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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Defense Attacks Credibility of Accuser in Duke Rape Case; Analyzing the bin Laden Tapes
Aired April 24, 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: Good evening, everyone. Thank you so much for being with us tonight.
Here is what is happening at this moment.
The death toll mounts after a terrorist attack at a resort in Dahab, Egypt. At least 23 were killed, 62 others wounded in three explosions that ripped through restaurants, hotels, and bars. At least three American tourists are among those wounded.
The jury is deciding whether it will be in life -- or prison, or put to death for Zacarias Moussaoui, the only man tried in the U.S. in connection with the 9/11 attacks.
And a new CNN poll shows the president's approval ratings at a record low. Only 32 percent of Americans now approve of the way the president is handling his job.
Now, some breaking news, something that is just chilling for any of us with kids in school. For the third time in less than a week, we are now just learning of a high school student charged with plotting to attack his school. Police in Puyallup, Washington, not far from Tacoma, yesterday seized rifles, handguns and a homemade bomb from the home of a 16-year-old boy. He was allegedly planning to kill 15 people at random at his high school, before killing himself. He is in custody tonight.
And joining me now on the phone with the very latest is Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the sheriff's department in Pierce County, Washington.
Good of you to join us, sir.
How close was this young man to trying to pull off this plot?
ED TROYER, SPOKESMAN, PIERCE COUNTY, WASHINGTON, SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: Well, he was pretty close, in that he had made the plan and he actually had all the tools needed, as far as guns. And he had pretty well thought the whole thing out.
And, when we contacted him, he wasn't shy about admitting why he wanted to do this, and that he was actually going to pull it off -- or try to pull it off.
ZAHN: What did he tell you about why he would do this at the school? TROYER: The interesting part of this is, he did not have a hit list, like a lot of other times we see in these cases.
This particular kid was upset with himself for not earning any respect throughout his life, and he felt pain. And he stated, he wanted to find 15 people randomly and, hopefully, the 15 people that least deserved it, and shoot them. That way, people felt his pain, and, when he killed himself, he would be remembered forever.
So, obviously, there's some psychological issues here, on top of the anger.
ZAHN: And, Mr. Troyer, we described, at the top of this broadcast, what you seized from this young man's home. Tell us about this bomb, apparently, apparently that he had constructed himself. Where did he get the materials?
TROYER: Well, he had downloaded "The Anarchist's Cookbook" after -- off the Internet, and he had tried to make a crude bomb. We seized a bag of gunpowder in the cylinder where he had began putting it together with some directions that we have so far found off the C.D. We still have some more information to go through on the computers we seized.
But, at this point, it looks like he used the Internet to gain the information. And he use the Internet, MSN Messenger, to put out his plan to a particular person, who alerted us, the authorities. And he also has a pet Web page up on MySpace. So, those are all things that we're looking at now to see if they contributed to this or in any way helped facilitate the information back and forth between people.
ZAHN: You said, sir, in -- in closing, that he was close to pulling this off. What are you talking about, days away here?
TROYER: Well, he could have pulled it off, I suppose, at any time, because he had the tools to do it. The exact date, if he had an exact date picked, we don't know that yet. But we still have a lot of journals to go through and a lot of computers to look at, as well as other written materials.
ZAHN: Well, Ed Troyer, thank you for giving you -- giving us as much information as you can tonight. Good luck with the investigation, sir.
TROYER: All right. Thank you.
ZAHN: Now on to the second school attack plot we have to tell you about tonight, this one in Kansas.
This one was foiled last Thursday, on the seventh anniversary of the Columbine massacre in Colorado. Today, in Columbus, Kansas, it was the first court appearance for the five suspects.
Keith Oppenheim has been working on this story all day long, and just filed tonight's "Outside the Law."
KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The five teenagers charged with plotting to attack their high school walked into a Kansas courthouse today. Four of them were allowed to conceal their identities. They're between 15 and 17 years old, legally juveniles.
One, Coy New, is 18, legally an adult. He had a separate hearing, with a camera allowed in the courtroom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those are serious allegations. And they scare me. And, you know, I was frightened as I read those. So, I have to be mindful of the public safety.
OPPENHEIM: Coy was not required to enter a plea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever been convicted of a crime before?
CHARLES "COY" NEW, DEFENDANT: No, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever been convicted of a juvenile offense before?
NEW: No, sir.
OPPENHEIM: All five were charged with making a criminal threat and incitement to riot. The most serious charge has a maximum penalty of 23 months in prison.
ERIC RUCKER, KANSAS ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE: Other charges may be forthcoming. It depends upon what the investigation reveals.
OPPENHEIM: The investigation began last week, when authorities were tipped about an ominous posting on MySpace.com.
The threat message on the Internet urged students to mark April 20, Adolf Hitler's birthday. The message indicated the five Kansas teens were allegedly planning an attack with guns at their school, Riverton High. It was reportedly planned for last Thursday, the seventh anniversary of the massacre at Columbine high School in Colorado.
Authorities found guns and ammunition at the home of one of the suspects. They believe the plan was more than just a fantasy.
RUCKER: The nature of the investigation has revealed probable cause to believe that these crimes have occurred.
OPPENHEIM: An attorney for one of the juveniles was asked how his client is doing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's just a scared 16-year-old kid. He's a boy.
OPPENHEIM: Riverton is a tiny town of just 600. The high school decided to go on with its prom as scheduled this past weekend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know, at first, I was nervous. And then I was, like -- because I thought, you know, prom would be a big target.
OPPENHEIM: And, in fact, people here are nervous.
(on camera): They want to better understand what was going on in the lives of these five young men. How did they become so fascinated with hatred, and was it all really going to translate into a violent attack?
Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Columbus, Kansas.
ZAHN: Now on to the other alleged plot tonight.
Six middle school students are under arrest, leaving the small Alaskan community of North Pole in shock.
Let's get the very latest now from Darryl Lewis, a reporter from KTVF-TV in Fairbanks.
Darryl, what was the plan, and how did officials discover it?
DARRYL LEWIS, KTVF-TV REPORTER: Well, Paula, here, on the 17th, last week, last Monday, the North Pole police, North Pole community, about 11 miles down the Richardson Highway from Fairbanks, they received word from a concerned parent that several seventh-grade students were planning to bring weapons to the middle school, and they had planned on killing as many victims as they possibly could.
The North Pole Police Department immediately -- immediately began -- began an investigation, and a press conference was held over the weekend. And their investigation to that point had revealed that there definitely was a plan to bring knives and guns to the school, in order to shoot and kill both students and faculty.
The plan, pretty elaborate, included the disabling of the school's telephone and power system, setting an allotted amount of time to remain in the school to kill their victims and to also plan -- they also planned an escape route from the school and also from the North Pole area.
The plans were -- were to carry out these actions on the 17th, but they moved it up to the 18th. And, you know, six -- six young people are -- were arrested on Saturday morning. They're facing charges of conspiracy to commit murder.
ZAHN: Darryl Lewis, it's just so shocking any time you hear about a plot by students, but particularly when you're talking about seventh-grade students in this case. Appreciate the update.
Just a reminder: We're also hearing from officials that their motive for coming up with this plan and trying to execute it was the fact that they had been bullied at school, and they wanted to take out their sense of outrage over that on students and faculty members.
On now to our countdown of the CNN.com most popular stories -- 19 million of you logging on to our Web site today.
Number 10 on the list is where we started tonight -- the terror bombings at the Egyptian Red Sea resort town of Dahab. The three consecutive explosions killed at least 23 people, wounded 62 others.
Number nine -- in Aruba, the release of the 19-year-old suspect in last year's disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway. An Aruba newspaper has identified the young man as the brother of a local police officer.
Numbers eight and seven are next.
Also ahead, some new revelations about how the defense in the Duke rape case plans to fight the charges, and some news out of that neck of the woods tonight, and an exclusive look inside the high-tech hunt for terrorists.
ZAHN (voice-over): "Beyond the Headlines" -- tuning in bin Laden, a new tape, and maybe new clues about the world's most wanted man. What does a top analyst listen for in the sounds and the silences of a terrorist's taped message?
And the "Eye Opener" -- you're going for a joy ride in a stolen car. Amazing video puts you in the front seat with car thieves who don't know they have stepped into a trap...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this a camera?
ZAHN: ... until it snaps shut.
Setting the bait for car thieves -- all that and much more when we come back.
ZAHN: Still ahead tonight: allegations of drugs, gambling, even pornography. Can a high-profile Hollywood divorce get any nastier? We will take you inside of it.
But, tonight, it's more clear than ever that the defense in the Duke rape case is going to continue to attack the credibility of the accuser. That comes as no surprise to anyone. As you might remember, two Duke lacrosse players are charged with raping an exotic dancer at a team party last month.
Well, today, the attorney for one of the accused players demanded that prosecutors turn over the alleged victim's medical, legal and education records.
Jason Carroll has been digging in to the story all day long. He has the very latest now from Durham.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The trial date hasn't even been set for Duke lacrosse players Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, but, already, there are important clues as to what a jury might hear and how defense attorneys will challenge the woman who has accused them of rape.
In three defense motions filed today at the Durham County Courthouse, Seligmann's lawyer wants the district attorney to turn over background information on the alleged victim. The motion reads, "This request is based on the fact that the complaining witness has a history of criminal activity, mental, emotional, and/or physical problems."
Seligmann's attorney also asks for a pre-trial hearing, to determine if the complaining witness is even credible enough to provide reliable testimony.
The second motion informed the district attorney, the defense will show Seligmann has alibis. One of them likely will come from a Durham cab driver, who says he remembers picking up Seligmann and a friend that night.
The last motion asks the DA to provide any other information he has gathered about the case. The DA did not comment on the motions or to defense complaints the accuser identified the two players from a photo lineup made up only of Duke players and no one else.
But Michael Nifong did confirm that he is waiting for a second round of DNA test results on the players, after the first round showed no match between anyone on the team and the alleged victim.
MICHAEL NIFONG, DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I know what I'm going to do. I have told you that, when I'm ready to make an announcement, I will make an announcement, a public announcement, as I did the last time I did something in the case. And I have confirmed for you that we're not expecting the DNA results back until May the 15th.
CARROLL: May 15 also coincides with the next scheduled court date for Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty.
CARROLL: And Collin Finnerty has another court case he has to be concerned about. He is accused of a gay-bashing incident in Washington, D.C., that took place about six months ago. A status hearing on that is scheduled for tomorrow. But his attorney says Finnerty is not really going to appear there -- Paula.
ZAHN: Jason Carroll, thanks for the update.
Joining me now, criminal defense attorney Mickey Sherman and Pam Bondi, an assistant state attorney in Florida. Great to see both you.
PAM BONDI, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: You, too.
ZAHN: Pam, you just heard Jason's reporting, the judge asked to be considered whether the alleged rape victim is -- quote -- "credible enough" to testify, because of what they call her questionable mental health history. Is this just sliming the victim again?
BONDI: Paula, it sure is.
It is an attack on the victim. They are hitting hard. And, right now, they have no basis for it. You know, mental health is only -- only -- admissible if it can affect her identification at the time of offense. They're asking for records dating back 10 years ago, which would have absolutely no relevance to this case.
That's all it is. They're attacking the victim. And that's what's so frightening, really, for victims of rape in this country. It -- it may have a big chilling effect on other rape cases.
ZAHN: But we saw this tactic effectively used in the Kobe Bryant trial, Mickey.
MICKEY SHERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely.
ZAHN: You would use this?
BONDI: Sure did.
ZAHN: You think this is fair game?
SHERMAN: Yes. Pamela Mackey did the exact same thing.
ZAHN: But why go back that far into mental health history?
SHERMAN: It's -- it's...
ZAHN: What does that have to do...
SHERMAN: It's not there...
ZAHN: ... with her credibility today?
SHERMAN: ... to slime her.
The idea is to find out whether or not anything in her past, whether it's criminal convictions, or psychosis, or some kind of medications, or whatever, any kind of psychiatric treatment, would that allow a judge to find that, at this time, she might not be credible?
And, you know, the lynchpin is, I don't think the defense expects, nor did they expect in the Kobe Bryant case, them to just dump a ball of records on the -- on the doorstep of the defense.
Generally, if it's allowed, the judge will take a look at this stuff in camera, by himself, in his chambers, and the judge will decide, this is permissible or not permissible. It's not going to come out, unless the judge says it's OK.
ZAHN: Pam, generally, the state has the advantage in these cases, but we have continued to hear the defense poke away at just about everything the prosecution has put forth. So, who does have the advantage tonight, if you're going to try to be as impartial as you possibly can?
BONDI: Well, Paula, given what we know right now, in the court of public opinion, the defense clearly has the advantage, because we know much more from them.
The prosecutor has -- has quit talking. And he shouldn't be talking. It's a pending criminal investigation. Nor can he. And it's very frustrating for prosecutors, when cases are tried this way in the media, and the defense can -- can release all this information, and a prosecutor can't.
But, right now, it's going to be an uphill battle for the prosecution. And -- and I just hope they have more than we know about.
ZAHN: What if we learn, Mickey Sherman, on May 15, that there still is no conclusive match with any of these players?
SHERMAN: It's not...
ZAHN: Then, where does...
ZAHN: I know you don't need it, necessarily, to convict...
ZAHN: ... anybody. You have got tons...
ZAHN: ... of people sitting in jail right now convicted for rape that never had a DNA match.
SHERMAN: It's going to be one more nail in the coffin of this -- of this case.
And, you know, I -- and the prosecutor is still talking about the DNA. If it -- he should be taking Pam Bondi's advice and not talking about it at all. He screwed himself the first part -- first time -- by teasing it, as we say in this business, that there's going to be DNA. Why don't you wait, folks?
And now he's doing it again. So, when it comes back no DNA again, it's a double whammy. What he's got to go on at that point?
ZAHN: Mickey Sherman, Pam Bondi, got to leave it there. Thank you both of your...
BONDI: Thank you.
ZAHN: ... perspectives tonight.
BONDI: Thank you.
ZAHN: And, right now, we are about to take you behind the scenes an exclusive look at the hunt for Osama bin Laden. What high-tech equipment are the experts using? And what, exactly, are they listening for every time bin Laden puts out a taped message?
We also have some amazing pictures for you, thanks to a police department's candid cameras. What exactly do car thieves do and say when they're on the run? See for yourself tonight.
But, first, number eight on our CNN.com countdown -- millions of bees living in the walls of a Miami home. One hive was at least -- eww -- six feet tall. To see more, if you -- if you really want to see it, go to our Web site and click on "Watch Video." But you have got to be very, very brave.
Number seven, the latest controversy surrounding Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Last month, she had a run-in with a Capitol Police officer. Well, just this weekend, she was caught on tape bad-mouthing her communications director. You're not going to believe what she had to say. Of course, she didn't remember she had a microphone on for all of us to hear.
Plus, we will have numbers six and five straight out of the break.
ZAHN: Now we move on to the CNN "Security Watch" and the search for the world's most wanted man. Analysts tonight are studying the latest surprise from Osama bin Laden, a new audiotape where he makes several references to recent events, indicating he's still alive.
But where is he? Tonight, we have a rare exclusive look at how the experts can find clues right on the terrorists' own tapes.
National security correspondent David Ensor takes us "Beyond the Headlines" tonight.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The voice on this audiotape, definitely Osama bin Laden. In his New Jersey home, acoustic expert Tom Owen identifies voices. To learn more, he focuses on the moments when bin Laden is not speaking.
TOM OWEN, AUDIO ANALYST: Let's just take a very small section where he's -- he hesitates for a second, and let's see what we can hear in there.
ENSOR (on camera): OK.
OWEN: There is something in the background. You can't really tell what it is.
ENSOR (voice-over): Tom Owen is one of the nation's top sound analysts, using spectrographic equipment like that used by the CIA, the FBI and others to identify voices. Listening for clues on the recent bin Laden tape, right away, Owen runs into something.
OWEN: You hear that noise in the background?
ENSOR (on camera): Yes, sure.
OWEN: It sounds like metal scraping metal?
OWEN: It's to eliminate noises other than the voice, but it's a little overused.
ENSOR: Visually, this is such a flat band of sound here.
OWEN: Right. It has been -- it has been compressed.
ENSOR: So, you think they may have compressed this, taken off the highs and lows, to make it harder to draw any clues out of the tape, as to where he's hiding?
ENSOR: Do you think it's conceivable that a clue off an audiotape might lead U.S. intelligence to Osama bin Laden one day?
OWEN: Possible. It's possible. It wouldn't be the first time. When -- when they were doing the mob cases in New York, one of the ways that they were finding out where certain people were and making -- where certain gangsters were conducting operations is because they heard the airplanes overhead.
ENSOR (voice-over): And, in fact, he does find a tantalizing clue on this tape.
OWEN: Yes, right through here.
ENSOR (on camera): Starting right in there, yes...
OWEN: Right through here.
ENSOR: ... there's something.
OWEN: It almost sounds like there's a -- kind of thing going on.
(voice-over): Could be engine annoy. That would say something about bin Laden's hiding place. When there are pictures to look at, there is much more to analyze, though it's not as easy as it looks on TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CSI: NEW YORK")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Got our three reference points. How far are the buildings from Zoya (ph)?
GARY SINISE, ACTOR: We will know in a second, right down to her front door. Circling and isolating.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Queens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ENSOR (on camera): Do you ever watch "CSI"?
RICHARD VORDER BRUEGGE, FBI FORENSIC EXAMINER: Never. Makes me sick to my stomach.
ENSOR (voice-over): FBI agent Richard Vorder Bruegge doesn't like the way "CSI" makes it all look so easy. But, an unmarked FBI lab in Northern Virginia, he uses the same technique, triangulation on bank surveillance images to figure out the height of masked robbers and help convict them.
VORDER BRUEGGE: If you have one measurement in that scene, then you can measure anything in the scene.
ENSOR: Vorder Bruegge looks for patterns, like the masked robber of 10 banks who always wore the same shirt.
VORDER BRUEGGE: Patterned shirts are very easy to individualize, that is to say, to identify them, to the exclusion of all other shirts.
ENSOR: Once the man was arrested, the goal was to prove he had committed all of the robberies. In his house, they found the shirt.
VORDER BRUEGGE: I'm 100 percent sure that it's the same shirt.
ENSOR: Law enforcement and intelligence officers use those techniques and others to analyze tapes from terrorists, like this one from Osama bin Laden, not long after he escaped from American bombardment at Tora Bora.
Bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, generally use plain backgrounds to reduce the clues. But analyst soon noticed that, on this one, he did not move one of his arms. JAMES FITZGERALD, FBI BEHAVIORAL ANALYST: Members of the medical profession were brought in to review that. And there was a -- an opinion that, in fact, he -- he probably had been hurt at some point.
ENSOR: In the early days, things were different. Bin Laden and Zawahri even put out a walking tape, showing terrain. That set analysts to examining rock formations and listening to bird calls. But the former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit says, since then, al Qaeda has learned to be careful.
MICHAEL SCHEUER, FORMER CHIEF OF CIA BIN LADEN UNIT: The enemy is stupid, if they're going to give us a tape that tells us where they are, geographically, if it's going to give us a fix on them. So, a lot of this stuff is just -- we -- we go through the motions, so we can cover our behinds and say, we have checked everything we could think of.
ENSOR: Nevertheless, over the years, there have been successes against al Qaeda. Officials will not say whether tape analysis contributed to them. Each time a new terrorist tape emerges, though, American analysts go through every sound, every image, just in case.
David Ensor, CNN, Northern Virginia.
ZAHN: And we have got one more thing to add tonight. An FBI spokesman says analysis of the latest bin Laden tape shows that the al Qaeda leader is trying to remain relevant in the spotlight.
The FBI thinks bin Laden's ability to order a new terrorist attack is very diminished.
You're about to see some crimes in progress. How did the police get these incredible pictures of car thieves caught in the act?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: I'm Brooke Anderson in Hollywood.
Denise Richards drops a bombshell on estranged husband Charlie Sheen -- shocking allegations that Sheen threatened to kill her and harm her parents. And that's not all. The rest of her accusations and what Sheen says about them -- when PAULA ZAHN NOW continues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: And remember the congresswoman who got into trouble for allegedly hitting a police officer? Well -- and she apologized for it -- Representative Cynthia McKinney has a new problem. What did she say when she forgot her microphone was on? Who did she berate? Stay tuned.
Before that, number six in our cnn.com countdown, a story we mentioned briefly at the top of the hour. The jury that will decide whether Zacarias Moussaoui will be put to death deliberated for three hours today. Moussaoui is the first and only person tried in the U.S. in connection with 9/11.
Number five, Tom Cruise surprises fans and co-stars of his new movie, "Mission Impossible III." Cruise unexpectedly showed up in Rome to the premiere just days after the birth of his daughter, Suri. I wonder how mom feels about that. I don't know, I would have been pretty ticked and say, look what I've just been through the last 10 months and you leave me three days after she's born? Maybe Katie will speak up one of these days. We have numbers four and three right after this.
ZAHN: Welcome back. Here is what's happening at this moment. The latest on that bombing at the Red Sea resort in Dahab, Egypt. The State Department has confirmed four Americans were injured. A total of 23 people killed.
A developing story we told you about at the top of the hour. Yet another alleged student plot to attack a school. This is the third within a week. This time, in Puyallup, Washington, where a 16-year- old boy is under arrest. The Pierce County sheriff tells us rifles, handguns and a homemade bomb were seized. They believe the boy was acting alone and that he could have been days away from carrying off his plot.
Now, GOP leaders are asking the president to order an investigation into whether price gouging or speculation are causing higher gas prices, while Democrats say the GOP is scrambling for political cover for the upcoming midterm November elections.
The nuclear industry launched a new effort today to build new atomic plants. One environmental group says solar and wind cost taxpayers much less in subsidies.
In tonight's "Outside the Law," I'm about to show you some really amazing video of car thieves doing their thing, not just stealing a car, but, as you'll see, having a great time doing it. Thanks to a clever idea, the Dallas Police Department has rigged cameras and tracking equipment in cars. They are left as bait for car thieves.
And do they take it or what? Oh, yeah. The result is a world you've never seen before, and a surprise the car thieves will never forget. Here is Ed Lavandera with tonight's "Eye Opener."
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ever wonder what car thieves do once they've swiped a hot new ride? Well, thanks to the magic of hidden cameras, now you can see for yourself.
First, they always look around for something else to steal. Some smile and laugh; some reach for the car's cell phone. Some brag about how easy it was. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just got in (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I got it from Wal-Mart (inaudible). I parked right next to it. They left their keys in it.
LAVANDERA: And the car thieves are as diverse as the cars they steal. There are male thieves and female thieves. There are young ones and even older ones.
Some like to drive to rap music; some prefer to go a little bit country.
Believe it or not, most put on their seatbelts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put on your seatbelt.
LAVANDERA: But there's nothing quite like that moment when the thieves realize they've been caught red-handed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The AC...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a minute. Is this a camera? Look.
LAVANDERA: These cameras are used by dozens of police departments nationwide in vehicles known as bait cars. Reid Stacy is a Dallas police officer. He says using these cars to catch criminals is just like hunters trying to catch their prey.
REID STACY, DALLAS POLICE DEPARTMENT: You know, if you go hunting, you've got to know exactly what you're looking for and you've got to know what kind of equipment you need to take care of the job.
LAVANDERA: Stacy and his fellow officers in the Dallas PD auto theft squad have a fleet of bait cars -- they won't say exactly how many -- but this Honda Civic is just the kind of car thieves love to steal. But you definitely don't want to steal this particular car.
ALBERT ALANIS, DALLAS POLICE OFFICER: For someone that doesn't know, they don't even think about that. They see the nice stereo, they see the nice wheels. You know, they hear the engine. The nice seats will be stripped for another vehicle.
LAVANDERA: The officers leave the bait cars in the parts of town where cars are most often stolen. Then they wait for the criminal to take the bait.
(on camera): All right, they're setting up the bait car now. The way it's going to work is, once it's armed, the moment this door opens, it triggers the alarm and sets off the videotape. And we'll take it out for a test drive.
Car's on. Looking around, you can't -- you know you're being videotaped, but you can't really see the camera anywhere.
(voice-over): A few miles away, in the police department's dispatch center, the bait car's movement sets off the alarm. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once the alarm goes off, here are the GPS coordinates of where the actual car is at. And once you start moving, you'll start to know when that car is moving and speed it's heading, and the direction it's traveling in.
LAVANDERA (on camera): I guess if I were really stealing this car, I'd be out of the parking lot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can tell right now that he has got the ignition on and he is traveling 19 miles an hour.
LAVANDERA: Everything seems to be going well so far.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can disable the ignition on that car at a click of a button.
LAVANDERA: I'm in second gear, and the car has completely just stalled out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The car is coming to a stop.
LAVANDERA: I'm trying to restart it, but nothing. Nothing. The car's -- car's dead.
(voice-over): As the car stalls out, the doors lock.
(on camera): That's it. I'm stuck. I can't get out. I can't open the doors.
(voice-over): Officers swoop in and make the arrest.
(on camera): It wasn't me, you know.
(voice-over): And just like that, our joy ride is over.
(on camera): Nice.
(voice-over): Because of these bait cars, Dallas police say auto theft has dropped 10 percent in the last year. Police departments nationwide are reporting similar trends. Officers hope it makes thieves think twice.
GREG FREGEUA, DALLAS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Just the thought of it possibly being one of our cars, hopefully someone will have second thoughts on stealing that car.
LAVANDERA: Richard Henderson has a lot of time to think about those bait cars. He was caught stealing one of them last year. We spoke inside the prison unit, where he's now serving a 35-year sentence for theft.
RICHARD HENDERSON, CONVICTED CAR THIEF: When I came over there, the music was up loud, the windows are left down and the truck is running. So I just got in the truck and drove off.
LAVANDERA: Officers dropped the truck off at a convenient store. Within moments, Henderson and a friend jump in and drive off. They drive for several minutes before police roll up on them. Henderson says he had no idea bait cars existed. The night he stole the truck, he says he was looking to make some quick money.
HENDERSON: When you're doing drugs, anything to get the next high, you're going to do it.
LAVANDERA: Henderson says leaving these cars in poor neighborhoods just isn't fair. He says what do you expect when something so tempting just sits there?
HENDERSON: If you set a truck out there with tools and stuff on the back of it, yes, it's going to get took. They know that. That's the problem. That's why they do it. They set a car out there with $2,000, $3,000 rim on it, yes, it's going to get took.
LAVANDERA: The FBI estimates that about 1.2 million cars are stolen every year in the United States. Police officers hope bait cars will help slow that trend down. Word appears to be spreading on the street. Proof is on the videotape. Just listen to these thieves wonder out loud if the car they're driving is a trap.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about those cars that you talked about where people leave them and (INAUDIBLE).
LAVANDERA: Listen to how confident the driver is that this isn't one of those cars.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They would have done it in the mall parking lot where it would have been safe to.
LAVANDERA: But when the police lights turn on, some just freak out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Damn, he got the gun out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands up in the car. Hands up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Damn.
LAVANDERA: The prize for the most entertaining bait car goes to the Columbus, Ohio, Police Department when a thief gets caught here...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, look what the...
LAVANDERA: The radio starts blaring the theme song to "Cops."
There's not much Richard Henderson can do. But this car thief has one piece of jailhouse advice.
HENDERSON: You all make sure you all stay away from those trucks or those cars.
LAVANDERA: Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: And we bring you breaking news now. This video just fed to us minutes ago from station KWTV, Oklahoma City. This is a tornado, as it was striking a town called El Reno, which is about 30 miles west of Oklahoma City. We have no idea how widespread the damage is at this point or exactly what this tornado hit, but this is absolutely incredible.
Our control room has been watching this for the better part of the last three or four minutes, actually watching this live as the helicopter pilot from KWTV fed it to us. We then had to tape delay the showing of it to you.
Once again, we are on the phone with officials in El Reno, Oklahoma, now, to determine what damage, if any, this tornado has done. And you can tell from this picture, we have no sense of how wide it is. But as we get more details, we will bring it to you live. Amazing to watch that, as it unfurls its fury there.
We move on now. Can the Charlie Sheen, Denise Richards divorce squabble get any messier than it is today?
Also, we'll show you the very latest in Congresswoman McKinney's life. A big headache over the weekend when she forgot she had a microphone on when she berated one of her staff members. Back with a whole lot more in just a moment.
ZAHN: Breaking news out of Oklahoma tonight. A tornado has ripped through the town of El Reno, Oklahoma. That is about 30 miles west of Oklahoma.
I grew up in the Midwest. I have seen a lot of twisters when they hit the ground, but these pictures are pretty darn amazing, taken by a helicopter pilot from KWTV at Oklahoma City.
Here's what we can tell you about the damage so far. We have just gotten these pictures in, showing one of the local airports with a pretty -- I guess you would call it sporadic damage here, where you see parts of the roof ripped off a plane hangar.
We don't know yet anything about what damage this might have done to residential areas. But clearly, this tornado packing a pretty strong punch, pretty alarming to watch as it worked its way through the area west of Oklahoma City.
There has been a particularly violent weather pattern moving through that part of the country tonight. I guess people should not be too surprised that particularly at this time of year that we would have tornadoes spawn out of that storm system.
Again, no reports of any injuries yet. It's just too early to tell how much damage has been caused other than by what you just saw on TV, what appears to be limited damage to a local airport there. We will come back to the storm if we get more information for you. But right now, we change our focus quite a bit. It seems we all know a little too much about Charlie Sheen, his wife and their divorce. The details are ugly, charges of Internet porn, abuse and a whole lot more. And they are making the headlines today. And it just happens to be the latest example of how much information there is out there these days about celebrities and what used to be their private lives.
Here is entertainment correspondent Brooke Anderson.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Drugs, gambling, prostitutes, gay porn sites, violence, even death threats.
These are just some of the reasons actress Denise Richards alleges her estranged husband Charlie Sheen, should remain at least 300 yards away from her and their two daughters. In a 17-page court document, Richards launched a searing attack against the actor Friday to secure a temporary restraining order, which was granted.
HARVEY LEVIN, MANAGING EDITOR, TMZ.COM: She threw the kitchen sink at him, basically saying that he frequents gay Web sites, he frequents Web sites with girls who look underage. He has a madame, she says. He has threatened her life. He has pushed her, threatened her parents life, has a gambling problem.
ANDERSON: Richards says she fears for her life, claiming Sheen threatened to kill her and told her he hopes she gets breast cancer or cancer in her face and dies. The 35-year-old actress claims her 40- year-old husband cursed at her in front of her children and urged her to have an abortion when she was expecting their first child.
Sheen denies the blistering allegations and tells CNN, quote, "This is a most obvious, immature and transparent smear campaign designed to hurt, embarrass and utility extort me. I deeply regret her response to my request for the court to decide what's best for our children has taken the form of baseless allegations that I deny. For the sake of my children, I am electing not to reciprocate in kind."
Harvey Levin, a lawyer and managing editor of the entertainment Web site tmz.com says every case like this boils down to credibility.
LEVIN: If the judge believes these allegations, that could affect his right to have custody or visitation. On the other hand, if the judge says, "Look, she's making a lot of this stuff up, that could then radically change the nature of custody and visitation."
ANDERSON: The pair married in June 2002. Richards filed for divorce in March 2005, while expecting their second child. Attempts at reconciliation failed and divorce proceedings are again under way.
(on camera): The shocking allegations in this high-profile celebrity case and others before it are front-page news.
(voice-over): Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger's bitter custody battle over daughter Ireland made headlines when the two fired harsh words at each other. Baldwin asking for a psychological evaluation of the actress. Basinger's lawyer saying they believed Baldwin had severe emotional problems.
Rapper Eminem recently filed for divorce from wife Kim Mathers for the second time, after just three months of marriage. Eminem even fantasized about her death in his 2000 song "Kim." But celebrities' personal lives weren't always so public.
BRADLEY JACOBS, SENIOR EDITOR, US WEEKLY: Back then, it was more controlled. There were only a few newspapers that even cared to write about celebrity news and very few magazines. Now, it's a huge industry.
ANDERSON: And so the saga continues in Richards v. Sheen, a battle being fought before our very eyes. Brooke Anderson, CNN, Hollywood.
ZAHN: And one more thing. According to "People" magazine over the weekend, Charlie Sheen's soon to be ex-wife Denise Richards was spotted holding hands and kissing at an L.A. cafe with Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora. I know you didn't ask us to tell you that, but that is the latest from our entertainment sources.
Time now though for the "Headline News Biz Break" from Sophia Choi.
ZAHN: On Wall Street today, the Dow lost 11 points, Nasdaq was down nine, the S&P was lower by three. Just reinforcing what Sophia said at the top of the hour.
We're going to take a short break. We'll be back right after this.
ZAHN: Now No. 2 on our CNN.com countdown, a story we've been following, the murder trial of a priest accused of killing a nun nearly three decades ago. Today, two nuns told the jury how they discovered the victim.
No. 1, in California, this is a really weird story. Rescue crews find the body of a man who was killed when a huge hole opened beneath his house. Authorities say he was at home where the floor simply opened up underneath him. They say the house was probably built on one of the many abandoned mines in the area.
We take you back to Oklahoma tonight, where there is some very rough weather moving through there. There is a severe thunderstorm system that just spawned, we are told. Two tornadoes, one of which you are watching here, fed to us by a helicopter pilot from KWTV. We've just been given some information from the National Weather Service in Norman telling us that this storm is capable of producing more tornadoes, that this storm hit about 30 miles west of Oklahoma City, it's moving 20 miles-per-hour.
And the most interesting thing they've told us, which should be very disturbing to the folks who live there, is that the storm system is strong enough that it could produce, according to the National Weather Service, a tornado four miles wide.
Now from this perspective, it's very tough to tell how wide this particular tornado is. Now I'm going to show you some pictures that have also just been fed to us by a local affiliate there.
This is the local airport. We believe outside of El Reno where you can see some damage done to roofs of an airplane hangar there. We are told there are tornado warnings throughout this whole Canadian county in central Oklahoma.
They are advising anybody in mobile homes and cars to go seek shelter. Or if they can find an interior room, that's where they would be most safe. We will have more information for you throughout the night. Thanks so much for joining us tonight. See you again tomorrow night.
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