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Search for Missing New Jersey College Student In Pennsylvania Landfill; Missing Groom`s Family Share Views on Investigation
Aired April 12, 2006 - 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: a New Jersey college student vanishes from his dorm room, the only clue, a trace of blood found in and around the dorm dumpster. But was evidence literally thrown out with the trash?
And tonight, the family of the so-called missing groom, the 26-year- old who disappeared from a lavish honeymoon cruise, fires back. Why did the ship`s captain declare the disappearance an accident? Is it part of a cruise ship industry cover-up? The family is with us tonight.
Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. Tonight, mystery or murder at sea? Twenty-six- year-old George Smith, the missing groom on his honeymoon, never seen alive again. The controversy goes on. Tonight, his family furious over an alleged cruise ship cover-up.
But first tonight, a teenage college student disappears from his Jersey dormitory room. Were vital clues thrown out with the trash?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really makes me, like, really nervous, you know, to know that, I mean, something definitely happened to him and to know that it was his blood.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Waste comes into the landfill every day. It`s covered with six inches of topsoil. As far as locating where a load is dumped, we have a tracking system.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a horrific event, whatever the outcome, because what the students are going through is something that none of us would want to go through at any point in their lives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very little. We don`t really know what`s going on, so (INAUDIBLE) a lot of -- means more questions are going to arise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Let`s go straight out to New Jersey, reporter with 101.5 radio Martin Dicaro. Martin, tell me the latest. This search has been going on and on. Do we have any further clues?
MARTIN DICARO, NJ 101.5: Well, nothing has been found so far in that Tullytown, Pennsylvania, landfill, where state police say they are extremely confident they will find what they are looking for. Sources have told us for the first time since the search began at that landfill about 12 days ago, they are finding trash from the Trenton-Ewing (ph) area in Mercer County, New Jersey -- junk mail, envelopes with Trenton addresses on them.
On the day investigators believe John Fiocco was dumped in that landfill, 6,500 tons of trash were also dumped there. But of that 6,500 tons, only a fraction came from the College of New Jersey. But thanks for the information provided by Waste Management officials -- Waste Management, Incorporated, which runs the landfill -- and the fact that they`re now finding garbage from the Trenton area, they finally believe that, as one police spokesman says, it`s like looking for a needle in a haystack, but they know where the haystack is.
GRACE: OK, Martin Dicaro, it was my understanding that the trash from that Jersey dormitory could be in one of three landfills, including the Grose (ph) landfill, the Tullytown landfill and one other. So how is it now suddenly decided that if he is, in fact, thrown out with the trash, it would be the Tullytown?
DICARO: Well, state police are contradicting some published reports that they were ready to go search the second landfill, the Grose landfill in Morrisville, Pennsylvania. They`re now saying that, based on information they have from Waste Management and the fact that they`re finding Trenton-area garbage, Trenton-area envelopes, that they are -- no plans at this time -- they have no plans at this time...
DICARO: ... to search the second landfill. They`re confident that if the remains are to be found, they will find them in Tullytown.
GRACE: Well, it`s just very disturbing to me, Martin Dicaro -- everyone, Martin on the case from the get-go. We`re talking a teenage college student who went missing from his dormitory room after a night of partying with his friends. He was last seen going to sleep in the friend`s room right down the hall from his own dorm room, his shoes still left right there at the bed in the dorm room. Only thing missing, him.
You know, I just wonder how much time we lost, Martin Dicaro, while they were trying to figure out where the trash goes. You`d think that authorities know where the trash is dumped and there would have been no confusion. How many days did we lose trying to figure out where the trash went?
DICARO: Well, the Monday after the Saturday John was last seen, state police, through normal investigative procedures, when they arrived on campus, found blood in the dumpster. They immediately sought to ascertain where that trash had been taken. When they found out that it was at these landfills, they contacted Waste Management officials, and they had those sites secured. So no additional garbage was dumped on those sites. It took three days to confirm the blood was John Fiocco`s at the state police crime lab in Hamilton, New Jersey. Once they found that, yes, indeed, this was his blood, they went to the landfills and began their search.
GRACE: Oh! So if there was any chance this kid was still alive, it was way over by the time they finally got to the correct landfill.
Here is what the prosecution had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this juncture, all you have -- you have no body, no person, you have blood that has been confirmed to be that of John Fiocco. Anybody who`s drawing conclusions from that are speculating on their own. We don`t know the basis of how the blood got into the dumpster.
You know, this is not a homicide case investigation at this juncture. We do not know exactly what happened to John Fiocco. We will confirm, at this point, that the blood samples that were taken were in the vicinity of the dumpster and from within the dumpster.
The logical progression of that information is to follow the material that may or may not have been in that dumpster, where it was processed, and ultimately, where it was tipped. It`s our information that the material is transported from the College of New Jersey and is moved to Pennsylvania.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: And tonight, regarding this missing teen college student, stunning developments in the case. Number one, the good news is they believe they`ve isolated the correct landfill in which they are looking. More developments -- was his wallet found in the trash? Conflicting reports on that between the media and the police.
And number two, it`s my understanding -- to Pat Lalama, investigative reporter -- that the people that handled the trash at the dormitory actually saw blood in and around the trash platform, the dumpster, for two days, and never said anything! Didn`t say a word until they were point- blank asked, We`re investigating the disappearance of a young man, a teen, honors student, great kid, athlete, the works. Do you know anything? And they went, Oh, yes, we saw some blood. Took them two days, Pat!
PAT LALAMA, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Nancy, we talk all the time about how time is so critical in solving these kinds of things. And number one, you have the roommate who called, what would it be, like, Sunday afternoon to the campus police, or Sunday evening. But really, nothing truly got going with the state police until well into Monday. By that time, the trash is moved. And then when they`re asked, they say, Oh, yes, there was some blood over there. So it seems like there was...
GRACE: Wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wait. Pat, let`s count the days. Let me get this straight. It was Saturday night he was out partying with his friends.
LALAMA: It was 3:00 in the morning last time he was seen.
GRACE: OK. Well, I imagine everybody on the show tonight can plead guilty to doing something until 3:00 o`clock in the morning.
GRACE: All right -- 3:00 o`clock in the morning, he`s seen out and about. He comes home, sleeps in the friend`s room at his dormitory, goes missing. Nobody sees him. That`s Saturday -- would that be Sunday early morning hours, then?
LALAMA; Yes, and...
GRACE: Wa-wa-wa! Ellie saying they partied Friday night.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.
GRACE: ... and Saturday -- OK, Saturday, 3:00 AM, he`s last seen going to sleep. So that`s Saturday. The roommate reports him missing on Sunday to campus police, and they sit on their thumb until when, Pat?
LALAMA: Well, remember that the roommate called, apparently, 36 hours after the last time he had been seen, so that takes us into -- well into Sunday. He calls -- my understanding is he calls campus police...
LALAMA: ... but it isn`t until Monday that the state police come.
LALAMA: By that time, everything`s changed. It`s very (INAUDIBLE)
GRACE: So that kid could very well have lain in the dumpster alive...
LALAMA: Pleading for his life, yes.
GRACE: ... Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and hears the truck taking him away.
Here`s what police have to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an ongoing investigation. Our most important responsibility is to find out what happened to Mr. John Fiocco. Our missing persons unit responded to the college and have been working diligently with all of the resources that not only our organization can bring to bear, but also the Mercer County prosecutor`s office, the College of New Jersey, and at this present time, the Pennsylvania State Police.
There has been blood recovered, as the prosecutor has indicated to you. That has factually been established that it belongs to Mr. Fiocco. All of these leads are being taken to ground, whether they be missing persons leads -- and I`m familiar with some of them that have been reported in the papers -- as well as these unconfirmed reports. And I emphasize that. They were not produced officially by the state police or the Mercer County prosecutor`s office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: What has become of John Fiocco, a 17-year-old student. Ellie, this kid was an honors student.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
GRACE: Tell me about this kid.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. He was on student council. He was the captain of the track team, on the track team, varsity track team all four years of high school. He played football, a very good student.
GRACE: Did you say honors student?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was 11th in his high school class of I think over 300 students, so was a very good student.
GRACE: So this is not a teenager out drinking and drugging and driving a stolen car at 90 MPH, this is a good kid. And when you consider the scenario that he may have been lying in that dumpster for three or four days straight before authorities took action -- here`s what his father has to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and no matter what happens, to forgive anybody who was involved, if anything becomes of this, because who knows what the hell could be going on, pray for my wife and my children that my wife does not change. She`s the most person I`ve ever met in my life, and I don`t want her to change because of something that happened. Please, don`t let her change a thing about herself. Pray for my children. And thanks for all the prayers, everybody out there. And people that never prayed before that have started praying now, keep it up. God bless ya`s all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m tremendously concerned to learn of the public confirmation by law enforcement agencies that recovered blood is that of John Fiocco, Jr. This is a jarring development and only magnifies the tremendous anxiety that has pervaded our campus for almost a week. It also brings additional pain to his family and his loved ones. They and John are in my prayers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Right now, the search of the dump is ongoing. The landfill is huge. There are tons and tons of trash already compacted that authorities are going through. This is not an unusual thing, but it`s also a very technical search.
To Tim Miller of Equusearch, remember the search for Lori Hacking, the young lady that we`ve talked about many, many times out of Salt Lake. Her husband, Mark Hacking, had built an entire double life. Her remains were found after, I believe it was, seven weeks of searching. Seven weeks it took. And then at that time -- this is a shot of the Lori Hacking landfill search. There`s Lori and her then-husband, Mark Hacking. Remember that search? And how do you go about a search like this, Tim Miller?
TIM MILLER, DIR., TEXAS EQUUSEARCH: Well, you know, the last one we was in, though, was in Aruba, actually, for Natalee Holloway. And we were in that dump for three weeks. I think...
GRACE: Well, hold on. Hold on.
GRACE: This is the Hacking search. OK, let`s look at the -- here we go. Thanks, Elizabeth. There`s the Natalee Holloway search. Everybody, here is just a clue as to what Tim Miller is talking about, with Texas Equusearch, tons and tons literally of trash. We`re talking about why it`s taking so long to find possible remains of this teenage boy in New Jersey.
Go ahead. What`s the procedure, Tim Miller?
MILLER: You know, it`s very time-consuming. It`s very painful. I think what they`re doing, they`re doing right. We`ve got to find the area where they`re getting -- what we was looking for was actually newspapers and mail that had dates on it, to know that we was in actually the right time slot. And I mean, we was in the dump for three solid weeks over in Aruba. We had cadaver dogs there. We got some -- a lot of false readings. The dogs would alert on something, and we`d just hand-sift through stuff, and it`d end up it was something from the hospital or a doctor`s office, you know? And actually, two of the dogs got sick, many of our searchers...
GRACE: You mean human -- human tissue or blood...
GRACE: ... would turn up. The dogs would smell that and hit on it, and you`d have to investigate, find out it`s from a hospital or a doctor`s office, right?
MILLER: Yes. And like I said, people -- hands got infected. Even though they was wearing gloves, they`d get cut with something, all the bacteria out there. I think just about every one of us ended up with some type of respiratory infection. One guy, when he got back home, actually ended up in the hospital for four days because of it. We were wearing masks. We were wearing gloves. All the bacteria, all the filth -- and it`s a very, very difficult task. And you know, my hats go off to them guys up there that are doing it. You know, we can`t give up on this boy and -- and you know...
GRACE: Absolutely not, Tim Miller. Everyone, Tim Miller, not just director of Texas Equusearch, but a murder victim himself, his daughter a murder victim. He has devoted himself to helping other victims` family.
Martin Dicaro with me, New Jersey`s 101.5 -- very quickly, before we go to break, what are the conditions in the search at this landfill for this American teenage boy?
DICARO: Well, 25 to 30 state police troopers every day, along with the garbage operators, are using a backhoe. Scoop by scoop, they pull the garbage off the pile, put it in a trailer. Trailer then brings the garbage over to a flat area. They spread the garbage out, and with rakes and their hands, they pick through, looking for evidence.
GRACE: Tonight, the reward up to $7,500. Phone number to Crimestoppers, 609-278-8477. Please help us find this boy.
Very quickly, to tonight`s "Case Alert." Police in the Netherlands receiving calls from the public after a television appeal for info about the disappearance of Alabama beauty Natalee Holloway. The program, rebroadcast on Aruban TV, as well, begs witnesses to come forward. Three young men, including Dutch teen Joran Van Der Sloot, remain the chief suspects in the case. However, they deny any involvement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Investigators are following a trail of blood and trash in their search for missing College of New Jersey freshman John Fiocco. Police confirm that blood found in and around a campus dumpster is Fiocco`s.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a homicide case investigation, at this juncture. We did not know exactly what happened to John Fiocco.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Developments ongoing in the case of a missing 17-year-old young man, an American college student in New Jersey, the only clue, blood found in and around the dumpster at his dormitory. Take a look at this young man. The reward up to $7,500. The phone number is 609-278-8477.
Ellie, is he 17 or 18?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s 19, actually.
GRACE: He`s 19. Thank you. I want to go back to Martin Dicaro, reporter with New Jersey 101.5 radio. Martin, the blood was found in and around -- is it the dumpster, or was it on the platform? And where does the platform fit in this scenario?
DICARO: Blood was found in and around the dumpster, according to police. They are not going to say specifically if that means the platform. However, the theory they`re operating on is that -- sources say, that John did go down the garbage chute. So all the garbage that goes down the chute lands on a platform. A robotic eye senses that garbage has landed there, an arm hydraulically then pushes the trash into the dumpster.
GRACE: To private investigator Vito Colucci, joining us out of Connecticut. Vito, what`s your scenario?
VITO COLUCCI, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Well, you know, what you have to do on this -- because we got to go back even farther than what you and Pat were talking about. This kid goes to sleep in another room. They wake up in the morning, find his shoes there. His own friends wait almost two days, 36 hours, to report it.
OK, why? Maybe, just maybe there was some horseplay that got out of hand because when you think about it logically, if he went down this chute, this guy is drunk, why is he going to do that himself? This is only 24- inch by 24-inch. He`s a small-framed guy, about 5-6, 150 pounds. It`s freshmen. They fool around -- Let`s stuff him down the chute. You never can tell.
Why did they wait that many hours to report it? I got to go back and sit across the way and say, Hey, guys, if this was an accident, speak to me. Let`s go. This could have been an accident. You guys fooling around, you convinced him to try to get in there. Because it`s not making any sense, Nancy. It`s not making any sense that he`s going to go through this himself.
GRACE: Well, you know, Vito, I think you`re right because, typically, you start an investigation with the last person that saw the victim. OK, 24 by 24, the trash chute. And what floor was it on, Martin? Martin, what floor?
DICARO: (INAUDIBLE) clarification?
GRACE: What floor was he asleep on, of the dorm?
DICARO: Fourth floor.
GRACE: Fourth floor. OK, there you go. This is the link. But wait a minute. Even my shoulders -- how would you get a grown man age 19 in 24- by-24? That`s a question. He didn`t dive down there himself. He had to be stuffed.
GRACE: Just imagine if this were your college student son. All that`s left is a trace of blood on the dormitory dumpster. No answers.
To forensic scientist Dean Wideman. It`s been close to three weeks since this young man went missing. If his body is in this landfill, what condition?
DEAN WIDEMAN, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Well, the condition of his body will be dependable on a number of factors -- how -- you know, how his body is preserved. I know they said they had put six feet of topsoil on there. If there`s a lot of insect infestation, what kind of injuries he suffered - - all those kinds of can accelerate or decelerate the body condition or the decomposition of the body, so...
GRACE: Well, hold on. I`ve got another factor to throw in. Martin Dicaro with Jersey 101.5, had the trash already been compacted?
DICARO: Yes, at least once.
GRACE: OK. All right. Dean Wideman, does that change anything?
DICARO: Yes, it could change, depending on the confirm -- you know, how his body was in the truck when it got compacted. I mean, it could have, obviously, crushed his bones to the point of you may not be able to tell the cause of death later. So it could be very compacted. It could cause other injuries. But I think if his remains are found, if there`s certain injuries that could not have been caused by the compacting, like, you know, serrated knife wounds on his ribs or a blunt-force trauma to the skull, if they find that, they still may be able to determine, you know, the cause of death and if he -- you know, what injuries he may have suffered outside of the compacting.
GRACE: You mean, if they find the exact correct bone, if it shows signs of a gunshot wound or serration from a knife or some type of a puncture. But the reality is, if this young man did go down this trash chute, which, as you saw, was 24 by 24, and the entire trash chute itself is metal, to my understanding, we may never know cause of death. There`s no soft tissue left, Dean Wideman.
WIDEMAN: That`s right. You may never know the cause of death. And one point I`d like to mention about the chute. It`d be interesting to know if the blood found in the -- around the dumpster -- if, in fact, it came from his body or if it`s from secondary source, such as, say, such as a bag of bloody towels or something that, you know, was so soaked that it kind of drained out.
WIDEMAN: It`d be interesting to see if they find that kind of evidence in the landfill because then he may have been, you know, killed elsewhere. And I don`t know if any blood has been confirmed in the chute or not, but it`d be interesting to determine that.
GRACE: With us, forensic scientist Dean Wideman.
Quick break, everybody. But we at NANCY GRACE want very much to help solve unsolved homicides, find missing people. Take a look at Janet Abaroa, just 25, stabbed to death April 24, 2005, Durham, North Carolina. The reward, $15,000. If you have info on Janet Abaroa, call Carole Sund Carrington toll-free, 888-813-8389.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER HAGEL SMITH, WIFE OF MISSING GROOM: I lost my husband George during our honeymoon cruise last summer on July 5.
MAUREEN SMITH, MOTHER OF MISSING GROOM: We believe he was murdered on his honeymoon with a lifetime of happiness and a promising future ahead of him.
GEORGE SMITH, FATHER OF MISSING GROOM: We keep going, because we`re searching for justice for George.
M. SMITH: We have to find out what happened to George, and it will not go unsolved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: The family of the so-called missing groom, 26-year-old George Smith, is with us tonight, speaking out after allegations his mysterious disappearance in the middle of a lavish honeymoon cruise to the Mediterranean was nothing more than a tragic accident.
They say, N-O, no to Royal Caribbean, which has mysterious mysteriously gone silent tonight. We asked them on the show tonight -- we asked them for a statement. They said no. They`re not speaking about the George Smith case anymore.
Joining me here in the studio, very special guest tonight, George Smith`s family.
I want to go first to his sister Bree Smith. I spoke with the FBI, the former FBI agent hired by Royal Caribbean, Greg McCreery (ph). I believe he has a degree in music, and I asked him why this had been declared an accident. He said it hadn`t. But the reality is the ship`s captain, Greek-borne Captain Michael Lakaritis (ph) wrote on the formal findings, "This is an accident"
Why are you so insistent this is not an accident that your brother was murdered?
BREE SMITH, MISSING GROOM`S SISTER: Well, first of all, as you know, Nancy, there has been a grand jury called in New Haven. And the U.S. attorney, Kevin O`Connor, last week told my family that this is one of the highest priority cases in the state of Connecticut.
There`s far too much evidence, Nancy, to suggest that my brother was smoking a cigar and fell backwards. There are complaints of fighting in the cabin, of the room being trashed, you know. There are also suspicious circumstances, like the fact that the door and the curtains were closed behind my brother.
GRACE: Take a look at this. That`s the cabin. What do you mean the door and the curtains were closed when they first went into the cabin after he disappeared?
B. SMITH: Well, Greg McCreery (ph), actually, from Royal Caribbean stated that when the crew members went to the room to return my sister in- law Jennifer to the room, the door to the balcony, and also the curtains to that door, were pulled over and closed.
GRACE: So in order for this to have been accident -- was the door locked?
B. SMITH: It was closed. I`m not sure about whether it was locked.
GRACE: Were they sliding glass doors?
B. SMITH: Yes, they were.
GRACE: So you would have had to somehow go out on the balcony, close the curtains behind him, and close the glass doors behind him, then sit backwards on the rail, somehow smoking a cigar and fall off.
And that totally does not jibe with the fact that there were droplets of blood or a trace of blood in several locations within the cabin.
B. SMITH: OK.
GRACE: Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I woke up about 7:30. And I stepped out on the balcony, and it was just too apparent to miss. Right below my balcony. And there was a very large bloodstain there, very, very dark in the middle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s physically impossible for someone to go over that railing without some assistance. On my balcony, they actually came up to chest height. And there is no way that you can fall over, particularly if you`re drunk. The first thing that gives when you`re drunk are your legs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: To George Smith`s mother with us tonight, Maureen Smith. Is Royal Caribbean backing off their original assertation (sic) that this is a tragic accident?
M. SMITH: I honestly think they are, Nancy. They`ve handed everything over now to the FBI, and it is a very, very active case with the FBI. And I think they realize now that something really sinister went on with my son, and I think they realized that he was murdered now.
GRACE: To George Smith`s dad joining us today, George Smith. When you look at this video, and you see him so alive, so happy, and this was just a few days before he went missing, how do you reconcile everything that`s happened so far?
G. SMITH: We have not been able to really come up with the conclusion that he ever died. We still believe he`s going to come home. You know, there`s just so much evidence out there that we just have to believe it. But we just can`t. It`s just so bad.
GRACE: I remember when I was at your house recently. You told me that a certain time of the day comes and you just instinctively expect him to walk up through the back door and go, "Hi."
G. SMITH: Yes.
M. SMITH: Still do.
GRACE: To Anne Renee Testa, our psychologist joining us tonight. Anne Renee, does that ever go away for people that have been victims of murder?
ANNE RENEE TESTA, PSYCHOLOGIST: Nancy, not really. You know, there`s no body in this case, there`s no real closure, there`s no connection so that it can be put to rest. And the sadness stays for a long, long time. And there`s always a hole in the hearts of the parents. There`s no question about that.
I think time does something, but it`s always there. It`s always there. It stays with you, because there is really no closure here.
GRACE: You know, to this very day, every once in awhile, I`ll be driving along, and I think for a moment, I see Keith, my fianc'e that was murdered, and that`s been over 20 years.
What keeps you going, Bree? Why do you -- you were just in D.C. with congressional hearings.
B. SMITH: Yes.
GRACE: What amounted to that, or was that more political grandstanding?
B. SMITH: No, I think there is actually going to be a consequence. We`re really hoping.
GRACE: Hold on, I`m feeling faint. You mean a bunch of politicians are agreeing to do something?
B. SMITH: Yes, I really believe there will be something done. We understand there will be a joint bill from the Senate and the House. Senator Kyl from Arizona and Congresswoman Shays from Connecticut and Congresswoman Maloney from New York, who will do a joint bill.
And they`re going to be using, as the basis of the bill, the 10 proposals that the organization we formed with Kendall Carver (ph) put forward, international cruise victims.
And you know, the suggestions that we had included putting a marshal on the boat.
GRACE: A U.S. federal marshal?
B. SMITH: Yes.
GRACE: Whenever U.S. passengers were there?
B. SMITH: Yes.
GRACE: Well, Bree, let me break this to you gently. I asked one of the lawyers for Royal Caribbean about those congressional hearings, and she seemed to pooh-pooh the whole thing. Take a listen to what Royal Caribbean spokespeople have to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Doesn`t that bother you as a lawyer that your client is part of an industry that has gotten so out of control with crime they`ve got to have congressional hearings?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know what, Nancy? I lived in Washington for a very long time, and there`s congressional hearings on an awful lot of things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Ruh-roh. To Lisa Wayne, defense attorney. Look, it`s never a good thing when congressional hearings are kicked off because of your client. Think, you know, Barry Bonds.
LISA WAYNE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right, right. Well, I think what the cruise line is doing here, Nancy, they have to cover themselves.
And you know, the only comfort that I can suggest to the family is that the grand jury and the prosecutor have a lot of power in terms of investigating this the right way. They can issue subpoenas. They can ask the right questions, and hopefully there will be some closure in terms of a criminal investigation and some answers.
GRACE: And to Renee Rockwell, we know that now forensic scientist Henry Lee went and performed experiments on a Royal Caribbean ship. Will that even be allowed in court if we ever get to court, Renee?
RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And that`s the question, Nancy, if we ever get to court. Where is the court?
This is an industry, Nancy, that -- and let me ask you one thing. Why is it when people go on vacation, they let their guard down? Here`s an industry that promotes alcohol, gambling, partying, fun.
Here`s an industry that sometimes is incorporated in one company, a base of operations in one country, a base of operations in another country, the cruise from a different country. It`s a disaster.
I don`t know how anything can get done unless somebody is held accountable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The facts will show that within 45 minutes of determining that George Smith was possibly missing, that we contacted both the Turkish police and the American embassy. Approximately an hour afterwards our Miami office was in contact with the FBI, and remained in contact with the FBI throughout the day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Well, now Royal Caribbean Cruiselines seems to be advancing the theory that the disappearance of this 26-year-old young man was nothing more than an accident. Pat Lalama, what is the latest?
LALAMA: The latest is everything we spoke about in terms of interesting evidence. That would be blood evidence that now has confirmed and reported to have been in the room. That the FBI is saying that it is a priority.
And interestingly, Nancy, on a recent magazine show it was revealed by some witnesses that there was actually an interrogation done of the young men who were with George that evening, and it was done as if it was like a poker party. They were all sitting around on the ship in the lobby, asking and answering some questions.
Another witness went off to be interrogated at the police station, and now the Turkish authorities say that never happened. Something else that`s come out that I`m sure has really hurt the family a lot is that the captain, or the authority with another cruise line is saying this whole thing is just a non-event and can`t understand why everybody is making such a big deal about it. And that, you know, because Scott Peterson is over with, you know, the media has to cook up something new.
So you know, with each day there`s still denials, unanswered questions, and no answer for the Smith family.
GRACE: Well, speaking of the media, to George Smith`s sister, who is herself a lawyer -- without her the parents would not have even known how to go about filing a claim against the ship.
In fact Bree taught me that on your ticket, it says you have X number of days to file any lawsuit or complaint, period, from losing a necklace to slipping on a banana peel to your son being lost at sea. If she hadn`t known that, they would have never even known to file in a timely manner. And if you`re not a lawyer, imagine what would happen to you.
And speaking about Pat Lalama`s assertion that the media is beginning to portray this as an accident, just a recent magazine show did that. "Vanity Fair" did a full expose. They had five people come up and say, "Hey, did you know George Smith died by accident?" That`s news to me.
Why? Why are they asserting that?
B. SMITH: Well, I think the only reason we`re discussing that magazine as well as the show is because they, you know, showed the little evidence that there is that it would be an accident. We wouldn`t be talking about those publications otherwise.
GRACE: Why is this not an accident? Why was your brother murdered at sea?
B. SMITH: Well, first of all, there were enough suspicious circumstances, according to the U.S. attorney for the state of Connecticut, that a grand jury was called. There was blood in the cabin in numerous places. I know Royal Caribbean likes to downplay the amount of blood in the cabin, but we have information which, of course, we can`t discuss, because it`s within the FBI organization. But it`s far more that was previously discussed by Royal Caribbean.
There was fighting -- fighting heard in my brother`s cabin. And...
GRACE: By more than one person.
B. SMITH: By more than one cabin, yes, both sides. And to be perfectly frank, the FBI would not be wasting millions of tax dollars on this investigation and the time that this is consuming if they honestly thought it was an accident.
GRACE: Well, not only that, to George`s father, also George Smith, the timing, you`ve got to look at the big picture. He goes missing. Jennifer, the wife, is allegedly passed out on the same floor on the other side of the deck, but when he goes missing around 4:30 in the morning, neighbors on either side hear a gigantic thud.
They hear raised voices, as if an argument from both men and women, according to them. Then everything goes quiet.
When Jennifer Hagel Smith, the bride, comes in within 20 to 30 minutes with cruise line officials, he`s gone. Nobody realizes anything has gone wrong. So how can it be an accident? If there are raised voices, especially from men, possibly a woman, a loud thud and that huge amount of blood, which is his blood, found?
G. SMITH: We know that, you know, Royal Caribbean came to that apartment on three different occasions within that -- that four to five- hour period. We know in the second time before they brought Jennifer back, that they entered into that room. And we believe with the amount of blood that was in that room, that they would have realized that a crime had been committed.
GRACE: And of course, you`ve got the additional fact which we are really just learning, is that the door and the curtains to the room were shut tight. Now how can that be an accident with him falling off, when the door and the curtains are closed?
But I wanted to ask you quickly about this casino manager. Let me throw that to Maureen Smith. What`s become of the casino manager on the ship?
M. SMITH: We`ve learned he is no longer on The Brilliance of the Sea. He`s actually a trainee casino manager, and his whereabouts are unknown. So maybe, as they say when they move people on as something has happened, their contract is up. And he has definitely disappeared.
GRACE: Interesting how everyone has faded away. Is that some a type of defense maneuver, to Renee Rockwell? You`ve got the captain, Captain Michael Lakaritis (ph), who declared this an accident and then gave the prophetic statement, "The sun has set." And they leave the port and all the evidence behind. He`s suddenly retired.
And then the casino manager has been shuffled away. The young man with Jennifer Hagel-Smith that night, Josh Askin (ph), his father is speaking out for him. He won`t come forward and speak himself. The so- called Russians that were partying with the missing groom, they`ve all taken the Fifth Amendment. They refuse to speak.
Everything is just slipping away, Renee.
ROCKWELL: And Nancy, some good lawyer is telling them not to say anything because No. 1, if nobody says anything, then what are they going to base any particular crime on?
Like I said, it`s a disaster. I don`t know how they`re going to enforce any types of subpoenas or get any evidence from anybody if everybody`s just flown away.
GRACE: What about it, Vito Colucci?
COLUCCI: You know, I meet with the Smiths a lot of times and we take apart this case daily, and there`s so many things, start to finish, you know.
Let`s go back to what Pat Lalama said about this interviewing these guys sitting on couches and chairs. That`s not any interrogation. You put up your graphics all the time, criminal investigation, let`s say, 101. Separate the people. Talk to them separately on this. You don`t have them all together sitting on couches and chairs discussing this.
The captain goes in there. When he checks this room, with the other people from the ship. They bring out their own camera. They walk all over the crime scene, take pictures. We could talk for three or four hours on this.
GRACE: Everyone, a quick break. We`ll all be back with info on the missing groom.
Let`s pause to remember Army Specialist Allen D. Kokesh, 21, Yankton, South Dakota. His fellow soldiers remember him as always smiling. Tonight, and always, Alan Kokesh Jr., an American hero.
GRACE: George Smith, 26 years old, vanished off a luxurious Mediterranean cruise. The ship, of course, says it`s an accident. His loving family says no way.
To defense attorney Renee Rockwell, what were you saying about letting your guard down while you`re on vacation? Are you somehow saying it`s the victim`s fault because he had a couple of drinks?
ROCKWELL: No, Nancy.
GRACE: Yes, you are.
ROCKWELL: Well, this is how I feel. People go on vacation, and they let your guard down. Therefore when you`re in an industry that promotes alcohol, gambling, having fun, you`ve got to take care of your passengers.
GRACE: And why is that, to psychologist Anne Renee Testa? Why do we let our guard down? I`m not buying into Rockwell`s blame the victim defense.
TESTA: We want to be on vacation. We have a different mentality when we go away, Nancy. But I think the industry is asleep and that they need more security.
And to the Smith family, I must say to them, you are amazing, because you`re doing something about it.
GRACE: To our producer Phil Rosenbaum, allegedly they were drinking something called absinthe, which is apparently illegal in the United States? Why was it tolerated on a cruise slip?
PHIL ROSENBAUM, PRODUCER: It`s a very dangerous drink in even small amounts. It can cause everything from hallucinations to sudden delirium, convulsions, even suicidal tendencies in its purest form.
GRACE: To Lisa Wayne, defense attorney, will we ever be able to prove this in court, since so much time has elapsed?
WAYNE: You know, there`s obviously going to be the compromised evidence defense that you can see over time. There`s been so many pointing of the fingers. No one wants to take responsibility, Nancy, so that door is opened. And I can`t obviously answer that.
GRACE: Final thought, Bree?
B. SMITH: The final thought is that I think that the American public is now aware that the dirty little secrets of Royal Caribbean have finally surfaced, as well as the other cruise lines. And the American public will no longer tolerate it, and neither will Congress, Nancy.
GRACE: I pray that you`re right, and our prayers continue to go out to you and you and you.
B. SMITH: Thank you.
GRACE: Let`s don`t give up on the search for this young man.
Thank you for being with us. To all my guests, and to you especially, for inviting us and the Smiths into your homes. Nancy Grace signing off for tonight. See you right here tomorrow night, 8 p.m. sharp Eastern. Until then, good night, friend.