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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Congress Investigates Dangers of Internet Pornography; Duke University Divided; AIDS Survivor in Legal Battle With Insurance Company; Why Did Mary Winkler Shoot Her Husband?

Aired April 4, 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, everyone. Glad to have you with us tonight.
A must-see story for any parent who worries about the dangers lurking on the Internet.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): Justin's story -- a victim of Internet pornography, with a chilling warning for all parents.

JUSTIN BERRY, SEXUAL PREDATOR VICTIM: I guarantee you, there are also children in your district on the Internet right now being contacted and seduced by online sexual predators.

And riveting testimony.

BERRY: More gifts and money arrived, along with increasingly explicit requests.

ZAHN: Is the law doing enough to protect your child from Internet dangers?

Aftermath.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have just never seen anything like it before in my life, ever.

ZAHN: After some of the most destructive storms in memory, the awful reality sets in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just gone. I have lived in that house since 1975.

ZAHN: Can Tennessee's tornado survivors ever rebuild what nature swept away?

And the "Eye Opener" -- payback. Investors bet she would die 10 years ago. Then, they threatened to stop paying for the drugs that keep her alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the moral equivalent of trying to tie her to the railroad tracks.

ZAHN: Tonight, one woman's incredible story of beating the odds. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: I have kids, and, like so many of you out there, I worry about what they do on the Internet. Well, what lawmakers heard on Capitol Hill today will make all of us worry even more.

If your children are online -- And whose aren't these days? -- child pornographers are hunting for them at this very minute. They will lie to your kids, offer them money, offer them gifts, and, ultimately, try to turn them into something just like Justin Berry.

Until last year he was an Internet porn star and became one at the age of 13. He told his story on Capitol Hill today. It was spellbinding.

And among those listening was our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Justin Berry was just 13 and lonely. He thought a webcam could help him meet other teenagers. That never happened.

JUSTIN BERRY, SEXUAL PREDATOR VICTIM: No teenager outside of the webcam pornography business ever contacted me. But I did hear from many child predators.

ARENA: Testifying before visibly uncomfortable member of Congress, the former honors student and class president told his shocking story.

BERRY: And one of these men approached me online with a proposal. He would pay me $50 if I took off my shirt for a few minutes while sitting in front of my webcam.

ARENA: To a 13-year-old, $50 is a lot of cash. Berry says the predator set up a PayPal account, an instant online payment system. More money and gifts followed. And the requests got more explicit.

BERRY: They wanted me to take off my pants, remove my underwear, and eventually masturbate on camera.

ARENA: Berry, like so many other children, felt safe because it was happening in the privacy of his own home. Experts say this type of child abuse is growing, and victims are getting younger.

Webcams cost as little as $20. And more than 15 million homes are equipped with one.

ERNIE ALLEN, PRESIDENT & CEO, INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN: Five percent of our confirmed child pornography reports have involved self-produced -- you know, produced by kids. Many of them are kids who are persuaded to do photos of themselves, and then it escalates. It's kind of an exploitation or a seduction scenario. We think moms and dads ought to be concerned about it.

ARENA: Justin Berry says it was easy to hide his activities from his mother. Her use of the latest child-protective software proved no match for pedophiles. Eventually, the online molestation turned physical.

BERRY: I had become exactly what my members viewed me to be, what their degrading conversations convinced me I was, a piece of meat, for sale to the highest bidder.

ARENA: At the urging of a "New York Times" reporter investigating child porn, Berry finally went to authorities. Now 19, he says he provided the names of 1,500 men he claims gave him money and gifts for his sexual performances. Only one has been arrested.

Berry accuses the Justice Department of dragging its feet while it decided whether to grant him immunity for selling sex.

BERRY: I cannot describe the agony of that time. Each night, I wondered, were the children I knew being molested that night?

ARENA: Justice officials won't comment on the ongoing investigation, but say the department uses every resource available to quickly protect and remove children who are being exploited from dangerous situations.

As for Justin Berry, he's getting his life together, and, believe it or not, is pursuing a career in computers.

BERRY: I love it. Computers are wonderful. Computers are great. You just have to know how to use them and who's on the other side of them and get your safety facts right.

ARENA: Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And, as Justin Berry testified on Capitol Hill today, we couldn't help but notice how everyone within earshot stopped to listen, the lawmakers, the people at the hearing. Anyone who happened to be near a TV set found Justin's story absolutely riveting.

That's why we're going to let you hear more of it. We pick up now with Justin telling lawmakers about his first interaction with sexual predators, people who, at the time, he thought were his friends.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERRY: My new friends were kinder and more generous to me than anyone I had ever known. I trusted them. And that's when everything had changed.

One afternoon, a few weeks after setting up my webcam, one of these men approached me online with a proposal. He would pay me $50 if I took off my shirt for a few minutes while sitting in front of my webcam.

Taking off my shirt seemed harmless. I did it at the pool. The money arrived, and I took off my shirt. My viewers complimented me, and it felt good.

The weeks that followed are a blur, but I now understand that, by removing my shirt, I signaled that I would be manipulated. More gifts and money arrived, along with increasingly explicit requests. They wanted me to take off my pants, remove my underwear and eventually masturbate on camera.

The seduction was slow. Each request only went a bit further than the last, and the horror of what was happening didn't strike me at that time.

I wish I could say I hated what was happening. Perhaps that would absolve some of my sense of guilt, but the truth is, I did not. As more clothes came off, more people contacted me. The compliments were endless, the gifts and payments terrific. I thought I had achieved online what alluded me in real life. I was popular. Everyone wanted to know my thoughts. Everyone wanted to give me things. I was the king of my own universe.

By this time, I had formalized my webcam business. I had opened a site called JustinsCam.com, where child predators could come and watch and offer me money and gifts to do what they wanted.

After my first molestation, I began to act out sexually. I was reckless. Part of me wanted to die. And every day, on camera, part of me did.

But this is one of the issues I wish to stress. Webcams and instant-messaging give predators power over children. The predators become part of that child's life. Whatever warnings the child may have heard about meeting strangers, these people are no longer strangers. They have every advantage. It is the standard seduction of child predators multiplied on a geometric scale.

I no longer cared about anything other than getting as much money as possible. But when another teenager in my own town found the videos from my Web site and distributed them to my classmates, I felt compelled to leave. My father lived in Mexico. I wanted to establish a relationship with him.

My mother said I could visit him for a week. My weeklong visit to Mexico was extended again and again.

At one point, my father asked where all my money was coming from. I told him about my business. And he offered, in his words, to help maximize the earning potential. I had already established a new site called MexicoFriends.com, which featured me engaging in sex with Mexican women.

My father helped by hiring prostitutes for me to have sex with on camera. The number of members -- of paid members skyrocketed. I was 16 years old. I became even more self-destructive. I abused marijuana terribly and consumed so much cocaine that I'm amazed I survived. My life was a swirl of drugs, money and sex.

Just after my 18th birthday, I tried to leave the business. Money was still coming in from MexicoFriends, but I wanted nothing to do with it. I used it to purchase clothes and other items for homeless people in California. I rented a truck and delivered the materials myself. I was looking for my own redemption. But I failed.

I resisted for months, but I could not find my way in the old -- in the real world anymore. Depressed and high on drugs every day, I agreed to return to porn. The site was fully operational in June of 2005.

That same month, I met Kurt Eichenwald, a "New York Times" reporter who was working on a story about webcam pornography. He urged me to quit drugs and get out of the business. And I did.

He asked for my help in exposing this world, and I agreed. When I told him of the other children who were being exploited and molested by adult men, he convinced me it was important to tell law enforcement what I knew. I agreed, even though I feared this meant that I could be sent to prison.

I believed that the government would protect the children being abused. I believed they would act quickly. I was wrong.

I have watched as my former members go online to attack me, boldly proclaim -- proclaiming themselves as my former customers, and having no fear that their self-disclosure could result in their arrest. And events have proved them right.

Since I left the child pornography business last summer, I have risked everything to get -- to get to tell these facts to persons who care, like this committee. It is my hope that Congress will do everything it can to see to it that children are protected, and that our law enforcement effort is competent to combat this evil.

Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: That was Justin Berry's amazing story, as told to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

So, all of us are left with two big questions. Why isn't more being done to catch the predators, and how can we protect our own kids?

Kurt Eichenwald can help answer both of those. He's the "New York Times" reporter Justin just mentioned, who he says helped turn his life around.

Good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us. You're a parent. I'm a parent. It is absolutely terrifying to hear what happened to Justin, and, yet, we also heard him say that his mother did some pretty responsible things. She took his computer keyboard away from him from time to time. She also put protective hardware on his computer. What else could she have done to have stopped this?

KURT EICHENWALD, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": The -- the -- the problem here is that, once a child ends up in the clutches of these predators, there is very little that can be done, if the child isn't telling the truth.

I mean, Justin had 1,500 people, 1,500 men, who were dedicated to making sure that the show kept going. And, when you have one parent vs. 1,500 other adults who are offering strategies, who are offering money, who are offering the means to make sure that this pornography keeps being made, it is very -- it is a very, very difficult challenge, and one that I think very few of your viewers would -- would be up to meeting.

ZAHN: And have you found that it was just as easy for other kids to get sucked in, the way it was for Justin, who happened to be an honors student, a really well-respected kid?

EICHENWALD: There were -- there are hundreds and hundreds of kids. I found, on a single marketing site -- there are actually marketing sites for these webcam child pornography sites.

On a single marketing site, I found 600 teenage sites listed.

ZAHN: Wow.

EICHENWALD: Those are the kids who are doing it for pay. There are other kids who are just tricked into it. They have a webcam, and someone pretends to be a girl or a boy, and -- and they are doing a little sexual exploration online. And they don't realize that the person on the other end is, in fact, an adult trying to make a recording for sale to a pornographic Web site.

ZAHN: But it sounds like a -- a really good start would be to take these webcams away from your kids. We just heard one of those legal authorities say there's some 50 million of these on computers all over the country.

EICHENWALD: There -- there is no reason for -- that I can think of for a kid to have a webcam. Webcams themselves have got to be thought of like guns or alcohol.

If you need to have them in the house, you need to be very careful about them. Maybe your kid has a reason. Maybe your kid knows somebody who is stationed over in Iraq, and it makes sense to have a webcam. Well, when that conversation is going to take place, you break it out, you give to it the kid, and you supervise it.

Otherwise, I can't see of any reason that any child in this country should have a webcam. I can't see any reason why any home in this country should have a webcam that is not being supervised very aggressively.

ZAHN: That is very good advice for us all. As we all know, we can't maintain 24-hour-a-day control over our children.

Kurt Eichenwald, thank you so much...

EICHENWALD: Thank...

ZAHN: ... for joining us tonight.

EICHENWALD: Thanks for having me.

ZAHN: My pleasure.

Now, in today's hearings on Internet porn, other witnesses warned lawmakers about an even newer danger out there. They are called social networking Web sites, online hot spots where young people are meeting one another. And the sexual predators know all about them.

For a look now at what authorities are doing to catch the predators, technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg takes us "Beyond the Headlines" tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our suspect is supposed to arrive in a green shirt. So, it is looking good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he's getting out. We will get a good look at him right now.

DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A police stakeout in Laguna Beach, California. Officers prepare to take down their suspect. They say 24-year-old Fernando Guerin Jr. (ph) is attempting to lure a 13-year-old girl to this playground for sex.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he starts walking through the park or something, we will take him down.

SERGEANT DARIN LENYI, LAGUNA BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT: "I just wanna kiss you right now and lick you, snible you up and down from head to toe."

SIEBERG: Sergeant Darin Lenyi reads one example of the language allegedly used by his suspect on the messenger program Yahoo chat. Much of it is too explicit for this program.

He shows us what is believed to be Guerin's (ph) page on the popular social networking site MySpace. And he shows us several naked photos he claims Guerin (ph) e-mailed to his chat buddy.

So, how does Sergeant Lenyi know about all this? Well, it is an Internet sting operation. And the Laguna Beach P.D. has planned a number of them in the past several months.

This surveillance video is from another operation that netted 13 arrests in one night. One suspect arrives with a single red rose for his underage date. Officers are waiting inside to arrest each one, a pharmaceutical technician, a Starbucks manager, an engineer, even a lieutenant with the California Highway Patrol.

All are formally charged with attempt to child molest and are in the process of being arraigned.

The citizens group Perverted-Justice.com creates phony profiles of underage kids to see if anyone will take the bait, complete with cultural references and Internet lingo. Working with all levels of law enforcement, they claim to have busted several dozen pedophiles since 2004.

"FRAG," PERVERTED-JUSTICE. COM: We have caught doctors, lawyers, cops, firefighters, teachers, social workers, you know, really all walks of life.

One of the predators actually had to find a baby-sitter for his 13-year-old daughter, so he could come over and molest someone else's 13-year-old daughter.

SIEBERG: To circumvent the arbitrary minimum 14-year age requirement on some sites, Perverted Justice volunteers simply make up another number. It is something any child could do.

"DEL HARVEY," PERVERTED-JUSTICE. COM: She puts 113, obviously not being 113, and, down below, clarifies, for anybody who could have missed it, that she's not 113. She's 13.

SIEBERG (on camera): OK.

(voice-over): MySpace says that while it can't prevent all fraud, the company has deleted more than 200,000 underage profiles to date. And one warning on the safety tips page reads, "If you're under 14, go away."

"Frag" and "Del," not their real names, of course, say they never initiate the conversations, but, rather, wait to be contacted. Then they and their volunteers engage in chat sessions and, whenever it is requested, allow the person to call them on the phone. Adult members of Perverted Justice who sound underage pick up the line.

Here is a sample conversation. And it is disturbing.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How old are you?

UNIDENTIFIED PERVERTED JUSTICE MEMBER: Twelve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You sound pretty cute.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED PERVERTED JUSTICE MEMBER: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, what are you up to?

UNIDENTIFIED PERVERTED JUSTICE MEMBER: Nothing really. Talking to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're -- you're, like, horny, aren't you?

UNIDENTIFIED PERVERTED JUSTICE MEMBER: I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're so cute.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SIEBERG: And when these phone or cyber-exchanges move into the real world, the authorities can act.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And let us know where he's going.

SIEBERG (on camera): The folks at Perverted Justice have worked for about a week with the Laguna Beach Police Department to set up this stakeout operation here at a park, where the 13-year-old girl says she's going to show up, after playing hooky from school today.

(voice-over): But rather than a teenage girl waiting on this playground...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turn around. Drop your Beanie. All right, partner, you're under arrest for attempted molestation of a minor.

SIEBERG: Police search Guerin's (ph) car and find condoms and a digital camera, which, based on his alleged chat, Guerin (ph) was going to use to take dirty pictures.

He has since has been charged with attempt to child molest and sending lewd pictures to a minor by the Orange County district attorney. He's being held on $100,000 bail and faces up to four years in prison. The public defender's office declined comment.

LENYI: Obviously, if this was a real 13-year-old chatting with this individual, it -- it is robbing some innocence from that child. So, it is rewarding that we made this happen and no harm did come to a -- a 13-year-old little girl.

SIEBERG: A deterrent for anyone who attempts to contact a teenager online: That curious and chatty child may actually be wearing a badge.

Daniel Sieberg, CNN, Laguna Beach, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: There's also this to report tonight: For some time now, there has been an effort to make Internet porn sites easier to identify and block by replacing the dot-com part of the Web addresses with a double -- triple-X. But now the international commission that oversees the Internet has just given up on that idea. A lot of people complained that dot-xxx won't just make porn easier to identify. They say it will also make it easier to find.

Before we move on, let's check in with Larry King, who will be talking to Justin Berry, the young man who you just saw testifying today in Congress about unwittingly becoming an online porn star.

What a tragic story, Larry. As a parent, when you see that his mother took about just about basically every precaution you could take, and look how this kid, an honors student, still got lured into this.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": It's unbelievable to think that there -- there have to be hundreds of thousands of people walking around manipulating people.

They may be your next-door neighbor. They may be the guy across the street. They may be the mailman doing things like this. I mean, these appear to be ordinary people -- and I know -- another thing, I know Kurt said -- he will be with us, along with Justin Berry -- how -- how can you ban these, Paula? How can -- how can you possibly ban them?

ZAHN: Well, a lot of very pointed questions we all need to address. And I guess, if there's one good thing to come out of this, all of us that are parents will be more alert to what our kids are doing on computers these days.

KING: I will tell you, he -- he was an extraordinary witness, wasn't he?

ZAHN: Oh, my God. It was just chilling to watch.

KING: Extraordinary for a 19-year-old to go through that history and to -- to -- the things he went through, and willingly went through...

ZAHN: Yes.

KING: ... and enjoyed going through a lot of it.

ZAHN: Yes, only because he hopes...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... at the other end, he's going to save a lot of kids the pain he has endured along the way.

Larry, see you at the top of the hour. Thanks.

KING: OK, Paula. Thanks.

ZAHN: We are going to move on now, too. As the death toll climbs from this weekend's tornadoes, why is one funeral director facing a terrible dilemma?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jason Carroll.

Allegations of a rape here at Duke University is exposing deep divisions involving race and class, both on and off campus. I will have the complete story coming up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Also, new drugs are helping AIDS patients live longer than anyone expected. So, who would see that as a problem? How about the insurance companies? An investigation for you tonight.

But now on to our countdown of the top 10 stories on CNN.com, 18 million of you logging on today.

Coming in at number 10, Iran unveils another new weapon, which it says can evade radar. It claims the surface-to-sea missile is launched from a boat and is designed to sink ships. Last week, Iran announced it had tested a missile that can hit several targets at once.

Number nine -- in France today, more than a million people marched in the streets in another day of protests against a new labor law. In Paris, nearly 400 people were arrested during clashes with police -- numbers eight and seven on our countdown right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: DNA tests on 46 members of the Duke University lacrosse team could be finished some time this week, but prosecutors are now saying it will be at least another week before anyone is charged in the shocking rape case that has outraged people in Durham, North Carolina.

A black stripper's allegation of being raped by several white Duke players at a party has torn the community apart and led to almost daily protests, both at Duke and at the college the accuser attends.

Jason Carroll just filed this report for us tonight from Durham.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice-over): There is anger and hurt at North Carolina Central University, where students held a vigil for one of their fellow students who they believe was a victim of rape and a hate crime.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We come here today to represent against domestic violence.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: All rapists must go!

CARROLL: The demonstrations continue here, too, at Duke University -- students from both schools protesting in support of a young black woman, an NCCU student and an exotic dancer, who says three Duke lacrosse players, all white, raped her, and shouted racial slurs, after hiring her and a friend to work at a party for the team.

The woman's father, who didn't want to be identified or talk specifics about his daughter's case, says he's grateful to many.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just thank everybody at the school for the support.

CARROLL: He spoke briefly about his daughter's condition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's hanging in there. And she's doing OK.

CARROLL (on camera): She's hanging in there, doing OK.

The DNA results are not in. And no one has been charged. But, already, the allegations have had a major impact on Durham by raising longstanding suspicions here about racism and the belief that there are two separate worlds operating here side by side, the predominantly white, privileged world of Duke University, and the black, economically depressed area surrounding it.

(voice-over): Students at NCCU say, the case shows how people from both worlds are treated differently.

DENNIS SCOTT, STUDENT, NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL UNIVERSITY: If it was a flip-flopped world, let's say one of -- one of our athletic teams had did something to someone on, you know, their team, I think it -- the results and turnout would have been completely different.

DAVIDA SACKEY, STUDENT, NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL UNIVERSITY: I think they will be punished, but not as severely as it would be if they were black.

CARROLL: The debate has even divided Duke administrators, pitting one of the school's English professors against the university's provost.

HOUSTON BAKER JR., PROFESSOR, DUKE UNIVERSITY: There is a culture of white, elite, violent, drunken privilege. I don't think this is unknown at Yale. I don't this is unknown at Cornell. I don't think it's unknown at Duke University.

CARROLL: Professor Houston Baker Jr. says, the university should have had a tougher response to the lacrosse team. He wrote an open letter to administrators, saying, "There can be no confidence in an administration that believes suspending a lacrosse season and removing pictures of Duke lacrosse players from a Web page is a dutifully moral response."

The provost shot back with his own letter saying, "I cannot tell you how disappointed, saddened and appalled I was to receive this letter from you." He called Baker's letter an act of prejudgment.

Joe Cheshire, an attorney representing one of the players, says, the men have been vilified, mainly by the district attorney, who he says is playing to people's fears.

JOSEPH CHESHIRE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The prosecutor has gone so far past his ethical duty, and in -- in -- in -- as I said before, in pandering to the racial aspects of the community, the class aspects of the community, the gender aspects of the community.

CARROLL: Cheshire says there may have been drinking violations that night at the lacrosse house, but nothing else.

CHESHIRE: It wasn't racially motivated. It wasn't a rape. It wasn't a gang rape. It wasn't a rape. It was no sexual assault. And, so, that is untrue.

CARROLL: And Cheshire says, despite what critics say, the team should not be penalized for remaining silent.

A mother of one of the lacrosse players, who didn't want her name used, says, some of them do want to talk, but have been advised not to by their lawyers. She says: "We're proud to be associated with these boys and this team. I can't wait for all this to be over. It's a horribly painful time for the players" -- and for many of the students at Duke, who are experiencing increased tension between themselves and the surrounding community.

Police had to increase patrols after a threat of a drive-by shooting at the lacrosse home. Duke students of different races say they debate the issue pretty much the same way they traditionally socialize between themselves and the surrounding community. Police had to increase patrols after a threat of a drive-by shooting at the lacrosse home. Duke students of different races say they debate the issue pretty much the same way they traditionally socialize on campus, separately.

(on camera): Is there a lot of interaction between people of different ethnicities at this school? Do you see that or are people kind of -- you're shaking your head. No?

ASHLEY ARTIS, DUKE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: No. You see some cases of integrated groups of friends, but for the most part the campus and the students are very self-segregated.

CHARLES DEL DOTTO, DUKE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: I think it will be a long time before the racial tensions within the university and between the university and the surrounding Durham community will be in any way really significantly eased.

CARROLL (voice-over): For now, that may be one of the few points people of all walks of life here can agree on.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: And those DNA test results could be back by Monday. The defense attorney that we spoke to says he's looking forward to seeing those test results. And he believes a lot of well-intentioned people will be embarrassed when they see them. We'll have to wait and see -- Paula? ZAHN: And we will. From here, Jason Carroll, thanks so much for the update.

Now in parts of Tennessee tonight, families are looking for anything that is left of their homes, and wondering what to do with the rest of their lives. How is one man trying to carry on despite a loss few of us can imagine?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Deborah Feyerick in Philadelphia. Imagine if the company tried cutting off your health insurance just when you needed it most? Hear how one woman is fighting back. That's coming up on PAULA ZAHN NOW

ZAHN: Now No. 8 in our CNN.com countdown. Flooding in northern California after two levees give away; rain has saturated the region for the past month and is expected to continue over the next 10 days.

And seven, the killing of Denis Donaldson, a former senior member of northern Ireland's Sinn Fein political party who admitted that he had been a spy for the British government. Sinn Fein supports the Irish Republican army, which denied any involvement in Donaldson's death.

No. 6 and five, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Tonight, more than a dozen people still in critical condition after the vicious storms and tornadoes that tore through eight states Sunday night. The violent weather took 28 lives and wiped out more than 1,000 buildings. Most of the destruction and death was in Tennessee. And that's where Jonathan Freed joins us tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At first glance, you might think they're preparing to build a new housing subdivision, clearing the area, pouring foundations. But in fact, this is all that's left of this neighborhood and many others in northern Tennessee after Sunday's tornado wiped the homes away.

Of the 24 people confirmed dead in the state, eight of them were from Gibson County and four of them are from Larry Taylor's family. His son, daughter-in-law and their two young boys.

LARRY TAYLOR, LOST FAMILY IN STORM: I thought one of them might, you know, survive, just been hurt. But I knew they was gone.

FREED: He says the bodies were found 800 yards from the house. Taylor's loss would be hard enough for anyone, but he's also the only funeral director in the small town of Bradford. And he's determined to prepare the funerals himself.

TAYLOR: My boys, my grand boys and my daughter-in-law, all dead. I'm sorry. FREED: Tennessee's governor Phil Bredesen flew along the path cut by the twister, taking in some 20 miles of destroyed homes and businesses and wrecked lives. He called the experience sobering.

(on camera): How does it help you? How does seeing the damage firsthand help you in deciding what measures to take in the aftermath?

PHIL BREDESEN, GOVERNOR, TENNESSEE: I always think it's important to get out and try to learn things firsthand. To be honest, to come on a day like today, it's as much trying to talk to some of the people who are the survivors.

FREED (voice-over): After a storm like this, unfortunately, no shortage of people to comfort. Jonathan Freed, CNN, Newbern, Tennessee.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: The numbers are pretty staggering. Since the year began there have been 355 tornadoes reported in the U.S. the most for the first three months of the year since 1999. Many of them showing that kind of heartbreak you just witnessed.

We have found a woman who's in a disturbing and unusual fight. Why is her insurance company trying to cut off her medicine? Could it be for profit?

And were there any clues that things just weren't right with a minister and his wife? Police say his wife has now confessed to killing her husband but why won't anyone explain why?

But now No. 6 in our CNN.com countdown. A mystery in Connecticut, the fatal stab of a real estate developer whose body was found in his Greenwich home. Police say the crime was not a random act nor the result of a burglary.

No. 5, the 2006 hurricane season may not be as intense as last year's. Forecasters at Colorado State University say they expect 17 named storms, nine of which will become hurricane. 2005 saw a record, 27 named storms, 15 were hurricanes. No. 4 on our list, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: So if you were finding a terrible illness and someone tried to cut off your health coverage you'd fight like crazy to stop them, right? You're about to meet a woman waging that battle. It's all because of a morbid deal she made years ago with investors who were actually betting that she'd die fast and they'd cash in in the process. But they were wrong. Here's Deborah Feyerick with tonight's "Eye Opener."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FEYERICK (voice-over): M. Smith lives with a dark secret. She has AIDS, a disease she contracted years ago from an ex-boyfriend.

M. SMITH: It was mind numbing.

FEYERICK: Diagnosed at age 35, she told only her very closest friends, asking us to shield her identity and voice for this story. With little money and even less hope, Smith saw an ad, a company offering to buy life insurance policies from terminally ill people.

(on camera): Why did it make sense to you?

SMITH: It made sense to me at the time because, frankly, people were -- the prognosis was grim. I was supposedly going to have less than two years to live.

FEYERICK (voice-over): It seemed like a good deal. Life Partners would buy Smith's $150,000 policy for $90,000. Then when she died, investors would collect the full value, making $60,000 in profit. An astonishing 66 percent return if Smith died within two years as expected. But something unexpected happened.

Smith, who also had cancer, beat the odds. She did not die on time and that was more than a dozen years ago. In fact, because the company had signed a unique deal agreeing to pay her combined life and health insurance premiums, it has shelled out close to $100,000 keeping her alive.

FEYERICK (on camera): So they knew the terms under which they were buying this policy.

SMITH: Absolutely. Yes, they did. Because that was the only way they could buy it. So they decided to do that, yes.

FEYERICK (voice-over): But investors have grown antsy. Several years ago a stranger, supposedly calling on their behalf, twice reached Smith at home to ask how she was feeling. His message --

SMITH: The investors were unhappy because -- he didn't say because you're not dead yet, but that was the implication.

FEYERICK: Then came the letters from Life Partners, the first one saying, quote, "The investors are no longer willing to support the cost of your health insurance." Another more recent letter demanding Smith pay her own health premiums.

JACOB COHN, LAWYER: They took a risk, they made a deal that had that risk built into it.

FEYERICK: Smith's lawyer Jacob Cohn says, plain and simple, Life Partners is trying to wiggle out of its contract.

(on camera): Let me play devil's advocate for a minute. They're saying, look, we have a right. It was an investment, it was a bad investment. We're done, we're out. We don't want to pay her premiums. Can you understand from a business point of view?

COHN: I understand why people like to make money and people don't like to lose money. To me, this is the moral equivalent of trying to tie her to the railroad tracks. SMITH: It would have been devastating to me because the medicines are vital.

FEYERICK: Life Partners was created in 1991 when dying of AIDS was essentially a sure bet. But then came the so-called AIDS cocktails, powerful drug combinations that keep disease at bay.

RONDA GOLDFEIN, LAWYER M. SMITH: From the early '90s, people were dying. They would get diagnosed. There wasn't any good treatment and they would die. In the midst of all that sorrow, there's this revolution in AIDS care and people are living longer.

FEYERICK: And that was the problem for Life Partners. This past September, the company said it was not obligated to pay Smith's health insurance premiums, accusing Smith's lawyer of threatening frivolous litigation.

But after a court hearing this winter, the company president did sign an affidavit saying indeed there was a contractual obligation and that they would pay Smith's premiums, which are now up to $29,000 a year.

(on camera): Life Partners has said, fine, we will pay. Why is that not good enough for you?

COHN: They're not to be trusted.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Smith, who is now 50, is suing to force the company to guarantee they'll keep paying or give her a lump sum so she'll have the peace of mind she needs to keep her body healthy.

(on camera): What happens, let's say, if you live to 70? or 80?

SMITH: Great thing. It will be incredible.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Especially when you consider that the man who infected her died 20 years ago. Deborah Feyerick, CNN, Philadelphia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Smith's case, as it turns out, to be the tip of the iceberg for Life Partners. Government filings show the company is starting to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars covering premiums on policies they signed before 1998.

Still ahead tonight, I'll be talking with a defense team for the preacher's wife accused of murdering her husband. What can they tell us the defense strategy and their client's state of mind?

And then at the top of the hour, "LARRY KING LIVE." Justin Berry. We heard his testimony before Congress today. How did he escape the world of Internet child pornography and how can you keep your own kids safe?

Time to check on number four in our CNN.com countdown. Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was today charged for the first time with genocide. Hussein and six co-defendants will stand trial for a campaign that led to the deaths of 100,000 Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s.

Number three, indicted former House majority leader Tom DeLay will leave Congress and drop his bid for reelection. The once powerful Texas Republican is battling state money laundering charges.

Number two on our list right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: We've got some breaking news for you now. Our top story tonight was about child pornography. Ironically this story has just come in. Brian J. Doyle, a deputy press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, was arrested in Maryland tonight on charges of using the computer to seduce a child and transmitting harmful materials to a minor.

A Polk County, Florida, sheriff's department statement says Doyle contacted a 14-year-old girl whose profile was posted on the Internet, then allegedly had explicit conversations with her and allegedly sent her hardcore movie clips. The girl was actually an undercover agent. Stay with CNN for more on this story.

Meanwhile, tonight's "Outside the Law" segment, the continuing mystery of Mary Winkler. She happens to be the wife of a popular Tennessee preacher who police say now has confessed to fatally shooting her husband Matthew in the back more than two weeks ago.

No one, not police, not anyone who knows her, seems to be able to say why it happened. So we'll ask two people who must know why to be able to defend her in court: Steve Farese and Leslie Ballin are Mary Winkler's defense attorneys. They both join us tonight from Memphis to discuss a case that remains tonight, a very big mystery.

Gentlemen, thanks for joining us. So Steve, I know you've had a number of conversations with Mary Winkler. What has she told you about why she killed her husband?

STEVE FARESE, WINKLER DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We haven't gotten to the actual event yet. We've had four or five visits with Mary. And each time we're trying to peel a layer off her fort that she's built around herself concerning this event.

ZAHN: Who do you think she's trying to protect by not caving in to your questions?

FARESE: She's trying to protect someone or something. We don't know yet. But it's clear to all of us that have seen her and talked to her, that she is in the protective mode.

ZAHN: All right, but Leslie, we've heard a couple of theories put out by your own team, one that she was suffering from postpartum depression and the other that she killed her husband out of self defense. LESLIE BALLIN, WINKLER DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, what we have seen is we've got an unusual situation, just a nice, nice person charged with a horrific crime. And we're trying to look for explanations to answer that question, why.

ZAHN: But you wouldn't have put those theories out there, would you, had there not been some truth to either one of those?

BALLIN: Our involvement in this case is very, very recent. As Steve has related to you, this is an individual who is -- I don't know. She's got a shell built around her. We're trying to get inside that shell and find out about Mary Carol and just what led up to the event last week.

ZAHN: But Steve, since we've heard your team floating these ideas, can you confirm tonight that postpartum depression is something you're looking into and perhaps an act of self defense is something that you're investigating?

FARESE: Well, certainly we're looking into postpartum syndrome due to the fact that she had a one-year-old child and due to the fact that she has obviously completely acted out of character.

Now, these things that we're accused of floating, we haven't floated anything. People have asked, what are various defenses? And we said well hypothetically you could have accidental shootings, unintentional shootings and so on.

ZAHN: Were you aware if this couple was having any marital problems?

FARESE: We're getting into that. And we're aware that there were some problems.

ZAHN: And when you say some problems, can you characterize for us tonight what they were?

FARESE: I can't, Paula, I wish I could.

ZAHN: All right, gentlemen, well we appreciate you're tell us what you can tonight. Steve -- did I say your name right, Farese?

FARESE: It's Farese, but that's OK.

ZAHN: Farese -- OK, we got it close. I'll nail it next time. And Leslie Ballin, thank you for your time, gentlemen.

Thing were looking up on Wall Street today. Here is Erica Hill with our "Headline News Business Break."

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

ZAHN: Now on to No. 2 in our CNN.com breakdown. The Broadway play starring Julia Roberts has earned nearly $1 million in the first week alone. The Oscar-winning actress is making her Broadway debut in "Three Days of Rain." We'll have No. 1 on the countdown right out of the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: We leave you with No. 1 on our CNN.com countdown. Two House Republicans have now introduced a resolution to show support for the Capitol Police force after a confrontation between an officer and Democratic Representative Cynthia McKinney. And that wraps it up for all of us here tonight, thanks so much for being with us. We will be back, same time, same place tomorrow night. Again, have a good night. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.

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