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Melinda Duckett Named Prime Suspect in Son`s Disappearance

Aired September 21, 2006 - 20:00:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight, breaking news out of Florida in a parent`s worst nightmare. A 2-year-old tucked into his crib, mom settles in the next room with a video. Now baby Trenton`s bedroom screen slashed, we think from the outside, the baby gone. Tonight, in breaking news, Florida police declare Melinda Duckett, baby Trenton`s mom, the prime suspect in baby Trenton`s disappearance. Tonight, the search by land, the search by water for 2-year-old Trenton Duckett. And finally, a suspect named.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Melinda Duckett is the prime suspect in the reported disappearance of Trenton.

JOSH DUCKETT, MISSING BOY`S FATHER: I stuck by my words and told the truth since the beginning.


GRACE: Good evening, everyone. I`m Nancy Grace. Thank you for being with us tonight. Straight out to Florida and the latest, the breaking news out of the Leesburg, Florida, Melinda Duckett named the prime suspect in either the death or disappearance of her 2-year-old son, Trenton. Out to Jean Casarez of Court TV. What`s the latest?

JEAN CASAREZ, COURT TV: Well, the latest is investigators are saying that a letter that Melinda Duckett said her ex-husband wrote her, threatening harm to she and Trenton, was actually written by Melinda herself and e-mailed to herself. Melinda took that letter back to authorities back in July of this year, said she wanted to prosecute her ex- husband for threatening that harm. The result was the temporary restraining order saying he could have no contact with his baby. Days later, the child went missing, and following that, as we all know, she committed suicide.

GRACE: Here is that e-mail, Jean, that you just detailed. Quote, "I hate you because you ruined my life and took my son. I`m going to hunt you and your damn son down one day and kill both of you. Years ago, you stole my heart and F-ed me over. I don`t even think Trenton is my son anyway, and you`re going to pay for what you`ve done to my life."

Now, how is it, Jean Casarez, that they figured out Melinda Duckett sent this to herself and then told police her husband sent it?

CASAREZ: Well, it looks like two people came forward, and they said, We know -- we have heard that she hacked into a computer, changed Josh`s e- mail address and then sent that letter to herself. So what happened was, the state attorney`s office here in Florida issued a subpoena to Sprint telephone company to look into it, and it was confirmed that she had written the letter.

But the big question, Nancy, is once this was found out, it looks like there was a draft of a probable cause affidavit for her arrest -- two crimes, offense against intellectual property and perjury. The question is tonight, did she know that she possibly was going to be prosecuted for this, and in fact, could she possibly lose her son as a result?

GRACE: We`re showing that affidavit right now that Jean Casarez is telling us about. The investigation also reveals Mr. Duckett`s account user name had been changed to first name "F-face," last name "D-head" from "the city of Hell." OK.

Out to Marilyn Aciego with "The Daily Commercial." Welcome, Marilyn. Did they figure out her IP address? I mean, was there a computer investigation going on? And was Melinda Duckett aware she was about to be charged with this?

MARILYN ACIEGO, "DAILY COMMERCIAL": Good evening, Nancy. It doesn`t appear that Melinda was aware of this because there`s no date on the probable cause affidavit. It appears this was drafted after Melinda`s suicide.

GRACE: Take a listen to what police had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Melinda reported that she and Trenton were together from late afternoon Saturday, August 26, until the time of the disappearance of Trenton. Melinda said she, along with Trenton, had been in the Altamont (ph) and Orlando area, shopping. She also indicated she had driven around and had been lost in different areas.

Her cell phone records indicate calls were made and received in the Wildwood area at approximately 12:30, the Minneola area at approximately 12:45, and in the Tavares area at approximately 3:40 on Sunday, August 27. We`re asking businesses in these areas to review their surveillance tapes for Melinda, Trenton, or signs of her silver 2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse.

Leesburg investigators have information regarding the e-mail supposedly sent by Joshua Duckett to Melinda Duckett via his Myspace computer account on July 3. Investigators have sufficient information establishing probable cause that Melinda Duckett sent the threat to herself. By sending the threat to herself and providing it as evidence during an injunction for protection hearing against Joshua Duckett, Melinda Duckett committed the offense of offense against intellectual property and perjury in an official proceeding.


GRACE: Not only that, we learn a timeline has been established. And in fact, let`s go out to our federal agents. As a matter of fact, it has been based partially on triangulation. Let`s take a look at the timeline. It starts off around 8:00 AM, a witness placing her at a Leesburg police (ph). At 9:00 AM, she is placed at a local mall. At 12:08, Paddock Mall by her cell phone. 12:30, cell phone, Wildwood, Florida. 12:45, Minneola, Florida. 3:00 PM, a witness places her at her own apartment, Leesburg apartment. 3:40 PM, cell phone from Tavares, Florida.

OK. Out to Mike Brooks, formerly with the FBI terrorism task force. Mike, it`s just as we had discussed about the triangulation. So this whole story about the Ocala National Forest is bull. That map she drew for her lawyer -- bull. It`s a lie. You can`t be in Leesburg -- let`s look at the timeline again. 8:00 AM, witness, ATM 10:39 Leesburg, witness, Paddock Mall, 12:08, witness, cell phone, Wildwood, Florida, Minneola Florida, 3:00 PM, back at the apartment, 3:40 Tavares, Florida.

Mike, it was all a lie.

MIKE BROOKS, FORMER D.C. POLICE, SERVED ON FBI TERRORISM TASK FORCE: That`s what it looks like, Nancy. And that 8:00 AM sighting, they`re looking into the possibility that she was actually with someone at a Leesburg department store at around between 8:00 and 9:00. And you know, was she acting alone? That`s the next question.

But you know, apparently, the cell towers in these areas, even if you went by interstate, are about five miles apart. So again, everything that she wrote down, everything she said -- you know, we look at this map, and there`s a good distance there, but...

GRACE: Hence the triangulation. Look at your monitor, Mike Brooks.


GRACE: That`s where all she was.


GRACE: Hold on. Leave it there just a second, Liz. Let`s see in order -- 8:00 AM, she was at a Leesburg business, 12:30 an ATM -- 10:30 an ATM, 12:00 o`clock at Paddock Mall -- where`s 12:00 o`clock? Up at the top.

BROOKS: Up at the top, up in Wildwood.

GRACE: Yes. OK. Yes, Wildwood, Florida. 12:45, Minneola, Florida. Look at that, back down. See the orange arrow?

BROOKS: Absolutely.

GRACE: 3:00 PM, back to the Leesburg apartment. 3:40, Tavares, Florida.

BROOKS: In the total opposite direction of the Ocala National Forest.

GRACE: To David Katz, joining us tonight, former federal agent, security analyst. I`m just sick. I`m sick that the Marion County police, the dogs, the searchers, the family -- what about Trenton`s father, Josh? - - all out there, digging through the Ocala National Forest, divers going down, they could see a foot in front of them, looking for this boy. And now we learn it was all a wild-goose chase, David Katz.

DAVID KATZ, FORMER FEDERAL AGENT, SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, and I think we can`t lose sight of the fact whatever happened to this poor child, there are family members out there grieving, the father, the grandparents. And it`s just -- it`s a heartbreaking tragedy. And for this woman, who by all accounts -- and I don`t think anyone at this point doubts that she is somehow directly or indirectly responsible for this child -- something happening to this child...

GRACE: Well, David Katz, if you`re beating around the bush -- I mean, the police...

KATZ: She killed him.

GRACE: ... have confirmed -- or sold him or stashed him somewhere. But they are saying she is the -- not a, the -- primary suspect in his disappearance tonight.

And let me -- with us, David Katz, Mike Brooks, also Detective Lieutenant Steve Rogers, former member of the joint FBI terror task force. Explain to me about how they figured out -- because remember, Stephen -- this is very important. When police first got there and they`re questioning her, where`s Trenton? She says, What about this e-mail my husband sent me? First thing -- one of the first things she said, My husband threatened to kill me and the baby. So long story short, the e- mail didn`t even come from the husband. She hacked into his e-mail and sent herself the threatening e-mail.

DET. LT. STEVE ROGERS, NUTLEY, NEW JERSEY, POLICE DEPARTMENT: Nancy, the police, from the beginning, I believe, had that gut feeling. You know, in this job, you have that sixth sense, and you had that sixth sense. And the interesting thing here...

GRACE: Man, I`ve heard about it!

ROGERS: Well...

GRACE: And you know what?

ROGERS: You know...

GRACE: To all the people that have been riding me like a mule about questioning her, I would advise them to, A, take a look at the presser today, where police name her the primary suspect...

ROGERS: Well -- well...

GRACE: ... and B, join us in the search to find this baby.

ROGERS: But, Nancy, you did what the police wanted to do but couldn`t do for various reasons. But that being said, you know what? They did a great job. They used all the high-tech equipment available to them to come to what we now have, a very credible conclusion.

But Mike said it at the beginning of the broadcast. Was there someone else involved with her? And if there was, who was she on the phone with during that timeline? So this was an excellent piece of investigative work. Now we go to step two, who else may have been involved.

GRACE: May have been involved. Take a listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Melinda Duckett is the prime suspect in the reported disappearance of Trenton.

The nature of the e-mail, the very disturbing items that are in it, the very serious threats that are in it, they were very troubling to investigators, to begin with, and the possibility that Josh had something to do with that -- obviously, we were looking at Josh very early on. So when we said we were looking at Josh, we were looking at Melinda and we were looking at the outside. There`s no doubt we were looking in all those directions. And yes, we did gradually move away from Josh. Our investigation into the e-mail was all part of moving away from Josh, once we were beginning to be certain that it was Melinda that wrote the e-mail.


GRACE: I`m hearing in my ear we are now being joined by a very special guest tonight, Josh Duckett. This is Trenton`s father. Josh, thank you for being with us. I got to tell you something. When I first started on the case and had you on -- I mean, statistics normally point to the father being involved or the male figure in the home, boyfriend, live- in, ex, something -- I gave you a pretty hard time that night. Everything I asked you, you answered me. You took the polygraph. You`re out there putting up flyers. You`re giving press conferences. I felt immediately, when you offered yourself up for a polygraph immediately and passed, it just didn`t coincide that you would be involved.

When you learned that your ex had thrown away the baby pictures, that must have hit you like a ton of bricks.

DUCKETT: Yes, I mean, I had my speculations from the start, and I really couldn`t voice my opinion. But I mean, I`ve said since the beginning, I mean, the shows are voluntary, and I mean, you done your job. And I mean, you asked me hard questions, and I cooperated and I answered it. I mean, there`s been a lot of pressure on you and people blaming you, and I don`t hold you responsible at all. I mean...

GRACE: Well, you know what, Josh? I really appreciate that. But tonight, like every other night, while I appreciate that, I want to talk about where this boy might be. I can take it. I can handle it. But I want to talk about baby Trenton.

When you first learned your wife had thrown out his pictures, hi sonogram, his baby toys, his baby toy trunk, his food, the day he`s reported missing -- that day -- what did you think?

DUCKETT: That struck me as odd. I mean, I just heard about that recently. I hadn`t known that up until just a few days ago. So I mean, that struck me as odd. That threw up another red flag with me to throw more suspicion at her. And I mean, I honestly -- I have no clue where he could be, but I mean, that did throw up a red flag.

GRACE: Do you believe he`s still alive? Do you think he`s still alive? Do you think he`s stashed somewhere, she tried to sell him or something?

DUCKETT: I mean, that`s my hopes, and I mean, I`m keeping my hopes high, but I mean, you got to prepare yourself for the worst and hope for the best. But I mean, I`m still 100 percent confident that he`s somewhere out there. I mean, I`ve got to stay positive through all this and keep moving forward and progressing and putting 110 percent in. So I mean, I`m still very, very hopeful that he`s still out there.

GRACE: With us tonight is Josh Duckett. This is Trenton`s father.

Let`s go to the lines. Patty in South Carolina. Hi, Patty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. How are you?

GRACE: I`m hanging in there, friend. What`s your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re an angel to so many people, you don`t even know. I wanted to ask, I wondered if the police had checked into Trenton`s medical history because Melinda seemed like she was a little off base before anyway, and I wondered if Munchhausen`s syndrome was a possibility previous to this because someone had said that she had made him cry, the baby cry, while she was on the phone to get her way.

GRACE: What about it, Josh? What do we know about their medical history?

DUCKETT: As far as I know, I mean, there wasn`t very much medical history with Trenton. I mean, he didn`t go through a lot because he was hardly ever sick. So I mean, to my knowledge, he -- there was nothing with Trenton. But I mean, Melinda had been in for evaluations. She had been to Life Streams (ph). I mean, obviously, by now, everybody knows she was Baker Acted for threatening to commit suicide prior to this, and Life Streams kept her for less than 24 hours and said there was nothing wrong. And I feel...

GRACE: Josh...

DUCKETT: ... that that was a failure.

GRACE: ... why did they keep giving the baby back to her?

DUCKETT: In my eyes, I don`t -- I can`t see why. I mean, to me, it`s a strong -- strong view of the system failed. I mean, DCF failed. Life Streams failed. I mean, and I hold DCF the majority of the way responsible for what`s going on now. I mean, they had their opportunities, and they didn`t investigate to the full ability of what they could have.

GRACE: We`re holding on tonight that there is still hope baby Trenton will be found. Breaking news out of the Florida. Tonight police reveal Melinda Duckett, the mother of Trenton Duckett is the primary suspect in this child`s disappearance or death.

Very quickly, to tonight`s "Case Alert." The female suspect charged with the kidnap of Missouri baby Abby Woods, attacking her mom, leaving her for dead, pleads not guilty, 36-year-old Shannon Torrez in a Franklin County court, charged with kidnapping, first-degree assault and weapons, police searching for the alleged stillborn child she claims she gave birth to before allegedly kidnapping baby Abby, Torrez tonight held on $1 million bond.



DUCKETT: She had (INAUDIBLE) around the neck. She had held him upside down. She had shaken him. I mean, she had held a knife to his leg prior to that. I mean, there was numerous things that DCF supposedly was investigating, but everything shows no findings. And then I actually received a report from DCF that said that she had been arrested for domestic violence and all kinds of stuff, and they still don`t do anything. So I mean, that shows right there that the system failed badly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, we can go ahead and announce that Melinda Duckett is the prime suspect in the reported disappearance of Trenton. At this point, we`ve gone from the point of looking in a multi- direction involving Joshua, the theory of the outside abduction, and Melinda. And it`s been 25 days, and we have reached the point where we can establish that Melinda Duckett is right now our primary suspect.


GRACE: Welcome back. Breaking news out of Leesburg, Florida, tonight police referring to Melinda Duckett, naming her as the chief suspect in the disappearance or death of 2-year-old baby Trenton. As you know, she told police she put the baby to bed around 7:00 PM, went into the next room to watch a movie, and then tragically, the child was missing just two hours later.

Out to Marilyn Aciego with "The Daily Commercial." What led to her being named the prime suspect?

ACIEGO: Well, Nancy, I think it was a number of things, starting with the fact that she refused to take a polygraph test from the beginning, to finding the pictures of Trenton in the garbage, along with baby snacks (ph), food, things of that nature, then her suicide, and then for this to come out that the thing that got the injunction and took custody away from Josh was all a fabrication.

GRACE: Jean Casarez, what do you think was the tipping point?

CASAREZ: You know, I think possibly the trash, the dumpster. There were two dumpster pulls, and I think that was significant because not only did you find toys and a toy chest, but you found pictures of the little boy himself, along with a sonogram and a package of plastic bags that only had a couple of them missing. And that doesn`t add up, I think investigators would say, because if she was painting the apartment and throwing things away because she was moving, why would you throw away a whole box of plastic bags?

GRACE: Bethany Marshall, psychoanalyst, is joining us. I mean, think about it, Bethany. When was the last time you took photos, family photos or any photo, and purposely threw it in a dumpster? Why do people throw away pictures?

BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST: She -- I think, really, she was preparing to get rid of the child. And you know, all of these people we cover, even like the Jessica Lunsford case, somebody ends up in a plastic bag or in the trash, right? And in terms of the baby picture, there is no such thing as a bad baby picture, and throwing a baby picture in the trash is like throwing the baby in the trash. And I think that is what her mindset was all about.



DUCKETT: It hurts a lot because, I mean, I don`t know where my son`s at. I think that`s the worst part of what`s happened, you know, not knowing. I`m 100 percent confident that somebody`s out there that they know something. They`re just not coming forward with the information that we need.


GRACE: Welcome back. Breaking news out of Leesburg, Florida. Melinda Duckett, the mother of Trenton Duckett, tonight named the prime suspect in the disappearance or death of this baby boy.

Let`s go to the lines. Mary in Texas. Hi, Mary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. How are you?

GRACE: I`m hanging in there, friend. What`s your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was just wondering, is there anything that anyone can do, the authorities, to get the reward upped in this case...

GRACE: Good question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... give people some incentive?

GRACE: Good question. Josh Duckett, Trenton`s father, is with us. And let me tell you, Mary, he was out washing cars on Saturday to raise money for the reward and to help find Trenton.

Josh, is there an -- there we go, 1-800-SUN-TRUST,, donations accepted at all Suntrust bank locations.

Josh, where`s the money going to? Will any of it going to raising the reward?

DUCKETT: Yes, we`re working on all of that at this time, I mean, trying to set it up to put a little bit of money towards the reward and help raise it, I mean, that`s what we`ve been working on, and then just other stuff like that. We`ve been doing fund-raisers and stuff like that to raise money, I mean, to help with the cost of the search and stuff like that, I mean, as far as, like, flyers to get out, expenses through all of this and stuff like that. I mean, that`s what the trust fund and the fund- raisers are for.



JOSHUA DUCKETT, FATHER OF TRENTON DUCKETT: I`m not really worried about putting somebody in jail. I just want my son back. I mean, that`s my goal, and that`s been my goal through all this, not to put somebody in jail, just to get my son back. I mean, he`s my pride and joy, so, I mean, that`s my whole goal.

I feel that she (INAUDIBLE) somebody out there has him. I mean, because just to me, I don`t think she would have harmed him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, we can go ahead and announce that Melinda Duckett is the prime suspect in the reported disappearance of Trenton. At this point, we`ve gone from the point of looking in a multi- direction, involving Joshua, the theory of the outside abduction, and Melinda. And it`s been 25 days, and we have reached the point where we can establish that Melinda Duckett is right now our primary suspect.


GRACE: That is from police today, police in Leesburg, Florida, announcing Trenton`s mom the prime suspect in his death or disappearance.

Back out to Marilyn Aciego from "The Daily Commercial." Let`s take a look at that map, the map where we can identify some of her movements based on triangulation. Let`s take a look at this, Marilyn, and Jean Casarez.

8:00 a.m., witnessed at a Leesburg business, not far from her apartment. 10:30, a Leesburg ATM. They must have the ATM receipt on that. 12:08 at a mall -- let`s see, where is that -- 12:08? Then, 12:30 at the top left, Wildwood. 12:30, top left, Wildwood. 12:45, in 15 minutes, she goes 28 miles, approximately, to Minneola, Florida. 12:45, she`s burning rubber. 3:00 p.m., spotted at her apartment. 3:40, Tavares, Florida, look at that, circling all around.

To Marilyn Aciego, tell us about this path that she took. What was she driving across? Describe the terrain, and how far does it take to get from point a, b, c and d?

ACIEGO: There are some major highways that she could have taken to get from Wildwood to Minneola. She could have taken Florida`s turnpike, and the speed limit on the turnpike, it varies from 65 to 70. So it`s very possible she could have made it that way in that short amount of time.

And then to go from Minneola to Leesburg in two hours, that would be no problem. And then Leesburg to Tavares in 45 minutes wouldn`t be a problem, either.

GRACE: But to Jean Casarez, Court TV news correspondent, when she was on with us that evening, well, that`s about as close as she got to the truth. She drew the map of the Ocala National Forest for her lawyer. That`s why they`ve been on that wild goose chase. That night she told us she was shopping but wouldn`t say where.

CASAREZ: I know it. I was thinking about the various stories that we`ve heard. And the one ring of truth, Nancy, was to you, because she said she was shopping. She didn`t mention the stores or anything, but she mentioned the shopping.

You know, Nancy, this whole timeline right here is based on cell phone records of calls she made or calls she received. You know investigators now are talking to those people, finding out who they are, to see what they know. Because if she told two people she made up that letter that she wrote to Josh about Josh, then maybe she told other people information about Trenton.

GRACE: Let`s go out to the lawyers. We`re unleashing them yet again. Renee Rockwell, joining us out of the Atlanta jurisdiction. Richard Herman, defense attorney in the New York jurisdiction.

To you, Renee, this erratic driving from one end of the country to the next, what does it signify?

RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, she is just ripping and running. And I don`t know. I want to think -- and I still believe -- that this baby is still alive. She was going through this contentious divorce. She did not want her ex to have the baby, so I think she`s just all over the place organizing maybe some type of a stashing.

And I only wish that this reward was a little higher than $5,000. Think of the resources that we spent looking in the lake, looking in the forest, looking everywhere. If the reward was a little bit higher, I think that, if somebody knows about the baby, they`ll come forward.

GRACE: What about it, Richard Herman? The reward right now is about $5,000. And one of these witnesses is placing her with another person.

RICHARD HERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, they`ve got to up that reward, but keep your whip down here for a second. Let me tell you: It`s 25 days, and that`s why I believe law enforcement has named her a primary suspect. They`re getting tired; they`re getting frustrated. Don`t tell me it`s because some of the baby`s items was found in the garbage. Unless there`s video of us seeing her put them there, we don`t know she put them there. As far as her...


GRACE: Actually, we do know how they got there, Richard. That hasn`t come out fully. One of the gentlemen that were at her home that evening, the evening the baby is reported missing, was asked to go put the trash in the dumpster.

HERMAN: So he did it. She didn`t do it. This person in the house did it. Let me tell you...


GRACE: Richard, Richard, wait a minute. No, Richard, wait. Let`s disseminate what we truly believe to be the truth. This guy who came over to watch a movie -- all right -- did not go and take food, baby food out of the fridge, photos...

HERMAN: How do you know? How do we know that?

GRACE: OK. You know, Richard, no. This is not arguing about the law. This is about furthering the search for Trenton. And I don`t want to hear -- that`s ridiculous. It doesn`t even make any sense, that somebody would come in your house and clean out your fridge?

HERMAN: I don`t know.

GRACE: You know what? Until you have something sensical to say, I`m locking you back up. Now, I`m going to give you one more chance.

HERMAN: All right, listen to me. In domestic relations cases, more perjury occurs there every single day of the week than any other area of the law.

GRACE: What does that have to do with what we just said?

HERMAN: Well, we`re making a big deal...

GRACE: Nothing.

HERMAN: ... about this affidavit, this letter that she wrote to herself to protect her child.


HERMAN: That`s why she wrote that.

GRACE: No, you just brought up throwing away the baby`s food, his photos, his toys, his toy boxes...


HERMAN: We don`t know she did that.

GRACE: OK. OK. Take him away, Elizabeth. Take him away. I`m going to give him a chance to think about it, all right? He`s on probation for now.

This is not arguing about the law, people; this is about trying to piece together clues as to where this child is. We don`t know a whole lot more than anybody else. We`re hearing what police are telling us, what our sources are telling us, but we can think about it. We can deduce from what we know.

Let`s go to the lines. Who`s our caller, Liz? Shelly, New Orleans. Hi, Shelly.

CALLER: Hi, Nancy. I just want to say, thank God for people like you.

GRACE: Thank you.

CALLER: And I also want to say, did anybody find a large sum of cash, like, if she sold this child, wouldn`t she have a lot of money laying around somewhere?

GRACE: Did they find what now?

CALLER: A large sum of cash, like, in her grandparents` house? Did she have money hidden somewhere?

GRACE: You know what, Shelly? That`s an excellent question because I, like everybody else, didn`t want to believe a parent could harm or give away their child. So one of my first thoughts was, "Did somebody sell the baby?"

Out to Josh Duckett, Trenton`s father is with us. There has not been any cash infusion or any big purchases on her part, have there, Josh?

JOSH DUCKETT, FATHER: Not to my knowledge.

GRACE: But, I mean, certainly the cops have looked at her bank account.

J. DUCKETT: Yes, I mean, they`ve researched her banking accounts and everything else. I mean, they`ve been doing 110 percent. And to my knowledge, they found no big purchases or no lump sums of money.

GRACE: Let`s go back out to the g-men, all respected former FBI agents. To Mike Brooks, she`s been named the chief suspect. You`ve been screaming that for weeks. Now where do we go?

BROOKS: Well, Nancy, now that we have a time line and we know where she was, that`s very important, because she went to an ATM.

GRACE: Right.

BROOKS: Now, there`s cameras at every ATM. Whether or not she made a transaction, her picture is still going to be on that ATM, and it will show if someone was with her or not, whether that be Trenton or an adult.

The other thing, now that we know where her transportation routes were, the Florida turnpike, other interstates, they also have traffic cameras. The Florida Department of Transportation, there`s tollbooths on some of these roads. Go back, they`ll be able to tell if there was a young boy in that car with her or if there was an adult, because that`s what one of the witnesses says, they saw someone in her car with her. That`s a big point that they have. I`m sure they`re following up on it right now.

GRACE: It was an adult, right, Ellie? It was an adult?


BROOKS: Right.

GRACE: The person with her was an adult. There is no mention of the baby being in the car. Ellie, what time was the witness placing her with another adult? Around noon. No Trenton, another adult, Mike Brooks.

BROOKS: One of my sources told me that they were looking into possibly someone with her in the morning, too, but they`re still following up on that.

But they`ll be able to tell, because the noon hour falls in this time line, Nancy. And they`ll be able to go to those DOT cameras, and they`ll be able to tell whether or not there was someone with her in that car.

GRACE: Right. To Detective Lieutenant Steven Rogers, how significant is the fact -- and I find this to be behavioral evidence, as I call it to juries -- that she sends the threat on her to herself, using her ex-husband -- her husband`s e-mail account, and then waves it at the police, "Look, this is who took him." What does that say?

ROGERS: Well, that was very significant, because from the beginning it appears that she tried to mislead the police, to lead them down a path that would be away from her. But the police are smarter than that. And I`m glad you`re keeping that lawyer locked up, because you know what, the police are doing a great job. And that piece of evidence, that letter is very significant.




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

MELINDA DUCKETT, LATE MOTHER OF MISSING CHILD: All we had basically been out is driving around. There was 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 or I`m not shorthanded with anything. And I`m always prepared for it all. So...

GRACE: So where had you been that day?

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

GRACE: Doing what?

MELINDA DUCKETT: Basically just shopping, going around, driving...

GRACE: Shopping where?

MELINDA 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?

MELINDA DUCKETT: We went throughout the county.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, we can go ahead and announce that Melinda Duckett is the prime suspect in the reported disappearance of Trenton. At this point, we`ve gone from the point of looking in a multi- direction involving Joshua, the theory of the outside abduction, and Melinda. And it`s been 25 days, and we have reached the point where we can establish that Melinda Duckett is right now our primary suspect.


GRACE: Breaking news tonight: Police naming Trenton`s mother the prime suspect in the boy`s disappearance. There is still a chance he is alive. Right now, we have just learned that the FBI is meeting with Josh Duckett, Trenton`s father, right there at the studio.

Let`s go back out to Jean Casarez. Jean, it`s taken the police a long time to announce her as the prime suspect. Why?

CASAREZ: Well, I think, Nancy, they wanted to put everything together, but you know what? Investigators right now believe probably they know the mindset of Melinda. And that`s what they`ve been looking at.

And, Nancy, if she believed and knew that she could be charged with a crime for hacking into her computer and writing a letter saying she was Josh, then she could have been concerned she was going to lose her son. And that could lead to the fact that possibly the little boy is alive, that she merely wanted to hide him so that the father and law enforcement couldn`t find him to hand him over to Josh.

GRACE: To Marilyn Aciego, "Daily Commercial" reporter, Marilyn, when you take a look at this map, and you take a look at the map that she had drawn for her lawyer, and her various statements, is there a possibility, no matter how remote, that this child was sold or -- it just seems to me, with all the heat on her, that she would have told where the child was?

ACIEGO: You would think, Nancy, but, as we`ve seen with this case throughout the entire time, every time we think we have something figured out, there`s a new twist. So I still think at this point anything is possible. And if somebody does have Trenton, if they`re scared to go to the police, if they`re scared to go to anybody else, if somebody out there does have Trenton and they want to be protected, they`re scared to come forward, call me, I will protect them. I have journalistic integrity. I protect my sources. We want this little boy home.

GRACE: To David Katz, former federal agent, security analyst, at this juncture, what should police be doing? We now know the Ocala National Forest story was just a big goose chase.

KATZ: Yes, well, they need to be speaking to the people she was talking to on the phone. And one thing about that e-mail, look at the date of that, July 3rd. That`s almost two months before the reported disappearance of Trenton. To me, that appears to be premeditation in writing.

I mean, if she`s, as it appears now, setting up an alibi, trying to throw suspicious onto Josh, perhaps this is premeditation that she intended to do this all along. You look at the other things. She lies to police. She throws out his items. She refuses to take the polygraph. She doesn`t identify the stores she went shopping to you and during your interview. And, by the way, obviously. Why? Because if she identified the store, you`d check the security cameras, the tapes, and she`s not there.

So there`s a whole litany of things that, not only to me indicates conclusively that she`s obviously correct in naming her at a suspect, but I think this is a premeditated crime.

GRACE: There is still a chance this child is still alive. Let`s go to the lines. Emily in Florida, hi, Emily.


GRACE: Hi, dear, what`s your question?

CALLER: I was just wondering, we heard a lot about Melinda`s grandparents. I haven`t heard anything about her actual parents. Do we know anything about her background or where her parents are? I know she`s adopted, but that`s all we`ve heard.

GRACE: Jean Casarez, I know that they had come down for the funeral. We certainly did hear a lot from the grandparents after her suicide. What can you tell us about the parents?

CASAREZ: Well, the parents live in the New York area. They did come down for her funeral. They`ve gone back to the New York area and have another memorial service for her. But they`ve been grieving for her since she was deceased. And I believe she has a sibling that her parents are raising up in the New York area.

GRACE: Back to Bethany Marshall, psychoanalyst, Bethany, I`m having a hard time getting past the emotional, the behavioral evidence of throwing away that sonogram, throwing away those baby pictures.

MARSHALL: Well, as I said earlier, often with these perpetrators, someone or something ends up in the trash. And trash bags are used. Chanel Petro-Nixon, I mean, the 16-year-old girl ends up in a trash bag in the trash.

So a lot of times people who commit homicide are really thinking about getting rid of things as a precursor to getting rid of the other person. And I think a good way to think about what might have happened here is the dynamic behind murder-suicide. With murder-suicide, the perpetrator says to himself or herself, "Am I going to be better off if you`re dead or am I going to be better off if I`m dead?" And there`s an oscillation of hatred towards the other person and then back against the self, back forth, back and forth. And sometimes one side wins out over the other.

And in this case, she may have felt she would be better off if he was gone. And then her life did not get better, and she felt she`d be better off if she was gone.

GRACE: OK, let`s go back to the lawyers. Let`s give Richard Herman another chance. Richard, if you were constructing a to-do list for the police right now, what would it be?

HERMAN: Nancy, the gentleman who was with her watching the movie, he`s got to be brought in. He`s got to be heavily questioned. And everybody on those cell phones that she spoke to that day, every one of those numbers has to be followed up. They`ve all got to be interrogated. Absolutely, this case is not over.

GRACE: I agree. I agree, it is not over yet. Renee, agree, disagree?

ROCKWELL: I agree, and I`m with Mike Brooks. I want to see the cameras, everywhere she went. I want to see who she was with, where she went.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, we can go ahead and announce that Melinda Duckett is the prime suspect in the reported disappearance of Trenton. At this point, we`ve gone from the point of looking in a multi- direction, involving Joshua, the theory of the outside abduction, and Melinda. And it`s been 25 days, and we have reached the point where we can establish that Melinda Duckett is right now our primary suspect.


GRACE: Today, police naming formally Trenton`s mother, Melinda Duckett, as the chief suspect in the child`s disappearance or death. To Mike Brooks, Mike, look, I`ve never had a single case that I didn`t want it to turn out the child was just missing. But realistically, what`s the chance the child is just missing? What`s the chance she sold the baby? I mean, wouldn`t those witnesses have come forward by now? What do you think?

BROOKS: You would think they would have, Nancy, but there`s always that hope. Law enforcement, the investigators, and her family, they`re still holding out that maybe that baby was sold. Maybe there is somebody else involved. That`s what we have to find out.

Was there accomplice in this? Who was that accomplice? Get that accomplice identified, interviewed, and find out where that baby is. As we go along, the further it goes, the less of a chance that we`re going to find that baby alive. But, Nancy, I`m holding out hope, and I think everyone else, too.

GRACE: You know, we really are.

And to you, Steven Rogers, the chance -- I mean, there was a custody argument going on. There were bad blood in the divorce. There is a chance.

ROGERS: Well, there is a chance. And I think that reporter hit the nail on the head, and I`m glad she said this. If there`s someone watching your show tonight who has that baby, bring that baby to the reporter. I know reporters will protect you. It`s so important that, if a person has that child, they know that they`re not going to be prosecuted. So just return that child if you have that child.

GRACE: 1-800-CALL-FBI. The reward now up to $5,000.

Tonight, we stop to remember Private First Class Dan Dolan, just 19, a baby, Roy, Utah. First tour of duty, loved hockey, wanted to go to Buffalo to study marketing at Niagara University. Daniel Dolan, American hero.

Thank you to all of you for being with us. To our guests, as well, but especially you, for inviting us into your home. Nancy Grace signing off again for tonight. See you here tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.


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