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PAULA ZAHN NOW
West Virginia Says Goodbye to Killed Miners; Confirmation Hearings For Supreme Court Nominee Samuel Alito Begin
Aired January 9, 2006 - 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. Thank you all for joining us.
Tonight, we have got some very latest developments on the town and the tragedy that has touched hearts around the world.
ZAHN (voice-over): Sorrow for the past, hope for the future.
ZAHN: A close-knit community bids its loved ones goodbye and prays for the only survivor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to emphasize that he -- he has a long way to go.
ZAHN: Is a full recovery still possible?
Fear and freedom -- the outrage over a violent sexual predator. He admits he terrorized hundreds of victims.
DOUGLAS BADGER, CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER: They were just like insects. I had no feeling for them.
ZAHN: Now a judge says he can walk the streets again.
BADGER: Well, I'm at peace with myself.
BONNIE DUMANIS, SAN DIEGO DISTRICT ATTORNEY: He is a time bomb waiting to go off.
ZAHN: Would you feel safe with him in your neighborhood?
And our "Eye Opener" -- the bone snatchers. We showed you the shocking allegations, body parts taken without permission, profiting from the dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was really angry and really concerned people got diseased body parts.
Now, has a celebrity become one of their latest victims?
ZAHN: We start tonight with breaking news out of San Francisco, where police have disarmed a bomb found in a Starbucks restroom.
Let's turn to Sumi Das, who is on the scene. He joins me now with the very latest on investigation.
What are police saying tonight, Sumi?
SUMI DAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sergeant Neville Gittens of the San Francisco Police Department, just a short while ago, gave a briefing.
And he said the following. At 1:15 p.m., local time, San Francisco police received a call that an employee had found a device on the bathroom floor of this Starbucks at Van Ness and Bush in San Francisco. Bomb squads arrived on the scene. It was detonated.
The device was rendered safe, essentially, at around 2:00 p.m. Now, it is unsure what the motivation was here. There were no calls that were received, either before or after the incident by Starbucks. There is an ongoing investigation by the special investigation division of the San Francisco -- San Francisco Police Department.
Now, what Sergeant Gittens did say is that, if the device had been detonated, it would have caused damage. The extent of that damage, not entirely sure -- he said that they have some pretty good leads. Of course, they are pursuing them at this time.
Also, Starbucks has released a statement. They say that they immediately contacted the authorities as soon as they discovered this device, and that they're working in full cooperation with authorities to ensure the safety of their employees, their customers, and, of course, the store as well -- Paula.
ZAHN: Sumi Das, thank you so much for the update. We're hoping those good leads turn into some positive action on the part of the San Francisco Police Department.
Now on to another developing story tonight. An American woman is in the hands of Iraqi kidnappers. Jill Carroll is a journalist. She was on assignment for "The Christian Science Monitor" when she was taken at gunpoint. Her Iraqi interpreter was killed.
Jill Carroll has been reporting from the Middle East for three years now. She went out of her way to mingle with people on the street. And she spoke their language.
In this excerpt from a National Public Radio interview last October, she talked about the mood of ordinary Iraqi people.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO)
JILL CARROLL, "THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR": I think people are disappointed in the government, disappointed in what has happened in the past 10 months. They haven't seen an improvement on the ground on in security, electricity, (INAUDIBLE) supplies. The sense of sort of, even among Shias and Kurds, that their own government hasn't served them well I think dampened a lot of spirits. (END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Jill Carroll was kidnapped on Saturday, but "The Christian Science Monitor": asked CNN and other news organizations to withhold details until now.
With me on the phone is someone who knows her well. Borzou Daragahi is the "Los Angeles Times" Baghdad correspondent.
First of all, what can you confirm about the circumstances surrounding her kidnapping?
BORZOU DARAGAHI, "THE LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, we know that she was kidnapped from west Baghdad Saturday morning, that she was visiting the office or home of a political group, leader of a political group, Adnan Dulaimi, and that, as she was leaving that office, there was some sort of confrontation. Shots were fired. Her translator was killed. And she was abducted.
ZAHN: From the details that we're trying to understand here, it appears as though it was a pretty well orchestrated ambush. Is that your understanding?
DARAGAHI: It does seem that there might have been some sort of coordination, in -- in terms of doing this -- this ambush, that there was a -- a bit of coordination. It did seem well executed, absolutely.
ZAHN: Do we know anything about her status tonight?
DARAGAHI: There is no new word on her status. Generally, in these sorts of kidnappings, when they take place in Iraq, Iraqi, as well as international officials here in -- in Iraq work on it very, very hard...
DARAGAHI: ... to try to figure out what happened to her and try to get her back.
ZAHN: Borzou, Jill Carroll is known as someone who would never take foolhardy risks, but certainly was aware of the dangers of her job.
What do you want the audience to know about her, her work ethic and her commitment to journalism?
DARAGAHI: I mean, Jill is a very hard-working person.
She was someone who is very dedicated to covering this story. She's -- she was very into the Iraq story. She knew a lot about Iraq. She was very much dedicated to Arab culture and Iraq. She was very respectful of the country and -- and the people here. She spoke with all sorts of people, you know, including Sunni Arabs, Shiites, and others. She was a very straightforward, hard-working reporter.
ZAHN: Borzou Daragahi, thank you so much for your insights.
The U.S. military, along with the help of some Iraqi citizens, now searching for Jill Carroll at this hour.
We shift our focus tonight to -- to something happening outside that Catholic Church in West Virginia. A community stopped to remember 12 fallen miners killed in last week's explosion at the Sago coal mine.
Christopher King has been covering the story all day. He's got the latest on the memorial service and the investigation into the disaster.
CHRISTOPHER KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Federal officials are already trying to determine what caused the disaster at Sago Mine. And now West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin says the state is launching its own investigation. The governor promised answers to the families of the 12 who died.
GOV. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I assure them, as the governor of the great state of West Virginia, they can be assured that the loss they have and the loss they suffer might be the loss that (INAUDIBLE) suffered by another family in America.
KING: J. Davitt McAteer, the former head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration under President Clinton, will lead the state probe, focusing on what caused the explosion at Sago Mine and the miscommunication that followed, once the group of 12 men were found, taking families through an emotional roller coaster.
The report will also give an assessment of the mine rescue effort.
J. DAVITT MCATEER, FORMER MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION DIRECTOR: The mine rescue system was designed for a period of time that has passed.
KING: As investigators try to unravel the events around the disaster, new reports have emerged indicating the miners could possibly have survived.
"The New York Times" reports the men were perhaps about 2,000 feet away from breathable air. But experts say those miners probably had no way of knowing clean air was possibly nearby. The miners, they say, were surrounded by a toxic mix of smoke, containing carbon monoxide and methane.
In the meantime, today, families continue the grim task of burying their dead. Twelve ribbons hang at the mine, honoring the victims. In nearby Barbour County, where four of the miners lived, a memorial stands in front of the courthouse.
Allen Jones helped with the tribute. His friend Jack Weaver died at Sago Mine. (on camera): What was going through your mind when you thought about the fact that your friend was down there, suffocated, died?
ALLEN JONES, FRIEND OF MINER KILLED IN EXPLOSION: I kept hoping that there was a chance that they would get out, you know? Just -- you just hope that they can, you know, hope that they find some air.
KING: And, later, a candlelight vigil, as people who lost their loved ones and live nearby pray a disaster like this one never happens again.
JONES: People around here care. We're concerned that -- about the miners and about the safety, and maybe something can be done to make it safer.
KING: Now, that candlelight vigil was held just here at the Barbour County Courthouse in the town of Philippi, West Virginia.
A church pastor read tributes from well-wishers from around the world. He says that everybody here was touched by this disaster. Tomorrow, family member will hold some more funerals for two more victims of that mine disaster -- Paula.
ZAHN: Christopher King, thanks so much.
And the only survivor of the Sago Mine disaster, Randy McCloy, is still in a coma tonight, but he is showing some signs of improvement.
Now we move on to Capitol Hill, where every single hot-button issue of the day was on the table. And the man who may be deciding all of them very soon was in the hot seat today.
As confirmation hearings got under way for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, there were passionate arguments all across the political spectrum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: In an era where the White House is abusing power, is excusing and authorizing torture and is spying on American citizens, I find Judge Alito's support for an all-powerful executive branch to be genuinely troubling.
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Where are we in America when we decide that it's legal to kill our unborn children?
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: You can claim whatever you want to of being pro-life or pro-choice, but the right to a abortion is not in the Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: The only one who didn't do much talking today was Judge Alito himself. Congressional correspondent Ed Henry joins me now.
But, Ed, we learned a lot about some of the subjects he will be grilled on, didn't we?
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
But we have learned -- learned very little about actually where he stands on these hot-button issues, for two reasons. First of all, today, there was really no interaction between the senators and Alito. It was just opening statements. So, put yourself in Judge Alito's shoes. He had to listen to people like Ted Kennedy rip his record to shreds and had to bite his tongue and not respond.
The real fireworks should come tomorrow, when we will have direct questioning from the senators to Judge Alito. But the second reason why, even tomorrow, we might not really get to the heart of where he stands on some of the issues is that Judge Alito wants to say very little. It is a minuet, as Chairman -- Chairman Arlen Specter said today, where you -- you say very little as a nominee. Otherwise, you are going to get in trouble.
So, when he finally did speak, he spoke very generally, not specifically about issues like abortion. But he basically wanted to send a message, a very direct message to the senators.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE SAMUEL ALITO, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: A judge can't have any agenda. A judge can't have any preferred outcome in any particular case, and a judge certainly doesn't have a client.
The judge's only obligation -- and it's a solemn obligation -- is to the rule of law. Good judges are always open to the possibility of changing their minds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: And, so, Alito tomorrow is really going to be pushed and prodded from senators on both sides, because this is really for all the marbles. This is the swing seat on the high court. There were some 140 decisions decided by Justice O'Connor. She's retiring. This is her seat. Both sides want to know, is the court going to shift left or right, Paula?
ZAHN: I guess we will be watching some something pretty interesting reality TV tomorrow, won't we, Ed?
HENRY: That's right.
ZAHN: Thanks so much.
HENRY: That's right.
ZAHN: Still to come, hundreds of people who received tissue implants are now being told they should get tested for HIV and other diseases. Where did the donor tissue come from? And how widespread is this problem?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ted Rowlands in San Diego, California, where there is a fight over whether or not a 63-year-old man should be allowed to come home. Is it a case of not in my backyard, or should people be legitimately scared of Douglas Badger? We will have the story coming up -- as PAULA ZAHN NOW continues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Plus, how did a tiny baby from Iraq get all the way to the U.S. for a life-saving operation? And how is she doing tonight?
ZAHN: If you heard that a convicted child molester or a rapist was moving in next door, what would you do?
Well, lately, we have been reporting on a lot of stories like that. And they almost always inspire outrage and fear. But the latest one we have discovered is especially startling.
In San Diego, a convicted sexual predator with a very long history of attacking young men at gunpoint will be released soon. Doctors say eight years of treatment have helped rid him of his violent urges. But others say he has just fooled the doctors.
Here is Ted Rowlands with a story from "Outside the Law."
DOUGLAS BADGER, CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER: I'm at peace with myself.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): Sixty-three-year-old Douglas Badger may be at peace, but the thought of an admitted sexually violent predator back on the streets of San Diego has people worried.
BONNIE DUMANIS, SAN DIEGO DISTRICT ATTORNEY: He is a time bomb waiting to go off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you understand why people don't want you to be released?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why?
BADGER: They're afraid of me.
ROWLANDS: Why are they afraid? Badger, who has been in and out of jail over the past 30 years, is a diagnosed sexual sadist and schizophrenic. He has terrorized his victims, and he's about to be released.
BADGER: I feel very bad about what I did, but I had no control over my behavior.
ROWLANDS: Badger has told doctors that he has heard voices since he was a teenager and, once, even set himself on fire. He says that, in the 1960, he picked up and robbed hundreds of hitchhikers.
BADGER: They were just like insects. I had no feeling for them.
ROWLANDS: Then, he says he turned sexually violent.
In the mid '70s, Badger was arrested after forcing two men at gunpoint to give him oral sex. He tried do the same to an 18-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl. Both of them managed to get away. Five years later, Badger was out of jail and at it again.
In 1981, he was convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a hitchhiker at gunpoint. He was sentenced to 10 years in jail, but served five. After his release, he used a syringe to terrorize another hitchhiker. According to court documents, Badger and a man prosecutors say he recruited to help him took the victim into a field, tied him with a rope, threatened to -- quote -- "dismember him," then injected him with an unknown substance. They then sodomized and forced the man into oral sex.
DUMANIS: He's intelligent. He's sophisticated. When he committed his crimes, he used other people as aiders and abetters to tie people up. He was smooth. And that's pretty frightening.
ROWLANDS: In 1997, after another five years in prison, Douglas Badger was sent to Atascadero state mental hospital as a sexually violent predator, which is a California designation that allows state to hold someone until doctors say they no longer pose a threat to society. Now, after eight years of therapy, doctors say Badger is safe.
RICHARD GATES, ATTORNEY FOR DOUGLAS BADGER: Mr. Badger was offered treatment, and he embraced it, and, through the treatment, has gained an awareness about his illnesses and a way to manage his illnesses. And, so, he deserves the opportunity to go out and prove that he can do that.
BADGER: I feel absolutely great. I don't -- I don't hear voices. I -- I don't have any urges to hurt anybody. I have clear thoughts and clear thinking.
ROWLANDS: San Diego's district attorney, who fought Badger's release, says she believes that Badger pretended to go along with the program at the state hospital simply to get out.
DUMANIS: He learned in custody how to say the psychobabble, so that it sounds good when he's, you know, doing his therapy. But the one thing we do know is that you can't cure this.
GATES: I disagree with the premise that he is this criminal mastermind who is capable of being a sleeper for eight long years in a state mental hospital, pretending to go along with the program, so then he can then pounce upon the community and wreak havoc within San Diego County.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My finding is that you have satisfied the requirements of 6608.
ROWLANDS: A San Diego judge agreed with Badger's lawyers and the doctors that he should be released.
(on camera): The problem now is where to put him. He will need to be very closely monitored. Plus, he needs daily medication to suppress his sexual urges. And nobody here in San Diego seems to want Douglas Badger as their new neighbor.
(voice-over): Badger says, wherever he ends up, he can be trusted.
BADGER: And that's my goal on life, is never to hurt another victim.
ROWLANDS: But not everyone is willing to take his word.
DUMANIS: We're going make sure that he's monitored to the fullest as long as we can and as long as we feel he continues to be a danger. And, currently, under his diagnosis, and with his past, that's going to be for a long, long time.
ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, San Diego, California.
ZAHN: So, we debate the question tonight: Should Douglas Badger be allowed to get out of a state hospital in the first place?
Let's turn to California State Assemblyman Juan Vargas, who says Badger is bound to attack again, and Richard Gates, the gentleman you just met in our piece, Mr. Badger's attorney.
Glad to have both of you with us.
JUAN VARGAS, CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLYMAN: Thank you very much.
ZAHN: Mr. Vargas, I'm going to start with you this evening.
So, you have a bunch of doctors, and a judge, that says Mr. Badger no longer represents a threat to society. Why are you so convinced he will strike again?
VARGAS: One of the things that was interesting in testimony is that every time that he went to jail and he came back out, he committed another crime, each and every time more serious.
And, so, we know that he has this history, this propensity to do this. And, of course, the only thing he hasn't done is murdered anybody yet. And I think that's where he's going. But every single time that he has been let out, he has done this.
We also know he's quite smart. It was interesting when he actually testified, and I was there to listen to him. He was a very bright guy. He was very slick. He answered the questions. In fact, he was keyed to what the judge had asked earlier other witnesses. And he answered those questions.
I mean, he was very, very smart. And this is a guy that is a sleeper. I think that this guy is tremendously dangerous. And, if they do let him out, I think that he is going to go along for six months; he's going to go along for eight months. And they're going to say, see? See, he's not a danger. And then he's going to commit a horrible crime.
ZAHN: All right.
VARGAS: And -- and, again, it is an experiment that we don't need.
ZAHN: Mr. Gates, let's...
VARGAS: This guy is dangerous.
ZAHN: Let's talk about what Mr. Vargas said, that -- that this man, he alleges, is a time bomb waiting to go off, that you can't cure this. You just look at the average statistics, and they show that all of sexual predators -- at least half of them -- excuse me -- strike again. Why -- why do you think this won't happen again?
GATES: Well, I think the primary reason it is not going happen again is that Mr. Badger is not going to be free in the community. He's going to be subjected to the most intense supervision and scrutiny that any person in our society is subjected to.
He's going to be required to participate in individual and group therapy. He's going to be required to take his medications. All of the necessary tools that can be used to manage a person's risk are going to be put into effect against Mr. Badger. He is not going to be free, not in six months, not in eight months, not even in a year.
ZAHN: Mr. Vargas...
ZAHN: ... you don't believe, though, even if he follows the conditions of his release, and if he takes his medication the way it is prescribed, that it is going to work?
In fact, one of the things that I wish Mr. Gates would have said is that there's two types of medications he has to take, one for the -- the problems he had -- has because of his mental illness, and then also because of this abnormal sex drive. He actually can't take that medicine. They had him on the medicine, and he can't take it now because of physical problems. So, he doesn't take that medication. It is a lie. He's not taking that medication. He won't be taking that medication. This guy is going to be very, very dangerous.
He continues to have that same sexual drive, that same antisocial behavior. The sexual sadism, all the experts agree that can't be cured. So, he's not taking any medication to lower his testosterone. He can't.
ZAHN: Mr. Gates...
VARGAS: And, all the sudden, he's a sexual sadist.
ZAHN: ... final word. Do you understand why most people don't want this guy in their backyard once he's released?
GATES: Of course.
There is a lot of people who don't understand the truth about it. And comments made by the assemblyman don't help. The fact of the matter is, is that Mr. Badger has not had any sexual fantasies for years and years. And even though he's not taking the antiandrogen anymore, his testosterone is far below what a normal man's testosterone would be.
So, the -- the putting out of misinformation doesn't help the public deal with their legitimate concerns. The State Department of Mental Health is responsible for monitoring Mr. Badger. And they're going to do so.
ZAHN: And we will continue to follow the debate from here.
Juan Vargas, Richard Gates, thank you for both of your opinions tonight.
GATES: Thank you.
ZAHN: Appreciate it.
Coming up next, an actor from a hit TV show goes court, accused of a shocking crime. What does his mother want everybody to know?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOMENICA BRANCATO, MOTHER OF LILLO BRANCATO: He's not a killer. He's a good person. He's the best.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Well, he certainly played young men who were on the wrong side of the law. What went wrong in his real life?
Plus, how did an Iraqi baby make it all the way to Atlanta for a potentially life-saving operation? You will meet her.
ZAHN: Now we move on to a crime brutal enough to shock the nation's largest city and the entertainment community as well.
Tonight, actor Lillo Brancato, who appeared in one of the most popular series on TV, "The Sopranos," officially stands accused of murder in the December death of a New York City police officer.
And, in a dramatic show of unity and anger, off-duty officers turned out in full force today, as Brancato and a co-defendant made an appearance before a judge.
Allan Chernoff was also at the courthouse today. He has just gotten back with this report.
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Several hundred New York City police officers entering the Bronx County courthouse to show solidarity with a slain colleague, it could be a scene from a movie. But this Bronx tale is all too real.
The actor Lillo Brancato Jr., handcuffed, stepped into a courtroom and pleaded not guilty to the murder of police officer Daniel Enchautegui, as did his co-defendant, Steven Armento, who allegedly pulled the trigger a month ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell us...
DOMENICA BRANCATO, MOTHER OF LILLO BRANCATO: He's not a killer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell us about your son.
D. BRANCATO: He's not a killer. He's a good person. He's the best.
CHERNOFF: Brancato's parents have witnessed their son suffer a tragic fall from fame, now allegedly on the wrong side of the law, just like the roles he played. In the film "A Bronx Tale," he played a child falling under the influence of a mobster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "A BRONX TALE")
ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: Look, you're my only son. I'm only looking out for your best interests. But you got to know the saddest thing in life is wasting talent.
LILLO BRANCATO, ACTOR: Oh, I don't want to hear this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHERNOFF: In "The Sopranos," he portrayed a wanna-be mobster who botches a gangland-style hit. It was a botched burglary that now has Brancato in jail, awaiting trial without bail. He and Armento, who, authorities say, is a former member of the Genovese crime family, allegedly broke into this Bronx home searching for drugs. When Officer Enchautegui, who was off duty, tried to stop the break-in, Armento allegedly pulled the trigger.
(on camera): Brancato's attorney says his client had no idea co- defendant Steven Armento was carrying a gun during the alleged burglary and never fired a shot. So he asks how could his client be guilty of murder?
MEL SACHS DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The concern here is that Lillo Brancato is not prejudged. This case has been in a cloud of passion because of the tragedy of this police officer.
ADOLFO CARRION, BRONX BOROUGH RESIDENT: Lillo Brancato is not a cutie pie celebrity. Lillo Brancato is not a good guy. The fact is that he was party to the murder of a New York City police officer.
CHERNOFF: Brancato was arrested last year for drug possession and disorderly conduct in separate cases that are still pending. He spoke several years ago about portraying criminals.
LILLO BRANCATO, SOPRANOS: But, you know, a lot of people really never met, you know, wise guys, you know, stuff like that. So the only way they could meet a wise guy is probably by watching it on TV and stuff. Because, like I said, they do know it exists, and it is, you know, very intriguing.
CHERNOFF: Now after playing fictional roles, Lillo Brancato is in jail facing a harsh reality. If convicted of murdering Daniel Enchautegui, he could face a maximum sentence in prison of 25 years to life.
Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.
ZAHN: Coming up, we have a story for you that I think you're going to find pretty unsettling. Can you believe how low some people will go for money even if it means stealing dead bodies?
And ahead on tonight's "Eye Opener" what is happening to human bodies? Why don't their families have a clue?
ZAHN: I want to warn you now that some of the pictures you're about to see will be too much for most kids out there. We are talking about people snatching body parts for profit. And the family members of the deceased never even find out about it.
Well, since we first brought you the story a month ago, hundreds of patients around the country have now been notified that they should get tested for HIV because they may have received diseased implants from people whose organs should never have been donated. Here is Deborah Feyerick with tonight's "Eye Opener."
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Michael Bruno was a good old New York City cab driver with an opinion about everything even his own death. After losing battle with cancer two years ago, his son Vito honored his last wishes.
VITO BRUNO, ALLEGED VICTIM'S SON: Well, my father had requested to be cremated.
FEYERICK: And today in this box lie Michael Bruno's remains. At least that's what Vito used to think. Now, he's not so sure.
BRUNO: This was the remains of Michael Bruno.
FEYERICK (on-camera): And now what do you think?
BRUNO: Don't know what this is. Don't know what is in here at all.
FEYERICK (voice over): That's because Michael Bruno may have unwillingly become the victim of a scandal that is making ghoulish headlines. It is sending shockwaves through a billion dollar industry that until now has remained out of the spotlight, the business of human body parts.
It is an industry that relies on the goodwill of donors who believe they're helping medical research or saving lives. And business is booming. Heads, torsos, limbs, you name it, command hefty prices.
By one estimate, a single body chopped into pieces can be worth up to $150,000. The donor never sees a penny. But it seems everyone else does, including the funeral home, which can charge $1,000 per body, for storage and transportation.
And Michael Bruno is not alone. Another alleged victim...
ALISTAIR COOK, MASTERPIECE THEATER: I'm Mr. Cook, Masterpiece Theater, good night.
FEYERICK: ...TV host Alistair Cook, most famous for PBS' Masterpiece Theater. Some of his bones were allegedly stolen before he was cremated. New York City investigators believe they may be among hundreds if not more whose body parts were taken without permission and passed off as legitimate donations to companies which make money processing the bodies and providing them to the medical community.
BRUNO: It is just beyond anything anybody could ever comprehend. Just the sickest, sickest story you could hear.
FEYERICK: The Brooklyn district attorney has launched a massive investigation trying to piece together how the suspected ring worked. In question, six funeral homes where a number of thefts appear to have taken place along with two men at the center of the case, Dr. Michael Mastromarino of biomedical tissue services in New Jersey and his partner embalmer Joseph Nicelli.
Police believe they may have carved up bodies without consent then changed the cause of death to conceal deadly diseases like cancer. This way the stolen body parts could be marketed as healthy to an industry desperate for donations.
TODD R. OLSON, PH.D., ALBERT EINSTEIN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: We are dealing simply with an open market where the supply and the demand is the only limiting factor on how much people are going to be able to profit.
FEYERICK: So why didn't anyone notice? Many of the dead were cremated or doctored to hide missing parts. Bones, for example, may have been taken out and swapped with plumbing pipe. Yes, plumbing pipe.
FEYERICK: Mario Galluci represents Dr. Mastromarino.
(on-camera): Did your client, as suggested, replace any bones, or anything in a cadaver with pipe?
MARIO GALLUCI, MICHAEL MASTROMARINO'S ATTY.: Absolutely.
FEYERICK: He replaced bones with pipe?
GALLUCI: That's the appropriate way to replace bone. It is a medical piping. It is not -- you don't -- he did not go to Home Depot and buy PVC pipe and put it into donors.
FEYERICK (voice over): Vito Bruno says he learned of the alleged theft when a New York City detective showed up at his door with a donation consent form Bruno had supposedly signed.
BRUNO: It was not my signature so they forged my name.
FEYERICK: Bruno also says his father's cause of death was listed falsely as heart disease instead of kidney cancer.
BRUNO: I was really angry and really concerned. Yes, concerned that these body parts went into other people. People got diseased body parts.
FEYERICK: In the case of Alistair Cook, his consent form read heart attack not the lung cancer which his daughter says actually killed him.
How many other victims were there? And how long had body parts theft gone undetected? In Denver, Colorado, some 1,800 miles away an apparent whistle blower. (on-camera): How many people could receive tissue from a single donor?
DR. MICHAEL BAUER, BONFILS BLOOD CENTER: Well, we have had a recent case where we have traced it back and there were over 90 different patients who were benefited by one donation.
FEYERICK: Ninety different patients.
BAUER: That's exactly right.
FEYERICK (voice over): Michael Bauer examines donated body parts for disease. He says he discovered phone numbers on donor records sent by Mastromarino's company were bogus.
BAUER: I still hoped that there would be a logical explanation for it. What was going through my mind was, Dr. Mastromarino had not received permission to recover these tissues.
GALLUCI: Nobody's shown us that absolutely anything has been done inappropriately. These allegations, nobody's been charged with any crime.
FEYERICK: Even so, the FDA ordered a nation-wide recall of body parts from Mastromarino's company, parts like skin, heart valves, bones, key to cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
Patients who receive those questionable parts are now getting grim warnings. Get tested for hepatitis, syphilis, and HIV.
In Texas, Rolando Estrada, got one of those calls after his doctor used what he thought was a healthy cadaver ligament to repair Estrada's knee.
ROLANDO ESTRADA, STOLEN TISSUE RECIPIENT: And that's when it really sank in that I could have been exposed to something life- threatening, and that's kind of when I started getting really worried.
FEYERICK: Luckily, Estrada's tests came back negative, but his case is just one of many sparking fear and concern among thousands of people throughout the U.S. and Canada. And though processing companies insist that rigorous testing weeds out diseased body parts, in New Jersey, three people have tested positive for hepatitis and syphilis after receiving implants they believe came from Mastromarino's company.
Sandford Rubenstein is Bruno's attorney in a lawsuit against the New Jersey doctor, his partner, and the funeral home which handled his father's cremation.
SANFORD RUBENSTEIN, VITO BRUNO'S ATTORNEY: This is a double outrage. It's an outrage not just to the families who without consent saw their loved ones who were deceased, their body parts used in others, but it's an outrage to those people who received tissues.
FEYERICK: Dr. Todd Olson teaches anatomy at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In recent years has watched the corpse trade explode.
DR. TODD R. OLSON, ALBERT EINSTEIN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: It's the ideal, you know, capitalistic commodity here. You get for nothing, and all you are doing is charging for processing packing and shipping, storing, and disposing of it.
FEYERICK: Federal law prohibits the sale of any human body parts, but it does allow for go-betweens to be reimbursed for reasonable expenses. The problem is there are no limits as to what's considered reasonable and no paper trail to track the movement and there's little regulation or oversight.
OLSON: There are more laws that regulate shipping a head of lettuce into the state of California than there would be to ship a human head. I think the general public would be outraged if they knew the amount of money involved in this.
GALLUCI: You get a fee for procuring the blood sample, you get a fee for storing the tissue. And then you get a fee for shipping the tissue and that's it. That's the only money to be -- the only money transpired with the doctor is that.
FEYERICK (on camera): Can you get rich doing what the doctor is doing?
GALLUCI: Rich, no I don't think you can get rich.
FEYERICK (voice-over): In New York, investigators have begun the grisly task of digging up bodies from cemeteries like this one to see for themselves if bones, limbs and other body parts of missing. The funeral home which handled Michael Bruno's body denied any ties to the body snatching ring. Embalmer, Joseph Nicelli, and his attorney both denied a request for an interview. Vito Bruno, meanwhile, is left with anger and doubt.
(on camera): To think you'd actually make a business by illegally selling, illegally taking body parts.
BRUNO: Sounds like a bad movie. Doesn't it?
FEYERICK (voice-over): But it's not, it's a real-life bone snatching scam, which if proven, could expose the dark side of the death business. Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.
ZAHN: And Deborah just mentioned that former Masterpiece Theater host Alistair Cooke may have been a victim. He was 95 when he died in 2004. His cancerous bones were taken and may have been used for implants. And a short time ago, I spoke with his daughter, Susan Cooke Kittredge.
So tell me about the phone call you got from investigators informing you that your father's body had been sold for body parts.
SUSAN COOKE KITTREDGE, DAUGHTER OF ALISTAIR COOKE: All I can say is that I learned the meaning of the word dumbfounded. I was completely struck dumb and when I hung up the phone, I just sat slack jawed and stared into space. It was inconceivable that it could have happened.
ZAHN: Because you never signed any consent form at all.
KITTREDGE: Absolutely not. According to the investigators at the district attorney's office, Michael Mastromarino says that he telephoned me and spoke with me and I gave him verbal consent.
ZAHN: But you claim that never happened.
KITTREDGE: That never happened.
ZAHN: Susan, what were your father's expressed wishes for what he wanted to have happen to his body upon his death?
KITTREDGE: He wanted to be cremated.
ZAHN: And how do you think he would react to what has happened here?
KITTREDGE: He would be horrified. He would be completely -- his skin would crawl. He had a very weak stomach. And it would make him sick.
ZAHN: Because in fact your father died from cancer that had metastasized, so it was in his bones.
KITTREDGE: He had lung cancer.
ZAHN: And yet on these consent forms, it says that your father was not 95-years-old, that he was 85-years-old and that he died from a heart attack.
KITTREDGE: That's correct.
ZAHN: What do you think has to be implemented that would save other families from suffering what you've gone through?
KITTREDGE: The industry seems to be woefully underregulated, that there does not seem to be enough oversight to prevent this from happening. And it's my hope that in some way as this comes to light people will see the necessity for more stringent regulations and laws.
ZAHN: Well, Susan, I know this hasn't been easy for you it talk about this. We appreciate your joining us to tell us what you've been through.
KITTREDGE: Thank you very much.
ZAHN: Now, we asked Michael Mastromarino to respond to Susan's accusations about the alleged theft of her father's body parts. His attorney told us, quote, "Dr. Mastromarino denies any allegation that his company, Biomedical Tissue Services, violated any criminal law. Dr. Mastromarino looks forward to continuing his good work in the future, and hopes to receive the same headlines when his good name is cleared."
Moving on now, it was practically a top-secret operation. Some U.S. troops helped a tiny Iraqi girl get all the way out of Iraq to Georgia for a life-saving operation. You're going to meet her. What's the outlook for Baby Noor today? And how close will she ever come to a normal life?
And a bit little later on, did you remember to add a little something extra to the mail today?
ZAHN: Tonight a tiny Iraqi infant discovered several weeks ago by American troops is recovering in an Atlanta hospital. Just hours ago, a three-month-old girl, now known as Baby Noor, had the first in a series of operations to correct a potentially deadly birth defect.
Rusty Dornin has the story of the baby who captured the hearts of battle hardened soldiers.
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When the Georgia National Guard's men raided this Iraqi family's home, they were looking for insurgents, instead they found the baby with the irresistible smile and a heart breaking death sentence. Her name is Noor al-Zahra, the Arabic word for light.
When she was born, the doctor told the family of baby Noor she only had 45 days to live. But she had already lived more than two months. She has a severe form of spinal bifida, a birth defect in which the spinal column fails to completely close.
The U.S. soldiers decided they wanted to help. Lieutenant Jeff Morgan contacted a friend in Atlanta who enlisted the help of officials and an organization called Childspring International. Baby Noor would get a free operation to save her life.
But first they had to get the little girl out of Iraq. The family, whose faces are obscured for fear of reprisals, hid the baby and met the soldiers near their village under the cover of darkness not wanting others to know they were getting help from the U.S.
Baby Noor's journey from Iraq was shrouded in secrecy. Her arrival made headlines across America. The infant's grandmother and father came here for what may be a two month recovery period.
Today the first of possibly three surgeries at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. This one was to reposition her spinal cord and close the hole in her back.
DR. RODGER HUDGINS, NEUROLOGIST: Today's surgery did go very well. It was as difficult as I thought it was going to be because, again, this was not the time that we typically close a defect such as this.
DORNIN: Her family is staying in seclusion for now, and a spokesperson says they were very anxious but full of hope.
CHRISTINA PORTER, CHILDSPRING INTERNATIONAL: They were tears of joy. I wanted to share one thing that the grandmother did say, which was, shakra (ph) America, shakra.
DORNIN: It is Arabic for thank you. But while the first hurdle has been cleared, there are more to come.
HUDGINS: It does look like she's not going to be able to move her legs. That is she's going to be paraplegic.
DORNIN: The immediate concern is fluid buildup in her brain. Doctors will watch her closely and could possibly perform another surgery to drain the fluid as early as Wednesday. Her doctor now one of her greatest advocates say he and his staff are growing to love what they call a special baby.
HUDGINS: She looks you in the eye. She smiling now. She's cooing in the most delightful little way. It is my hope that she will be developmentally and mentally normal.
DORNIN: A hope now shared by many here and around the world.
Rusty Dornin, CNN, Atlanta.
ZAHN: And you just heard the team leader saying that today's operation is just the first of several surgeries Baby Noor will need. And we will continue to check in on her conditions in the days to come.
Coming up next, a real bargain. Where does a good deed only cost two cents? Stick around for the stamp samaritan and Jeanne Moos.
ZAHN: Well, the latest postal rate hike went from 37 cents to 39 cents. Well, it went into effect yesterday if you slept through it. It is taking a lot of us by surprise though, and if you're stuck for a stamp, not to worry.
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): If the postal rate increase caught you by surprise, a measly two cent exam featuring a Navajo necklace could save your neck.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got 200 of them. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need 45 stamps.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only eight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need ten, actually.
MOOS: We were called when the even lowlier one cent stamp was married to the 33 cent stamp a few postal increases ago. Not since that match up has there been such a rush on such a puny stamp.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came here last night. The line was out the door.
MOOS: But for those who didn't stand in line, who didn't make it to the stamp machine...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need 200 two cent stamps.
MOOS: We took up our post next to a Manhattan mailbox.
(on-camera): Excuse me, hold on did you put the right postage, 37 or 39? Oh, you need a stamp. The postage went up today. I am going to be your good samaritan.
(voice over): Never has a two cent gift been received with such appreciation.
(on-camera): See you got the wrong postage. Don't put that in there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, so do you any stamps? Wow. Thank God I ran into you. You're an angel.
MOOS: I'm a sort of postal angel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It went up.
MOOS: It went up, yes. Just call me the stamp fairy.
(voice over): Sure, charity is cheap for this stamp fairy. Two hundred two cent stamps cost us a mere four bucks.
(on-camera): No, that's not enough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know.
MOOS: Here I'm going to give you two cents. I'm with CNN. It is OK. Don't be afraid.
(voice over): But many were afraid.
(on-camera): Hold on, hold on, hold on. OK. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. Careful. Do you have enough postage?
(voice over): Would you mail a let in a mailbox with a stamp fairy perched atop. (on-camera): Wait a minute. It won't go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes it will.
MOOS (voice over): This desperate woman put two 37 cent stamps on her letter because she lacked a 2 cent stamp.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I just did this because it needs to go today.
MOOS (on-camera): Hold it sir. Do you have the right postage on that? Do you to need an extra two cents?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
MOOS: I can't even give these things away.
(voice over): Back in 1885, a two cent stamp alone was all you needed to send a letter. Some were so taken aback by the stamp fairy that they chose to ignore her.
(on-camera): Ma'am, are you sure you have the right postage? I'll be happy to give you some. No, but they are going to send those back to you.
(voice over): She'll be seeing those envelopes again marked return to sender. At least Elvis ended up on a stamp worth more than two cents.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
ZAHN: And with that we say good night. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.
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