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Trenton Duckett Still Missing; Interview with Owen LaFave

Aired September 14, 2006 - 20:00:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight, a parent`s worst nightmare. The mom says she tucks her 2-year-old into his crib, settles in on the sofa in the very next room to watch a movie. Next, the bedroom screen found slashed, we think from the outside, the baby gone. Refusing to take a polygraph or help police construct a timeline, Trenton`s mom found dead from a self- inflicted gunshot wound, suicide. Now the bombshell. Trenton`s mother, Melinda Duckett, actually put an ad in the local paper to sell baby Trenton`s car seat before -- repeat, before -- Trenton goes missing. No evidence of a replacement seat.
And tonight, a NANCY GRACE exclusive, the teacher sex scandal making international headlines. Owen Lafave reacts. He reacts to his wife Debra Lafave`s primetime interview after she`s arrested for repeatedly having sex with a child, a student, in fact. Why? Tell me why is a pedophile glamorized on primetime network TV?

But first tonight, the Trenton Duckett investigation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not confirmed, but a possible sighting of Melinda and Trenton in the area of the Ocala National Forest during the weekend of the abduction.


GRACE: Good evening everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight as we continue the search for 2-year-old Trenton Duckett.

Right now, straight out to Marilyn Aciego, reporter with "The Daily Commercial." Marilyn, thank you for being with us. Please give us the news.

MARILYN ACIEGO, "DAILY COMMERCIAL": Good evening, Nancy. My sources are telling me now that Leesburg police are searching an area north of Leesburg. It`s a routine search, but they are searching with cadaver dogs.

GRACE: Marilyn, in this case, nothing has turned out to be routine. So the update right now is, the headline is, a new search is going down. I understand it`s north of Leesburg, Marilyn?

ACIEGO: Yes, it`s north of Leesburg.

GRACE: Is it...

ACIEGO: The last search was south of Leesburg.

GRACE: Is it a construction site? Is it a lake? Is it a playground? What is it.

ACIEGO: It`s quite a few miles of area. And that area of Lake County has housing developments, it has new construction going in. Plus, there are still some rural areas. So they`re searching quite a large area today.

GRACE: On to Terry Thomas, a very special guest joining us tonight. He is with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, FDLE, and he is the statewide coordinator of crimes against children. Terry, thank you for being with us.


GRACE: Terry, explain to me -- it`s very, very difficult to search such large areas of land. We all learned that in the search for Natalee Holloway in Aruba. How are they searching?

THOMAS: Well, in Florida, as you know, we initiated a program not too very long ago called CART, which is the Child Abduction Response Team, that has now gone nationwide, I think you probably know. And what that entails is simply an MOU, a memorandum of understanding, with local and state and federal law enforcement agencies to provide additional resources to put boots on the ground, to do grid searches and go door to door and do thorough searches of everything. In our responses in using CART, we`ve been very successful here. You would use a similar system here, where you`re searching for either evidence or possibly, God forbid, a body.

GRACE: Terry -- with us, Terry Thomas. He is the statewide coordinator of crimes against children there in Florida, with the FDLE. Terry, what can we do to help in the search for Trenton?

THOMAS: Well, again, any lead -- you know, most of these situations, the law enforcement depend on the eyes and ears of the general public, to anyone out there that may have any bit of information that can help the investigators on the ground follow up. And there is no lead that`s -- you know, will go unturned. So we`re really depending on the eyes and ears of the public to pick up and call in.

GRACE: Elizabeth, could you put that screen up again? In response to Terry Thomas wanting help -- 1-800-CALL-FBI. There is a $5,000 reward.

Take a listen to what police had to say.


CAPT. GINNY PADGETT, LEESBURG POLICE DEPT.: Members of the Leesburg Police Department, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and FBI continue to work tirelessly in their efforts to find little Trenton and bring him home.

We are in the 18th day of our investigation to find Trenton Duckett. We continue to explore new leads and reinvestigate previous leads as time permits. Our number one mission has always been and continues to be finding little Trenton.

Members of the Leesburg Police Department, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and FBI continue to work tirelessly in their efforts to find little Trenton and bring him home.


GRACE: That is Captain Ginny Padgett speaking out.

The headline tonight regarding the search for Trenton Duckett is a brand-new search is being conducted north of Leesburg, Florida, it`s near Orlando, for the 2-year-old little boy that could actually still be alive tonight. It`s a very wide area of rural land, including homes and fields. As we speak, our sources tell us police are currently analyzing a digital camera, a computer, multiple writings taken from the home of Trenton`s mother, Melinda Duckett. They are also analyzing alleged blogs she put on Myspace, talking about her own life and her son.

Again, this search going on right now. And as we speak, police admitting publicly they are, in fact, focusing on Melinda Duckett, while not naming her a suspect. And also, it is reported that the investigation is taking its toll on police, many of them working seven days a week, 16 hours a day, to find this boy. Won`t you help us tonight? The tip line, 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Let`s go out to the specialists joining us, Mike Brooks, former FBI, and Harold Copus, former FBI. Gentlemen, thank you for being with us. Mike Brooks, as we speaking tonight, what`s your analysis of the case? A lot has been made of questioning Melinda Duckett, and I would advise everyone to help in the search for Trenton Duckett and focus on finding this young boy, Mike.

MIKE BROOKS, FORMER FBI, FORMER D.C. POLICE: That`s the number one priority right now, Nancy. And just like the gentleman from the FDLE said, you know, nothing is too small. They`re going to follow up on any lead. If you are anywhere and you find some dirt that has been turned over that you think is a little suspicious, let them know. They will go out and check it out. That possibly could have led to what they`re doing now in the search.

And the other thing, there`s a lot of things that have not come back yet. You know, we still don`t know Melinda Duckett`s connection to this whole case, if there was any connection. And we talk about the blogs, too, Nancy. After reading some of the blogs, you know, everyone has their different coping mechanisms, but just a week ago, you know, she was still writing on the blogs. And to me, that`s very unusual, even if it`s a coping mechanism, for this particular woman with the stretch she was going through. But I mean, some very unusual writings.

GRACE: Another development, a very disturbing development, in my mind -- Elizabeth, if you could put this ad up for the viewers to see -- shortly before Trenton Duckett`s disappearance, his mother, Melinda Duckett, places in a local paper an ad for Trenton`s car seat. Read: "Carseat, Cosco, toddler, tan cover, Touriva model $40." And it actually gives her phone number, her private cell number, I believe. To make 40 bucks off her kid`s car seat before the child is even reported missing -- I find that very, very disturbing.

What about it, Harold?

HAROLD COPUS, FORMER FBI AGENT, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Well, you know, Nancy, I haven`t focused in on that. I guess my reaction, children, you know, outgrow car seats, and so it`s possible that the mom was just merely saying, Listen, I`ve got to buy another one, I`m going to sell this one, it`s in decent shape.

GRACE: Harold? Harold?


GRACE: According to our sources, there`s no evidence of another car seat being bought. And I have personally researched the Florida law that requires car seats under the law mandatory for children up to 3 years of age.

I want to go out to Bethany Marshall, psychoanalyst. Bethany, it`s very reminiscent of Scott Peterson selling his wife`s Land Rover...


GRACE: ... before -- after a couple days of her being missing. Hello?


GRACE: How did he know she wasn`t going to walk back in the front door and want to drive her car?

MARSHALL: Well, look, this is a complicated picture, but what I see when I read the blogs and I hear about the car seat going, is that this woman had a severe personality disorder, perhaps borderline personality disorder, where there`s a preoccupation with ideals. She says she`ll talk to the FBI, but she won`t talk to the police.

With borderline, there`s preoccupation with fantasies of having been abandoned and rejected. Borderline parents will often strike out at the child to get back at the other parent. But also, there`s a lot of ruminations and planning for suicide with this particular disorder. And if she was planning to suicide prior to all of this, it could be a fact that she was lining everything up. And let`s say, if she was planning to hand off the child, that she was preparing to get rid of everything ahead of time.

GRACE: I want to go out now to Pat Brown, criminal profiler. Pat, weigh in on putting the baby`s car seat up for sale before the child even goes missing. This is before his second birthday, actually.

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Yes. I`m not buying, Nancy, that she was planning to commit suicide and therefore, the child would be going on to somebody else. I mean, usually, you don`t take away your child`s things because you`re leaving the world. You want to send them along with all the necessities to your ex or to your mom or whoever is going to take care of the child.

So I think she was preparing to separate herself from the child. The child had become a problem to her. You know, a lot of young women -- it`s an interesting thing. You know, you have that child, you think it`s going to be fun, and then you realize, All this messes up my life, and I want my life back. And she had said that, I want my life back. She wanted what 21-year-olds may want, partying, dating, having fun. And then you have this child that is simply in the way, kind of like Scott Peterson wanted his fun life back, and now he had a wife and a baby on the way. So you start separating yourself, and I think that`s exactly what Melinda was doing. She was preparing for the future without her son. She was planning to go on.

GRACE: To Bethany. I want to follow up on that. Bethany, you know how many people in this country alone would want baby Trenton, would want a baby like Trenton...


GRACE: ... any baby to love, to nurture, to watch grow into adulthood, someone to love? And I noticed, Bethany, in her blogging -- I call them e-mails -- her blogging, she talks about how a lot of you -- and we can`t confirm this is her blog. I mean, she`s dead and gone now.


GRACE: ... talking about how a lot of her friends may not even know about Trenton. The child is 2 years old. How can your friends not know you have a 2-year-old child? What does that mean?

MARSHALL: I think she`s blaming the men she`s dating and her friends and saying, on some level, that she has to hide the fact that she has a child or she will be perceived as unacceptable. So there`s implied blame towards her friends with this particular blog.

And I tend to agree with Pat Brown, I have to say. I don`t want to think it would be true, but this particular type of personality is extremely destructive. And you talked about Trenton being a beautiful little boy and everybody would love to have him, but destructive people want to destroy the love and they want to take the love away so that nobody else will get it, and the husband won`t get it and the public won`t get it. And she was hiding him and perhaps destroyed him so no one else would have access. Disturbed, but it does happen.

GRACE: Back out to "Daily Commercial" reporter Marilyn Aciego. Marilyn, you have managed to obtain access to a lot of her Myspace blogging. Did she discuss Trenton`s disappearance on it before she committed suicide?

ACIEGO: She did -- the last really blog she posted was directed towards the media, and she also put -- other messages that people had left on her Myspace, she also posted that as a blog. But she...


ACIEGO: I`m sorry. Go ahead.

GRACE: What was the significance of the messages?

ACIEGO: To the media -- the one that she wrote to the media, she`s basically accusing the media of not concentrating on Trenton and more concentrating on the problems between her and Josh. And she goes on to say that, If there was anything solid, then I would be the first notified, not you and your, quote, unquote, "press conferences with the Leesburg PD are completely useless. They are feeding (ph) lines to make infanticide, and the only reason you knowing that does not make a difference is because you`re already making up your own story."

GRACE: So she said the press is making up all the facts and the police giving pressers are all making up facts?

ACIEGO: That`s basically what she`s saying, Nancy.

GRACE: Another issue -- Elizabeth, you just showed it for me -- is her dyeing her hair in the midst of the search. Now, I`m not a shrink, but to Bethany Marshall and Pat Brown again -- what is that -- I`ve seen many, many crime victims, and going to the salon and dyeing your hair when the rest of the world is out looking for your child is very interesting to me. I don`t know if it`s anything probative. I`m sure the lawyers are going to weigh in on that. But what about it, Bethany? What does it mean to you?

MARSHALL: It could mean one of two things. First of all, it could just mean that she has a sociopathic quality, lack of remorse, empathy and attachment, so she`s only thinking about herself during this time. Or she`s truly a grieving mother, she doesn`t have the child to invest her libido and her love interest in, so she`s investing it all back in self. You see people do this after a divorce. They go get their hair done, their nails done, and they become extremely consumed with self as a way to avoid feeling the loss of the other.

GRACE: And to you, Pat Brown. Response?

MARSHALL: Well, I`ll go with the psychopathic end of it. I think what`s happened is -- you know, when you get divorced, your marriage is over, yes, you move on. That`s why you do your hair and get everything else, you lose weight, because you have -- that part of your life is finished. Well, this is the same thing that happens when you might have murdered your child. That part of your life is over. You`re not going to deal with it anymore. Now you have your new life to deal with.

Of course, you forget that everybody else is watching, going, Wait a minute, you`re not supposed to be moving on to a new life. You`re supposed to still stuck in the old one. But in your head, if you`re a psychopath and committed a crime, you know that part is finished, and so you`re just ready to move on.

GRACE: And again, police have not named Melinda Duckett as a suspect. As you all know by now, before my interview with her aired on Friday night, Melinda Duckett chose to take her own life by way of a gunshot wound in the midst of the search for her 2-year-old little boy, Trenton Duckett.

Out to a very special guest today, Marc Klaas, president of Beyondmissing. Marc, you`ve been taking a very careful look at this case. What do you make of putting the baby seat up for sale before the child even turns 2 -- Florida law says she`s got to have it until it`s 3 -- the dyeing the hair, the comments on her blog, they`re very, very disturbing. How does it relate to finding Trenton?

MARC KLAAS, BEYONDMISSING.COM: Well, You know, all of these things are very troubling. The thing -- I don`t know that one can make too much of the car seat. I think that, you know, the other suggestions that there might have been, you know, other reasons for that -- the thing that kind of surprises me about that is the fact that this was a tech-savvy gal who understood the Internet, and she didn`t go either to Craigslist or to eBay.

There`s something I`d like to say when we come back, though, regarding this case and a lot of the other cases because there`s a universal truth that has become very apparent in this case and it needs to be emphasized.



GRACE: Have you taken a polygraph?

MELINDA DUCKETT, MISSING CHILD`S MOTHER: Like I said, I mean, anything that I do or anything is in cooperation with them. I`m doing everything they want me to. But as far as details and everything, I mean, I`m leaving everything up to them.

GRACE: Right. Have you taken a polygraph?

DUCKETT: I`ve done everything they`ve asked me to.


GRACE: Welcome back. The search for Trenton Duckett still going on. There is still a chance this child`s life could be saved, in the wake of him being taken from his own home as the mom is in the next room watching a movie. After that, she commits suicide. But where is Trenton?

Back to Marc Klaas of Beyondmissing. What were you saying, friend?

KLAAS: Well, listen, Nancy, universally, in all of these cases, going back to the beginning of the polygraph, quite frankly, when they look at the parent, which they always do, they oftentimes polygraph us. And universally, when we take those polygraphs and pass those polygraphs, two things happen. Number one, suspicion is no longer focused upon ourselves, and law enforcement is then able to move more of their resource towards what actually happened.

However, if you don`t take the polygraph or you refuse to take the polygraph, you are never able to get over that hurdle. It`s happened to the Eisenbergs, it happened to the Ramseys, and it`s happened to Melinda Duckett.

And this is where defense attorneys are providing a massive disservice to the community when they tell people not to take the polygraph. Law enforcement, because of the checks and balances that exist right now with multi-agency cooperation and with things like the CART team, are able to -- are not going to be looking at parents as the perpetrators, and they want to be able to get past that so that they can find out what happened.

GRACE: And to Pat Brown. Pat, when Marc Klaas was a suspect, of course, he and the mom were the immediate suspects when Polly, his daughter, went missing. Polly was kidnapped, molested and murdered by Richard Allen Davis. the first thing they did is say, Please polygraph me, search my apartment, search my car, search my garage so I can help you find the real killer, the real kidnapper, Pat.

BROWN: Exactly, Nancy. And this is absolutely true, also a universal truth. Parents who are innocent will do everything and anything the police want them to. And even if they want to bring in -- for example, they want to bring in help, they want to bring in a PI or profiler, the first thing they`ll say to me is, Oh, my God, I don`t want to tick off the local police. I don`t want them to think I think anything wrong about them, so - - because they may stop searching for my son. So they`ll do anything the local police want to get their son back. So no polygraph makes me question it.



GRACE: Melinda, have you taken a polygraph?

DUCKETT: I`ve spoken to the investigators. And Joshua is on the outside loop of it. And as far as the investigative techniques are concerned, whether about polygraphs, stress test, physical searches, interviews, et cetera, my family and I have fully cooperated with local law enforcement and...

GRACE: Have you taken a polygraph?

DUCKETT: ... the federal and everything. And locally, they don`t have enough necessary experience, and that`s why the FBI was called in to begin with. I`ve been instructed to only speak with them, with their unit, and anything that they release to the media or the public is up to them, so as far as...

GRACE: Have you taken a polygraph?

DUCKETT: Like I said, I mean, anything that I do or anything is in cooperation with them. I`m doing everything they want me to. But as far as details and everything, I mean, I`m leaving everything up to them.

GRACE: Right. Have you taken a polygraph?

DUCKETT: I`ve done everything they`ve asked me to.


GRACE: Out to our G-men tonight, Mike Brooks and Harold Copus, both former FBI agents. To Mike Brooks. Not enough equipment? Not enough training? Why is she trying to blame local authorities for her not taking a polygraph?

BROOKS: She`s just trying to dance around the issue. That`s all she`s doing. You know, one thing I found really interesting, Nancy, was she had an interest -- she was taking actually on-line courses in criminal justice and psychology with an interest in forensics. I found that also very, very interesting when I looked back in her history. And you know, what was she -- what was her interest in forensics?

And you know, we`re also -- we haven`t heard what has come back from the lab as of yet on the cut screen. We talked about this in the past, but the cut screen -- did they take any kind of tools from her house? You know, did she think she could outsmart the police by cutting if from the outside with a tool and blame it on someone else when they found it? That remains to be seen.

But again, I thought that was very interesting with her -- some of the things she was studying. But she was beating around the bush, Nancy, not getting to the meat of the issue. There was no reason why she should not have taken a polygraph, if she had nothing to hide.

GRACE: And Mike Brooks, when you are talking about tools taken from her home, you mean that could possibly have been used to cut that screen? Yes, no.

BROOKS: Absolutely. Yes.

GRACE: And Mike, what are you referring to, the classes that she was taking? Specifically, why do you find that intriguing?

BROOKS: Well, you know, she talked about the police and those kind of things. What was her interest? It seems like she didn`t have any other interests, and she would talk bad about the police. And she was -- in the last interview you were doing with her, it sounded like she had a little knowledge, a little -- just a little knowledge and was trying to expound on that, a little bit knowledge of law enforcement. You know, was she taking these courses to learn more about law enforcement, their techniques, the forensic techniques before she actually did something? That`s what I find interesting, and that`s what I would like to know.



GRACE: Melinda, where had you been with him that day?

DUCKETT: All we had basically been out is driving around. There is something about a convenience store. I don`t know where that came into play because whenever I go out somewhere, you know, I always have gas. I`m not shorthanded with anything. And I`m always prepared for it all.

GRACE: So where had you been that day?

DUCKETT: We had been, gosh, all through Lake County and up into Orange.

GRACE: Doing what?

DUCKETT: Basically just shopping, going around driving.

GRACE: Shopping where?

DUCKETT: Well, we didn`t go anywhere specific.

GRACE: Well, I mean, if you went shopping, you had to go into a store. What store did you go into on Sunday?

DUCKETT: We went throughout the county.

GRACE: Any store? I`m thinking of video cameras, Melinda. I mean, maybe they have a picture of someone watching you, following you back out to your car. I mean, what store did you go to, Wal-Mart, JCPenney`s, what?

DUCKETT: I`m not going to get in any specifics.


DUCKETT: Because I`m not dealing with media very well.

GRACE: Well, can you remember where you were that day?

DUCKETT: I can remember perfectly well where I went that day, just like I`ve spoken to the FBI with it. But as far as anything else goes, we haven`t had very good dealings with any of them.

GRACE: Well, don`t you think it would be a great idea, for instance, if you were at a local JCPenney`s or Sears Roebuck, to tell the viewers right now this is where we were? Did you see anything? Did you notice anything? "Here`s your child`s picture. Here`s my picture. Help me." I mean, where were you? Why aren`t you telling us where you were that day? You were the last person to be seen with him.

DUCKETT: And we`ve already gone out and distributed the fliers and spoken to...

GRACE: Right, why aren`t you telling us and giving us a clear picture of where you were before your son was kidnapped?

DUCKETT: Because I`m not going to put those kind of details out.


DUCKETT: Because I was told not to.

GRACE: Ms. Duckett, you`re not telling us for a reason. What is the reason? You refuse to give even the simplest facts of where you were with your son before he went missing. It is day 12.


DUCKETT: ... with all media. It`s not just there, just all media. Period.


GRACE: To reporter with the "Daily Commercial," Marilyn Aciego, Marilyn, the police confirmed to me that they had been trying desperately to construct a time line and they did not have the cooperation of Melinda Duckett. Have they been able to construct a time line?

They`ve narrowed it down to, Marilyn, what you and I came up with on the show, that is, 4:00 on Saturday, the last time the grandmother saw this little boy, to 9:00 on Sunday, when the mom walks into the room and says, "Oh, my god, my child is missing," and calls police. That`s the time line we`re talking about.

Even though she did not cooperate with them, according to them, have they been able to reconstruct that timeline?

ACIEGO: Not yet, Nancy. They still are asking people to come forward, because without Melinda cooperating and now with her apparent suicide, there is nobody to ask. People have got to come forward with the information they have.

GRACE: And tonight, we are making a plea to you: If you can see or hear this program, think back. Let`s take a look at the car that Melinda Duckett was driving. Maybe, just maybe someone will recall seeing her and a child or her and an empty car seat in this car as she was driving through Lake County before she went -- before Trenton went missing. There you go, there`s the tag, 2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse.

Marilyn Aciego, with us from the "Daily Commercial," has the coverage of Trenton`s disappearance helped generate any leads?

ACIEGO: Yes, actually, since it`s been airing so frequently on your show, Nancy, the police have gotten numerous leads after both your 8:00 p.m. airings and your 10:00 p.m. airings every time it`s been on the show.

GRACE: Let`s go back to Terry Thomas. He is the statewide coordinator there in Florida of crimes against children. The time line is so critical. I couldn`t get it out of the mom; the police couldn`t get it out of the mom. Why? Why is it so critical?

THOMAS: Well, it`s critical, because you`re trying to establish, sometimes even nanosecond by nanosecond as to, you know, who had care, custody and control of the child and who might have even may have put eyes on the child.

You know, we look back at our Amber Alerts that we`ve put out. Just in 2006, Nancy, we issued 11 Amber Alerts at the request of local law enforcement. Four of those children were located very quickly and directly located as a result of the Amber Alert.

All of the other children in this year so far have been recovered, with the exception of Duckett. So it`s pretty clear, when we get that kind of exposure and we get boots on the ground, as we said earlier, oftentimes we have successful resolution in these cases.

GRACE: Let`s go out to the lawyers joining us. Veteran defense attorney Paul Batista, another defense attorney, also a courtroom vet out of L.A., Joe Ingber. Thank you, gentlemen, for being with us.

This case taking an extreme toll on the police department. The superiors there ordering the policemen and women home. They`re working 16- hour days trying to find this young man.

Paul, when you take a look at the mom`s musings about guns, funerals - - of course, we can`t confirm these. She`s dead and gone now. But how many of her friends didn`t even know she had a baby? He`s 2 years old! Where do you put him, in the bread box, for Pete`s sake, all the times you`re with your friends? I mean, where is this investigation going, Paul?

PAUL BATISTA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This investigation, I`m sorry to say, is likely to end up not with finding a live Trenton Duckett but with finding a deceased Trenton Duckett. Your interview, the fact that she did not give information to the police -- you know, I`ve been dealing with the criminal mentality for the 32 years of my practice, and everything that this woman did during her life while this boy was missing is indicative of guilt.

GRACE: I want to go to Joe Ingber, defense attorney. Joe, you`ve handled so many homicides cases, like Paul has, of course, on the other side of the fence from me. Come on now, give me your best shot, gentlemen. I`m ready for you.

Here`s 10 inches, according to a ruler. Here`s 10 inches. She says the perp must have reached through a 10-inch -- let me get this straight -- 10-inch slit in the screen, reached through, an adult, into the bedroom, get the child out of the crib, pull the child through the crib, and also raise the window all the way up through this. OK, Joe, how can that be?

JOE INGBER, CONSTITUTIONAL DEFENDER: Well, Nancy, as you know, you`re speculating right now that all of that is what she has told the FBI, as well as the local police. Bear in mind that she has not got very much faith in the local police, for whatever reason. What she`s told the FBI may be totally different. I don`t know whether or not you can determine her state of mind as she`s talking to the FBI...

GRACE: What does that have to do with the slit in the screen?

INGBER: Certainly, I`m not aware that all the details you`re talking about, that the child was extracted through the screen, or it was used as a means of gaining ingress into the house, and that would make a considerable difference.

But, Nancy, I have a bigger question. There`s two men in the house watching TV with her. Have they been interviewed to see whether or not the child was in the bed or not, prior to the time that the movie started?

GRACE: Well, according to them, neither of them ever saw the child.

Marc Klaas, weigh in.

KLAAS: Well, that`s absolutely true. Neither of them did see it. We`ve documented this throughout the course of the last week, and many of these questions remained unanswered. This is just heaping sorrow upon agony as this thing continues.

GRACE: Well, the police have the 10-inch screen. Out to Mike Brooks and Harold Copus, Harold, the police have taken the screen into their own custody. It`s at the crime lab to determine whether the cut marks were from the outside or the inside going out. We know it`s 10 inches.

Harold, come on, let`s get real. I don`t want to speak ill of the dead here, but the reality is 10 inches, Harold, to get a kid out. Ten inches, are you kidding me?

COPUS: Well, you keep holding that ruler up, and I`ll tell you something, Nancy: Unless it was somebody with the arm strength of Superman and the ability of Gumby to bend his elbow like that, I don`t buy that story. I think that child was not abducted from that room. No polygraph. And, quite frankly, we got a messed-up time line. I think mama is right involved.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, the state attorney`s dismissal, we believe, was the right thing and the appropriate decision in this case.

DEBRA LAFAVE, HAD SEX WITH STUDENT: Mental illnesses are real. They could cause good people to do bad things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mental illness is not the fault of someone who suffers from it. No one wants to be mentally ill.

D. LAFAVE: I pray with all my heart that the young man and his family will be able to move on with their lives. I am a strong Christian woman, and I believe that God has a path for me and this was just a bump in the road.


GRACE: Why is a convicted pedophile being glamorized on major primetime network TV? I don`t understand, but it`s happening. Is it because she`s beautiful? Is it because she may write a book or be the centerpiece of a movie?

Once a lawyer argued in open court Deb LaFave was simply too pretty to go to jail. I`m not sure where that leaves the rest of us people, but I don`t think that`s what Lady Justice had in mind. Well, one person who may agree is her former husband, Owen LaFave, who is with us tonight exclusively responding to her on network TV.

Owen, thank you for being with us.


GRACE: OK, first of all, what is this, Owen LaFave, "Gorgeous Disaster"? Let me hold that up. I`m buying it. OK, unless you want to give me this one. Now, Owen, why is your ex on national TV being glamorized as if what she did was OK?

O. LAFAVE: You know, I think really it comes down to her being pretty. People, you know, unfortunately sensationalized her story. And I think, yes, Matt Lauer hit the nail on the head. Sex sells, and she`s attractive.

GRACE: Question: Why did you write the book?

O. LAFAVE: I wrote the book -- really, it was a self-reflection. Obviously, when something happens like that to yourself, you can do one of two things. Either you bury your head in the sand or you dive in to find out what happened. And to me, I wanted to find out who I was, how I got there. And then also I included some of the research I did on, you know, similar situations, talking to experts and psychologists.

GRACE: What similar situations?

O. LAFAVE: Basically, you know, from one of the interviews that I did, you know, we just got just a plethora of e-mails from people, just public outpouring, people have gone through, you know, similar abuse cases, both male and female, and, you know, so we studied those cases and, you know, talked to experts of sexual abuse victims.

GRACE: Let`s go out to Bethany Marshall, psychoanalyst. Bethany, the audacity, really, to be a convicted pedophile -- and I don`t care what you look like. I don`t care what sex you are. I don`t care your age, race. It doesn`t matter. Children are children, period. To then go on national TV, for what?

MARSHALL: Right. And this whole thing about bipolar -- you know, bipolar can introduce hypersexuality and it can cloud your judgment, but it doesn`t make you a pedophile. It doesn`t introduce children as a sexual choice, and it certainly does not disrupt your conscience, right? Because if that were true, all mentally ill people would all be sociopaths and committing crimes.

She went on national TV for the same reason she molested a child: She wanted the attention, and she`s an emotional junkie, and she wanted to be gratified. It`s as simple as that.

GRACE: Out to Eben Brown, a special friend of the show, reporter with WFLA radio. Eben, nice to see you again. What`s the latest on Deb LaFave?

EBEN BROWN, NEWSRADIO 970 WFLA: Well, she is serving her community control, which is her house arrest. She lives in her...

GRACE: What`s community control?

BROWN: What?

GRACE: What`s community control?

BROWN: Well, it`s a form of house arrest. She has a curfew. I think it`s 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. She has to stay indoors during those hours. She can`t live or be within 1,000 feet of anywhere where children may congregate, which is a school, a park, a library, anything of the sort.

And I think that`s -- thinking back, I think it`s a three-year sentence, followed by another, I believe, seven years probation, if I`m remembering correctly, for a total of 10 years of being on the watch list. Plus, she is a registered sex offender in the state of Florida.

GRACE: Eben, wait, let me get this straight. So her punishment is she has to go to bed by 10:00, that`s it?

BROWN: She has to be indoors at 10:00, yes. She does get checked up on regularly and frequently by the Hillsborough County sheriff`s department.

GRACE: With us exclusively, Owen LaFave. This is Debra LaFave`s ex, and I put the emphasis on "ex."

O. LAFAVE: That`s correct.

GRACE: Nobody likes to find out the person that they love -- not just the person they love, but the person they married -- is two-timing them.

O. LAFAVE: You`re absolutely right.

GRACE: And this doesn`t even qualify as two-timing. This is a felony offense on a child, a 14-year-old boy that was a student at her school. How heart-breaking -- first of all, forget about your pride, your pride as a spouse, as a man, to find out your wife is having sex with a 14-year-old boy, of all things, your pride, but your heart broken.

O. LAFAVE: Absolutely devastating, humiliating, and just really crushing. I mean, there`s no words to describe it.

GRACE: And it certainly wasn`t a secret, for Pete`s sake.

O. LAFAVE: Well, yes, absolutely not. I mean, it just kind of grew...

GRACE: It`s not like you could go home and shut the door and nobody would know what happened.

O. LAFAVE: Right. Unfortunately, everyone knew who I was. I mean, my wedding pictures are out there. I mean, there was no hiding from it. So it`s kind of one of those things where you just have to face it head on and move on with life. But it was absolutely devastating.

GRACE: How in the heck do you -- give us some words of wisdom here. What did you do? When you first learned of it -- how did you first learn of it?

O. LAFAVE: I actually was at work and her mother called me the day she was arrested.

GRACE: That`s the first you knew of it...

O. LAFAVE: That`s the first I knew of it.

GRACE: ... the day she was arrested?

O. LAFAVE: Yes. I had thought something was going on, but I had no idea.


GRACE: Why? Why did you...

O. LAFAVE: She just started acting bizarre, Nancy. And it was really about two weeks before she got arrested. But, you know, in the interview, you know, they talked about her started smoking, listening to rap music, changing the way she dressed. It was just a very bizarre change of behavior.

GRACE: You mean, more consistent with being a teenager?

O. LAFAVE: Exactly.

GRACE: And what do you mean by that? What was she wearing?

O. LAFAVE: Just very short shirts, short skirts, very low-cut blouses, and things that are very inappropriate for a teacher to wear to school.

GRACE: Now, wait a minute. You`re not one of those men that tries to tell the wife what to wear, are you?

O. LAFAVE: Not at all.

GRACE: OK. Good to know. But you noticed a change in her dress and her behavior a few weeks before?

O. LAFAVE: Yes, I mean, this is a 23-year-old woman, and you can`t go to school to teach children in low-cut blouses and short shorts.

GRACE: No. Another thing, you said her mom called you to tell you?


GRACE: Out of curiosity, how do you break that to somebody? What do you say to your son-in-law?

O. LAFAVE: You know, probably the best way she could have.

GRACE: "Guess what? You`re never going to believe what happened." What?

O. LAFAVE: Not quite that dramatic, but her and I had a good relationship. And I started joking immediately, and she said, "Look, there`s something I have to tell you. It`s very serious. Debbie was arrested. You know, she`s accused of having sex with one of her students, and we need to go down to the police station."

GRACE: And you were at work?

O. LAFAVE: I was at work.

GRACE: What did you do?

O. LAFAVE: You know, it`s one of those things you don`t know how to react. I mean, you never think you`re going to hear that your wife is cheating, let alone, you know, those words coming from your mother-in-law, and I think I just froze, because I had an assistant -- an office with glass windows -- and she immediately -- I put down the phone, and she came in. And she`s like, "What`s the matter?" So the look on my face must have been just shock and...

GRACE: But you know what, Owen? It`s not cheating. I understand you use the word "cheating," but it`s worse than cheating. It`s with a child.

O. LAFAVE: You`re absolutely right. And I`m kind of a victim of the media, because it`s not cheating. I mean, it`s child molestation, and she should by in jail. And by her own admission, she even says she should be in jail. Now, whether or not she admits it or not, there was a lot of contradiction last night. And, you know, she did say she should be in jail, but then again she turns around and says that, you know, she celebrated when she found out she wasn`t going to jail.



D. LAFAVE: The past two years have been hard on all parties involved. I pray with all my heart that the young man and his family will be able to move on with their lives. Again, I offer my deepest apology.


GRACE: And her punishment for having sex with a 14-year-old boy -- that`s called child molesting in our country -- is that she`s got to be in bed, be at home by 10:00 at night, and she`s got to stay there until 6:00 a.m. With me, a special guest, Owen LaFave, her ex-husband.

Is it true that she is still engaged, no marriage yet?

O. LAFAVE: As far as I understand, that`s what I heard last night. So that`s my assumption.

GRACE: A long engagement, huh?


GRACE: Think he`s maybe checking her background a little bit?

O. LAFAVE: I think he knows her background. And so, you know, I wonder why he got engaged, but he`s actually her high school boyfriend.

GRACE: L`amore, l`amore, l`amore.

O. LAFAVE: I suppose.

GRACE: Out to Eben Brown with WFLA Radio, Eben, why the long engagement? Why doesn`t he take the plunge? Maybe a little cold feet going on there? Maybe a little concern about the child molestation?

BROWN: Don`t know. As Owen said...

GRACE: Eben, get on it.

BROWN: Well, we`ve been trying to leave them alone. But one thing that happened early on in the beginning of that renewed relationship was that the ex-wife or the mother of his children had tried to get a temporary restraining order against Debra LaFave to keep her away from her kids. I think that TRO never went through or was never approved, but he does have children by another woman, and that other woman had some concerns.

GRACE: I`m taking a look at her registration as a sex offender. I had no idea she had so many tattoos. But you know what? That`s a whole another can of worms. The new book by Owen LaFave, "Gorgeous Disaster," and I assume you`re referring to Deb LaFave?

O. LAFAVE: That`s correct.

GRACE: How is your life now?

O. LAFAVE: My life is amazing. It really is. And it`s funny, because going from a point at which I was completely devastated and thought life couldn`t get any worse, to where I`m at now, it`s just been an amazing growing process. I got remarried. I have a newborn son. And life couldn`t be better.

GRACE: Well, God is good.

O. LAFAVE: God is good.

GRACE: Thank you, Owen.

O. LAFAVE: Thank you, Nancy.

GRACE: And tonight, before I sign off, we have a very special good night and message from the New York control room. Hey, Dean, take a look at this: Happy birthday, Deanie. I could still be trying attempted shopliftings back home in Atlanta, Georgia, but he discovered me on "LARRY KING LIVE." Thank you. Happy birthday, Dean. And thank you for being with us.

Nancy Grace signing off again for tonight. See you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. Good night, friend.


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