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PAULA ZAHN NOW

BTK: The Killer Next Door? Medical Researcher Dying of ALS

Aired May 3, 2005 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone. Welcome. Glad to have you with us tonight.
In a city haunted by a notorious serial killer, some people now realize they may have been living next to a monster.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): BTK, bind, torture, kill. Charged with 10 murders over 20 years, the suspect quietly faces the court. He was the backyard neighbor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just shock, just Really couldn't believe it was -- that it was him.

ZAHN: The angry boss.

MARY CAPPS, FORMER CO-WORKER OF DENNIS RADER: I sensed and seen a very evil side to Dennis. Sometimes, I think he thought he was God.

ZAHN: But did he brutally murder this man's mother?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He starts pulling down blinds and pulls out a pistol.

ZAHN: Dennis Rader pleads not guilty. Tonight, BTK, was he the killer next door?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Dennis Rader, the man accused of murdering 10 people as the BTK killer, stood in a Wichita courtroom today. At his attorney's request, the judge entered a plea of not guilty to a murder spree that began way back in 1974.

While the judge scheduled the trial for June, in reality, it will probably be several months after that before the first witness ever takes the stand and an entire community relives the terror of BTK, bind, torture, and kill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): It took just five minutes to start the latest chapter in the saga of the BTK serial killings that spread fear in the Midwestern town of Wichita, Kansas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this time, the defendant would stand mute as to plea and ask the court to enter the appropriate plea and set the matter for trial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very well. On the defendant standing mute, the court will enter a plea of not guilty.

ZAHN: Sixty-year-old Dennis Rader is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder. Authorities believe the former city worker who enforced local rules and regulations terrorized the region from 1974 to 1991, calling himself BTK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD LAMUNYON, WICHITA POLICE CHIEF: BTK stands for bind, torture, and kill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: That was how he killed. Most of his victims were women. BTK was also known for taunting police and the public by sending cryptic messages and clues through the news media. But when the messages stopped, everyone thought the killer was gone until March of last year, when suddenly BTK's messages started again.

DEBORAH SCHURMAN-KAUFLIN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: I think that he craved the attention so much, he loved being BTK, that he wanted that power and control and he wanted to terrorize people again. And that overwhelmed his sense of wanting to be free.

ZAHN: But the new messages left a fresh trail for investigators. And it eventually led to Dennis Rader.

NORMAN WILLIAMS, WICHITA POLICE CHIEF: The bottom line, BTK is arrested.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ZAHN: Few details have been made public about the case against Rader. Last week, the judge unsealed some of the state's documents, including a list of more than 200 potential prosecution witnesses. Evidence entered into trial may come from what investigators collected from Rader's own backyard. This exclusive video was shot by neighbor Erin Southern.

ERIN SOUTHERN, NEIGHBOR: Coming up out of the one up closer to the house was 10 cans like old coffee cans, or coffer creamer cans, that had like costume jewelry. And there was even one that had a bag that had pantyhose that he was pulling pantyhose out of. We had a pretty clear shot of everything that they were pulling out.

ZAHN: It was difficult to imagine that the BTK killer could be the man next door.

SOUTHERN: I don't even know how to describe it. It's just such a weird feeling of that he was that close to my family and my kids and that any little thing could have set him off at any time, not knowing.

ZAHN: As the trial goes forward, the entire community will learn more about an accused killer who the prosecution claims was living in their midst.

NOLA FOULSTON, SEDGWICK COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I think that whenever the facts are brought to the attention of the public, it is very appropriate for the public to be able to see, to listen, to hear the facts of the case. I think that is the most important thing that can bring the closure that we need on this case.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And Nola Foulston, who you just saw, the Sedgwick County district attorney, joins me now exclusively for her first national interview.

Good of you to join us after such an eventful day.

Ms. Foulston, what do you think is the most compelling piece of evidence you have linking Dennis Rader to the BTK killings?

FOULSTON: Well, I can't single out any pieces of evidence. Those will be looked at, at the time of trial. And it's actually impermissible for me to talk about any piece of evidence in this case. But I can tell you that, when we do go to trial, all of the evidence will be brought into the courtroom. And that's where the jury to decide what is the compelling evidence in this case.

Of course, until that time, Dennis Rader is innocent until proven guilty.

ZAHN: Are you allowed to characterize for us tonight the strength of the evidence you think you have against this man?

FOULSTON: Well, wouldn't I love to do that? And I'm certain you would love to hear it, too. But there are rules that govern what information I can disseminate. And that's to protect this particular case. Any criminal case that comes into the justice system is tried in the court and not in the media.

And those are the things that any prosecutor has to guard and protect, so that we finally try to case in the courtroom and rather than having a discussion about the evidence here in the media. But I can tell you other things about the procedures in the case, what happened today, and what we might expect in the future, Paula.

ZAHN: Can you give us any sense of what kind of strategy you think the defense is going to use, what you have to counteract?

FOULSTON: Well, in this particular case, we had today what is called an arraignment. And, at that time, the defendant stood mute. In other words, he asked that the court enter a plea on his behalf. And the court entered a plea of not guilty and set a trial date for June of this coming summer.

We don't expect that date to be the actual trial date, because there may be motions that would be filed on behalf of the defendant. We'll start seeing those come in. And, of course, with the unsealing of records, you'll be able to see what kind of motions that might be filed. I could only guess or hazard a guess as to what kind of motions the defense would be filing.

But, in this case, when you have an individual who has been charged with 10 individual counts of homicide, there will be a lot of discovery in this case. There will be a lot of examinations involving the defendant and a lot of issues that involve where this case might be tried, what type of jury we might select, and other matters that would come to the court to talk about the evidence that may be produced at the time of trial and whether that evidence should be allowed.

And, of course, the defense will be very contentious as to what information the jury should hear in the case of Dennis Rader.

ZAHN: The one thing we have heard from investigators who have worked on this case for a long, long time is a concern that over the decades that these murders have happened, some of the evidence that you might be citing is degraded through age. Is that something you can either clarify for us tonight or shed some light on?

(CROSSTALK)

FOULSTON: Well, you know, back in the 1970s, at the time of the first homicide involving the Oteros back in 1974 and later in some of the other cases involving Nancy Fox and all the way until 1991, with the killing of Delores Davis, there were samples of evidence that may have been taken in that used forensic or scientific evidence that might be what we call today DNA.

And, you know, interestingly enough, back in the 1970s, when that evidence was collected, it was not something that was utilized every day in our forensic sciences. But, as technology has been utilized over the years, it's really become very commonplace. And so, when individuals store that evidence in the correct and proper manner, that type of evidence can be utilized many years later.

And now, 30 years later, we can look at that evidence and say, you know, you guys really did a good job. And what we have today can be looked at and examined and give us information from 30 years ago that we never would have had, had it not been collected properly.

And, of course, that will be a bone of contention. And the state has experts that are ready to stand up and say, we've got information. And it may be old, but it's good.

ZAHN: Sure.

Now, while you have restraints on you about what you can say about the evidence, I wanted to point out to the audience what they were just looking at, which was exclusive video of the FBI actually seizing things from the property of Dennis Rader, many of the things seized from a shed.

And we're looking at these pictures again.

Can you even confirm how useful any of that evidence might be to you, while not breaking any rules here? FOULSTON: You know, there is not one piece of evidence that is a bell-ringer. There's information from 30 years ago to the present that will be looked at, selected and brought to a jury.

And a jury has to look at the compilation of evidence, not one single piece. So, when all of that is weighed and measured by a jury, that's when you get the final analysis and their decision, after looking at it, makes a verdict in a case.

ZAHN: District attorney Nola Foulston, we really appreciate your time tonight. Thank you so much.

FOULSTON: Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: We'll be watching this with a great deal of interest in the months to come.

One person who probably knows Dennis Rader better than most is Mary Capps. She actually worked with Rader for six years.

David Mattingly has her story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Wichita residents hear the accusations against Dennis Rader and shudder to think that the serial killer BTK may have lived among them, few are as personally involved in following the case as Mary Capps, who, for six years, had Dennis Rader as her boss.

CAPPS: I sensed and seen a very evil side to Dennis. And he was a very hateful person. He would say mean, hateful things to people. He has said them to me. And sometimes I think he thought he was God.

MATTINGLY: A Park City Kansas compliance officer, Capps can be seen in this video with her supervisor, Rader. She says they clashed frequently on the job and describes him as moody, often angry and volatile.

(on camera): Were you worried that he might get physically violent in the workplace?

CAPPS: I cannot answer that at this time.

MATTINGLY: But you were afraid of him?

CAPPS: Yes, I was. It was at a point where I would come into the office, say good morning to him. If he didn't answer, I hurried up, got my ride log together. I got my check-on list together and would pick up my coat -- and it's like a nylon coat -- pick it up and carry it out in front of me, so as to not make any noise, so he couldn't hear me getting out of the office.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Capps confirms previously reported descriptions of Rader as a stickler for detail. But she goes further to say he enjoyed the power he had as a compliance officer, enforcing local property regulations and controlling stray animals.

CAPPS: Oh, absolutely huge ego. Sometimes, I wonder how he got it through the door. So...

MATTINGLY (on camera): Give me an example.

CAPPS: He never makes mistakes. I got that told to me on a regular basis. And if I did find one...

MATTINGLY: He told you this.

CAPPS: Yes, that he never makes mistakes. And if I found a mistake and pointed it out to him, maybe it was something he was jumping me about, and I pointed out that he made the same mistake, I better be heading for the door, because the rest of the day is going to be miserable.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Capps says she filed two grievances with Park City about Rader's behavior. City officials confirm Capps was a compliance officer and Rader was her supervisor. They declined to comment further and will not confirm Capps' allegations.

She says she recalls vividly the day of Rader's arrest and, in spite of her problems with him, the initial surprise of his alleged connection to BTK murders.

MATTINGLY: First, I thought maybe something happened to Dennis. Maybe a citizen had done something to him. And then...

MATTINGLY (on camera): Why would you think that?

CAPPS: Why would I think that? Because of his attitude towards them as well. I figured, one of these days, one of them is just going to haul off and just lay him out.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But the arrest was due to something far more serious. And as investigators collected evidence at Rader's Park City home, Capps began to reexamine Rader's recent behavior.

CAPPS: He changed a lot. The only word I could put in it is, he became very dark and kind of evil. And he was just a whole lot different.

MATTINGLY (on camera): Capps describes a personality completely different from the loving and doting husband and the devout church leader that so many in Wichita claimed to know. In 2004, after BTK reemerged, she also says that Rader became enthralled with news coverage of the case.

CAPPS: I remember one time when I was looking at the Internet and I seen where Larry King was going to talk about BTK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, after 25 years of silence, a notorious serial killer resurfaces. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CAPPS: And I kind of mentioned it in passing to him. This was just a couple weeks before his arrest. And Dennis ran from his office to my desk, and he goes, you got to be kidding. It was on a Friday. And he goes, well, I'm going to have to watch that tonight. I'm thinking, dang, if anything can make that guy happy, he must be really into this BTK story stuff.

WILLIAMS: BTK is arrested.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTINGLY (voice-over): It wasn't until after the extraordinary announcement by police that Capps says the realization hit home that she had been working for and frequently arguing with the man accused of murdering 10 people.

CAPPS: I believe I really am very lucky.

MATTINGLY: So, as Rader's arraignment began, Capps watched closely, hoping to hear the word guilty and was almost immediately disappointed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The court will enter a plea of not guilty. I will set this matter for a jury trial on June.

CAPPS: I can't believe it. His ego really is that big.

MATTINGLY: It was a moment leaving her more anxious than ever to see this case ended.

CAPPS: I definitely need to move on. And I need a lot of questions answered for me, too.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: As do a lot of other people in her community, David Mattingly reporting from Wichita.

We asked Dennis Rader's attorneys to comment on Mary Capps' accusations. They declined.

Still ahead, I'll be talking with a man who was just 5 years old when he saw BTK kill his mother.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE RELFORD, SON OF BTK VICTIM: Stripped my mother, taped her hands behind her back, plastic bag over her helped and rope tied around her neck.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: One man's painful journey back to the house where his mother was murdered. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Just ahead, my conversation with a man who was just 5 years old when he watched BTK take his mother's life.

First, though, just about 18 minutes past the hour. Erica Hill at Headline News standing by update some of the other stories tonight.

Hi, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Paula.

We start off with news from the Navy that the body of one Marine pilot has been found, another still missing, after their fighter jets crashed on a mission over Iraq. The FA-18 Hornets took off yesterday from the carrier USS Carl Vinson. The military says they may have collided in bad weather. And sandstorms have slowed down the search.

A detective tells the Michael Jackson jury that the pop star's ex-wife Debbie Rowe called him a sociopath who treated his kids like possessions. Now, that clashes with what Rowe told the jury last week, when she described him as a kind and wonderful father. A source also tells CNN actor Macaulay Culkin will be among the first witnesses to testify when the defense begins its case.

And we'll plenty more on the Michael Jackson trial in the next hour coming up on "LARRY KING LIVE."

Meantime, as if runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks wasn't in enough trouble, now a Hispanic rights group says she ought to apologize for telling police she had been kidnapped by a Hispanic man before she admitted to running away from her wedding.

And that's the latest for Headline News at this hour -- Paula, we'll turn it back to you.

ZAHN: Thanks so much, Erica. See you in about 30 minutes from now.

And time for all of you to vote for our person of the day. Your choices, former President Bill Clinton for launching a 10-year program to fight obesity in children, firefighter Donald Herbert for suddenly talking again 10 years after a head injury left him incapacitated, and 8-year-old Bailey Juetten, who saved his mother by giving her rescue breathing after she collapsed.

Go to CNN.com/Paula. I'll let you know who wins later on in the hour.

But, first, when we come back, the painful journey back home for Steve Relford, who was just a little boy when he witnessed BTK murder his mother.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: Among the people at Dennis Rader's court hearing today of the alleged BTK killer, Steve Relford, who, in 1977, was just 5 years old when he saw BTK murder his mother in their home. Her name was Shirley Vian. She was just 26 years old, a single mother with three young children.

Shortly after Dennis Rader was arrested, Steve Relford returned to the boyhood home for the first time since he had been back there since his mother was killed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): This is Steve Relford's childhood neighborhood, a once tranquil place that changed forever on March 17, 1977, the day BTK came calling.

RELFORD: On my way back from the store, this man stopped me, shows me a picture, asked me did I know who it was. I told him, no, sir. He said, are you sure? Look at it again. I told him, no, sir, I didn't know who it was. So he let me go.

ZAHN: Just 5 years old at the time, Steve didn't realize the picture was of him and his mother, taken when he was an infant. So, Steve went home, where his brother, sister and sick mother were waiting. Moments later, a knock on the door.

RELFORD: Me and my brother raced to the door. I beat my brother. I let the my mom -- I let BTK in my house.

ZAHN: That knowledge, Steve says, has haunted him for nearly 28 years. And, on Monday, with alleged BTK killer Dennis Rader in jail, he returned to site of his mother's murder for the very first time with reporter Susan Peters. The memories were clearly fresh.

RELFORD: He asked where my mother was and where my parents were. My mom's sick in bed. So, immediately, he starts pulling down the blinds, turns off the TV, reaches in his shoulder holster and pulls out a pistol. About that time, my mother steps to the bedroom door.

ZAHN: His mother, 26-year-old Shirley Vian, recognized the danger and told her children to do what the man said.

RELFORD: He told my mom to put some toys and blankets in the bathroom for us kids. So we did. After that, he took a rope, tied one of the doors shut at the door knob to under the sink, pushed the bed up against the other door.

This was the door I run through. The bed was too heavy for me to push that aside.

ZAHN: Inside, Steve stood on the edge of the bathtub, peeking through a crack above the door, while his mother was brutalized in the next room.

RELFORD: He stripped my mother, taped her hands behind her back, plastic bag over her head and rope tied around her neck. ZAHN: As he stands in the room where his mother was killed, Steve is badly shaken.

RELFORD: It's a big step. With them catching him and then me coming back here, it's a big step towards healing. But I'll never be healed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And it seems that Steve Relford may just have to relive those horrible events. He is on the witness list for the prosecution and he's prepared to testify against Dennis Rader.

When we come back, my conversation with Steve Relford.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Steve Relford may just well have to relive the horror of the day when BTK took his mother's life, relive it as a witness for the prosecution. He was in court today as BTK suspect Dennis Rader pleaded not guilty.

I spoke with Steve Relford shortly afterward and began by asking him how he felt when he saw his mother's accused killer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RELFORD: It was very difficult to look at this guy again. And I know it's him. It don't make a damn who says it ain't. I'm here to say it is.

ZAHN: And there is no doubt in your mind that the Dennis Rader you saw in the courtroom today is the same man you saw come into your home when you were 5 years old who murdered your mother?

RELFORD: There's no doubt. That's why I went back to my mother's house. And I have seen pictures of Dennis Rader back in the '70s. There's no doubt.

ZAHN: So, Steve, do you expect him to tell the truth?

RELFORD: No, I don't. You know, he's already been proven a liar. I don't -- I don't suspect him to tell the truth. I wish he would, you know. I have a lot of questions. I wish I could talk to him.

ZAHN: What do you think is the most important question that hasn't been answered yet?

RELFORD: Did you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) do it? Excuse my language. Did you kill all these people? And it has not been answered.

ZAHN: What would satisfy you?

RELFORD: I want to hear him say that he killed all these people.

ZAHN: And if he ended up doing that in court and he was sentenced, would justice have been served?

RELFORD: Justice will never be served in my eyes. You know, I can't really explain it. I'm here on TV and I can't say what I want to do. I'll never be able to. But he should have to suffer the same way these other people suffered, if not worse.

ZAHN: And that means spending the rest of his life in prison?

RELFORD: No, it means tortured. Bind, torture, kill. That's what his nickname is, ain't it? It's what I believe should happen to him.

ZAHN: You have been dealing with the memory of your mother's horrific death since you were five years old. There has been a tremendous amount of public attention focused on you and other victims' family members. How has that affected you as you've tried to rebuild your life?

RELFORD: Well, I'm a recovering drug addict. I'm still alcoholic. You know, I -- it's -- excuse my language, it (EXPLETIVE DELETED) me up. My whole life. And I don't know how to cope with life without alcohol, drugs, something to ease my pain.

ZAHN: Steve, thank you so much for being with us tonight. We know you have a long road ahead. Appreciate your joining us.

RELFORD: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: His pain, still so fresh today.

When we come back, a personal battle: a scientist and his wife facing some very frightening news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They called me in that afternoon and told me they were 99 percent sure that he had it.

ZAHN: What was that afternoon (INAUDIBLE)...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I just cried and cried and cried and cried and cried.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: We'll be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: You probably know ALS by its more common name, Lou Gehrig's disease. It attacks the muscles and the nervous system. It's fatal and so far there's no cure. ALS is not contagious, and your chances of getting it are about one in a 1,000. But what are the odds that a leading scientist who has devoted his entire career to finding a cure, would himself contract the disease?

Here's Thelma Gutierrez with tonight's "People in the News."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: His hands once treated the sick. His eyes once looked into the faces of dying patients.

DR. RICHARD OLNEY, ALS EXPERT: My most meaningful accomplishments in my life were the contact I've made in just being able to help the number of individuals over the years.

GUTIERREZ: His colleagues call him Rick. Dr. Richard Olney is a leading authority on ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, which attacks the nerve cells and spinal cord.

He founded the ALS Center in San Francisco and is world-renowned for his 30 years of clinical research. In a strange twist of fate, the man who gave the devastating news to a thousand ALS patients must now face his own death from the very disease he sought to cure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember I put the needle in the muscle in his leg and we saw instantly, together, that it was abnormal.

GUTIERREZ: It was his former student, Dr. Katherine Lomanherth (ph), who tested Rick last summer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just kind of gulped and looked at him and I said, you know what this means. And he said, yes.

GUTIERREZ: Then they broke the news to Paula, Rick's wife of 30 years.

PAULA OLNEY, WIFE: They called me in that afternoon, and told me that they were 99 percent sure that he had it.

GUTIERREZ: What was that afternoon like for you?

P. OLNEY: Oh, I just cried and cried and cried and cried and cried.

R. OLNEY: Well, I guess at first I was skeptical that it could affect me, because it seemed too ironic.

GUTIERREZ: That was Dr. Olney back in September. This is Dr. Olney today, just seven months later.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Face the day.

P. OLNEY: This is what we do every morning and every night, when we put him into bed.

GUTIERREZ: Rick's disease has progressed so rapidly he can no longer walk.

P. OLNEY: He knew the problems that he would have. GUTIERREZ: As a doctor, Richard Olney knew his body would slowly become paralyzed. His arms and legs would shut down, and that finally the muscles controlling his breathing would stop.

So, after the diagnosis he installed this lift and track in his bedroom to help Paula get him in and out of bed, to the bathroom, and into his electric wheelchair.

R. OLNEY (via computer): Do you understand me?

P. OLNEY: Yes, I do, sometimes.

GUTIERREZ: A few months back he even taped phrases, knowing his vocal cords would eventually shut down.

R. OLNEY (via computer): I have Lou Gehrig's disease and I have trouble speaking.

Reporter: You are able to process what you had. You knew very intimately about this disease and its progression and how it works and what it does to the patient. Has that made it almost more difficult or has it made it easier because you understand what is happening to your body?

R. OLNEY: At least with my personality, it's made it easier.

P. OLNEY: At least with my personality, it's made it easier.

GUTIERREZ: None of this has been easy for Paula Olney.

P. OLNEY: I mourn the fact that, you know, we won't share grandchildren and continue our travels. He's my soulmate, my partner, my friend. My guardian. My playmate. We've had a really good life. I honestly can't imagine life without him, but I'm trying to think about it sometimes. I don't like it, but there's not a lot I can do about it.

GUTIERREZ: The couple's grown children, Amy and Nick, have moved back home to help care for their dad.

NICK OLNEY, SON: Even though he has all these great honor in neurology and medicine, I mean, he's still a great dad award, too, cause, I mean, he was always around and there, when I had -- needed help with math homework or whatever. He's always there.

AMY OLNEY, DAUGHTER: He will say, you know, everybody dies, and I will die sooner than I would've liked to. You know, I have this time to tell you guys what I want you to know. You know I love you. I know you love me.

GUTIERREZ: As news spread of Rick's disease cards and letters poured in from devastated patients and colleagues. Maria Leyon (ph) was just diagnosed with ALS. She waited here an hour to meet Dr. Olney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the hardest time you got to get used to this, bad idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wants you to know he's comfortable and enjoying life. He wants you to know that you need to enjoy every day with your daughter and your grandchildren.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Si. Si.

REPORTER: Dr. Richard Olney has just months to live, still he comforts those around him remembering the hardest time was accepting his diagnosis.

P. ONLEY: And I know that the second hardest time will be the last few weeks. And for me having to say good-bye to everyone.

R. ONLEY: I love you, Paula.

P. ONLEY: I love you, too, Rick.

I see him as someone who is victorious over the disease. I feel that he's never treated the disease as something that couldn't be conquered. I think he approached it in his research, and I think he's approaching it as a patient. He's going to live the best life possible until his last moment on this earth.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And what a remarkable spirit the good doctor has. Thelma Gutierrez reporting with us. Thelma's still in touch with the Onleys and tells us that Dr. Olney remains positive and full of energy. I think we could see it from that piece tonight. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Still ahead tonight a super star search for the perfect -- nose.

First it's just about a quarter before the hour, Erica Hill of Headline News joins us to update the other top stories.

HILL: Paula, fellow senior U.S. Military official confirms to CNN that an annual readiness report warns about the future ability to fight other wars, because of commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. the report was given to Congress by General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It conflicts with the president's statement that the military is prepared to deal with other problems. The Pentagon spokesman calls the report just a management tool.

In Baghdad, another step today toward a new government for Iraq. Dozens of new cabinet members were sworn in. Including Ibrahim Al- Jaafari, the transitional prime minister.

Is this Philadelphia police officers using excessive force on a suspected burglar. He's been placed on administrative leave, while the department investigates this tape was captured by a TV station helicopter.

And you may remember one of the worst brawls in American sports. Well today a fan got two years probation for throwing a chair during the (INAUDIBLE) at last November's Pacers/Pistons game. Five players and four other defendants face trial this summer.

And that's the latest from Headline News at this hour. Paula, back to you.

ZAHN: Thanks so much Erica. Just about 14 minutes before the hour right now. "LARRY KING LIVE" straight ahead at the top of the hour. Hi Larry, who are you looking at tonight.

LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: How are you, dear?

ZAHN: I'm fine, thanks.

KING: You look great. We're looking at the Michael Jackson case. The prosecution was supposed to wind up today, now it looks like it's going to be tomorrow. So we'll get into these last days of the prosecution side of the trial, a panel of six all outstanding experts on the field as we look at this trial which is taking us right into the summer.

And we'll be with it at the top of the hour with phone calls. Now, back to my dear friend Paula Zahn the host of PAULA ZAHN "Live" NOW "Forever." I gave you three titles now.

ZAHN: Forever, that's like a long time in television. We sort of count it in two-year increments forever. You've been at this long enough.

KING: Paula Zahn 2 years.

ZAHN: Thanks, Larry. Have a good show. See you at the top of the hour.

Still ahead a big star with a big voice takes on a big nose.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have it on. Do you kind of look with your eyes down your nose and think -- wow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, so far, so good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Very good. The great tenor, Placido Domingo, latest role as Cyrano.

Who will be the "Person of the Day?" Former President Bill Clinton, for his new campaign against childhood obesity. Donald Herbert the firefighter who started talking again 10 years after a brain injury. Or Bailey Juetten, the 8-year-old life saver. Find out when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: All right, you had your chance to vote. Who's the person of the day? Is it former President Bill Clinton for launching a campaign to fight childhood obesity? Firefighter Donald Herbert for taking almost a 10-year break, talking for the first time recently after an accident that damaged his brain? Or 8-year-old life saver Bailey Juetten? And you chose firefighter Donald Herbert, the winner with 54 percent.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): Donald Herbert has a lot of catching up to do, nearly 10 years' worth. In 1995, a roof caved in on him while he was fighting a fire. He nearly suffocated under the rubble and was left with some brain damage. He couldn't see, he didn't seem to remember anyone, seemed unaware of his surroundings. He barely even uttered a word until now.

SIMON MANKA, DONALD'S UNCLE: It was spontaneous, yes. Donald asked for his wife. His wife came down, and certain conversations ensued. He did initiate a question. How long have I been away? And his -- we told him almost 10 years. And his response to that was, that he thought it was only three months.

ZAHN: Once he started talking, Herbert could hardly stop. Friends and family streamed in, and he kept at it for 14 hours. And word got around to old firefighting buddies, too.

LT. ANTHONY LIBERATORE, ORCHARD PARK FIRE DEPARTMENT: Typical Donny Herbert. He was really concerned about his family. He was worried, you know, were the bills being paid? Was his wife being taken care of? How are the boys doing?

ZAHN: The firefighter has four sons.

In his memory of 10 years ago, the youngest was still too young to talk.

MANKA: Nicholas was 3 when his father was injured. And Donny, when he spoke with them, he goes, that can't be Nicholas. Nicholas is -- Nicholas can't talk. And so that, he goes, no, dad, it is Nicholas. So that's -- how does a kid feel when that happens?

ZAHN: The extent of Herbert's recovery is still uncertain. The family says he is resting comfortably.

Still, family members are thrilled to hear his voice.

MANKA: It was amazing, when he started recognizing people after nine and a half years. You can only imagine.

ZAHN: Welcome back, Donald Herbert. You are the person of the day to say the least.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: What a great story.

A quick update now on the two teens who were yesterday's people of the day. Fifteen-year-old Troy Driscoll was welcomed back to school today after he left a Charleston, South Carolina hospital with a lot of burns from the exposure to the sun. He and his friend Josh Long survived six days at sea living off jellyfish, seawater and prayers. Josh was released from the hospital yesterday.

Welcome back to them, as well.

And still ahead, a leading man gets a very different kind of nose job.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: I guess we shouldn't be surprised by now that our Jeanne Moos has a nose for news, but this time she has certainly outdone herself. She's actually found a nose making news, and a very famous nose at that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Placido Domingo may be renowned for his big voice, but these days it's a big nose he's after.

(on camera): You don't mind him playing with your nose like this?

PLACIDO DOMINGO, TENOR: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has no choice.

MOOS: This is a cast of Domingo's real nose.

DOMINGO: And we are trying to create one that is bigger than mine.

MOOS: Think of it as a reverse nose job.

DOMINGO: It's a strange feeling, of course, you have a nose that is not yours.

MOOS: Ask Steve Martin.

STEVE MARTIN, ACTOR: It's hypnotic, isn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's huge.

MOOS: Or Jimmy Durante.

JIMMY DURANTE, ENTERTAINER: That's Durante.

MOOS: Or Pinocchio.

PINOCCHIO: My nose!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Perhaps you haven't been telling the truth, Pinocchio.

MOOS: But Placido Domingo hasn't been lying. He's been hunting for the perfect nose to play Cyrano de Bergerac at the Metropolitan Opera. To quote Cyrano...

DOMINGO: Wherever I go, my nose arrives 15 minutes before me.

MOOS: And it's been arriving 15 minutes early on actors ranging from Jose Ferrer...

JOSE FERRER, ACTOR: Your name is like a golden bell hung in my heart.

MOOS: ... to Gerard Depardieu.

GERARD DEPARDIEU, ACTOR (translated on screen): My nose, sir, is enormous!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mount it just right...

MOOS: Every rehearsal, makeup artist Viktor Calagari (ph) glues a latex nose on the tenor. They expect to test about half a dozen before selecting one.

(on camera): At this point, this one is ahead by a nose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

MOOS (voice-over): With his new nose preceding him, Domingo rehearses the part of an ugly man who composes poetry for a comrade to help the comrade win the heart of the girl Cyrano loves.

I got to try on Domingo's rejects.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you see it looking -- oh? She's breathing through here. I'm picking your nose...

MOOS (on camera): Yes, it's a sensation I've never had before.

(voice-over): But picking a nose isn't just about aesthetics.

(on camera): Do you kind of look with your own eyes down your noise and think, wow?

DOMINGO: So far, so good, you know. The important thing is it's not affecting anything with the resonance, singing.

MOOS (voice-over): Cyrano the swordsman could even use his nozzle like a blade.

DEPARDIEU (translated on screen): I hit!

MOOS: All I managed to touche was the lens, but Domingo even clears his throat with authority.

(on camera): What if you would get a cold or something?

DOMINGO: Well, let's hope not. It would be a bigger cold, I suppose.

MOOS (voice-over): And Cyrano would have to get someone else to blow his nose.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: That was our Jeanne Moos. Jeanne, we all love you, but Placido Domingo you're not.

That's it for all of us tonight. Thanks so much for being with us. Tomorrow night, how a Texas exterminator became one of the most powerful men in the country, only to face a wave of ethics questions. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay tomorrow.

Again, thanks for dropping by tonight. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.

END

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