FLOTMAN: Every time I go to see Stacey, it`s so tough to leave her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A rally was held this morning to try and give her case more attention.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was not granted, but it is not on the denial list, which means that it will be left for the next governor to consider.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Holden met with Lannert`s mother in passing this afternoon.

FLOTMAN: If he can just do this, it would be so wonderful that it would make a statement for other sexual abuse victims in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel if she hadn`t died -- or if he hadn`t died that night, Stacey and her sister would have.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Holden`s office says there were some sexual abuse cases granted clemency today, but Lannert was not one of them.



GRACE: If you are a crime victim with a story to tell, know of an injustice or a case that needs spotlight, call 1-888-GRACE-01, 888-472- 2301, or go the Web site,

We at NANCY GRACE want desperately to help find missing people. Tonight, take a look at Teresa Peden. Forty-five-year-old Teresa Peden, last seen August 2003 leaving her mom`s home, Springfield, Tennessee. If you have any info on Teresa Peden, call the Carole Sund Carrington Foundation, 888-813-8389. There could be a reward involved. Please help us.

And now, before we say good night, it`s time for a look, a look in words and pictures, at the story of Stacey Lannert.


LANNERT: I put the gun on that little ledge, and I pulled the trigger. I thought to myself that he didn`t deserve to live. So I shot him again.

How could I have allowed that to happen? How could I have done something like that? I just couldn`t believe that my life had been broken so badly that I resorted to something like that. And he raped me right there on the floor in front of the stove.

UNDERWOOD: I didn`t know she was molested. How could I tell them that she was molested? How could I tell them something I didn`t know, that I didn`t see?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The prosecution believed that Stacey was motivated by money and was never sexually abused. They charged her with first-degree murder.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do we all think she killed him? Sure. Do we think she needed to go to prison for life? No. As a member of that jury, we believed she was sexually abused. We were told we couldn`t take that into consideration.

LANNERT: It`s hard for me to accept that the man that I loved so much would do that to me.


GRACE: I want to thank all of my guests tonight, Stacey Lannert, behind bars, her mother, Deb Underwood, and Stacey`s attorney, Mike Anderson.

But my biggest thank you is to you for being with us tonight, inviting all of us into your homes. Coming up, the latest headlines from around the world. I`m Nancy Grace signing off for tonight. Hope you join us right here, weeknights, 8:00 Eastern, on NANCY GRACE. Good night, friend.


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