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NANCY GRACE

Missing in America

Aired December 23, 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, as many of us celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah, we highlight the stories of two young girls, one young man, all three their worlds ahead of them, all three vanished, all three whose families want them home.
Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being us tonight. Tonight, University of Houston downtown student 24-year- old Nate Hendrickson, last seen in his own family`s home on the computer November 30, his cell phone, his wallet left behind in his room. No sign of Nate. Also tonight, 62 days since beauty queen-turned-school teacher Tara Grinstead went missing. Tonight, Tara`s family announces the reward to bring her home now up to $200,000.

But first tonight, breaking news. This Texas high school girl, Joanna Rogers, just sweet 16 when she went missing nearly two years ago. Tonight, police finally name a suspect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are remembering. What I want is for whoever has taken her or whoever knows something to come forward. A lot of times, we hear that people are saying things, but they`re not saying them to us, they`re not saying them to the sheriff`s office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: I want to go straight out to Lance Lunsford. He`s a courts reporter with "The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal." Welcome, Lance. Bring us up to date.

LANCE LUNSFORD, "LUBBOCK AVALANCHE-JOURNAL": Howdy. Well, in a bond reduction hearing Wednesday for accused murderer Rosendo Rodriguez III, testimony was elicited by prosecutors about his possible involvement in the Joanna Rogers case. Of course, she`s been missing since May 2004. Later, sheriff`s officials did tell us that Rogers`s e-mail address was listed in Rodriguez`s e-mail and his in hers.

GRACE: OK. Explain to me why they suspect him in this case. I mean, this case is two years old. Why finally?

LUNSFORD: Ultimately, I think that`s the question that needs to be posed right now. I think a lot of people question its presence in a bond reduction hearing and it finally coming out there. It was elicited during testimony, I believe, with a detective from the Lubbock Police Department. But there wasn`t a lot of information that we have on it right now. We`re looking into it still, and apparently, it is based on that information about the e-mail links.

GRACE: Now, explain a little bit more about the e-mail links.

LUNSFORD: What we have right now is just that his name was in her e- mail address book and -- or in the e-mail -- they had either transferred e- mail or they were listed in each other contact lists, and again, his and hers. Right now, it`s pretty thin information, but it`s enough that sheriff`s officials to consider him a suspect.

GRACE: Well, let me you ask this, Lance Lunsford. Everyone, Lance is with "The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal." This is a two-year-old missing persons case, a lovely young girl. What I don`t get is why was he on a bond reduction hearing? I mean, why is he already behind bars?

LUNSFORD: He`s behind bars right now for -- accused of capital murder. He`s been indicted of a girl named Summer Baldwin. He`s accused of stuffing her into a suitcase and dumping it at a landfill, city-owned landfill, northwest of town here in Lubbock.

GRACE: My God! I almost wish I hadn`t asked you!

LUNSFORD: Right. It`s -- I think it`s a case that people are going to be paying lots of attention to. There`s some outstanding police work that went into this, some great investigations based on information that we have -- or I shouldn`t say great, but some -- a lot of work went into it, apparently, and police were able to locate some information about the suitcase, link it back to the store where it was purchased, and then link it to a purchase he made.

GRACE: Man! OK, Lance, don`t move a hair. Take a listen to what Lubbock police have to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The name of Joanna Rogers came up on the forensics examination of Rodriguez`s computer. There was also a file on Joanna`s computer that had that name.

We are still considering this, at this point, a missing persons because there is no evidence to indicate otherwise at this point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Straight out to Pat Lalama, investigative reporter. Pat, this is a two-year-old missing persons case, Joanna Rogers, 18 years old now. Explain to me the circumstances surrounding her disappearance.

PAT LALAMA, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, very interesting. This is a young woman, a teenager, 16 years old. She works at a sandwich shop. She comes home shortly after midnight, has a little chat with Mom, goes upstairs, presumably to go to bed. At 7:00 in the morning, the parents decide she is not at home. She leaves her cell phone.

There is just no indication -- you know what it reminds me of, Nancy? Reminds me a lot of the whole Chandra Levy thing. Why did she leave the house in the middle of the night? Why doesn`t she take the cell phone with her? Why doesn`t she tell someone? She is just simply gone, vanished, as if aliens had abducted her.

GRACE: Take a listen to this, Pat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The most damaging to our hopes is nothing, you know, the lack of information, just, you know, the whole stalemate. And so when we do hear rumors, even sometimes when they`re as horrendous as they can be, you know, we think, Well, people are still out there looking, they`re still out there searching, they`re still out there listening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Can you help us? We are searching for 18-year-old Joanna Rogers. She was last seen in her own home. She went to bed upstairs, never seen again.

To Lance Lunsford with "Lubbock Avalanche-Journal." Lance, I know she left behind her cell phone, but was there any forced entry? Did her bed look as if it had been slept in?

LUNSFORD: I think that`s one of the things that sheriff`s officials told us pretty quickly, was that there was no sign of forced entry. But that seemed strange. She had, again, as you mentioned, left some items behind, so they were -- it struck officials as strange that there was no sign of any kind of struggle. And at first, they considered the case unique because of no signs of forced entry.

GRACE: Sounds like Elizabeth Smart and Jessie Lunsford, remember?

LUNSFORD: Yes. Yes. And that her wallet and cell phone and vehicle keys were left behind, they found that strange, and personal bank account untouched.

GRACE: Now, this young guy, Rosendo Rodriguez, he is 25 years old. He`s been named a suspect today. Now, let`s see, this is two years ago, so he would have been 23 and she would have been 16 at that time, right, Lance?

LUNSFORD: Yes.

GRACE: OK. And they had been exchanging e-mails on the Internet?

LUNSFORD: Well, we can`t say -- I can`t speak to that for sure. We`re still checking into that. One thing that we can say is that both of them, in their contact information, or their names, is what we`re being told, was held between each other.

GRACE: Are you telling me they`re on each other`s buddy list?

LUNSFORD: That`s what we`re trying to find out right now.

GRACE: OK. OK. OK. I`m starting to get it. I`m starting to get it.

Back to Pat Lalama. Pat, the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Joanna Rogers almost sounds as if she went willingly with somebody she knew or somebody came into the house that she knew, after the parents went to bed.

LALAMA: Well, it sure does, Nancy. I mean, obviously, this is all speculation, but just common sense tells you that if she is communicating with this man -- she, as a teenager -- there`s a lot about her life that parents and family, friends may not have known. If she`s going to hook up with this guy, she`s going to sneak out of the house to do it.

GRACE: Yes.

LALAMA: I mean, she`s not going to go out to walk the dog at 1:00 in the morning. She had a place to go, if there`s no one that forced himself or herself in the house. And I got to tell you, I mean, it just makes me want to pull the computers out of my two sons` rooms and put them right in the living room, where I can watch everything that they`re doing.

GRACE: Back to Lance Lunsford with "The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal." Lance, I want to go back to this new murder case you`re telling us about today, Summer Baldwin. Was that her name, Summer Baldwin?

LUNSFORD: That`s correct.

GRACE: How did she go missing, anything similar to this?

LUNSFORD: It`s not similar, and I think there`ll be some developments as soon as we go to trial to find out what the relationship was between Rodriguez and Summer. We know that Rodriguez had been a Texas Tech University student here in Lubbock and had also been a Marine. And other than that, there`s not a lot of information talking about...

GRACE: Was Summer a student?

LUNSFORD: I`m still looking into that. I`m not conversant on it.

GRACE: Very quickly, take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People aren`t forgetting, people are remembering. What I want is for whoever has taken her or whoever knows something to come forward. A lot of times, we hear that people are saying things, but they`re not saying them to us, they`re not saying them to the sheriff`s office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Here is what the defense attorney for Rosendo Rodriguez, age 25, had to say. "I can`t comment. We are under gag order. My client professes his innocence. We have repeatedly requested the evidence. If they have it, we have not seen it."

OK, we`ll see what happens with that. With me right now by phone, Captain Kevin Overstreet. He is with the Lubbock Sheriff`s Department. Welcome, Captain. Thank you for being with us. Tell us what you have done to help find this girl and what we can do to help you.

CPT. KEVIN OVERSTREET, LUBBOCK SHERIFF`S DEPARTMENT: Well, there have been some developing information just within -- just recently, just soon after the -- Rosendo Rodriguez`s arrest of -- concerning the Summer Baldwin case. There is some computer information linking Joanna and Rosendo together. And in addition to that information, we`ve uncovered additional information linking the two together.

GRACE: Joining me now also by phone, Dana Ames (ph). She is the director of United Response. She has been working with Joanna`s family ever since she went missing. Dana, tell us, how is the family coping with the disappearance of their daughter?

DANA AMES, DIR., UNITED RESPONSE: Oh, Nancy, this has just been awful on the family. For 19 months, they`ve held out hope against hope that they were going to find Joanna. And of course, as Kathy (ph) said earlier, you know, they`re hearing rumors, but no one`s gone directly to the family, no one`s gone directly to law enforcement. And that`s been the case.

We have followed much of those leads and have not been able to locate Joanna. This is very, very disturbing information, of course. We were with the mother yesterday when this information came out about the computer connection, and we had had a meeting earlier that day with law enforcement. And of course, at that time, we had no knowledge of that. It was kind of surprising the way that that information did come about.

GRACE: Right. Right.

AMES: And from that moment on, the media has been just, you know, of course...

(CROSSTALK)

GRACE: ... trying to find out how the family is doing. With us is Dana Ames. She is the director of United Response. And when we come back, everyone, we`re going to be joined by a very special guest. Joanna`s father, is with us, speaking out about the disappearance of his girl. Won`t you help us tonight?

Very quickly, to "Trial Tracking." The 6-year-old of missing Georgia woman Sueann Ray -- we`ve highlighted her case since August -- is now at the center of a custody battle as police continue their search for 26-year- old mom Sueann Ray. Now, a judge has sent a January 13 hearing on whether the daughter, 6 years old, goes to her missing mom`s family or with her father, Sueann Ray`s estranged husband. Well, until then, the little girl remains with her godparents.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During the forensics that was done on Mr. Rodriguez`s computer, the LPD uncovered a link that would connect him in some way to Joanna Rogers. And based on that information and some additional information that our investigators have uncovered, we have determined that he is a suspect in the Joanna Rogers case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: What a smile. Joanna Rogers would be 18 years old today, 5-5, hazel eyes, beautiful red hair, 125 pounds. Missing since May 4, `04.

And with me right now her father, Joe Bill Rogers. Mr. Rogers, thank you for being with us.

JOE BILL ROGERS, JOANNA`S FATHER: Thank you for having me on.

GRACE: So what can we do to help you?

ROGERS: Well, get my daughter back. The first I heard of any of this information was when Rosendo Rodriguez`s attorney called me Saturday morning. We hadn`t had anything relayed. And he called and wanted to know why they would be looking into the relationship between my daughter and Rosendo Rodriguez, the defendant in this case.

GRACE: Hold on one second, Mr. Rogers. Straight to Captain Overstreet. Captain Overstreet, why is it the suspect`s lawyer is the one to tell the parents, instead of the police?

OVERSTREET: Well, that`s my understanding. I did talk with Joe Bill yesterday, and it is my understanding that Rosendo`s attorney...

GRACE: Yes, well, I understand that, too. My question is why.

OVERSTREET: Well, I couldn`t tell you why he contacted him.

GRACE: Well, shouldn`t the police call him?

OVERSTREET: Certainly.

GRACE: Well, you`re the captain, right?

OVERSTREET: We have talked to the family, Nancy. We talked to them yesterday morning.

GRACE: OK. Back to the father. Mr. Rogers, I`ve had so many family members tell me they learn things from the media or they learn things from opening up the morning paper, about their loved ones. I understand the lawyer called you. Can you take me back to the day that you learned that your daughter was missing? What happened?

ROGERS: I`m a licensed investigator. I belonged to the Texas Association of Licensed Investigators. Whenever my daughter -- she came in about 12:35 from work, told her mother and me that she was going to bed and talked with her mother a little bit. She went to bed. I heard a noise about 3:30. I got up because we`d had our cars broke into. I looked, didn`t think anything about it, but I looked out the front window and the side door, went back to bed.

And Joanna had a doctor`s appointment that morning. Kathy went in to get her up. She wasn`t there. We called all around, trying to find her. And then I was wondering about some phone information, so I got on a thing we call Tally (ph) help line and put out a call for my PI friends to give me a hand trying to figure out, you know, where to go with the phone numbers that we were trying to get.

And then we flew in a guy who`s one of the best in the world, by the name of Philip Klein (ph). He flew in. It was at 3:00 o`clock. He specializes in missing and runaway kids. He does it all over the world. Philip came in, started talking to everybody because, you know, when you`re close to it, you leave it alone. I gave him what I had. He did a real good search, background on friends and things, talked to people...

GRACE: Did he look at her computer?

ROGERS: Yes. He took this kind of quick glance in her computer. I can tell you a lot about the computer.

GRACE: Well, actually, hold on. Mr. Rogers -- everybody, with me, is Joanna Rogers`s father. Tonight, we are asking for your help to bring his girl home, just sweet 16 when she went missing out of her own bedroom, the mom and dad right down the hall, asleep. We`re going to come back with Mr. Rogers to see if you can help us.

Very quickly, to break and to tonight`s "Case Alert." A controversial proposal to put a three-year stop, a moratorium, on the California death penalty. What the hey? Five California assembly members are proposing the bill, and a the state legislature is set to consider it. Victims` rights groups speaking out against this measure. Crime Victims United of California calls the bill unconstitutional and an insult to murder victims everywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The name of Joanna Rogers came up on the forensics examination of Rodriguez`s computer. There was also a file on Joanna`s computer that had that name.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: There`s a rash of missing girls out of Lubbock, Texas. You`ve got Joanna Rogers, a cute little redhead we`re talking about tonight. Her father is with us. Reward $15,000. Also now missing, a girl named Jennifer Lynn Wilkerson (ph), last seen, Lubbock, Texas, about the same age, DOB 1977.

I want to go back to Joanna`s father, Joe Bill Rogers, joining us by phone. That must have been shocking. You wake up, your little girl gone, no forced entry, nothing stolen, correct?

ROGERS: Correct.

GRACE: What do you think about this Rodriguez fellow? Do you think they were talking to each other on line? I mean, they were apparently on each other`s buddy list.

ROGERS: There`s things that -- you know, I wouldn`t doubt that that`s a possibility. We had the hard drives pulled and copied five times. I sent it to two very good computer experts, one in Dallas and one in Houston.

GRACE: I wish you could see this guy. I wish you could see this guy. I`m looking at him right now. He looks so much younger than 25. I bet he could have told a girl that he was -- I mean, he looks like he`s in his teens, maybe 19, 20.

ROGERS: I have no earthly idea. I`ve never...

GRACE: I`m looking at him right now. Now, here in his mug shot, he looks a little bit older, but -- go ahead, sir. I`m sorry.

ROGERS: Just that, you know, that`s it. We had them pulled. They`ve been looked at. The way I understood it from the attorney for Rosendo was that they`d been looking into this and that Special Agent Fish (ph), who`s an FBI agent, and one of the sheriff`s deputies, Parrot (ph), Greg Parrot is his name, been looking at this about, oh, five or six weeks ago...

GRACE: Yeah.

ROGERS: ... and that, you know, they had something going. Didn`t know anything about it and...

GRACE: I can`t believe you...

ROGERS: ... then Jennifer Wilkerson...

GRACE: ... found...

ROGERS: ... also disappeared not too far from our house, too, in very unusual circumstances. And I know Jack (ph) and Dickey (ph), her parents, are beside themselves, too. You know, it`s just -- we don`t know.

GRACE: I`m just wondering if this guy isn`t connected to Jennifer Wilkerson, as well. Mr. Rogers, before we go to break, number one, I`m sorry that you learned this through a phone call from the defense attorney, about Rodriguez. But what can we do for you, other than publicizing your daughter`s name, her photo and the reward.

ROGERS: Well, mainly, you can tell people to love their kids. That`s the whole thing. Love them while you`ve got them. And just try to -- you know, you can only do so much, and just be happy every time they walk in the door and then know where they`re going when they`re going out. And even at the best, you can`t always do that.

GRACE: I know you are on the case, sir, and it`s Christmas and Hanukkah approaches us...

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS: Well, I haven`t stopped looking, and I`m still going to keep looking, and I`m digging lots of places now.

GRACE: Sir, we`ll be happy to continue to help you.

Everybody, the phone number 806-775-1601 or go on line to The Lost, that number is 1-800-THELOST. The reward up to $15,000.

We at NANCY GRACE want very much to help solve unsolved homicides, find missing people. Take a look at Robert Armfield, 38, from Ludowici, Georgia, shot to death inside his truck November 8, 2002. If you have info on Robert Armfield, call Carole Sund Carrington Foundation toll-free 888- 813-8389.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really had not thought about keeping reward money separately until Beth Twitty was here a couple of weekends ago. And she`s been doing this for seven months. And she sat down and explained how they`ve got Natalee`s money set-up. So it makes sense that we`re doing this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re walking in the same shoes. And no one wants to be in (INAUDIBLE) unfortunately, we have been placed in them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: We have not given up on the search for a beauty queen turned school teacher, Tara Grinstead. I want to go straight out to Tara`s sister joining us, Anita Gattis.

Thank you for being with us. What is the latest with the investigation?

ANITA GATTIS, TARA GRINSTEAD`S SISTER: Well, as you know, we have an additional $100,000 that has been pledged. And that`s for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever was involved in Tara`s disappearance.

The money that we had before was for safe return. So we are very thankful that we have this money. We hope that there`s someone out there who`s got information. They may have at some point been involved with Tara`s disappearance. They may not be able to put her in a car and bring her home, but they may have some information that would be very helpful to us, the family and law enforcement.

GRACE: Anita, I know that EquuSearch has been out in Texas. They just recovered the body of a little girl, 12-year-old Teke Buggs, there in Brazos River. I understand they`re back working on your case. Have they received any new tips?

GATTIS: I`m not sure if they`ve received any new tips since they went to Texas, but Mr. Miller assured me they would be back in January.

GRACE: Can you tell us about the last tip they received?

GATTIS: The last tip that EquuSearch received had something to do with a wooded area called Queensland. It`s in Ben Hill County. It`s about maybe about 25 miles from Ocilla. And that was where they concentrated their search the last day that they were here.

GRACE: Let me ask you whether police have finally gotten around to questioning various people in her classes. Tara worked all day as a schoolteacher, and she was attending two different colleges at night, one in Valdosta, one in Waycross, Georgia. Have they spoken to the teachers and the other students of those night classes yet, Anita?

GATTIS: I`m not really sure if the GBI has done that yet. My husband has been back in touch with a couple of other students that have not been questioned. So, you know, I have no clue about that. I don`t believe anyone at the Waycross campus has been questioned, and they are adjourned for Christmas break and will not start back until January. Tara actually would have graduated the first week of December with her six-year specialist degree, had she been able to finish school.

GRACE: Anita, if you don`t mind, for the viewers that are just hearing about Tara`s case tonight, bring us up-to-date about her disappearance.

GATTIS: Tara had been to a dinner party, a cookout, watched a ballgame on Saturday, October 22nd. She did not show up for work at Orwin County High School (ph), where she`s a high school history teacher and a middle school assistant principle.

On Monday the 24th, the police were called in at that point. We`re not sure exactly when she disappeared, if it was, you know, sometime during the early hours of the 23rd. We just aren`t really sure...

(CROSSTALK)

GRACE: You know what? Wait, wait, wait. Anita, the background is so loud I can`t quite hear you.

I`m going to go to Pat Lalama, investigative reporter. Pat, help me out, so the viewers can hear about the case of Tara Grinstead.

LALAMA: OK. She had gone to this event, as was mentioned, then afterwards had gone to dinner at a former superintendent`s house. There was a barbecue, lots of fun. Everything seemed fine. And then, as far as everyone knows, she went home.

What was found in her home were the clothes that she was wearing that night and her cell phone was there. What`s interesting is that her car was locked and her home was locked, and her keys and her purse were gone. This is all that has been left to deal with and to look at.

GRACE: There have been extensive searches for Tara Grinstead. Right now to Joe Huston with EquuSearch.

Joe, thank you for being with us. Explain to us what you`re doing to help find Tara.

JOE HUSTON, TEXAS EQUUSEARCH: Well, obviously, we`re still in the process of looking for her. Right now, we`re waiting for the public -- and hopefully this show will help today -- to give us some more leads.

While we were in Georgia, we did receive the lead, as you previously heard. We searched that area. We plan on going back in January. But before we go back, we would like to have additional leads come in before we know what areas to search specifically.

GRACE: This last tip that you got about a wooded area, what did the tip say? Was it about clothing, having seen her there, what?

HUSTON: It was basically just that it was an area of interest. And when we receive a lead like that, we try to cover it as quickly as possible, because if it is an area of interest, and it was a fairly heavily wooded area, it would be an ideal place for somebody to dispose of something if Tara was disposed of.

GRACE: Take a listen to what a family friend had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s time for us to make tougher laws against those that go out and kidnap those that we love. So many times now you can walk into a Wal-Mart or any other place and there`s posters all over the place of missing children or missing loved ones.

And it`s more prevalent now than any other time in our history. So it`s time that we get tough on crime. And we want to make it a way that people won`t think about doing this, you know, that we can stop some of this or we can put people behind bars for long periods of time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re still -- we`re following up on calls we get and stuff. We`re not leaving anything unattended, no matter how small. We`re still checking out that everything that anybody calls in for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: I`m going to go try Anita Gattis one more time. She`s standing outside down in Georgia. Anita is Tara`s sister.

Anita, as you are facing the Christmas holiday, this has just got to be hell for you.

GATTIS: It really is a horrible time for our family. Last night, we had a tree lighting at Tara`s home. There were approximately 50 or 60 people that were here, brought ornaments. Several girls that had been in pageants that Tara had helped sang some Christmas songs. It was a very special time for us.

We wanted to do something with Tara. And since our family will not be celebrating Christmas, this was just one way that we could let friends, family and students have a little something special for Tara this holiday.

GRACE: Anita Gattis, we`re looking at video of you right now where you decorated your sister`s house. Are you losing hope?

GATTIS: Nancy, I`m not losing hope at all. I have thought from the very beginning that Tara is alive. I still feel that in my heart, in my soul, in my gut. I just want to get her back. I just want to get Tara back home.

GRACE: Before we go to break, Anita, what can we do to help you?

GATTIS: Nancy, you can keep her face, her story in the media. We don`t want anyone to forget Tara. We also need to have this additional reward published. If there`s someone who does have information that maybe he can`t put Tara in a car and drive her back home, but any tip that we get in at this point, even if law enforcement is not following up, as you know, the family certainly will.

GRACE: As we go to break, you can go online to find out about the case, www.FindTara.com, www.FindTara.com. The reward is up to now $200,000. This flyer says $90,000. The reward is up to $200,000. Tip line: 912-386-2564.

We here at NANCY GRACE want to do our part to help the very neediest this holiday season. United Jewish Community is doing their part. For information, contact 212-284-6500 or go online to UJC.org. Please open your hearts and your wallets this Christmas and Hanukkah.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The hardest part is that what I`m hearing from Spring Valley Police Department, what I`ve heard from a dear friend of mine that`s a police officer, is that at first you have to wait. We have nothing to work with; you have to wait.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: A college student missing tonight, a young man. His cell phone, his wallet left behind in his family`s home. Straight out to Pat Fant with KFNC Radio.

Pat, thank you for being with us, friend. Bring us up-to-date.

PAT FANT, GENERAL MANAGER, KFNC RADIO: Well, I`ll tell you, in the newsroom, our antennas are really up on this one. And I`ll tell you why. First, a heated argument with the mother the night before, this according to police interviews with the mother.

Second, the family gun is missing from the night stand. Third, the young man had made plans with friends for the evening that he disappeared, this according to his sister, Alicia Weber (ph).

And also, the parents were first to -- or last to see him and first to report him missing. It is uncharacteristic of Nate to disappear for now over three weeks and not be in contact with anyone at all.

GRACE: So the family gun is missing, his cell phone, his wallet still in his room?

FANT: Still in the room.

GRACE: Last seen working on the computer. I can only assume police have seized the computer to determine who he was writing and what time.

FANT: That`s right.

GRACE: Straight out to Pat Lalama, investigative reporter. Pat, what can you tell us about the case, as well?

LALAMA: Well, there`s a few things that just seem a little strange to me. I mean, first of all, you need to know the situation. This was his stepfather and his mother. He has not seen his biological father in many years. There`s a very, very nasty relationship between the ex-husband and the mother.

And, you know, this family -- and God love them, I`m sure it`s all very, very painful for them -- just a couple of things I just want to mention. They kept a gun on the nightstand every single night. And my understanding is that, whenever the young man came home, he had to announce to the family that he was coming home so that he wouldn`t get accidentally shot because the gun was there.

I don`t know. It`s just a little bit strange to me. What the heated argument was about, we don`t know, but you can bet there`s probably more than one heated argument over time. It`s just unclear where he went.

His car is missing, a 2000 teal Nissan? I mean, are you telling me nobody in the last three weeks has spotted a teal Nissan? I mean, it`s just strange. That car would just help them so much, and no one has seen it. Gone.

GRACE: And he did not meet his friends that night?

LALAMA: Apparently not, did not meet with the friends that we know. Left and that was it.

GRACE: Got you.

To psychologist, Dr. Jeff Gardere, why is it that when men go missing people, and in this case a young college-aged man, people assume they left on their own? You don`t always think that about women. Why, Jeff?

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, because it`s much harder to overpower a man, if we`re talking about an abduction here. I mean, this was an individual who was, what, 6`2", and seemed to be a very hardy individual.

And the interesting thing, as I was listening to your guests here, I wrote down a few notes. And I said, "You know, when you investigate something like this, especially with this kind of an individual, you have to look at the family conflicts, you have to look at possible conflicts with friends, especially since it is harder to overpower someone like this."

So it has to be a sudden violent act, perhaps getting shot, perhaps shooting himself. So I think there are some things, agreeing wholeheartedly with Pat Lalama, there are some things that just don`t add up and that need to be investigated around his social circle.

GRACE: To Anne Bremner, high-profile lawyer out of the Seattle jurisdiction, Anne, you`ve tried so many cases. What can we learn from his online activity? And isn`t it true police always start as a suspect or they always start questioning the last person to see the individual...

ANNE BREMNER, TRIAL ATTORNEY: They do.

GRACE: ... and the person to report them missing? That`s the parents in this case.

BREMNER: That`s exactly right. And, you know, in defense of the parents, if you were to say the last person to be seen with someone is a suspect, you have to think, "Well, that doesn`t make sense. Why would you be the last person seen, because you know you would be a suspect?" And then, in terms of the relationship, you know, with their child, you know, "Mom, Dad, I`m home, don`t shoot." That`s pretty strange, in terms of whether or not they could be suspects...

(CROSSTALK)

GRACE: Yes, and at this juncture, of course the parents have not been named as a suspect. My question to you is, police always start with the last person to see the individual and the person to report them missing. They always start right there.

BREMNER: Always. It`s like the last voice heard by the decedent or the missing. That`s who you look at. And oftentimes that is the person -- that`s the person that committed the crime.

GRACE: Now, we got this information about the gun from Detective Gary Finkelman with the Spring Valley P.D. He spoke to one of our producers.

I want to go very quickly to Tony Brooklier. To me, this guy seems very reliable. Tony, we haven`t heard anything about him going missing in the past.

TONY BROOKLIER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely, Nancy. This is someone who apparently was always on time at work. He was a senior at his college, apparently had a very good work ethic. It`s very, very, very unusual.

Something obviously tragic happened here. I`ve considered, having read everything, that you might even -- they might even be thinking about a suicide. I also wonder if they polygraphed the parents, since they were the last people to see this young man.

GRACE: Have they, Pat? That`s a really good question, Tony. Have they, Pat?

LALAMA: Are you asking me, Nancy?

GRACE: I was actually asking Pat Fant, general manager at KFNC. Have they polygraphed the parents and the family?

FANT: No, they have not at this time.

GRACE: Have they offered to take a polygraph?

FANT: That`s not been asked.

GRACE: Pat Lalama, you know, that`s one of the first things we look at, is whether the family -- I mean, that`s how the police get past the family and go on to other suspects is the family -- like Marc Klaas. I always use him as an example, victim`s right advocate. He insisted, "Take a polygraph right now. Search my car, search my house, so you can go find the abductor."

LALAMA: You know, it`s going to sound callous, and I really don`t mean it to be. We just don`t know at this point. So please, everybody, understand. But, you know, the father, the biological father has mentioned that he believes that it is because of the mother that the son has disappeared. Now, that could be just the general ranting and raving that ex-spouses do. As we know, they carry on and get the kids in the middle a lot.

But there`s something inside of this family that we don`t know. I`m telling you, I would just bet my next whatever on that there`s more to the conflict within the family.

GRACE: Let`s go out to Vito Colucci with Colucci Investigations, private investigator. Vita, what about the lag time about the Texas ranger call?

VITO COLUCCI, PRIVATE DETECTIVE: Well, you know, what`s really bothering me on this, Nancy, is two weeks have gone by before anybody was called in. This is a town of a little over 3,000 people. They don`t have the training and experience.

This is the core issue over here. He had his last interaction with his stepfather that morning, OK? They wait two weeks. I hear the Texas rangers are involved, but that was two wasted weeks, Nancy.

GRACE: Two weeks.

COLUCCI: The mother`s been calling the sheriff`s department. She`s been calling Houston. And they have told her, "We will get involved in this if we`re asked."

GRACE: Two weeks is a horrible delay.

And very quickly to Clark Goldband, Internet reporter, what can they get off the computer?

CLARK GOLDBAND, NANCY GRACE INTERNET REPORTER: Well, Nancy, there`s a whole bunch of stuff they can get off the computer. I have on his MySpace account right now. If we can take a look at that on the monitor in front of me. You see Nate`s MySpace site, and you comb over to Nate`s paragraph about him.

And he says he has hopes and dreams, he has aspirations. "If I could do anything for the rest of my life, I would own a custom designing surf shop right on the beach." So nothing indicates from this entry that Nate was going anywhere.

Also, he had a blog. If we check his latest blog entry, Nancy, the user has not posted a blog. A new development: His blog has been taken down, and we don`t know by who.

GRACE: OK. Still, the search is on for this young man, just 24 years old when he went missing.

Rosie, could you put his picture up one more time, please, so the viewers can see? There you go. Nathanial Hendrickson, his parents not a suspect. In fact, no suspect at this juncture.

I want to remind you all that local news is next for some of you, but we`ll all be right back. And remember, ongoing trial coverage 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern at Court TV.

Please stay with us tonight as we remember Army Specialist James C. Kesinger, 32, an American hero.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRACE: What a week in America`s courtrooms. Take a look at the stories and, more important, the people who touched all of our lives.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRACE: Paul Berkley spent 2005 on active duty in Bahrain. He made it home safe and sound in time for Christmas with his wife and his family. But, amazingly, he died from an ambush in a local park.

I`ve told a million juries: Nothing good happens after midnight. Now, what is this guy doing at 2:00 a.m. in a park?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, having a romantic walk with his wife after the movie. That`s what police say, Nancy.

GRACE: Yes, well, that walk really had a way of getting tapped off a lot differently than he imagined.

Take a look at this guy, Reynaldo Rapalo, 34 years old. He is armed and dangerous. And let me tell you why. This guy has seven alleged rapes under his belt, youngest victim 11 years old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His face is the most infamous face in South Florida, and right now probably in the country. He got out by bed sheets, a hacksaw, and a brazen set of -- it took some guts.

GRACE: I`m not going to ask you a brazen set of what, because I don`t think my bosses at CNN would like that very much.

The last thing the ladies in Miami need is to see is his big foot coming through their bedroom window.

Tonight, a marine who served our country (INAUDIBLE) died, is cremated and laid to rest, but not (INAUDIBLE) after his wife marched straight out after the funeral for breast enlargement and adopted an online dating name, FoxontheRun07, a murder investigation started.

She was $23,000 in debt at the time of his death. She had to pay $867 every month just to meet all the minimum payments. You`re not making that at a sub sway sandwich shop, OK? I used to work at a sandwich shop. I know.

Twenty-six-year-old George Smith went missing off a dream honeymoon cruise. His parents and family still looking for answers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re actually not sure about whether there are video cameras in the hallways.

GRACE: How can that be? How can they still not have told you that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Royal Caribbean has told us absolutely nothing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRACE: I want to thank all of our guests tonight, but our biggest thank you, as always, is to you for being with us, inviting us and all of our legal stories into your home.

Coming up, headlines from all around the world. A special good night tonight from the control room in New York. Good night, Rosie!

I`m Nancy Grace signing off for tonight and for this week. I`ll see you right here, Monday night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.

END

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