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A Yellow-Eyed Man is Sought in the Shooting of a 46-year-old Philadelphia Police Officer in the Course of the Robbery of a Neighborhood Bar and Grill; Family Grieves After Young Man Has Gone Missing From a Cruise Ship
Aired May 17, 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, breaking developments on one of the single largest manhunts in Philadelphia history, an all-out hunt for justice after a masked man, a double-fisted killer, a gun in each hand, including one of these, a sawed-off shotgun, guns down a long-time local cop. After holding an entire bar, all the customers, hostage at gunpoint, the killer turned his gun on a police veteran and opened fire. The only clue, the killer has yellow eyes.
And tonight, believe it or not, yet another American goes missing from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship en route to a private island.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had a phone call, and that`s when he called me, says, Daniel`s gone!
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GRACE: Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. Tonight, a 21-year-old American, finally on vacation, takes to the high seas on Royal Caribbean`s luxury liner Mariner of the Seas and then vanishes, the disappearance reported immediately, but ship officials don`t alert U.S. Coast Guard until eight long hours later.
But first tonight: Who killed a veteran Philly cop? A local hero gunned down during a robbery, a sketch, a jacket, a baseball cap and yellow-tinted eyes the only clues in the search for a cold-blooded killer. Tonight, we are taking your calls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police offered up a mannequin today and dressed it with a replica of the jacked worn by the officer Skerski`s killer at Pat`s Cafe. It is all-cotton (ph), with "state property" written across the chest. There is plenty of State Property brand clothing out there, but police say any clue could be helpful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you know somebody who has a jacket like this -- this is the shade we believe is an exact -- exact shade of the jacket that was worn that night -- and also the Yankees cap, we need that information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: This police officer, Officer Skerski, leaves behind a 13-year- old son, a 10-year-old little girl and a grieving widow. After he rushes to the aid of patrons at a restaurant bar there in Philadelphia, the killer, a two-fisted killer, opened fire with a sawed-off shotgun in one hand, a pistol in the other hand. He shot the officer directly in the neck.
Straight out to our reporter David Gambacorta. He`s with us from "The Philadelphia Daily News," alone with Simone Weichselbaum. Welcome.
To David. Bring us up to date.
DAVID GAMBACORTA, "PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS": Sure, Nancy. Earlier today, police started re-interviewing witnesses and neighbors near the bar in the lower northeast. Several of them said they saw a small car pull up in front of the bar at the time the shooting occurred, and they`re trying to figure out if that could be a possible accomplice. People are also looking at a number of robberies from the area, going back to January, to try to figure out if this gunman possibly struck in the area before.
GRACE: Now, David, you mentioned a car. Correct me if I`m wrong, but isn`t it a silver gray SUV or minivan?
GAMBACORTA: That`s right. The suspect escaped in a silver SUV or minivan, but neighbors told cops that they saw a small red or orange car back up in front of the bar at the time of the shooting. So at this point, they`re trying to establish whether or not that`s just someone who lived in the area or if it`s a possible accomplice.
GRACE: Also with us, Simone Weichselbaum. Thank you for being with us, Simone. Let`s talk about this for a moment. Was there a wheel man?
SIMONE WEICHSELBAUM, "PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS": Well, police believe there might be a second accomplice available. They`re not particularly sure. They just told us at a press conference a few days ago, information led them to believe this. They wouldn`t go into detail, what that information was. But police did tell the media, Hey, look out for a second person involved in this case.
GRACE: Well, let`s think this thing through for a moment. We are talking about one of the single largest manhunts in Philadelphia history, a veteran officer -- who, PS, had volunteered to work overtime that evening to help out with one of the mayor`s initiatives for Operation Safer Streets. He was working double-time -- that`s right -- to protect the people of Philadelphia when he was gunned down.
I want top go back to our two reporters, David Gambacorta and Simone Weichselbaum. Simone, lay it out for me. What happened that night?
WEICHSELBAUM: Sure. It was around 10:00 o`clock on a Monday night, you know, slow night for a neighborhood tavern. It was called Pat`s Cafe. It`s on a tree-lined block in a really nice neighborhood in Philadelphia. About 12 people are inside the bar, you know, drinking. I interviewed three people that night -- I mean, on Friday night -- who were there. I talked to a couple who were, you know, playing darts. Another gentleman was drinking beer.
All of a sudden, a masked man walks into their bar, their neighborhood bar, yelling, This ain`t Halloween, mother-bleep. And I`m not going to swear on air. Told everyone, you know, close the blinds, get down, put their hands up, shoving women around. He went into the ladies room, ordered women outside of the ladies room. One guy I interviewed said he shoved the shotgun in his face, ordered him to get off his barstool and shut the blinds. The man I interviewed told me, Hey, I can`t close the blinds, I can`t close the blinds, and the guy, you know, said, Hey, sit back down.
And this went on, from what I was told, for about 20 minutes. And then one of the women, before she was ordered out of the ladies room, managed to call 911, luckily. Officer Skerski and his partner, I believe Officer Alexander (ph), arrived. I was told by the patrons in the bar that they saw Officer Alexander peer in the window, that same front window, you know, by chance the guy couldn`t close. Then the bad guy, you know, also saw the person peering in the window . You know, he got scared. He said, I`m leaving. Patrons said he even threatened the copy, saying, you know, Get rid of this cop or I will, or something of that nature.
He then ordered them, you know, Where`s the back door, leaves out of the back door. Patrons say, oh, they heard the shotgun, one loud blast. One guy I interviewed said he saw Officer Skerski stumble to the ground bleeding. And these are people who are, you know, terrified for 20 minutes, and that ended their night of horror.
GRACE: Is it true that some of the patrons heard this guy say, I`m going to get rid of this cop?
WEICHSELBAUM: The people I interviewed did tell us that, yes.
GRACE: Well, OK. To Anne Bremner. There goes your accident defense that the gun just went off. He said pointblank, I`m going to get rid of this cop. It`s over!
ANNE BREMNER, TRIAL ATTORNEY: It is over, Nancy. I mean, if they find this perpetrator, it is over. It`s premeditated. And you know, I represent police officers, including the Seattle Police Department, and I`m always on the side of the cop. And they have the most horrible job, especially when one falls in the line of duty.
And in this case, with the yellow eyes, the eyes have it. I mean, Nancy, when was the last time you saw someone with yellow eyes? It was probably when you were in the prosecutor`s officer, when you were prosecuting somebody for an offense. He`s going to be easy to find, in a lot of ways.
GRACE: Let`s go out to a very special guest, I hear in my ear is now joining us, the mayor of Philadelphia, Mayor John F. Street. Mayor, thank you for being with us.
MAYOR JOHN F. STREET, PHILADELPHIA: Thank you for having me, Nancy. This was a terrible, terrible tragedy, and our entire city is in mourning over the loss of a family member, and we absolutely will not relent until we find the thug that assassinated the member of our family. And I can tell you that we`ve pulled out all of the stops. We`re going to find him, and justice will be done in this case.
GRACE: Take a listen to this, Mayor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you know somebody who has jacket like this, this is the shade -- we believe it`s an exact -- the exact shade of the jacket that was worn that night -- and also the Yankees cap. We need that information called in to us.
The way that he handled those weapons goes beyond what you would think would be the normal bad guy hold-up man handling a weapon, that he may have had something to do with the service or something along those lines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Joining us, the mayor of Philadelphia. There is no more disturbing crime than the death of a cop, the cold-blooded killing of a cop. And very often, Mayor, you will hear civilians like myself things like, Why is a cop`s life more important than mine? It`s because a cop isn`t just a cop. A cop is a symbol of our justice system. And when you gun down a cop, you are taking a hit at Lady Justice herself!
Mayor, what is Philadelphia doing tonight to find Skerski`s killer?
STREET: Well, the first thing we`ve done is posted a $125,000 reward, which is really the largest reward that we have given in the modern history of our city. In addition to which, we have deployed virtually every reasonable police officer, and we are using all of the methods that we can use to make sure that we bring this killer to justice.
We have a great police department, a wonderful police chief, and they do a wonderful job. But we have to send a message here that those people who think it`s all right to gun down members of our law enforcement community are going to have to pay a price for it. And we are urging all of the citizens, everywhere, if you have any little piece of information that you think is helpful, please tell it to us because if our police -- the members of our police department can`t do their jobs, and if they have to run the risk of being assassinated the way Officer Skerski was assassinated, then no one is safe. And we will not relent until we get the killer.
But this is -- this kind of violence is seen more and more in cities around the country. As you know, Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Menino from Boston and Mayor Williams from Washington and mayors from 15 other cities around the country recently met to talk about the problems of crime and violence in our cities and the proliferation of illegal guns that has created a huge problem for cities.
GRACE: Well, Mayor -- Mayor, you`re absolutely right. It`s my understanding that after the police tried to conduct a dragnet, stopping cars in the area, the very first five cars they stopped yielded five guns hidden in the car.
Let`s go to the lines. Maryann in Pennsylvania. Hi, Maryann.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. How are you?
GRACE: I`m good. What`s your question, dear.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is...
GRACE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted to let you know Officer Skerski was the greatest community leader we had. I knew him personally, and he helped us with a lot of issues in our neighborhood ourself. And we lost a great, great man. My other question -- my question is, the ultimate -- this is a death penalty issue, is this correct?
GRACE: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Elizabeth, let`s see the map of the death penalty across the country. We are showing you footage from the killing, from the robbery. And we here -- there you go. Pennsylvania is a death penalty state, is my understanding. And in this case, it`s simple Trial 101 as to whether or not this will be a death penalty case.
As you well know, Anne Bremner, there has to be aggravating circumstances.
GRACE: Number one, killing a cop. That qualifies. Number two...
GRACE: ... death in the commission of a felony. So you`ve got armed robbery and multiple aggravated assaults.
GRACE: End of story.
BREMNER: Ends of story. It is a death penalty case, and the cases that cry out for the death penalty, Nancy, are the cases when you kill an officer in the line of duty.
GRACE: Take a listen to what a fellow officer has to say.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess the most important thing to say about Gary, he was the real deal. When somebody passes away, unfortunately, you hear a lot of accolades about them. Everything you`ll hear said and written about Gary is absolutely true. He was the real deal. He came across. There was no persona. He was who he was. He was an honor and pleasure to work with.
He`s going to horribly missed. I don`t know what to say. He was a great guy. He was an ace. I wish I could give him more tribute, but he`s going to be sadly missed by everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: You know, it`s amazing to me -- with us, Chief Inspector Joseph Fox with the Philadelphia PD. Sir, it`s an honor to have you on. It`s amazing to me a freak like this killer can walk the streets, double- fisted, sawed-off shotgun which owning one, having one in your possession - - this is a sawed-off shotgun from a case I prosecuted a long, long time ago. A sawed-off shotgun can easily be concealed up your sleeve, inside a coat, down a workout jacket, like this guy had on. Having it alone is a crime.
But long story short, Chief Inspector, how can people walk the streets of Philadelphia, a sawed-off in one hand, a handgun in the other hand, and just walk into a bar? I don`t get it!
JOSEPH FOX, CHIEF INSPECTOR, PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, that`s a good question, Nancy. And thank you for having us tonight. We`re fighting an uphill battle right now with the amount of weaponry that`s on the streets in the city of Philadelphia. And there`s a large push on to try to limit the purchases of weapons to one gun per month, and we`re totally in agreement with that. That`s one of the avenues that has to be - - has to be taken.
But just as important is our judicial system. You know, the courts have got to step up and take responsibility for the fact that they`re turning a lot of these thugs back out on the street.
GRACE: Well, Chief, Chief, Chief! You hit the nail on the head because one of the things this guy said was, I`m a wanted man. Nobody`s going to take me alive. I`m going down with a fight. Wanted man? If he`s telling the truth -- of course, who knows if this guy`s telling the truth - - - he already has a record. So you`re dead on. Somewhere, this guy has slipped through the cracks.
And let me tell you something -- Chief Inspector Joseph Fox with us -- it was in Philadelphia that I decided to go to law school. I have a very fond place in my heart for Philly, and I am sick about this! What can you tell me about what you learned at the scene? What kind of handgun was used.
FOX: Well, we don`t have a definite make on the handgun. We do know there was a sawed-off shotgun, and that is, in fact, the murder weapon. What we`ve -- we`ve been able to gather some forensic evidence. That evidence is now being extensively analyzed at the criminalistics lab in Quantico, Virginia, the FBI lab. It`s been run through our local labs, and also the state laboratories. And our hope is that when we bring in a suspect, that we`ll be able to use that forensic evidence...
FOX: ... to help identify him and place him at the scene.
GRACE: Back to the mayor of Philadelphia. Joining us tonight, Mayor John F. Street. Sir, thank you for being with us. Mayor, what are you doing, as mayor, to keep our police officers safe on the street?
STREET: Well, I can tell you that we have a very special program that`s designed to go after every person for whom there is a bench warrant for failure to appear. We have targeted every person that has been involved in a crime of violence for which there is a bench warrant or for failure to appear. And we are chasing them down in a very systematic and regular way. Unfortunately, because there is this proliferation of weapons on the streets, it makes it very difficult for us to corner all the bad guys and all the guns. But I can tell you that we have a very comprehensive program to deal constructively with the problem of crime and violence.
STREET: Violence overall in our city is down by almost 17 percent, but it is the guns, it is the proliferation of guns that has made it extremely difficult for the men and women of our police department...
STREET: ... to get their arms around the shootings.
GRACE: I want to ask you a question. We were just showing footage of the funeral of Skerski, and I saw his two beautiful children, red hair shining in the sun, the widow crying. Has a fund been set up at all to help his family?
STREET: Yes. There is -- of course, the FOP (ph) and the city have a fund that will be used to make sure that the...
STREET: ... Officer Skerski`s children get an education. But also, there has been a huge, huge community effort to make sure that this family is taken care of. The saddest moment in the life of a mayor is to have to be at a hospital when a family like Officer Skerski`s family gets the news that a loved one is gone. I was there that night, and I was with the mother of the children and the wife and the parents and the family. It is just a devastating situation.
GRACE: Officer Skerski leaves behind a 13-year-old boy, a 10-year-old girl and widow. Won`t you help us? Tip line 215-546-TIPS, the reward skyrocketing to $125,000 tonight for Skerski`s killer.
Very quickly, tonight`s "Case Alert." A lawsuit filed by parents of missing Alabama teen Natalee Holloway in court at New York supreme court level, Beth Twitty, Dave Holloway seeking damages from the family of Dutch judge`s son Joran Van Der Sloot, as you know, named a prime suspect in the case. The Alabama girl vanished in Aruba nearly one year ago this month.
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JOE TACOPINA, JORAN VAN DER SLOOT`S ATTORNEY: This is not a situation where we`re afraid of the facts. Aruba is the appropriate forum. As I`ve said before and I said today in court, Aruba is the place this case should be tried, if they wanted to try this case. As a matter of fact, if they were ready to serve us the papers today, you know, moving the case to Aruba, we`d gladly accept on behalf of our clients. They`re not afraid of the facts of the litigation, they just want a fair shot at defending the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police are looking into how the robbery and killing at Pat`s Tavern might fit into a series of armed hold-ups across northeast Philadelphia in the month before the Skerski killing. A number of bars, gas stations and convenience stores were hit. Shotguns and pistols were used alternately, but never simultaneously, as in the Skerski case. The suspects, sources say, were black males, but not exactly fitting the description of Gary Skerski`s killer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: A masked man goes into a crowded grill. He`s armed with two guns, opens fire on a cop. The murder weapon, we learned tonight, was one of these, a sawed-off shotgun, a violation of the law in itself to possess.
I want to go straight out to a special guest with us, the chief inspector there in Philadelphia, Joseph Fox. Sir, when I hear about him jumping into the car, he had to have a wheel man. He had to have a get- away guy.
FOX: Well, we`ve had some witnesses that do place him getting into a gray SUV. As I believe it was Simone who mentioned earlier, there are some indications that there was a small red auto that was in that vicinity that took off at a high rate of speed also. We don`t really have him connected concretely to either one of those two vehicles. We`re still -- we`re still trying to work that out, but...
GRACE: Sir, did he get into the driver`s side?
FOX: Well, one of the witnesses for the SUV says, Yes, he got into the driver`s side of that vehicle. Although, I should -- let me clarify that. The witness believes that a male got into that side, not necessarily the shooter. She`s not able to positively identify him as the shooter in the case. That`s why we haven`t steadfastly said that he did get away in that SUV.
GRACE: Very quickly, to Dr. Daniel Spitz, forensic pathologist. The killer has been described as having yellow-tinted eyes. Explain.
DR. DANIEL SPITZ, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Well, oftentimes, a yellow tint to the eyes indicates jaundice, which is generally associated with some kind of liver condition, maybe cirrhosis of the liver, maybe hepatitis. But it doesn`t go away, so when he`s caught, hopefully in the near future, it should still be there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was everything to the 15th district. He was really the heart and the soul and the -- he was an amazing man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: We want to help find a cold-blooded cop killer. Can you help us? A masked man with yellow-tinted eyes gunned down 46-year-old Officer Gary Skerski, leaving behind a widow, a 13-year-old boy, a 10-year-old girl. Take a look at this surveillance video. The perp is between 6 and 6-2. He`s right-handed. He had a sawed-off shotgun and a handgun.
To Shirley Gibson, the former president of COPS, Concerns of Police Survivors. Your son was killed as a police officer. How is this affecting Skerski`s family?
SHIRLEY GIBSON, FORMER PRES. OF COPS, SON KILLED ON DUTY: Hello, Nancy. Hi. Nancy?
GRACE: Yes, Ms. Gibson.
GIBSON: Yes. As you just said, I am former president of Concerns of Police Survivors. Jean Hill (ph), the newly installed president, just left Washington, D.C., after a week of National Police Week, where we had 2,100 survivors from all over the country to come here to have -- to have their fallen officers honored.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a shame and society`s headed in a bad way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unacceptable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unacceptable, exactly. He had no respect for life, no respect for anybody. If they were going to do it to a police officer, they have no problem doing it to a citizen. So I think it`s a disgrace, and hopefully the suspect or suspects will be caught soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Imagine sitting at a local cafe right down the street from your apartment or home minding your business when a masked man comes in, wielding a sawed-off shotgun and a revolver in the other hand, a double- fisted killer, holds them to your head, and then you watch as he guns a local police officer, a 16-year veteran on the police force, down in cold blood.
That is just what happened in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. Forty-six-year-old officer Gary Skerski, a 16-year veteran, gunned down, leaving behind a 13-year-old boy, a 10-year-old girl, and a widow.
What do we know about the killer? Out to Joseph Fox, the chief inspector, Philadelphia P.D.
Tell me about the video, Chief. Has it been enhanced?
FOX: The FBI is currently working on enhancing the video. What we know about the male is that he`s a black male, about 6 foot tall. He weighs about 150 to 160 pounds, 30 years old, and he was wearing the items that were displayed in that poster.
GRACE: OK, let`s go through the items. You know, I`ll go through it with Simone. Simone Weichselbaum is with us, along with David Gambacorta, from the "Philadelphia Daily News."
Tell me about what this guy is wearing, Simone.
WEICHSELBAUM: He has on a State Property jacket, popular in the hip- hop work.
GRACE: Hold on. Hold on.
WEICHSELBAUM: All right, sorry.
GRACE: Well, State Property, well, right off the bat, typically an old prosecutor like myself would think state property is evidence of a crime. But, in fact, it`s a very popular brand of clothing, very popular, as Simone said, in the hip-hop community. Go ahead, Simone.
WEICHSELBAUM: Actually, a tidbit about State Property. It was started by Bennie Siegel, a local rapper here in Philadelphia. There was some controversy when it first came out, because they actually inserted pockets which was meant for people to carry their weapons in, so State Property...
GRACE: Oh, good lord.
WEICHSELBAUM: No, true story. A lot of controversy around that name brand of clothing, so...
GRACE: Are you trying to make me crazy?
WEICHSELBAUM: No, it`s the truth. You can look it up.
GRACE: Oh, God. OK. Go ahead, State Property jacket.
And, Liz, if it you can, show the picture as much as you can.
WEICHSELBAUM: He also has on a dark-colored Yankees cap, pulled down over the head, as well as a ski mask. So, obviously, you know, the person who did this was thinking, "Hey, I don`t want people to see me." And all people could see was his eyes. And funny enough, it seems that his eyes is the best characteristic of this gentleman, because they had that weird, yellow tint.
GRACE: You mean, in the whites of his eyes, it was yellow tinted?
WEICHSELBAUM: Yes, that`s what the police told the media, as Joe Fox can explain.
GRACE: And to Dr. Daniel Spitz, forensic pathologist, you say that`s from some type of liver disorder?
SPITZ: Yes, generally it indicates some type of liver failure, could be early liver failure, and liver failure could be the relate of hepatitis or some type of cirrhosis from alcohol use, something along those lines.
GRACE: To Dr. Spitz, Officer Skerski was shot in the neck. What did he go through before he died?
SPITZ: Well, obviously, it`s a very painful situation. You`re going to have probably difficulty breathing. There`s going to be blood vessels that are going to have been injured as a result of the -- as a result of the wound. There`s going to be a lot of blood loss. It`s not an immediate death by any stretch, and he has certainly suffered along the way.
GRACE: So he suffered.
Let`s go to the lines, Lindsay in Toronto. Hi, Lindsay.
CALLER: Hi, Nancy, love your show.
GRACE: Thank you, dear.
CALLER: I have a question. Does the shooting seem to be random or an intentional shooting, the location of the shooting, that being a beef with the owner or a past patron or what have you?
GRACE: I`ve got a theory on that. Good question because that, Lindsay, could actually narrow down, to some extent, who the killer is.
Back to our chief joining us, Chief Inspector Joseph Fox, are there large apartment complexes or housing projects around Pat`s Cafe, close to Pat`s Cafe?
FOX: Not in that immediate vicinity. We don`t believe that the killer was from that immediate area, which is one of the reasons that we believe that he used a vehicle to make his escape.
GRACE: Why do you say that?
FOX: The immediate neighborhood is more single-family homes. It`s not -- there`s a large park diagonally across the street. The tree-lined, single-family homes, it just -- and if he were...
GRACE: Well, well, Chief...
FOX: First of all, if he were a resident of that immediate neighborhood -- believe me when I tell you this -- with the response that we`ve gotten from the patrons in that cafe and the neighbors, we would know who he is by now.
GRACE: Chief, another person on the department told us that there are two large housing projects 1 1/2 miles away from Pat`s Cafe. Could that be true?
FOX: Yes, that`s true, a mile and a half away. But what I`m talking about is the very immediate vicinity. That`s a neighborhood tavern where the patrons kind of walk up to that tavern.
GRACE: OK, so 1 1/2 miles -- Inspector, I`m trying to get as much info out to the viewers as I can, as quickly as I can, so...
GRACE: ... this is also near a bus stop, correct?
FOX: That`s correct.
GRACE: Wouldn`t that lead you to believe that this is someone that has seen Pat`s Cafe? They didn`t just see it that time, the first time in their life? They obviously had to stake it out to some degree.
FOX: Well, we do know that the subject stood outside the bar for a minimum of 30 minutes just prior to entering and starting his hold-up. And we have witnesses that...
GRACE: Now, Inspector, if they were out there for 30 minutes, certainly they didn`t have a mask over their face on the street. There had to be an eyewitness that saw him, if they placed them there for 30 minutes.
FOX: Well, that`s right, Nancy, and that`s where we`re getting the composite sketch from.
GRACE: Got you. Got you.
FOX: That sketch is produced by the witnesses who saw him waiting outside.
GRACE: That leads me to the next question.
To a veteran defense attorney joining us, along with Anne Bremner, Joe Lawless from the city of Philadelphia. Joe, the police have now released new sketches of this guy, Skerski`s killer. How accurate?
JOE LAWLESS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, these sketches, particularly the ones that are drawn here in Philadelphia, can be uncanny. I`ve been involved and I`ve seen cases where you get the sketch, they arrest the perpetrator, and it looks like a photograph.
So I would say it`s probably a pretty fair bet that this is a pretty accurate depiction of this guy who, if he hung around for a half hour outside the bar before he decided to rob it, is clearly not a rocket scientist.
GRACE: Another question, back to our chief inspector, there have been over 200 tips so far. How do you narrow them down?
FOX: It`s a process of elimination. We have a fair-sized task force working on it. Many of the tips we`re able to eliminate the subjects rather quickly and then the others...
FOX: ... they would require follow-up work.
GRACE: Everybody, take a look at this video.
Liz, would you mean running it again? I`ve been looking at it and I believe have deduced that the killer is right-handed. If you take a look at the way he handles the sawed-off, he uses his right hand as the trigger finger and the left hand to steady the weapon.
Take a look at this guy. Put it back up again, Liz, please. Can anybody help us? The tip line tonight: 215-546-TIPS. Reward: $125,000, the largest ever offered locally.
Let`s go to the lines, Richard in New York. Hi, Richard.
CALLER: Hello Nancy. You do a wonderful job.
GRACE: Bless you.
CALLER: I have one question for you.
CALLER: You know, some hotshot lawyer was waiting to get his hands on and defend this guy...
CALLER: ... all excuses to let him free. What can be done to prevent this man, this lawyer, from doing these techniques and get him free?
GRACE: I`ve got some very bad news for you: absolutely nothing. But I`ll tell you the defense attack is going to be on the eyewitnesses, because this guy had his face covered from here down. They`ll have to be inside information to crack this case.
Won`t you help us tonight, everyone? This man, take a look at him, wearing a State Property jacket, a Yankees cap, 6 feet to 6`2", light- skinned black male, yellow tinted hair, $125,000 out there for you if you can help. He is a cop-killer.
To tonight`s "Case Alert." An online game based on the `99 Columbine High School massacre shocking victims` families. "Super Columbine Massacre RPG" puts players in the boots and trench coats of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. Klebold and Harris shot 12 students dead and a teacher, wounding over 20, before then turning the guns on themselves.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On July 5, 1999, my son, James Christopher Scavone, vanished from the Carnival cruise ship "Destiny." He had just turned 22 years old and had just graduated from college.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were more focused on planning the next day`s shore activities in Saint Martin than protecting crucial evidence and evidence pertaining to two of their missing passengers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... at that point, we discovered for the first time the fact that our daughter had been reported missing, daily starting August 29th, and no action was taken.
REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: Even when the law is clear, the effective reach of U.S. authority depends on the willingness and ability of cruise ship operators.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my opinion, the current system is broke.
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GRACE: Alleged victims of the cruise line industry. Believe it or not, another young American gone off a cruise with Royal Caribbean. Let`s go straight out to Jeff Gallop with FloridaToday.com.
Jeff, tell me what happened this time.
JD GALLOP, FLORIDATODAY.COM: Well, simply the latest information that we have in this tragedy is this. The search right now for Daniel DiPiero is over. We confirmed, through a statement obtained from Royal Caribbean, that the FBI, along with Coast Guard investigators, talked to several of his cabin mates to figure out exactly what happened and to get down to the bottom of this mystery. And what they`ve found is that another story of a young man out at sea, enjoying himself, and getting involved with drinking.
GRACE: You know, I want to go to our psychologist, Michelle Callahan. After all the headlines regarding the missing groom, 26-year-old George Smith, now another young man, just 21 years old, goes missing. What is the family going through? I mean, we`ve just had a huge P.R. blitz about George Smith. Now, essentially the same thing happens on another Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
MICHELLE CALLAHAN, PSYCHOLOGIST: The family`s absolutely devastated, particularly because they have called off the search. I mean, that`s like saying, "Your son`s life is a lost cause. You can forget about ever finding him again."
Hearing these stories, families are expecting something to be done about this, for it to be less of a problem instead of a continuing, ongoing problem, where it seems as if the cruise lines don`t even really care about these particular individuals.
GRACE: Joining us also is George Fowler. He often represents Royal Caribbean, not in this particular case. What is the cruise line`s response?
GEORGE FOWLER, MARITIME ATTORNEY: Well, the cruise line, I think they`re very distraught about the death of this young man. Royal Caribbean is composed of individuals, people; it`s just not a corporation. I know them. They`re good people. They`re gentle people, and they`re very saddened by this incident, Nancy. They view this as a great tragedy.
GRACE: Well, actually, a Royal Caribbean cruise line rep was here on the show, and this is what she had to say about congressional hearings that have been called about cruise line crime.
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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.
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GRACE: OK. I want to go back to Jeff Gallop with "Florida Today." What`s the time line? I mean, where was this guy? What happened?
GALLOP: OK. Well, he was with his friends. First off, the ship disembarked from Port Canaveral on Sunday. He was with his friends throughout the evening. In fact, they were seen having dinner together, including a bottle of wine. And this is all according to the Royal Caribbean press statement that was released only two hours ago.
His friends last saw him at around 11:00 p.m. that night. And, after that, he disappeared.
The next day, his friends noticed -- or couldn`t find him aboard the ship. They were already at the private island of Coco Cay, and they notified the authorities on the vessel.
That`s when they went back, reviewed security camera videotape, and found that they had an image of a young man they believe was Daniel leaning against a rail on the bow of the ship, and that was the last time he was seen.
GRACE: Now, it`s my understanding that he was lounging, maybe asleep, on one of the deck chairs from about 12:00 -- what was it, Ellie, until about 2:00 a.m.?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
GRACE: And then he stood up and was leaning against the railing. The video caught him there. He walked away from the railing and then was never seen again.
You are taking a look at the "Mariner of the Seas." This is a Royal Caribbean luxury cruise liner.
To Petty Officer Dana Warr with the U.S. Coast Guard, thank you for being with us, Officer. Why has the search been called off?
PETTY OFFICER DANA WARR, U.S. COAST GUARD: Hi, Nancy. The search has been called of because we`ve really saturated over 900 square miles of ocean in the Bahamian waters and we feel there is no reasonable information for survivability.
GRACE: Officer Warr, why did eight long hours pass before the ship alerted the U.S. Coast Guard?
WARR: Well, the cruise ship is a very large ship. It carries 2,000 to 3,000 passengers plus crew.
WARR: And when something like that happens, they have to go through a notification process.
GRACE: Oh, I see.
WARR: They have to have a space accountability.
GRACE: Right, they have to look everywhere on the ship.
GRACE: Very quickly, what is the water temperature in the area where you`re searching?
WARR: The water was approximately 77 degrees throughout this week.
GRACE: OK, so he could have survived.
Very quickly, let`s go to Monica in Iowa. Hi, Monica.
CALLER: Hi, Nancy, I just love your show.
GRACE: Thank you.
CALLER: I got a question.
CALLER: If people keep on, like, disappearing or whatever on them ships, is there, like, a government that can close the Royal Caribbean down or something?
GRACE: Well, I don`t know that they can close them down but, in response to your question, Congress is doing something about all of these claims. They`re actually having congressional hearings to determine if legislation should be passed.
To Son M. Pham with International Cruise Victims, Son, what happened to your parents?
SON M. PHAM, INTERNATIONAL CRUISE VICTIMS: Almost a year ago, actually on Mother`s Day this year, my parents went on a cruise with my sister, my niece, and another family friend, and they never came home. We still don`t know what happened to them.
GRACE: What cruise line?
M. PHAM: Carnival cruise line, on the "Destiny."
GRACE: Have they been aiding you in your search for your family?
M. PHAM: Oh, yes. I tell you, it`s unbelievable the amount of aid. They don`t call us back. They don`t tell us anything.
Literally, after the congressional hearing on March 7th, finally I got through to them on the phone line with one of the head lobbyists, ICCL, president of ICCL, and asked specifically the question on surveillance camera on the ship, and they promised me they would give back to me and give me the answers. And to today, a month and a half later. It`s been more than a year and no answers on my parents.
GRACE: Tonight, we remember Army Specialist Frederick Carlson, just 25, from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, killed, Iraq. Carlson hoped to study law enforcement. He leaves behind an 11-month-old son and a beautiful girlfriend. Frederick Carlson, an American hero.
Very quickly to our cruise line story. To Anne Bremner, what`s your defense for the cruise line?
ANNE BREMNER, TRIAL ATTORNEY: Well, one in every -- one in a thousand...
GRACE: Buh-buh-buh-buh, spit it out!
BREMNER: Nancy, I have so much to say and let me just say this. The odds on dying on a cruise ship are about the same as being struck by lightning.
GRACE: OK, excellent defense.
GRACE: Excellent defense. "The odds are with you."
OK, Joe Lawless, can you top that one?
LAWLESS: I don`t think we have any evidence anything happened other than he`s not there. If he fell off the boat, he fell off the boat. It could just as easily and tragically have been from drinking. We just don`t know. There`s no evidence.
GRACE: I want to go very quickly to the lines. Debbie in California, hi, Debbie.
CALLER: Hi, Nancy. I love your show.
GRACE: What`s your question, dear? Thank you.
CALLER: And I love what you do. How come they didn`t report him earlier?
GRACE: Well, it`s my understanding -- correct me if I`m wrong, Jeff Gallop -- they did an all-ship board search. And within eight hours are him missing, they called U.S. Coast Guard, correct, Jeff?
GALLOP: Yes, that`s correct. They did an onboard search. They also, because they were at a port of call at Coco Cay, they had to wait until most of the passengers got on board. They questioned the passengers.
GALLOP: According to the...
GRACE: Very quickly to Son M. Pham, whose family went missing on a Carnival cruise, did I hear you say they won`t return your calls?
M. PHAM: Correct. They don`t have any obligation to answer to anyone. First of all, when we went in front of Congress, we learned that they`re not required to report crimes on these cases.
GRACE: Oh, Son, I want to thank you so much for being with us, Son M. Pham with International Cruise Victims. You can find them online.
But thank you to all of my guests tonight. Our biggest thank you is to for you being with us and letting us into your homes.
A special good night from friends of the show all the way here in New York from Florida and from Georgia. I`m Nancy Grace signing off for tonight. See you here tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern, I hope. And until then, good night, friend.