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Is Wilbanks Going to Be Prosecuted?; Will Michael Jackson Take the Stand?
Aired May 2, 2005 - 20:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight, will cold feet land the runaway bride in hot water? Jennifer Wilbanks took off on the eve of a high-society wedding and hitched a Greyhound bus out of town. And now local prosecutors want to land her behind bars with convicted felons?
And tonight, we need your help again. Fifty-five-year-old Summer Shipp still missing after five long months.
And we take you live to California for the latest in the Michael Jackson child sex trial. Will Jackson take the stand?
Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. And I want to thank you for being with us tonight.
Is Michael Jackson headed straight to the witness stand? And will loose lips sink the Jackson ship?
Hours of cell-phone calls in evidence, and a beautiful girl. Summer Shipp on a new job going door-to-door for market research. She was never seen again. Tonight, her own daughter makes a desperate plea for your help.
And she traded a bridal veil and a honeymoon for a dark blanket over her head and a police escort straight back home. Is Jennifer Wilbanks headed to jail?
Tonight in Duluth, Georgia, Police Chief Randy Belcher is with us; in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Officer Trish Ahrensfield; in Atlanta, prosecutor Eleanor Dixon; in New York, defense attorney Robert Gottlieb; in L.A., psychoanalyst Bethany Marshall.
But first, let`s go straight to CNN correspondent Tony Harris. Tony, the story changes every 30 minutes. Bring me up-to-date, friend.
TONY HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boy, it really does, Nancy.
All right. We`re going to do a little rock `n` roll in television for you here, because the news conference ended just minutes ago with Chief Randy Belcher, Gwinnett County D.A. Danny Porter, and Special Agent Carter (sic) with the FBI.
In that press conference, they did a couple of thins. First of all, they laid out the timeline for Jessica Wilbanks, when she left her home Tuesday evening. And then the second thing they did here at this press conference is they discussed the charging options that are available to Danny Porter, the D.A. here in Gwinnett county, if he decides he wants to go ahead and charge in this case.
First of all, Nancy, let`s deal quickly with the timeline. And please, jump in at any time. Because as I mentioned just a moment ago, there are a lot of developments to get to. And I know that you have a chief standing by. First of all...
GRACE: Well, you know what? Tony, let me go straight to the police chief.
HARRIS: Beautiful, beautiful.
GRACE: OK, dear.
Let me go straight to Police Chief Randy Belcher before we lose him.
Welcome, Chief. Chief, bring us up-to-date as of tonight. Thank you for being with us.
RANDY BELCHER, CHIEF, DULUTH POLICE DEPARTMENT: Thank you. Could you repeat that question?
GRACE: Sure. Chief, explain to us your involvement in the case. Where does it stand right now? Will there be charges leveled against Jennifer Wilbanks?
BELCHER: Well, at first, I did not think there would be. But after speaking with the District Attorney Danny Porter, I was the first law enforcement official to talk to her on the telephone once she decided to call her residence.
During that conversation, I asked specific questions. And one of them was, what happened? She advised me over the telephone that she had been kidnapped. And that the kidnappers, a Hispanic male and a white female, came up behind her, and grabbed her, and put her into a blue-panel van, and drove her around until she ended up where she was at that afternoon.
GRACE: You know, Chief Belcher, interesting, I understand -- and I know the prosecutor, Danny Porter, says that, under Georgia law, there is a way he could charge Jennifer Wilbanks.
Chief, you and I are used to prosecuting cases like rape, murder, child molestation, arson. Why would we put this girl behind bars because she got cold feet?
BELCHER: Well, it`s not so much cold feet. It`s the fact that she lied to a law enforcement official that she had been kidnapped.
GRACE: Now, sir, does the lie -- and of course, obviously, it`s a lie. You`re right about that. But does that make any difference in the amount of manpower that was used to try and find her?
BELCHER: Well, unfortunately, in this case, we had no idea that she had run off. All we knew was the fact that she was missing. She did not come back home. And therefore we had to go looking for her. And it ended up in a three-day search throughout the city.
GRACE: Well, Chief Belcher, I`ve got to tell you, you know, I went out on a limb. I think I`ve been in the business almost as long as you have. And she sure tricked me, leaving behind her cell phone, her driver`s license, her money, wearing nothing but the shirt on her back. That sounded like an abduction.
And I guess you know, when you go out on a limb, you`ve got to get ready to fall, OK? And a lot of us fell. She pulled the wool over all of our eyes. During the investigation, did you ever think that it was cold feet?
BELCHER: Well, she definitely pulled the wool over everybody`s eyes. But if you remember, the very first interview that I did...
GRACE: I do.
BELCHER: ... I said this may be a case of cold feet.
GRACE: Yes, I remember that. And I got to thinking, you know, this is impossible. She didn`t take any money with her. She didn`t take her credit card, no ATM. So, Chief, you talked to Jennifer Wilbanks on the phone. How did she sound on the phone? What did she reveal?
BELCHER: Well, if you listen to the 911 tape from Albuquerque, the conversation, her mannerism, was exactly the same way with me, crying, hysterical. You know, again, not knowing whether she was really a victim or not, I took over and, you know, tried to get her to calm down. And eventually was able to find out where she was at based on the phone number that was on the pay phone that she called us from.
GRACE: Hey, Chief, why Vegas? Hey, I`d like to go to Vegas. Why did she pick Vegas?
BELCHER: I have no idea. She says that she felt safe on the bus and that way she`d be able to have several hours going from Dallas, Texas, to Vegas, maybe get her head screwed on straight.
GRACE: So is it true, Chief, that the fiance still wants to marry her?
BELCHER: That`s what I understand.
GRACE: OK, Chief, would you agree that tonight, truth is stranger than fiction? I mean, when this girl went missing -- and I interviewed her father -- I don`t know if you know about that, but it was heart-breaking, her family distraught.
Can you imagine losing your child, not knowing where they are? And you know, people all over the country prayed that she would be found. And we got our prayer granted. She was found healthy and alive.
Now to throw her in the pokey? I don`t see it, Chief. Help me out.
BELCHER: Well, she violated a state law. Now, whether or not she`ll ever see the jail, it`s unknown at this time. There`s a lot of process that has to be taken care of first. The investigation has to be complete.
There are still some details that we want to straighten out. And then that report has to be given to the district attorney, Danny Porter. Then he`ll make a decision at that point whether or not to proceed with it. So we`ve got a ways to go before we even get to the spot where she may go to jail.
GRACE: With us is Police Chief Randy Belcher. Chief, who broke the news to her family, the good news that she was alive and well?
BELCHER: It was a combination of myself, Carter with the GBI, and Holmes (ph) with the FBI. The three of us spoke with the family.
GRACE: How did they react, Chief?
BELCHER: Quite shocked, as you might expect.
GRACE: But the other thing, you know, ever since this thing went down, Chief, I`ve been imagining this girl dead in the back of somebody`s trunk, flying up I-75, imagined her body floating in the river, the Chattahoochee River, the worst imaginable. Because, you know, we`re used to prosecuting and covering violent crime.
And it seems as if everyone wants revenge and they`re angry at this girl because she got cold feet. But the prosecution, if there is one, is simply because she said she was kidnapped to the Albuquerque police and to Georgia police?
BELCHER: Absolutely. If she had not made that statement to me, then we would not be standing here right now talking about this. Up until that point, she had done nothing wrong, according to state law.
So you know, she would have been home-free if she never would have made that statement to me. However, she did. Once she did that, then she violated state law.
GRACE: Well, I agree with you, bugging out on a wedding or an engagement, not a felony. But how big was the bill we`re stuck with, $60,000?
BELCHER: For starters. We expect it to be somewhere near that. That`s just the Duluth Police Department. That doesn`t count the sheriff`s department, the police department, EMS, and all the other public safety agencies that were out here searching.
GRACE: Chief, I think the wedding would have been cheaper. What do you think?
GRACE: Chief Belcher, it is so great to have you on. I`m an admirer. Your police force helped me in a lot of my prosecutions in Atlanta. And frankly, I know it`s a big bill, but thank God this girl is alive tonight.
Chief Belcher, thank you, friend.
BELCHER: Absolutely. Thank you.
GRACE: We`re going to be back with our whole panel on the runaway bride. Then we`re taking you to Santa Maria, California, and the Michael Jackson trial. Please stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER BRANK, GEORGIA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATIONS: She didn`t come right out and apologize. She didn`t feel like she had really done anything wrong. But she did in her way make somewhat of an apology.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MASON, FIANCE OF JENNIFER WILBANKS: I was crying. I was laughing. I was trying to stay calm, to talk to her, to keep her calm. And it`s just so much. And you kind of have to keep yourself composed, because she didn`t know where she was, because she was scared to death.
And I had to try to keep her on the phone until we got somebody to her. And when I finally put the phone down, I was just -- I don`t know, it was like the burden of the world, you know, off my shoulders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Man, Percy Sledge had it right. When a man loves a woman, he will do anything. This guy, John Mason, says he still wants to marry Jennifer Wilbanks, the so-called runaway bride. Well, the GBI and local authorities have different thoughts. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She cried a little bit, showed some emotion. She appreciated the fact that a lot of people were working and trying to find her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Let`s go out to psychoanalyst Bethany Marshall. Boy, do we need a shrink.
Bethany, this guy still loves her. He still wants to marry her. In fact, the day that she was found -- hey, Elizabeth, can you roll that video of her showing up with the blanket over her head instead of the bridal veil?
He still wants to marry her. What do you think, Bethany?
BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST: It`s pretty unbelievable. But actually, the fact that she seems like a fairly kind of a primitive, undeveloped kind of personality. And often women like this choose men who are more developed than them because they use the man to hold them together.
But I`m not surprised that she took off in the way she did, because she superficially planned a wedding with no intent of following through. And then she had planned her escape in the same way. She arranged a ride to the bus station. She bought a bus ticket.
But then she didn`t have enough money to stay away from the home that long. So there again, she superficially planned something, but with no true intent of following through. She did the same thing.
GRACE: Well, Eleanor Dixon, prosecutor in the Georgia jurisdiction, she may be half-baked. Eleanor, but my stars, to put her in jail? Are you jumping on the prosecution bandwagon, Eleanor?
ELEANOR DIXON, PROSECUTOR: Well, I don`t know that I`m jumping on any bandwagon. But what I think the prosecution has to do is to seek justice. That`s as much part of our job as to prosecute criminals.
I think the important thing to look at in this case is the amount of planning and what exactly the planning was that led Jennifer Wilbanks into running away. So I`m sure that law enforcement and prosecution will be looking at those angles, as well.
GRACE: Well, we`ve got her cutting her hair to avoid detection. We`ve got her purchasing a bus ticket well ahead of time, making it to the local library, calling a taxi in advance to pick her up in a preordained location, that being the library at 9 o`clock, and then lying to police in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
So that could show criminal intent to bug out on your wedding. I checked the Georgia code. I haven`t found that in there it being a felony or a misdemeanor -- Eleanor, help me out -- other than the false statement to police.
DIXON: Well, I think that`s what you probably have, either false statements or some type of false report of a crime, if they can fit it under that. But again, the planning shows her mental state. And as prosecutors, we have so show intent on every defendant.
GRACE: Intent to?
DIXON: Commit the act.
GRACE: Commit a crime, a crime, a crime.
DIXON: Well, you intend to commit the natural and probable consequences of your actions. So we don`t have to show that she intended to commit the crime per se. We just have to show that she intended the natural and probable consequences of her actions. So that`s more important.
GRACE: Well-put, Eleanor Dixon.
Let`s go to Trish Ahrensfield. She`s with the Albuquerque Police Department. She`s the public information officer there.
When did Jennifer -- welcome, first of all. When did Jennifer arrive there?
TRISH AHRENSFIELD, ALBUQUERQUE POLICE DEPARTMENT: She arrived in Albuquerque on Friday night at about -- well, I don`t really know exactly on the bus schedule. But I know that we got the call about 11:38 p.m. down at the 7-11.
GRACE: So what exactly did she say, Trish, in her 911 call?
AHRENSFIELD: Well, there`s very -- she called 911, said that -- and she was crying -- said that her name was Jennifer, that she had been abducted from Georgia. And that`s the information that was relayed from the 911 dispatcher to the police.
And so, when the officers arrived, they contacted her. And you know, a lot of us had been following the story, as well. And as it turns out, one of the officers actually recognized her and kind of put two-and-two together. And then, doing some more investigation, asking her who she is, and stated the same type of information that she had been abducted from Georgia, and that`s kind of when our investigation started.
GRACE: Trish, when did she finally come clean on the whole thing?
AHRENSFIELD: She was transported to one of our close substations. And when the FBI detectives, as well as our violent crimes detectives were there, during the course of their investigation -- and a lot of things were said.
You know, these guys are experts. And men and women that are experts in interviewing people, her body language, statements that were showed some inconsistencies, as well as one of the detectives asked her, "Can we stop looking for the blue van?" And she stated yes, because there was no blue van.
GRACE: Well, Trish...
AHRENSFIELD: There was a lot to this story.
GRACE: Hey, Trish, I`ve got a feeling that she wasn`t that hard to crack on cross-examination.
Very quickly to Robert Gottlieb, defense attorney. Robert, look, I know why everybody is angry. It`s a ton of money, $60,000 to Duluth police alone, probably a lot more for the search, a lot of heartache. The heartache, I think, is something for the family and the fiance to work out.
ROBERT GOTTLIEB, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. Nancy, you`re...
GRACE: But please, jail time? Believe me, I never thought I would say that, but...
GOTTLIEB: Nancy, you and I, we are going to agree tonight. This is between this runaway bride, her fiance, the family.
Listen, they were planning a wedding, 600 people, what, 14 bridesmaids, with all the dresses. You can imagine the chaos going on. She committed no crime, this poor soul. Leave her alone.
If Mr. Mason wants to marry her, God bless him. Get this out of criminal court. Remember, Nancy -- and people have got to recall -- leaving the groom at the church is not a crime. Running away was not the crime. The only crime...
GRACE: False statement.
GOTTLIEB: The false statement, but the false statement only comes at the end of the story when she finally calls home and she says to her fiance, "I`m OK." And within, what, three-and-a-half, four hours, she`s now been broken, cracked by the Albuquerque police. Forget it. Everyone should relax. Let this poor woman live her life.
GRACE: Let me quickly go to the Duluth mayor now joining us, Shirley Fanning-Lasseter.
Welcome, Mayor. Mayor, what actions are you considering in this case? I`m totally behind you on getting some money out of Wilbanks for all the overtime your officers worked. What do you think about the criminal charges? And what actions are you considering, Mayor?
MAYOR SHIRLEY FANNING-LASSETER, MAYOR OF DULUTH, GEORGIA: Well, I appreciate your thoughts. The criminal actions will be taken through the district attorney`s office. And they will do the investigation further from here on out. And they will handle that.
The city will take under consideration any legal action through a civil suit, if anything. And we are under advisement through our attorneys as to whether or not that would be the best avenue in order for us to take.
GRACE: Mayor, there was such a turn of sentiment. We were having prayer vigils, people were in tears, there were volunteers scouring the area. Describe the turn of public sentiment when everyone discovered this was a case of cold feet.
FANNING-LASSETER: It was very strange. And I guess even stranger, as God may work in strange ways, it started raining. I mean, thunder, and lightning, and pouring-down rain with all the media here, which took everybody inside of their houses.
So with the news of that, everything was very silent. It was like you could hear a pin drop. And everybody, rather than being in the streets, went into their homes, and meditated, and thought, what is going on and what could this be?
GRACE: Well, Mayor, it sounds to me like everyone is so angry. You better watch out for a lynching, for Pete`s sake. Everyone is furious with this girl. And the only criminal charge I see possible is the possible false statement charge, maybe a misdemeanor.
I understand the civil reimbursement for your people that out looked for her way into the night. But do you think there`s an overreaction of people wanting a criminal prosecution?
FANNING-LASSETER: I don`t know that anybody -- I don`t know that everybody wants a criminal prosecution. I know that is a consideration, because when she called from Albuquerque here, and after speaking to her uncle and then to her fiance, they gave the phone to our chief of police who, in turn, he asked if she was OK.
And she said yes, but she had been kidnapped by a Hispanic male and a Caucasian woman. So that information was offered to him. And that may be where the criminal act comes in. As far as the public outcry for this, truly, I believe the public just wants accountability. I`m sorry, do some community service work, work for a crisis center, and answer phones, so you`ll...
GRACE: Or at least, mayor, act sorry, for Pete`s sake. I`ve got to tell you, after I interviewed her father last week in Atlanta, I stayed up half the night praying that woman wasn`t in somebody`s trunk, speeding up the interstate, dead. So I think everybody feels duped and angry. Whether it amounts to a criminal prosecution, I don`t know.
Mayor, thank you for being with us. Thank you very much. We`re very honored. Thank you.
We are taking a quick break. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS WILBANKS, RUNAWAY BRIDE`S FATHER: It`s just shock and absolutely devastation. John called me probably 2 o`clock-ish, Wednesday morning, because we drove immediately down here and have basically been waiting on pins and needles ever since.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Yak, yak, yak, yak. Oh, I`m back. Listen, loose lips sink ships. And boy, did we learn that in a California courtroom today.
Let`s go straight out to Jane Velez-Mitchell with "Celebrity Justice." Jane, explain the phone record issue that went down in the Jackson case.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, "CELEBRITY JUSTICE": Oh, it was all about lots and lots of phone calls being made today and also big checks being cashed. Prosecutors brought up a bank manager who said Marc Schaffel, one of the alleged unindicted co-conspirators, cashed two checks, one for $1 million, one for $500,000 on Neverland Valley Entertainment, which is connected to Michael Jackson.
They also pursued charts and charts showing many phone calls between the alleged unindicted co-conspirators and this family, designed to show frantic activity by Jackson`s camp during the time of this alleged conspiracy.
GRACE: I`m going to be right back with Jane Velez-Mitchell. I`ve never seen men talk on the phone so much, hours, and hours, and hours with Jackson and his cohorts. What`s it all about, maybe a conspiracy? Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL JACKSON, DEFENDANT: What`s wrong with sharing your bed? I didn`t say I slept in the bed. Even if I did sleep in the bed, it`s OK. I am not going to do anything sexual to a child. That`s not where my heart is. I would slit my wrists first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: It`s not his heart that we`re worried about. That`s from Michael Jackson`s first public response to the molestation charges.
Welcome back. I`m Nancy Grace.
Straight back to California.
Jane Velez-Mitchell, have you ever tried to get a man to talk on the phone for a long time? Look, I`ve got my J.D., not my DDS. It`s like pulling teeth. So, what were all these grown men doing talking to each other on the phone like high school girlfriends at 1:00 and 2:00 in the morning? What was that all about? For hours.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... Chatty Cathys, a lot of Chatty Cathys.
GRACE: I smell a rat. I smell a rat.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The defense can say they were innocently talking about, let`s say -- you could certainly smell the rat if you choose. The defense did score one big point.
On cross-examination, they asked the detective, can you directly say that Michael Jackson was on any of these phone calls? And the answer was no. So they`re going to have to, once again, tie all the alleged shenanigans of these alleged co-conspirators to Michael Jackson. And they still haven`t made that linkage and time is running out for them.
Well, Jim Moret is with us from "Inside Edition." He`s also been in the courtroom.
Jim, the reality is, all these phone calls, hours and hours of phone calls and cell records were, coincidentally, around the time the mom said, hey, I want to blow this place. I want to get out of here. I`m taking my kid and hitting the road.
And then, suddenly, there were all these phone calls into the night amongst Jackson`s cohorts. What do you think they were talking about, Jim?
JIM MORET, "INSIDE EDITION": First of all, you`ve never talked on the phone with me, because I can talk for hours and hours. That`s the first thing.
The problem though, Nancy, is this conspiracy theory. Let`s take a look at it. You heard what Michael Jackson said in the Bashir documentary, that it`s fine to share a bed with a grown man. That caused a P.R. nightmare for the Jackson camp. So what did they do? Tried to get this family on to tape to make a rebuttal video.
Now, at the same time, the Department of Child and Social Services, the DA, the sheriff`s department, all coming down on Jackson. After the rebuttal tape was made, that`s when prosecutors say the crime of a molestation occurred. So, that just doesn`t make sense in the timeline. But was there chaos? Were these folks worried? Of course they were. There was a P.R. Nightmare.
But what`s the crime in getting together and saying, we`re going to put together a video? That`s what the defense is saying.
GRACE: Hold on. Wait a minute. Let me get that timeline straight.
Back to Jane Velez-Mitchell.
All these phone calls into the evening, in the wee hours between these five, Jackson five, the alleged co-conspirators, Jane, what was happening during the time of all these phone calls?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It was across the board of this conspiracy, which encompasses two months. And it begins when the Bashir documentary airs and it ends after the family leaves Neverland for the last time.
But Jim is absolutely correct when he says the alleged molestations don`t begin until February 20 and beyond. And this conspiracy started back on February 6 or 5 or 1, February 1, even before the documentary airs in the United States. So, what are they conspiring to hide if Michael Jackson hasn`t even allegedly molested this boy yet? That`s the point he`s trying to make.
GRACE: Hold on. Jane, Jane, Jane, when did the boy`s name get posted at the security gate outside of Neverland, to not allow him to leave?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was a weeklong period in the midst of this conspiracy. As they were trying to get this family to do this rebuttal interview. And, finally, the videographer, Hamid Moslehi, says, I`m taking the kids; it`s OK; I`m going to take them to my house and I`m going to shoot this rebuttal video, which, in fact, he did.
GRACE: Jane, just this question is what I`m asking. You`re saying the molestation started toward the end of February, according to the state. So, this conspiracy could not be in effect. But the boy`s name was posted at the security gate mid-Feb, when they were trying to get this video done.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s why a lot of people are having trouble with the conspiracy case.
And one of the other problems is that the timeline is very confusing. All these phone charts that were produced today, all of us reporters are sitting there trying to correlate the phone charts with our own personal timelines. It would be really helpful if the prosecution had put up a timeline of what they`re alleging happened during this two-month period.
GRACE: Let me go to Robert Gottlieb, veteran criminal defense attorney.
In my mind, all these phone calls late into the early morning hours, Robert, indicate to me that there was a serious, serious problem. And when you look at the calendar around the time of these phone calls, you see it`s when the mother is trying to leave Neverland, when Jackson makes this very disturbing statement about sleeping with boys.
I mean, it all starts in my mind falling into place, according to the state`s theory.
GOTTLIEB: Nancy, respectfully, I don`t buy it.
I don`t understand what the heck the DA is doing ending his case with these phone calls. And I`ll tell you why. Jim was right on point with what he said about the timeline, that, after all this is going on, supposedly, that`s when the sex abuse takes place.
Remember, Debbie Rowe winds up testifying as a prosecution witness. But everyone would indicate that she probably helped Michael much more than helped the DA.
GRACE: I appreciate that, Robert, but I didn`t ask you about Debbie Rowe.
Very quickly to Daniel Horowitz.
GOTTLIEB: No, no, wait. Nancy, Nancy, but the point...
GRACE: Just answer the question.
GOTTLIEB: I will answer the question. The point is, Debbie Rowe said that Michael Jackson is a wonderful guy.
GRACE: No, the question was not about Debbie Rowe. Thank you.
GOTTLIEB: And they were vultures.
GRACE: Let me quickly go to Daniel Horowitz.
Daniel, the phone calls. That`s what happened in court today. Debbie Rowe was last week. Do you think these phone records help the state prove their case?
DANIEL HOROWITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, Nancy. I think it helps Michael Jackson.
Remember, Michael Jackson is a product. He`s not a person, really. He`s like a toothpaste. He`s like Wendy`s. And when a product is threatened, everybody`s money is threatened. And you throw millions of dollars at a product to protect it, just like Wendy`s did, giving away Frosties when the false accusations were made against them.
So we can`t mix a product, Michael Jackson, with this Bashir documentary and this molestation. He`s being protected to protect the financial interests of all those around him, including Michael himself.
GRACE: Well, you said something significant, financial interests.
To Jane Velez-Mitchell with "Celebrity Justice."
I understand that Mark Schaffel cashed a $1 million check and a $500,000 check. That check was drawn on Neverland Valley Entertainment. For what?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is correct.
Well, you know, we can`t make the prosecution`s point for them. I assume in closing arguments that they will argue that this is some kind of payment for services rendered in the alleged conspiracy.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We know that Neverland Valley Entertainment has two signatories. And that is Mark Schaffel and Michael Jackson. So, this is connected to Michael Jackson.
GRACE: Let me go to psychoanalyst Bethany Marshall.
We are mired down in the courtroom. Let`s talk about trial strategy, Bethany.
GRACE: We`re mired down in cell phone records. The jury`s going to have them back in the jury deliberation room.
MARSHALL: Right. Right. Right.
GRACE: They`re also going to have with them, which I thought was a significant piece of evidence, were photo books full of nude boys kept under lock and key by Michael Jackson.
MARSHALL: Right. Right. Right.
GRACE: Impact on the jury?
MARSHALL: Nancy, this is part of the whole pattern with Michael Jackson.
First of all, the jury`s going to be so shocked when they see photos of nude little boys. One of the coffee table books has 90 percent of the photos are of nude little boys. But this is the larger pattern that Michael Jackson engages in. The disorder of pedophilia starts in early childhood, so pedophiles learn to normalize the disorder.
So, instead of just getting pictures of naked little boys of the Internet, he gets it in the form of a coffee table book, because that normalizes it. He waits until the rebuttal video is done and everything seems normalized and then he strikes. He can only invite hundreds of kids, little kids, over to his house after he`s built an amusement park. And that`s what I would be looking at in this case, is how the whole pattern is to normalize the routine and then he strikes.
GRACE: You know what`s interesting, Bethany? You said that the amusement park was built to lure children.
GRACE: Everything about Neverland lures children.
MARSHALL: It`s a shrine to childhood.
GRACE: The popcorn, the candy cotton -- cotton candy.
MARSHALL: Right. Right.
GRACE: The unlimited candy for visitors.
GRACE: What were you saying?
MARSHALL: There are sickbays in the back of his screening room, so that he can provide medical attention to children who have cancer, who have special medical needs.
And it looks like he`s such a good guy on the surface. But, to my mind, it is an elaborate attempt to lure children. And also, pedophiles are stuck in childhood. They think like children. So, they know exactly what children want. And that`s why it`s so masterfully deceptive.
GRACE: With psychoanalyst Bethany Marshall.
Quick break, but let`s go to trial tracking. The state of Florida getting tougher on child sex offenders. Today, Governor Jeb Bush signed the Jessica Lunsford Act. The new law requires sex offenders who victimize children under 12 be sentenced to a minimum of 25 years behind bars and lifetime tracking by GPS if they eventually get out.
The law was written in response to the tragic death of 9-year-old Jessie Lunsford. John Couey, a convicted sex offender in Jessie`s neighborhood, confessed to kidnapping, raping and murdering little Jessie. He buried her alive, according to sources. The Florida legislature passed the bill days after another little girl, Sarah Lunde, was allegedly kidnapped and killed by another sex offender.
Jessica Lunsford`s dad, Mark, looked on today as Governor Jeb Bush signed the bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK LUNSFORD, FATHER OF JESSICA LUNSFORD: It`s been the worst roller-coaster ride I`ve ever had in my life. And I`m telling you, I`ve been through some things that you just don`t want to have to go through. And this is the worst thing I will ever have to go through in my life. I know it is. I just -- I just -- all I can do is pray that it doesn`t happen to another parent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: I can`t go into a park. I can`t go to Disneyland as myself. I can`t go out and walk down the street. There`s crowds and bumper-to- bumper cars. And so I create my world behind my gates. Everything that I love is behind those gates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Welcome back, everybody.
That is from Jackson`s first public response to the most current child molestation charges.
Let me go straight back out to Jane Velez-Mitchell.
What happens tomorrow?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, there could be some testimony about Jackson`s finances. But the big star witness, Rudy Provencio, could take the stand tomorrow.
We believe he could tie this conspiracy theory to Michael Jackson. They set him up today in these phone charts. His name was mentioned in phone calls more than a dozen times if you looked at the charts. And that means he could provide the linkage to Michael Jackson. He could be the bombshell.
GRACE: I think you`re right on the money regarding the trial strategy for tomorrow.
And, very quickly, Daniel Horowitz, how will the defense kick off its case?
HOROWITZ: I think the defense is going to rely upon Macaulay Culkin and people like that, who directly contradict what the prosecution put on the table. There`s a chef saying that he saw Michael`s hand down Macaulay`s pants. Macaulay, a believable young man, says, no way; it didn`t happen. If you can`t believe that, what can you believe from the prosecution case?
GRACE: OK. So, you`re saying Macaulay Culkin good call.
Switching gears, everybody, I want to take you to Kansas City, Missouri.
Independence police detective joining us tonight, Sergeant Dennis Green. Also in Independence, Missouri, Summer Shipp`s daughter, Brandy Shipp. Her mom has been missing for some time now. We need your help tonight.
First, to KMBZ radio reporter Bob Benish.
Bob, bring us up to date, friend.
BOB BENISH, KMBZ RADIO: Well, we start back in December 8, when Summer Shipp was out in Independence doing actually just work. She was going door to door doing market research, which was one of the things she did for a living. This was a woman who has a grown daughter, Brandy, whom you`ll be talking to shortly, and a woman who has been a good mom, a good wife, lived here in Kansas City, and never any indication that she was going anywhere, and suddenly just...
GRACE: Well, Bob, you`re right. It seems as if she disappeared into thin air.
I want to go to Brandy. This is Summer`s daughter.
Brandy, our prayers and thoughts are with you.
Elizabeth (ph), if you could keep running Summer Shipp`s picture, please.
Brandy, tell us about the day your mom went missing, dear.
BRANDY SHIPP, DAUGHTER OF MISSING WOMAN: Well, I received a call from another one of her employers. And she said that my mother hadn`t shown up for work that day.
So, it was a Friday afternoon. And I left the office, drove to her house, looked inside the door. First, I noticed her car wasn`t there. I looked inside the door, saw that her dog had not been let out. So, right then, I pretty much knew something was wrong. I let myself in the house. And I started calling all her friends I could think of, asking them when they had spoken to her last or seen her.
And then I called the Kansas City Police and filed a report. I kept calling her friends. And it seemed like the last person that had spoken to her was Wednesday morning. So we looked in her office. And I looked on her calendar and saw where she would have been working Wednesday. She had listed every day where she would be.
So, I called -- the company that she was supposed to be working for, is based out of New York City. So I called them and asked where her project would have been. She does door-to-door market research for this company. So, they send her to different designated areas. I called them and asked where her latest project would have been. They faxed me a map of the area. And so, from there, I called the Independence Police, which is another city close by Kansas City, and advised them that there`s a missing woman that could be in that area.
At that time, we went around to all the local networks with my mother`s picture and got her face out there and on all the networks. And the next morning, we got about 100 people together and started a search. And we came across her car in Independence, parked...
GRACE: Brandy, as of right now, there`s been no activity on her credit cards, ATMs. All you found was her car, no DNA, no unusual fingerprints, nothing. It`s like she vanished that day.
SHIPP: It seems like she vanished without a trace, yes. Her purse was found in her trunk where she parked her car. They found the car parked and untouched.
GRACE: Was that normal? Did you say she normally would put her purse in her trunk if she were leaving the car and working out of the car?
SHIPP: Yes, because she would have been doing door-to-door surveying.
SHIPP: So, she would have left her purse in the trunk. That would be normal.
GRACE: Please stay with us, Brandy. Shortly, we`re going to go to Detective Sergeant Dennis Green for an update on the search for Summer Shipp.
Elizabeth, could you put up Summer`s picture one more time for the viewers to see? Her daughter is with us tonight, Brandy.
We are desperately looking for Summer Shipp. What a beauty.
A quick break.
But, as we go to break, let`s go to tonight`s all-points bulletin. The FBI and law enforcement across the country are on the lookout for this man, Richard Steve Goldberg., wanted for allegedly engaging in sex activities with girls under 10 in Long Beach, California, in 2001. He also allegedly produced images of the acts -- oh -- found on his computer, considered armed and dangerous. Goldberg, 59, 6 feet tall, 160, black hair, brown eyes. Take a look.
If you have got any info on this guy, please call the FBI, 310-477- 6565.
Local news coming up for some of you, but we we`ll all be right back.
And, remember, live coverage of the Jackson trial tomorrow 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern on Court TV`s "Closing Arguments."
Please stay with us.
GRACE: Welcome back, everybody.
As you know, we here at NANCY GRACE want desperately to help solve unsolved homicides, help find missing people.
Take a look at Thomas Buchholz, murdered August 22, 2000, just five days after his wife found out she was pregnant. Thomas` shooter, Alejandro Santana, still at large.
If you have any information on Thomas Buchholz`s murder, please call the Carole Sund/Carrington Foundation toll free at 888-813-8389. Please help us.
Elizabeth, if you could put up that picture of Summer Shipp one more time.
Her daughter with us tonight, desperately asking for your help. Summer Shipp, age 54, 5`1``, 105 pounds, strawberry blonde hair.
Very quickly to Detective Sergeant Dennis Green with the Independence Police Department.
Where do we stand as of tonight?
DET. DENNIS GREEN, INDEPENDENCE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, Nancy, our investigation continues.
We have two detectives that are assigned to this case and continue to work leads as they come into our office. Unfortunately, those leads are beginning to dwindle. And we ask for anyone with information to either call our office. Or the Kansas City tips hot line is 816-474-tips.
GRACE: And they take collect calls I think you were about to say.
GREEN: I believe they will, yes.
GRACE: Brandy, we only have a few moments left. If you could speak to your mom, here`s your chance.
SHIPP: Mother, I love you so much. And I know you already know that.
And I`m surprised you didn`t trick your way out of whoever is holding you beyond your will. But I know you`ll come home soon. And I`m going to keep fighting and I`m going to keep your story out there until we bring you home. Love you.
GRACE: And, Brandy...
GRACE: We will. We will, too.
SHIPP: Thank you, Nancy.
GRACE: Your mom is just as beautiful on the inside as on the outside.
SHIPP: Yes, she is.
GRACE: Thank you, Ms. Brandy and Sergeant Dennis Green and Bob Benish, also to my great panel. But I want to thank all of them, Daniel Horowitz, Robert Gottlieb, Bethany Marshall, Jane Velez-Mitchell, Jim Moret.
But my biggest thank you to you for being with us tonight, inviting all of us into your homes.
Coming up, headlines from all around the world. I`m Nancy Grace, signing off for tonight. I hope to see you right here tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern.
And until tomorrow night, good night, friend.