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The Killers in Our Midst

Aired April 29, 2007 - 21:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. The name Seung-Hui Cho is now written in the blood of 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech University. And you know, one of the most disturbing facts in the story is that so many people realized Cho was troubled and tried to intervene long before he erupted in violence.
Tonight we're going to focus on mental illness and crime. Most mental illnesses, of course, don't result in crime. But how can we do a better job of identifying those people who may end up being "Killers in Our Midst."

We start on another college campus, with another stalker. Here's CNN's David Mattingly.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a danger? Is there a shooter running around? Or was this a very targeted thing?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Early on a Monday morning, shots rang out in a campus building, leaving two people dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a male and a female. Their connection has not been confirmed with each other yet.

MATTINGLY: This killing did not happen at Virginia Tech, but some say the similarities are cause for alarm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And was the victim stalked? That's the rumor we're hearing from students.

MATTINGLY: Twenty-six-year-old Rebecca Griego worked at the University of Washington when her ex-boyfriend, turned stalker, shot and killed her at her on-campus office, then killed himself.

It happened exactly two weeks before another accused stalker at Virginia Tech opened fire on classrooms, and both killers exhibited behavior that experts say is frequently overlooked.

CONNIE KIRKLAND, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: Very few stalking victims report the crime to police. I think the highest number I've seen is 17 percent.

SARAH, STALKING VICTIM: We dated probably for about six months before I realized anything was really unusual about the relationship. MATTINGLY: Sarah has been stalked by a former boyfriend since she was in high school. Going away to college didn't make it stop. A Justice Department report from six years ago revealed 13 percent of female students had been recently followed, watched, telephoned, written or e-mailed by men in ways that seemed obsessive and made them fear for their safety.

SARAH: Being on my toes all the time, I would be very careful of the places I went, the people who saw me, that sort of thing. I would very, very cautiously direct who I initiated contact with.

MATTINGLY: Experts say women on college campuses can be more vulnerable. Their movements and locations are predictable. All of it determined by class schedules. The explosive popularity of social networking Web sites also makes personal information easy to get.

(on camera): And that goes for both women and men. But if you look at overall statistics, women are much more likely to become victims. And stalkers are much more likely to be men.

(voice-over): Seung-Hui Cho was reported to Virginia Tech campus police by two young women for stalking them in 2005. His roommates at the time say Cho collected personal information on the women.

Police examined phone and computer records to see if Cho may have had contact with the first murder victim, a woman who lived in a nearby dorm.

KIRKLAND: About 10 percent of all stalkers either attempt a sexual assault or commit a sexual assault on their stalking victim. Unfortunately, about 2 percent of stalking victims end as murder victims.

MATTINGLY: In the case of Rebecca Griego, she was attempting to escape a violent relationship. She had even moved and obtained a protection order from the courts. None of this helped her, as her killer knew when and where to find her on campus.

SARAH: You really have to admit that you are afraid and that something is wrong with that. And if you are being stalked or if you do have that fear, that you definitely need to tell someone about it.

MATTINGLY: And in spite of a protective order in her home state, Sarah says she still gets calls from her stalker. The legal protection does not extend to her out-of-state college.

David Mattingly, CNN, Blacksburg, Virginia.


COOPER: More now on stalking. Of course, it is not limited to colleges. According to the Department of Justice, this year alone more than 1 million women will be stalked in the United States. So, how can they protect themselves? Rachel Solov is the deputy D.A. in San Diego County and heads the sex crimes and stalking unit for the district attorney's office. I talked to her recently. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Rachel, I was surprised to learn that a study in 2000 found 13 percent of college women say that they had been stalked in the previous seven months. Is there a reason that it seems so prevalent on college campuses?

RACHEL SOLOV, SEX CRIMES & STALKING UNIT: I think that some of that has to do with the fact we're dealing with people that are younger, that have less life experience, that don't deal with life experience in the ways that some older people do. Things seem to be a lot bigger of a deal.

I think also that in a situation like that, sometimes women of that age group have a hard time saying no and setting boundaries. And sometimes men in that age group have a difficult time understanding no.

COOPER: Anyone who has been on TV has people who stalk them at one time or another. I've got a woman who, you know, believes she has a relationship with me. And there's really nothing you can do to convince them otherwise. You know you can try to ignore them all you want, but if you like send one e-mail to say, look, please stop this, that just sparks it up again.

SOLOV: Right. And that's one thing that we actually recommend to our victims, whether they be male or female, is that they completely disengage. Is that they cut off all contact because what is happening in the stalker's mind is that negative contact is just as good as positive contact.

COOPER: You also say pressing charges is not always the best thing to do. We know Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech reportedly stalked two women. Both reported it, but ended up not pressing charges. You say you shouldn't necessarily press charges?

SOLOV: Yes, that's correct, because sometimes we can't lock someone up long enough under the current sentencing schemes. And as a management technique in managing the threat, sometimes prosecuting can aggravate the situation because if you think about it, what's going to happen is that victim's going to have to sit in court. They're going to have to engage by testifying. And so it just sets up another stage where the stalker continues to focus.

What we're not saying is don't report it. What we're saying is let people who are professionals and experts in the field make that decision as to what the best approach is.

COOPER: How do you know if someone is a stalker?

SOLOV: Some of that is the perception of the victim. Under California law in regards to anti-stalking, has to do with the course of conduct and a credible threat. And that threat can be implied by conduct.

Some examples of that are the inappropriate pursuit, the being told time and time again, back off. You know, here's the boundary. You keep crossing it. At a certain point that becomes a threat because the person is on notice that what he or she is doing is scaring the victim.

COOPER: So if someone out there thinks they are being stalked, what do you advise that they do?

SOLOV: I advise that they go to law enforcement, they go to some sort of an expert, a professional, in the area of threat assessment because the first step is to start building the case. And one of that -- part of that is starting to document everything.

We advise them to tell people that are close to them about the situation so that if they notice anything weird or out of place, they can tell the victim so the victim can be prepared to deal with it.

COOPER: Can you ever really get rid of a stalker?

SOLOV: A lot of people do end up having to move. And a lot of times, even if we do send them to prison for three, four, five years, they get out and they continue to focus on the victim. And sometimes it just takes refocusing on another victim. Unfortunately, this is a problem that just persists.

COOPER: And for the victim, the focus of the stalker, I mean, the effect is long lasting.

SOLOV: It can be a lifetime of effect. It's really a crime, a psychological terror. It changes everything about your life. You alter your routine. You start looking in your rearview mirror more often. You look around corners. Everything changes and there's always that fear that this person is going to come back.

COOPER: It's such a bizarre thing. Appreciate you coming on. Thanks.

SOLOV: My pleasure.


COOPER: We're going to turn now to our panel of experts for more on mental illnesses that can sometimes turn to murder. I recently sat down with CNN's senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin; Pete Earley, a former reporter at The Washington Post, and an author of "Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness"; and Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist and author of "Anatomy of a Secret Life."


COOPER: Is there a diagnosis for stalkers? Mentally speaking, what exactly is wrong with them?

GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, there's a range. But generally speaking, there's some sort of personality disorder involved. They tend to be obsessive. They're often severely narcissistic, which means that they have very low self-esteem, and they attach themselves to the victim in hopes that this person can sort of elevate them in their mind.

They're often paranoid. They may have Borderline Personality Disorder. And sometimes, as we saw with Cho, they're actually psychotic and they have a delusional system, a psychotic idea about their victim.

COOPER: And, Gail, I mean, how do you deal with someone who may be stalking you or someone you suspect may be deeply, deeply disturbed?

SALTZ: Well, the young woman on the tape said something very important, which is a lot of women don't listen to their gut. They try to deny it and don't acknowledge that they're being stalked. So that's the first important thing to do.

The next thing is to say as early as possible in the process to the person, respectfully, but clearly, with no mixed message, I want you to stop, cease and desist. The next thing is that you must document absolutely everything that goes on because that's necessary for the police to be able to take action.

And then you absolutely have to report it. And if someone is not taking you seriously, then unfortunately, it really is up to you to push until that person does.

COOPER: Jeff, is the legal system set up to protect people from stalkers?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, several years ago I wrote a piece for The New Yorker about stalking and I interviewed Park Dietz, who is the famous forensic psychiatrist, and I said, what should you do if you're being stalked? He said, you should move. I said, you should move? He said, absolutely.

The legal system cannot protect you. Most of what stalkers do is legal. They stand in public areas. You can't really stop it. You have to move. And it sounds so unfair. You're the victim. He said, but that -- you want to save your life? That's what you have to do.

And it -- you know, it rings in my ears even now. So yes, there are certain things you can do, but the legal system is limited in what it can do because, you know, you can't make standing on public property illegal. Yes, you can set distances someone can stay away, but if someone is really psychotic, they're not going to respect those distances.

COOPER: And, Pete, as you and I have been talking about over the last two weeks or so, the mental health system often lets down the people who need it the most. Your own son was diagnosed as bipolar. You knew he needed help, but were told to come back only once he tried to hurt somebody or hurt you.

PETE EARLEY, AUTHOR, "CRAZY": That's absolutely right. But I want to point out that bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and major depression are considered sicknesses, and that is a different category than someone who has a severe personality disorder. I'll have to let the psychiatrist answer that.

But Cho right now is the face of mental illness, and that really is unfair to millions of Americans. Mike Wallace has a mental illness. Patty Duke has a mental illness. Representative Patrick Kennedy has a mental illness. And when we throw all these people in this Cho mix, it's a dangerous thing.

You know, my son has an illness. And he did not seek that out, and there was nothing that he did that caused him to get that illness, and that's a little different than a Hannibal Lector-type serial killer or a stalker, I think.

COOPER: Absolutely, and I'm glad you raised that point because we don't want people to confuse it. You know, there are many different forms of mental illness and, unfortunately, many different forms.

But just in terms, Pete, of getting help, what you went through is just a nightmare.

EARLEY: Absolutely. It's so frustrating. We have set the law here in Virginia at imminent danger, which means that you cannot interfere, you cannot step in, you cannot help someone unless they hurt someone or hurt themselves. And that's exactly what I was told.

My son had been hospitalized twice. He had a history of bipolar disorder. He took medication that worked, that helped him think clearly. He became psychotic. I rushed him to an emergency room, and the doctor said, I'm sorry, I can't do anything unless he hurts you or hurts someone else. Bring him back when he does that.

Forty-eight hours later he broke into a house to take a bubble bath. Even that wasn't enough. The police said, if you want your son to go to the hospital instead of jail, you need to go tell them that he threatened to kill you. And that's what I did. I went in and I lied in order to get him help. It had to cross that imminent danger threshold.

COOPER: We're going to talk more with Pete and then Jeff and Dr. Gail Saltz a little bit later on in this hour.

And just to reiterate, Pete makes a very good point. We're focusing on many different forms of mental illness, many forms of disturbances and basically why in many of these different, separate kind of cases people aren't getting the help they need and the problem isn't getting recognized early enough.

Still to come, a killer at work. How America's deadliest workplace shooting carried out by a woman who could have gotten help. It could have been prevented.

Plus, he attempted suicide, pulled a gun on his friends and even attacked his father. And despite all the warning signs, he was allowed to go free. The deadly mistake, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Because of a loophole in the law, a deeply troubled Virginia Tech student was able to buy a gun. We know what Seung-Hui Cho did with it. And we know there have been other people who, despite being found mentally ill, were free to commit staggering acts of violence. It's clear the system needs to be changed. We'll deal with that in a moment.

But first, CNN's Dan Simon reports on a killer at work.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Retracing a killer's footsteps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to witnesses at the scene, she was armed with a 9 millimeter pistol and reloaded it at least once during her rampage.

SIMON: Indeed the shooter was a she, 44-year-old Jennifer San Marco. What happened that January night last year is believed to be the deadliest workplace shooting carried out by a woman in the U.S.

It was just before 9:00 p.m., the start of a shift change at this 24/7 postal facility. She shot and killed three people in the parking lot, three more inside, then shot herself. Earlier that night she killed a former neighbor at her old condo development.

(on camera): It's unclear what, if anything, could have been done to prevent the shooting here. After all, San Marco's co-workers took proactive action to prevent this very kind of violence. When they noticed she was acting strangely, they alerted their supervisors who then called the authorities. Just a week later, San Marco was banished from the building.

RICHARD MAHER, U.S. POSTAL SERVICE: She was never a threat to anybody. It was more that there was concern about her personal safety, more of a concern of her being a threat to herself.

SIMON (voice-over): San Marco underwent psychological treatment, though it's not clear how much. But three years had passed and not a peep out of her, at least not here.

She moved to a small town in New Mexico and became known for her bizarre antics, like at this convenience store.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She'll come in, she'll buy a sandwich or something. She'll throw it on the side and pray to the sandwich and then take off.

SIMON: Still, no clues that she'd become violent, but the rage was brewing. And San Marco went to a New Mexico pawn shop and bought a 9 millimeter gun similar to this one.

SGT. ERIK RANEY, SANTA BARBARA CO. SHERIFF'S DEPT.: Clearly, without a gun, she wouldn't have been able to commit the carnage that she did. SIMON: California gun shops are required to run extensive background checks on gun buyers. San Marco's history of mental illness would have prevented her from buying a gun here, but that information never appeared in the federal database checked in New Mexico. And gun control advocates say New Mexico has some of the weakest gun laws in the country.

RANEY: With the firearm, she was able to get in and commit these homicides in rapid fashion before law enforcement even had a chance to react.

SIMON: The postal facility remains open, but now with a powerful reminder of that awful night, a memorial bearing the names of those killed by a former coworker.

Dan Simon, CNN, Goleta, California.


COOPER: A terrible tragedy. Up next, a killer at home. His family tried desperately to get him help. They were fearful.


JOE BRUCE, MENTALLY ILL SON KILLED WIFE: I told the doctor and the case worker, in all likelihood, he is going to hurt or kill someone. And it will probably be her, and I pointed to my wife.


COOPER: A chilling prediction, and no one stopped him. Did the system fail?

Plus, she was depressed, but no one took notice until she drowned her children in the bathtub. Her attorney says, don't call her evil.


GEORGE PARNHAM, ANDREA YATES' ATTORNEY: It is suggested that she was depraved or to use the adjective evil is not to understand mental illness.


COOPER: Why were the warning signs missed? When "Killers in our Midst" continues.


COOPER: We're talking about some forms of mental illness and murder, and how the two can cross paths in all aspects of life.

For many of the killers, the victims are often found in their own homes. They're their fathers or mothers, their sons and their daughters. And the cries for help are often ignored until it's too late. With one family's story, here's CNN's Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She was his mother. He was a paranoid schizophrenic.

BRUCE: I could see two bloody feet sticking out of the bathtub. He had murdered her with a hatchet.

KAYE: Joe Bruce says more than a decade before his son killed his mother, Amy, there were warning signs. William Bruce attempted suicide with antifreeze, hid a butcher knife under his mattress.

BRUCE: He began talking about the CIA planting devices under his skin.

KAYE: In March 2005, after William pulled a gun on friends, his parents pushed to have him committed. The hospital released him after two weeks. In Maine, unless he poses an imminent danger to himself or others, he's free to go.

BRUCE: I told the doctor he is going to hurt or kill someone. And it will probably be her, and I pointed to my wife.

KAYE: January 2006, he attacked his father.

(on camera): The next month, a full year after his diagnosis, William was involuntarily committed here, Riverview Psychiatric Center. Because he was over 18, he was legally allowed to make his own decisions about treatment, regardless of his mental state.

After three months he requested a discharge, and by law, Riverview had to grant it, finding he posed no immediate danger to himself or others. Two months later he killed his mother.

DR. E. FULLER TORREY, TREATMENT ADVOCACY CENTER: The pressure is to discharge patients, to get them out of the hospital. And the reason is to save state money.

KAYE (voice-over): Riverview's David Profit (ph) wouldn't discuss William's case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whenever we have not been able to maintain a person engaged in treatment, that is a failure.

KAYE: Joe was so worried shortly before Amy died, he warned her about William.

BRUCE: She staggered into the bathroom and tried to stop the bleeding with towels. And at some point Willy came back in and finished her off.

KAYE: After his arrest, William called home.

BRUCE: And he said, Dad, I didn't do it. And I said, Willy, I said, your mother and I have forgiven you.

KAYE (on camera): Have you truly forgiven him?

BRUCE: None of us have blamed Willy for what took place.

KAYE: Who do you blame?

BRUCE: I blame the people that let him out of the hospital.

KAYE (voice-over): William was found not criminally responsible for his mother's murder. Today he's back at Riverview Psychiatric Center indefinitely.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Caratunk, Maine.


COOPER: The agony for that family. Joe Bruce is considering bringing a lawsuit against Riverview, but he tells Randi, he just wants the law to be changed.

With me now again is our panel, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin; Pete Earley, a former reporter at The Washington Post and author of "Crazy: A Father's Search through America's Mental Health Madness"; and Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist and author of "Anatomy of a Secret Life."

Pete, we just heard that incredible story -- horrific story about a man killing his mom, despite many warnings. What's your advice for people dealing with mental illness in their own families, trying to get help for their siblings or their children as you were?

EARLEY: It is so, so frustrating. Right now I know of a family in Miami, daughter is 28, psychotic, living on the street. She has been gang raped twice, beaten with baseball bats. Her parents cannot intervene because she is not considered an imminent danger to herself or others.

What should you do?

COOPER: How can that be? How can she not be considered an imminent danger to herself?

EARLEY: Because she's the victim. She isn't attacking anyone else. And that is what is so silly about this very, very high threshold.

Of course, we have to protect people's rights. But when you have a history of a mental illness, when there are warning signs, then people need to step up to the plate and try to prevent something from happening, and it's not -- look, we're not talking about stripping people of their civil rights, we're talking about changing the imminent danger, just removing the name "imminent," or changing it to "likely to cause harm." Using some common sense here to protect someone who may be just thinking differently but also help someone, get them into services, if they're clearly psychotic. COOPER: Dr. Saltz, from a medical standpoint, what do you think needs to change? I mean, are doctors' hands tied behind their back because of some of these -- the word imminent?

SALTZ: Unfortunately, that is often the case. There are often patients that come in that of course a doctor would want to hold. They're psychotic. And they know at some level that there's some risk, but unless they get the statements -- and, of course, patients are often guarded. So even if they're thinking it, they don't tell the doctor. And without a statement of their being a risk to themselves currently or to someone else currently, there isn't much the doctor can do.

They can really only hold someone for 48 hours. And then they need a judge basically to judge whether this person is competent and has the capacity or -- and whether they're a threat or not. And that's why someone may come in for a period of time, but ultimately does get released.

COOPER: Jeff, legally, what needs to change?

TOOBIN: Well, you know, I'm not sure it's all about the law here. I mean, I think a lot of it is economics because these mental institutions have tremendous incentives to get these people out the door. There's no money to keep people inside. Pete mentioned it earlier.

And that's a tremendous -- so it's not just that the medical people are, you know, parsing the law carefully and finding people not dangerous. Their institutions have great incentives to give people a few pills and get rid of them. That, I think, has as much to do with this than the actual words of any law.

COOPER: Yes, Pete, I remember last week you were saying -- you had the price difference between treating somebody with a mental illness and not. What was that?

EARLEY: Well, in Virginia, if you have somebody in a psychiatric bed, it costs about $500 a night. A jail is $89. And what he has brought up is exactly right. Basically, we have given up on the mental health system, and we're using jails and prisons now where people aren't getting any treatment and then they're released.

And by that, I mean there are 300,000 people right now who have bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major mental depression in our jails and prisons; 500,000 on probation -- 700,000 go through the criminal justice system every year. They don't get help. They're held for a few days, they're kicked back out and they get progressively worse because we don't provide services.

TOOBIN: And once you're in a jail cell, you're in the criminal justice system. And there's no real crime that most of these people are committing. You know, it's not a crime to be psychotic. They didn't really do anything, so they're going to be out on the street soon. So it's only a couple of days that they're going to be held in any jail cell. And, of course, they haven't gotten serious treatment there.

SALTZ: You know what, Anderson, though? I think it is important to know that actually it is a very short-sighted system. It costs $130,000 to keep someone in juvenile detention for a year. If even a portion of that money were used on the front end to look at -- and this counts for the child case as well.

Many kids have some sort of mental illness or psychiatric situation that's going on that ultimately can lead to violent behavior. And there isn't enough intervention and prevention going on upfront that might keep some of these kids from going into crime and committing the violent acts.

COOPER: That's a good point.

Dr. Saltz, appreciate it, Pete Earley, as well, and Jeff Toobin, thanks very much, guys.

Still to come, how a man with a long, dark criminal history, in need of medical help, was able to walk a neighborhood street -- it could have been anywhere in America, and commit murder.

Plus, another killer at home. The illness that drove a mother to do the unthinkable, when 360 continues.


COOPER: We continue our look now at "The Killers in our Midst."

We got hold of a statistic tonight that seems beyond belief. There are, according to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more than half a million convicted sex offenders in America -- half a million. And those are the ones that we know about.

Convicted sex offenders are supposed to be tracked, of course, but sometimes they fall through the cracks. And when that happens, there are no words to describe what the price can be.

John Zarrella reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madame clerk, you may publish the recommendation.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Evander Couey is going to die.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit of the State of Florida in and for Miami-Dade County, change of venue from the 5th Circuit, Citrus County, State of Florida versus John Evander Couey, a majority of the jury, by a vote of 10 to two, advise and recommend to the court that it impose the death penalty upon John Evander Couey for the murder of Jessica Marie Lunsford.

ZARRELLA: But it could have been different. In Citrus County, where Jessica lived and died, police in the sexual predators unit say they wish Jessica would only have screamed.

LT. DAVID DECARLO, CITRUS COUNTY POLICE: If she would have yelled, she would have screamed and awoke her grandparents or bring some attention to herself, maybe this wouldn't have happened, this tragic event wouldn't have happened. So it's important to teach the kids that it's OK to say no to adults.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Couey, is that correct?

ZARRELLA: But why was John Couey there to begin with? How did a registered sex offender get to simply walk into a little girl's room, kidnap her and, as Couey confessed, hold her for days within sight of her own home before killing her?

JOHN EVANDER COUEY, KILLED JESSICA LUNSFORD: It was like three days or something like that she stayed in a closet and I was feeding her. You know, I wouldn't let her starve, I gave her water and stuff like that.

ZARRELLA: The path that led John Couey to Jessica Lunsford's bedroom two years ago was rocky from its beginning.

Run-ins with the law began as a teenager. First, probation for breaking into a home. Then jail time, parole again, then back to jail for moving and failing to tell authorities.

(on camera): In 1991, Couey made the leap from petty criminal to sex offender. Caught fondling a 5-year-old, he was convicted of attempted molestation.

It was here, 14 years before he killed Jessica Lunsford, that John Evander Couey, in a taped confession, asked for help.

COUEY: I feel bad about it, really I do. I don't want to go to prison. I just want to get help for myself. I feel that's what I need, I want help for myself.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): He never got the help. Instead, thrown back in jail for two more years.

Trudy Novicki, a former prosecutor, runs Kristi House, which helps families and children deal with sexual abuse and how to avoid it.

TRUDY NOVICKI, KRISTI HOUSE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: The best piece of advice I can give to young children is to say no and to scream and holler, to scream and holler and run away.

ZARRELLA: Novicki says throwing guys like Couey in and out of jail is asking for trouble.

NOVICKI: They come out worse. The worst thing you can do for a sexual offender is put them in there with a bunch of other sexual offenders and let them vegetate. How do you think they're going to come out? ZARRELLA: We now see him as a monster. But before his horrible act, think about it. In your neighborhood or walking down the street, he would look ordinary, blend in. You'd never know.

Before we know what they can do, we rarely notice killers like Couey. In fact, Novicki says, by their nature, they are weak, not aggressive.

NOVICKI: Maybe with a 5-year-old child they're going to feel very comfortable, but as soon as that child starts making a commotion, as soon as people start noticing what's going on, they're going to leave.

ZARRELLA: And that's what John Couey always did. He ran. After Jessica disappeared, police went out and checked on all the offenders and predators in the county who, by law, only had to be accounted for every three months. Couey wasn't where he was supposed to be living.

DECARLO: I don't think we did anything wrong in the investigation. I think we just -- we had to work with what the law was at that particular time during the investigation. And we weren't doing anything wrong. I mean, he was supposed to be at a particular address. We went -- when she came up missing, we did a grid search. We went to that address that he had last registered at. We found that he was not there. He had not changed his driver's license. And that's when we got the warrant for his arrest.

ZARRELLA: Today, police in Citrus County go to schools and teach children how to fend off an attacker. And they keep better track of where predators and offenders are living than perhaps anywhere.

But two years ago no one knew Couey had moved into his sister's home across from the Lunsfords. And by now, Jessica was dead and Couey on the run again. Over the course of a couple of decades, there were countless times John Couey's path to Jessica's bedroom might have been altered.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.


COOPER: Couey was a danger in his own neighborhood, Andrea Yates was a danger in her own home. Coming up, we go inside her case and the illness that led her to do the unthinkable, when 360 continues.


COOPER: Well most mental illnesses, of course, do not result in crimes, but mental illness and crime can touch all aspects of our lives.

The story you're about to hear hits awfully close to home, one that made headlines for years. It is about a mother who lived with insanity, who didn't get help, and that eventually drove her to kill.

Once again, CNN's David Mattingly reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: It was a crime almost too horrible to imagine. On June 20, 2001, Andrea Yates filled a bathtub in her Houston home, and one by one, she held her five children under water until they drowned. The oldest was 7; the youngest, just 6 months. Then she calmly called the police to report her crimes.

JOHN CANNON, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: The woman, who was still breathing rather heavily at that time, said that I just killed my children.

MATTINGLY: It took her less than an hour to kill her children. But was Andrea Yates' crime an act of pure evil or was she criminally insane?

PARNHAM: When it is suggested that she was depraved or to use the adjective evil, is not to understand mental illness and the level of her mental illness -- her severe mental illness.

MATTINGLY: Attorney George Parnham defended Andrea Yates through two trials. He says his client suffered, isolated in a world of delusion for years, and those delusions became worse each time she had a child.

PARNHAM: Andrea experienced four hospitalizations, two suicide attempts, on and off of heavy antipsychotic medications throughout the course of at least two years.

MATTINGLY (on camera): Andrea Yates said she knew it was wrong to kill her children, but she was convinced she was a bad mother and possessed by Satan. And because of that, her children were doomed to spend eternity in hell. She came to believe that the only way to save them was to kill them.

(voice-over): And in spite of that, the jury rejected her insanity plea and sentenced Andrea Yates to life in prison. That's not surprising. According to the Justice Department, in 2005, two- thirds of the country's murder victims under the age of 5 were killed by a parent or close family member.

But a study done in the 1990s showed the insanity defense is only used in about 1 percent of cases and is successful only 26 percent of the time. George Parnham appealed Andrea Yates' conviction and was granted a new trial when it was discovered that one of the state's expert witnesses, Forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz, gave false testimony on the stand.

And in July of 2006, Andrea Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

PARNHAM: I think that the first jury understood she was mentally ill also, but I also believe that the second jury, we were able to explain the insanity definition as seen through the eyes of a person who is psychotic.

MATTINGLY: Andrea Yates is currently being treated at a north Texas state hospital.

David Mattingly, CNN.


COOPER: Just ahead, inside the mind of a killer. Who's most likely to kill and why? Experts say there is at least one thing that most mass murders have in common but it is probably not what you think. That's next on this special investigation, "Killers in Our Midst."

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Rick Sanchez. Coming up after "Killers in Our Midst, ironically enough, another shooter killing people, this time at a mall. Officers rush to the scene while shoppers run for cover. Three people are dead. By the way, that's just at the mall. There is a lot more to the story. We're going to hear from eyewitnesses as we take you live to Kansas City throughout this newscast to bring you the latest.

Also, children of illegal immigrants have been taking to the streets today. We do have pictures of this little girl. She's holding up a sign. I don't know if you can see it there. It says: "I've been in the United States four years without my mother in this country." That's her argument. Looking ahead to "immigration day." That's Tuesday. And we're going to have special coverage here on CNN.

And then Lou Dobbs is going to be right in the middle of that coverage. And he's also going to be right in the middle of it tonight. He and I go mano-a-mano on this subject. It is heated. He is our "Sunday Spotlight." You know we have one every Sunday. You're going to see all that right here after Anderson Cooper's special. We'll see you then.

COOPER: We will never know, of course, exactly going through Seung-Hui Cho's mind during the bloody massacre at Virginia Tech. But it is now painfully clear that he didn't just snap one day with no warning. Experts say few mass murders do.

Here's CNN's Soledad O'Brien with a look inside the mind of a killer.


JAMES ALAN FOX, NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: He wrote about his grievances. He blamed other people. He said, you caused me to do this. That is the mindset of a mass murderer.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Understanding the mindset of people like Cho Seung-Hui is key to preventing future attacks, which is why the U.S. Department of Education and the Secret Service, which identifies potential threats to the president, published a 2002 study of school shootings. There had been a string of incidents: Pearl, Mississippi; Paducah, Kentucky; Jonesboro, Arkansas.

WILLIAM MODZELESKI, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: It seemed like every other month there was another school shooting that was occurring in the country.

O'BRIEN: Then on April 20, 1999, two students at Columbine High School in suburban Littleton, Colorado, killed 12 classmates and a teacher and wounded 23 others.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then he came into the library and shot everybody around me, then put a gun to my head and asked if we all wanted to die.

O'BRIEN: But after analyzing school shootings from the preceding 25 years, the study group found no clear profile.

MODZELESKI: We saw kids who were doing well academically, some kids who weren't doing well academically. Some kids who were doing well socially, some kids that weren't doing well socially. Some kids that were in the high end of a socio-economic strata and kids who were at the low end of the socio-economic strata. So it's very difficult to develop a profile.

O'BRIEN: What they and other experts have found is a syndrome of stress, depression and rage.

DEWEY CORNELL, UNIVERSTITY OF VIRGINIA: It starts with them feeling like they've been rejected, like they aren't recognized as human beings, and then in response, they treat others in the same way.

O'BRIEN: The process usually starts with some type of grievance and a sense of persecution. In schools, it's often about being bullied. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's rampage at Columbine is the classic case.

CORNELL: These boys wrote essays in which they described standing up to bullies and shooting them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do not mess with that frigging kid!

CORNELL: They made videotapes in which they enacted this fantasy of taking revenge on everyone around them.

O'BRIEN: Feeling powerless but wanting control is also a common factor when massive violence erupts on the job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said, get away from him. He said, I told him I'd be back. And he said, now, I'm back.

O'BRIEN: 1989, Louisville, Kentucky, Joseph Wesbecker took a rifle to the printing plant where he had worked. He was out on disability for stress and was taking antidepressants when he shot 20 employees.

FOX: He felt used up, spit out. He felt his loyalty to the company had not been returned.

CORNELL: He methodically went through the plant shooting people.

O'BRIEN: There is frequently advance planning down to small details.

FOX: Who they're going to kill, where they're going to kill.

CORNELL: They plan the weaponry. even plan what they're going to wear.

O'BRIEN: And sometimes even a dry run. In 1989, Patrick Purdy used toy soldiers to plan his attack on a Stockton, California, elementary school. He killed five students on the playground and wounded 30 others.

FOX: It may sound good to say that they snap and go berserk, but that's just not the case. These are well-planned executions.

O'BRIEN: Some massacres seem to be inspired by others, large- scale copycat crimes. The package of writings and videos that Cho Seung-Hui sent to NBC News included a reference to Columbine, which was inspired by earlier school shootings.

CORNELL: The boys in Columbine were very clear that they wanted to set a kind of record, that they wanted to commit the worst school shooting in history. And they in fact were stimulated by the great media attention given to the prior school shootings.

O'BRIEN: As with Columbine, as with the elementary school in Stockton, as at the printing plant in Louisville, and as with the shootings at Virginia Tech, these massacres often end with the killer taking his own life. So in the throes of depression and rage, is the gunman's outburst of violence about suicide or homicide?

FOX: Though life may be miserable and they take their own life because they don't want to live anymore. It is important to them first to punish all those they hold responsible for their problems and the more people who die, the sweeter the revenge.

JOSEPH SAMAHA, REEMA SAMAHA'S FATHER: That doesn't make any difference to me anymore. I mean, I don't know why. We may never know why.

O'BRIEN: Joseph Samaha lost his daughter Reema in the massacre at Virginia Tech.

SAMAHA: I'm focused on my child, my family, my friends and reunite her with us. And then, you know, give her a decent burial, a beautiful burial that she deserves.

O'BRIEN: While families grieve, investigators and experts try to get into the mind of the killer, the feelings of persecution, the advanced planning, the mental health issues that drive mass murders to the brink.


COOPER: That's our report tonight. Thanks for watching. In the weeks and months ahead, we'll continue to look at mental illness in America, a subject covered far too little. Good night.


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