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Police Say Possible Foul Play in Disappearance of Chicago-Area Mother

Aired May 16, 2007 - 20:00:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight, breaking news. Day 16, a young mother of two who reportedly goes for a jog, then never heard from again. Tonight we learn Lisa Stebic disappears just hours after mailing court papers to evict her husband, the two still living under the same roof. And tonight, for the first time, police refuse to rule out foul play. And further developments. Police swoop in for a late-night search, a five-hour search on Stebic`s home, seizing both family cars.
And tonight: A beautiful 4-year-old baby girl on a luxury resort vacation with her entire family vanishes from her own bedroom after parents leave the children alone to attend a dinner party. Tonight, the reward climbing to over $5 million to find baby Maddy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last Thursday evening, a little girl called Maddy was taken from the family hotel room. As I`m sure you understand, we need to do everything possible to help the police with their inquiries in finding her. If you have seen this little girl, please could you go to your local authorities or police and give any information that you have.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is very nearly two weeks now since Madeleine McCann was abducted from her family`s holiday apartment. In that time, police have searched hundreds of properties. The latest development, a block of apartments in this resort has tonight been sealed off. There have been in those two weeks been leads and suspects, the most high-profile of them Robert Murat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robert Murat`s house is still under police guard. Police tape still marks the outer limits of his garden and the driveway here. But police have been very clear they don`t have enough evidence even to continue questioning Robert Murat, let alone arrest him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police have been seen working at another property.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The inquiry appears to have moved quite quickly over the last three days, but the hours must tick by very slowly for the McCann family because Madeleine is still not here.


GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. First, to upscale Chicago suburbs and the mystery of missing mom Lisa Stebic.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Plainfield Police Department obtained and executed a search warrant at the home of Lisa Stebic, who has been missing since April 30.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The photos are somewhat grainy, an eerie shade of yellow, taken with a special low-light attachment. What they show is eerie, too -- highly specialized police units, including members of the Joliet Police Department`s special operations squad, the FBI`s evidence response team, some in SWAT gear, moving in on the quaint suburban home Lisa Stebic once shared with her husband and two children. The pictures show forensic technicians entering and police impounding Lisa`s car and her husband`s truck.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what were you able to recover?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not discussing what items were discovered at the residence or in the vehicle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Deputy Chief Eiting says a neighbor reported Lisa missing and that she was last seen by her husband, Craig, in their Plainfield home 15 days ago. The Stebics were in the process of getting a divorce and lived in the home with their two children.


GRACE: Where is missing mom Lisa Stebic? Tonight, the plot seems to thicken. It is revealed that the very day, just hours, in fact, before she goes missing, she had mailed formal court documents back to her lawyer asking her husband to be evicted from the family home, the two in a bizarre living situation much like "War of the Roses," two of them while seeking a divorce living under the same roof. Nothing good can come of that.

Out to Michelle Fiore with WBBM Newsradio. What`s the latest?

MICHELLE FIORE, WBBM NEWSRADIO: Well, I talked with Glenn Khan just this evening, and he tells me that the situation in the divorce had become tense, tense enough to the fact that the -- to the point to where Lisa was wanting to have her husband removed from the home. She had told her attorney that it didn`t feel comfortable in the house anymore, that he was both verbally abusive to her alone when she was only in the house, and even in front of the children, as well, that he was intimidating to her, and that she thought it would be best for not only herself but also for the sake of the two children that he be removed from the house.

GRACE: Take a listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Plainfield Police Department obtained and executed a search warrant at the home of Lisa Stebic, who has been missing since April 30. Plainfield police, with the help of the Joliet Police Department and the FBI, started the search last night at midnight and spent approximately four-and-a-half hours at the residence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The photos are somewhat grainy, an eerie shade of yellow, taken with a special low-light attachment. What they show is eerie, too -- highly specialized police units, including members of the Joliet Police Department`s special operations squad, the FBI`s evidence response team, some in SWAT gear, moving in on the quaint suburban home Lisa Stebic once shared with her husband and two children. The pictures show forensic technicians entering and police impounding Lisa`s car and her husband`s truck.

Lisa left here on April 30 with her cell phone and her wallet and has not been seen since. The phone and credit cards were never used again. Lisa and her husband shared a home with their kids, even though they were going through a divorce. Craig Stebic still lives there with the couple`s children.


GRACE: He must have a sinus condition because I`m not seeing any tears. I assume that was at one of the vigils. Let me reiterate that the husband, Mr. Stebic, has not been named a suspect.

I have in my hands the court documents. We didn`t even know that Lisa Stebic was asking to have her husband evicted from the family home, these papers filed -- mailed by her to her lawyer. Within hours, she was missing. And what`s so interesting is I`m looking at this -- and to you, Jean Casarez -- it says, "Husband`s behavior toward Lisa alone and in front of the children is unnecessarily relentless, cruel, inconsiderate, domineering, verbally abusive, jeopardizing Lisa`s mental and physical well-being." And this is what disturbed me. "As a result of his disruptive behavior," according to her, "police intervention has been required to diffuse the situation."

So the cops had been out there?

JEAN CASAREZ, COURT TV: They have. December of 2006, just a few months ago, they were at the house. But the report said that it was a non- abusive or physical situation. It was a verbal argument, was why they were out there. But I think the important thing of this, Nancy, and you just said it, she not only signed it, so we know she knew what it said, but she mailed it the day she went missing, later on in that day.

GRACE: Joining us is a very special guest, the chief of the Plainfield Police Department, Chief Donald Bennett. Chief Bennett, it`s a pleasure to have you with us. I`m very concerned about the timing this all went down. Chief, did you guys, the police force, know that she went missing the very day she mailed these court documents to have her husband evicted?

CHIEF DONALD BENNETT, PLAINFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT: We`re aware of certain facts, Nancy, but I can`t really relate the specifics of those facts.

GRACE: Hey, Chief, not that I haven`t heard this before, but I know you guys did a late-night five-hour search of the Stebic home. According to Stebic`s lawyer, this was all just a big ruse on your part to try to get him, coerce him into some type of confession. Response?

BENNETT: That`s absurd. We went in the afternoon to obtain the search warrant. And I think, being a former prosecutor, you realize it takes a while to go through the documentation that`s necessary. Once we obtained the court order from the judge, we immediately went out to the house.

GRACE: With us, Chief Donald Bennett from the Plainfield Police Department. We`re talking about a missing mom of two, Lisa Stebic. Friends and family say no way would this woman just go for a jog and never come back home to her children.

Chief Bennett, I`m hearing for the first time police are refusing to rule out foul play. What`s your reasoning?

BENNETT: What we`ve done is we`ve exhausted our searches in the immediate area of Lisa`s residence. Over the last week, we have had professional search and rescue teams. We`ve had search canine dogs. We`ve had water -- scuba divers in the water. We`ve done everything to really eliminate the possibility that she`s simply in the neighborhood or went away.

Additionally, we`ve had no activity from Lisa`s cards or cell phone. And so at some point in time, we have to refocus our investigation and look at the possibility that she didn`t leave on her own accord. And as such, we need to start, and that`s what we did, is we started at the residence where she was last seen.

GRACE: My question is why you had to have a search warrant. Why didn`t Mr. Stebic -- I mean, his wife is missing. It`s the mother of his children. Why didn`t he just consent to the search?

BENNETT: Mr. Stebic initially consented to a search back on May 5, I believe it was, and since that time, he has contacted an attorney, which you mentioned in your show. And as such, he`s using his constitutional rights. So therefore, anything that we do, we have to either go through his attorney or go through the courts.

GRACE: Did you ask for consent to search the home?

BENNETT: No, we did not.

GRACE: OK. So he really wasn`t -- in his defense, he was not given the opportunity to say, Sure, come on in. You just showed up late at night with a search warrant, right?

BENNETT: That is correct and...

GRACE: OK. But there`s a lot of tactical reasons for that, Chief. Very often, when you`re searching -- let`s go out to the lawyers. I know the chief will not comment on the facts of this case, nor the evidence, as he should not. Let`s unleash the lawyers -- Susan Moss, Renee Rockwell, Mickey Sherman.

To you, Renee Rockwell. There`s a lot of reasons that police may want to show up at midnight and search a place without telling you up front.

RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, you know why they wanted to show up at midnight? Because they knew he was going to be home, and I think it was all about potentially getting a statement from him. Nancy, just because you have a lawyer, don`t think the police don`t swing back around and try to get a statement. All you have to do is waive that right, give a statement, and then you`re done. You`ve painted...

GRACE: Renee...

ROCKWELL: ... that picture and that`s your statement, and you can`t change it.

GRACE: Renee, why is it always the police`s fault, like they`re trying to do something evil by getting a statement? Did you ever think, Mickey Sherman, that maybe they didn`t want to tip anybody off they were coming so potential evidence would not be destroyed? Ding, ding!

MICKEY SHERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, they waited, what, a couple weeks to do that, so...

GRACE: No, they`d already been in once. Uh-uh! Uh-uh!

SHERMAN: Yes. No, but they could have done this, you know, a long time before they came. I think there`s a great...

GRACE: So that`s your best defense, they should have done it earlier?

SHERMAN: Well, no, but if you`re saying he`s going to destroy evidence, why wait two weeks then? You know, there is a great intimidation factor coming at night. But by the same token, as the chief very candidly points out, he did consent to a search initially, and only after he lawyered up did the lawyer apparently say, you know, No can do.

GRACE: Weigh in, Susan Moss.

SUSAN MOSS, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: They should not have come while the children were there. The children have been through enough. This past weekend, the children were with their relatives. They could have done a midnight search then. It is outrageous to put the children through more. You know, perhaps they`re right...

GRACE: Susan, Susan, Susan! My God, woman! You think police can time a search in a possible murder case about when the children are in day care? It doesn`t work like that!

MOSS: She has been missing for more than two weeks. They could have done this while the children were at a relative`s home or while they were at school. Presumably, they didn`t because they thought the pressure of the children being there might end up in a confession by Craig.

GRACE: You know, I think it would be very good for the children to ultimately know where their mother is. Agree or disagree, Susan?

MOSS: Well, that certainly.

GRACE: I want to go back out to Jean Casarez. Let`s talk about what happened. We know there was a search. Is the affidavit, the probable cause affidavit or the return, has that been revealed?

CASAREZ: No, it is sealed. And remember, you have to have probable cause before you execute that search warrant and go into the home. And it had to take time. They couldn`t do it two weeks ago, so they had to wait. But Nancy, this search, I`m sure, was forensically driven. Of course, the DNA is all over the home. She lived there. But I`m sure luminol tests were done to see if there was blood in any unusual places to try to determine if a crime had been committed there.

GRACE: Let`s go back to the defense attorneys. With us, Renee Rockwell and Mickey Sherman, and then child advocate, family lawyer Susan Moss. Renee Rockwell, Mickey Sherman, you`re a sad sack choir. Did you hear that? It took them a while to get the PC, probable cause, to execute this search. If they hadn`t done that, then you two would be crying tonight about a police Gestapo state. They race in without PC.

SHERMAN: Not necessarily. But I got to say, you know, the point that you made at the beginning of the show that she had just filed a motion in court, trying to get him out of the house, and that he was abusive -- that is, like -- that`s not the exception, that`s the rule in a divorce case. I don`t do divorces, thank God, but most every divorce case, it`s as nasty and bitter and bitchy as that. So that is absolutely nothing, as far as I`m concerned...

GRACE: Well, in fact...

SHERMAN: ... in terms of compelling evidence.

GRACE: ... Mickey, Renee Rockwell is the first hard-core criminal defense attorney I ever heard say, I`d rather represent a doper at trial than get in a divorce case. The lawyer will get shot out in the parking lot...

SHERMAN: I`d rather be a doper...

GRACE: ... in the middle of a divorce.

SHERMAN: I`d rather be a doper than be a divorce attorney.


GRACE: I want to go back to Chief Donald Bennett. He`s the chief of the Plainfield Police Department. You`re certainly on the hot seat tonight, Chief. Question. Why is the probable cause affidavit -- which, everyone, reveals why the police decided to go in at that time -- why is that under seal?

BENNETT: That was initiated by the state`s attorney`s office. And again, I think it`s a fact that what we`re trying to do is present and get information without, you know, exposing the overall case itself and jeopardizing both the family and the circumstances.

GRACE: Let`s go out to the lines. Rebecca in Kentucky. Hi, Rebecca.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, Nancy. I have a quick question. What was the extreme behavior that Lisa Stebic was referring to in her petition against her husband?

GRACE: That was my very first question when I heard what she had put in these court papers. To Michelle Fiore with WBBM Newsradio. Do we know what extreme behavior she`s talking about? What is she referring to?

FIORE: All I can say is this much. Glenn Kahn tells me that there was not any evidence in that of physical abuse. He said it was verbal, at this point. And he was not specific as to what those words exactly meant.

GRACE: Jean?

CASAREZ: You know, that is true. If you look at the petition, if you look at the words, it is verbal or emotional abuse that she is asserting. When she talks about her physical wellbeing, it appears as though that`s a byproduct from the emotional abuse. So you could argue in Craig Stebic`s defense right now that there is not evidence of a physical abusive situation in that household.

GRACE: To Chief Donald Bennett. I recall looking up his record in the past. Does he have some kind of a weapons offense in the past?

BENNETT: He did have a prior arrest record for transporting firearms within the state, and that really, unfortunately, was a result of taking weapons from his summer home up in Michigan, bringing it back down to Illinois and not properly transporting them in the vehicle.

GRACE: Explain, Jean.

CASAREZ: Well, you want to know what was in his car. Police found -- and this was 1995 -- a 10-gauge double-barreled shotgun, a .44 semi- automatic pistol, a Ruger mini-14 assault rifle and...

GRACE: Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! A Ruger mini-14 what?

CASAREZ: Assault rifle. And an AK-47 semi-assault rifle.

GRACE: OK, Chief, he`s not hunting deer with an assault rifle. What`s that all about?

BENNETT: Well, he definitely has his share of weapons. And he`s an avid hunter. He`s an avid firearm user.

GRACE: With an assault weapon, Chief?

BENNETT: Well, unfortunately, it`s one of those things that Americans have that right to own.

GRACE: Well, you know what? You`re absolutely right about that.

Out to the lines. Judy in California. Hi, Judy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. Can`t they get a subpoena to require the husband to take a lie-detector test?

GRACE: Oh, oh, Judy in California, you went to the Nancy Grace school of law! How I wish that were true. Explain, Renee Rockwell.

ROCKWELL: Absolutely not. There`s nobody that`s going to make him take a test, nor is this divorce attorney that`s advising him -- and amen to that divorce lawyer, acting just like a criminal lawyer -- going to let him take that test because what happens, Nancy, if he fails it? And the test is only as good as the person that`s giving the test.

GRACE: Well...

ROCKWELL: He fails the test, and he`ll never get a fair trial. Everybody will say, Oh, that`s that guy that failed that polygraph.

GRACE: You mean if it comes into evidence, Renee.

ROCKWELL: But Nancy, don`t you think that would get out and in the court of popular opinion?

GRACE: Well, you know what, Mickey Sherman?


GRACE: Renee can talk all she wants to about the court of popular opinion, but the jury is not hearing the evidence from this TV show. They`re hearing it from the case in the courtroom. And regarding a subpoena to make him submit to questioning -- no can do under the 5th Amendment. Now, a witness, just a witness, can be forced to trial. Think Susan McDougal. You either testify or you go to jail on contempt. Why not a potential target, Mickey?

SHERMAN: Well, we saw it in the runaway bride. Remember when that girl ran away, and we all thought it was the husband, which is what`s happening here...

GRACE: I did not think it was the boyfriend.

SHERMAN: Well, everybody but you thought it was the husband. They made him take a lie-detector...

GRACE: I thought it was you.

SHERMAN: And he didn`t want to unless it was televised.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Craig Stebic declined to take a polygraph test that was offered to him by the Plainfield Police Department. It was on the advice of his attorney, who is also his divorce attorney in the proceedings that he filed against Lisa Stebic this past January. Police tell us that besides Craig, other family members and acquaintances of Lisa have also been offered a polygraph test. They would not tell me exactly how many have taken it, or if any have taken it, at this point.


GRACE: In the upscale Chicago suburbs, a young mom of two goes jogging, reportedly, is never seen again. Where is Lisa Stebic? Tonight, disturbing news. We learn that within hours of her disappearance, she had mailed to her lawyer formal court documents asking her husband to be evicted from the family home. They were in some type of war between the roses -- remember the movie -- Sharing a marital home in the midst of a divorce? Never a good idea. Well, within hours of mailing these papers to her lawyer, she goes missing.

I want to go out to special guest joining us, Kimberly Young, a friend of Lisa Stebic`s. She is a supervisor at the school where Stebic worked. She has organized a prayer vigil to help find Lisa Stebic. Tell us how you knew her. And would she ever leave her two children behind?

KIMBERLY YOUNG, FRIEND OF LISA STEBIC`S: I know Lisa from -- I hired her, actually. I`m her supervisor. And no, Lisa would never, ever leave her children, ever.

GRACE: What was her demeanor when you last saw her?

YOUNG: Oh, she was happy. We, you know, talked about tomorrow, I`ll see you tomorrow. She was going home. She was going to go work out at the gym.

GRACE: And did she ever reveal her marital problems?

YOUNG: She revealed that, you know, there was bumps in the road, but nothing more than that.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We appreciate the public`s support. There`s been over 15,000 visits to the Web site. Many people have left prayers and messages of support for the family, and we appreciate all of that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a challenging time for any family. And you know, you`re members of the press. You`re reading the press reports, just as we are. This is a very challenging time for all of us.


GRACE: A young mother of two goes jogging and is never seen again. I want to go back to Chief Donald Bennett, the chief of the Plainfield Police Department. Chief, is it true that Mr. Stebic is not allowing the children to continue interviewing with police?

BENNETT: That is true.

GRACE: When they were sitting in the patrol car while the home was being searched for five hours, did police speak to them?

BENNETT: No, we did not.

GRACE: Well, what did you do with them in the car? Did they doze off or -- there was no conversation at all?

BENNETT: There was certainly conversation, but it was just discussions about them personally, and just something to talk about. And then they both went to sleep in the car.

GRACE: Just personal conversations.

Out to Tricia in Illinois. Hi, Tricia.


GRACE: What`s your question, dear?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m wondering why it was a neighbor that reported her missing the following day and not her husband.

GRACE: Very interesting. To you, Michelle Fiore. Is that true? And has Mr. Stebic made any public pleas to help find his wife?

FIORE: You know what? It was the day after she disappeared, and Craig Stebic was reportedly outside, looking around for Lisa, came upon a neighbor, apparently, who they were friends with, and just asked if she had seen -- if she had seen Lisa.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is very nearly two weeks now since Madeleine McCann was abducted from her family`s holiday apartment. In that time, police have searched hundreds of properties. The latest development, a block of apartments in this resort has tonight been sealed off. There have, in those two weeks, been leads and suspects. The most high-profile of them, Robert Murat. He says he`s been made a scapegoat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police did spend some time talking to this man who built Robert Murat`s villa about the structure of the building and its grounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the garden, there is a septic tank. And they said, "We know all that." I said, "OK." "But we want to know any more, we`ll come back here." I said, "Fine."


GRACE: A beautiful 4-year-old baby girl goes missing from a luxury resort hotel while her parents are at a dinner party. Where is baby Maddy? The reward climbing tonight to over $5 million to find this little girl.

Out to Courtney Hazlett with "OK" magazine, Courtney, what happened?

COURTNEY HAZLETT, "OK" MAGAZINE: At the time, 3-year-old Maddy was put to bed alongside her younger brother and sister. The parents went to eat dinner. They claim they were less than 50 yards away from the room where Maddy was sleeping. And they were checking on Maddy and her siblings every 20 minutes. During one of these checks, shortly before 10:00 p.m., the mother goes upstairs only to find that the window has been broken open and Maddy is missing.

GRACE: You know, I`ve heard so many conflicting reports, Courtney. I`ve heard the parents were 100 yards away. I heard that they were a few feet away. I heard they checked the children every 15 minutes. I heard they checked the children every 30, every 20 minutes. Bottom line, they leave the children alone, three of them, two twins and baby Maddy, and they go to a dinner party.

HAZLETT: Bottom line, you`re absolutely correct. What`s important here is that the parents say they actually had a visual confirmation, they could see the door of the room. They felt reasonably certain that the security was good enough at the hotel room that they could take that risk.

Understand here, Nancy, there`s definitely a cultural disconnect going on between the way we`re judging it here in America and how it`s being judged in the U.K. There, it`s more acceptable if you have a reasonable level of security and that your kids are able to kind of sleep on their own, you can go to dinner. You can get a drink, if you`re close enough to keep track of them.

GRACE: Take a listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is very nearly two weeks now since Madeleine McCann was abducted from her family`s holiday apartment. In that time, police have searched hundreds of properties. The latest development, a block of apartments in this resort has tonight been sealed off. There have, in those two weeks, been leads and suspects. The most high-profile of them, Robert Murat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police tape still marks the outer limits of his gardens and the driveway here. But police have been very clear. They don`t have enough evidence even to continue questioning Robert Murat, let alone arrest him. So at this stage, it is very difficult to know, really, should we really regard Robert Murat as a suspect? Or is he, as he says, a scapegoat?

DAVID BECKHAM, SOCCER PLAYER: Last Thursday evening, a little girl called Maddy was taken from the family hotel room. As I`m sure you understand, we need to do everything possible to help the police with their inquiries in finding her. If you have seen this little girl, please, could you go to your local authorities or police and give any information that you have, any genuine information that you have. Please, please help us. Thank you.


GRACE: That is soccer star Beckham getting in on the act, trying to find baby Maddy. Again, the reward climbing to $5 million. Tonight, Jean Casarez, is it my understanding, is it correct that a man was taken into custody, Mr. Murat, and then released due to lack of evidence?

JEAN CASAREZ, COURT TV: That is right. They couldn`t arrest him, but they do call him a suspect. And a lot of people are wondering, why? Why is he a suspect? He has a home that`s close to the resort. All right. An informant believes that they saw him around the scene where she was allegedly kidnapped. We can say kidnapped. But other things we don`t know about him, that there would be probable cause, that he would actually be the person that kidnapped the baby.

GRACE: Where was the resort, Jean?

CASAREZ: Well, the resort is in the country of Portugal.

GRACE: Right, a luxury resort, a beautiful, very expensive, very secure resort. And I`m wondering, to you, Dr. Jeff Gardere, psychologist and author of multiple books, when people go to -- like when an American travels to one of these luxury resorts, and they`re paying all kind of money to stay there, and there`s a very clear, heavy security, do people let their defenses down and do things on vacation they wouldn`t typically do at home, like leave their kids alone to go to a dinner party?

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I think it`s actually opposite. What they would do is, we talk about that cultural disconnect. Well, you`re in a foreign country, so you better do things a little bit different. And since it was a very expensive resort, it only costs an extra $10 an hour to have the kids watched. So this was very, very inappropriate behavior on the part of the parents. But as you say, Nancy, we don`t want to victimize the victims tonight.

GRACE: Well, OK, hold on just a moment. I agree, don`t victimize the victims, but leaving your kids alone to go to a dinner party? I have a little problem with that. Susan Moss, agree, disagree?

SUSAN MOSS, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: Absolutely agree. Unless it`s Macaulay Culkin, you don`t leave a 4-year-old and two 2-year-olds home alone. Parenting 101. What if there was a fire? What if there was a flood? I don`t care if they`re 50 yards or 20 yards away. They couldn`t save their kids.

Now, this is an absolutely horrible tragedy, but the one thing we have learned, and one thing that we all should know, is that parents should not leave three children under the age of five without supervision.

GRACE: Out to the lines, Debbie in California, hi, Debbie.

CALLER: Hi, Nancy. My question is, can the parents be charged for leaving the children alone in the room?

GRACE: Out to the lawyers, Renee Rockwell, Mickey Sherman, what about it, Mick?

MICKEY SHERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: ... many times I`ve had parents who have been charged with leaving their kids alone, leaving them in cars. I had a tragic situation where one kid killed the other kid with a gun that was in the house.

But, you know, what`s the point? Their child is lost. Presumably something horrible has happened. What`s to be gained? You`re going to really send a message to the rest of the world, to the community, that if you leave your kids alone, something bad is going to happen? What can the criminal justice, no matter where, what can they do that`s going to be worse than what these parents are already suffering?

GRACE: Well, call me old-fashioned, Renee Rockwell, but a crime is a crime. And whether you empathize or feel sorry for the defendant, that doesn`t change the black-and-white letter of the law.

RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Nancy, in Georgia, they certainly could be charged. But what are you going to do? Don`t forget, this is never going to happen again in their lives. They`re never going to let something like this ever happen again.

GRACE: Well, if you`re talking about the deterrent value, deterrence is typically not only -- viewed not only as it relates to the particular defendant, but as it relates to other people that hear about the crime and the punishment.

To Donald Schweitzer, former detective with the LAPD, let`s talk about what really happened. Were they negligent in leaving her alone with the other two twins? They said that they could see the door, that they could see the entrance to, I guess, the villa that they were renting. But there were windows on other sides. Those were the windows that were broken into, Detective.

DONALD SCHWEITZER, FORMER DETECTIVE: You know, Nancy, I don`t care how far they were from this place. They needed to put some monitors, like these walkie-talkie monitors in the room so they could hear it. They needed to have an adult or maybe a babysitter there.

I don`t buy the fact that because they were at an expensive resort, that they weren`t -- that they shouldn`t have had their guards up. All of us need to do that, whether we`re leaving our kids in the car or we`re leaving their kids at home. We always have to have somebody there.

GRACE: Well, it seems to me it should be just the reverse. With me, former Detective Donald Schweitzer. You know, when you go away on vacation, you`re having a good time, you`re not under the workload you`re typically under. And very often, without those type of restraints, people let loose. But it should be the reverse in that you`re taking yourself and your children into an unknown environment. You don`t know all the risks or the dangers.

SCHWEITZER: And your parenting responsibilities don`t go away just because you`re on vacation. When you`re at a foreign place like that, you don`t know these people that are around there. You`ve got to be very, very vigilant. I agree, though, with Mickey. It`s not a time to beat up on these parents. It`s a time to look for these kids, to go after the suspects.

GRACE: Detective, I`m not beating up on the parents. I am simply gathering the facts!

And what`s interesting to me about those facts, to you, Courtney Hazlett with "OK" magazine, whether it`s every 15, 20, or 30 minutes, somebody knew the parents were going back and forth to the home, all right? There are all the people at the dinner party that can verify the parents were going back -- I don`t know how often -- but they were checking that villa, they were checking that condo and checking the children. So somebody was close enough to view the parents come and go and to see the mom or dad leave, and they swooped in.

Tell me about this resort, Courtney.

HAZLETT: You`re absolutely correct. You could see all the doors. You could see the parents. And they had developed this pattern over several days, that they`d go and they`d check on their kids. It`s enough time for some sort of predator to take them.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robert Murat is this inquiry`s first and so far only formal suspect, and one who plainly portends his innocence. Police say they removed numerous items during their search of Robert Murat`s home. Witnesses saw personal computers and mobile phones being taken. Video cassettes were also removed for analysis. Officers also took away clothes and samples of forensic material. Police say they completely searched the villa, but detectives spent less than a full day collecting material and then allowed the family to return, leading some to question how thorough they actually were.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the search for Madeleine in the area surrounding her disappearance is being scaled down, then where is its emphasis now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Up here you`re reminded of how easy it would be for an abductor to hide away a little girl amongst the apartments of the holiday home, and how difficult it would be to find her. The search would have to be fast-moving and methodical. Now, if the hunt of Madeleine has been like that, it`s been far from obvious.

BECKHAM: Last Thursday evening, a little girl called Maddy was taken from the family hotel room. As I`m sure you understand, we need to do everything possible to help the police with their inquiry in finding her. If you have seen this little girl, please, could you go to your local authorities or police and give any information that you have, any genuine information that you have. Please, please help us. Thank you.


GRACE: Soccer star Beckham reaching out, trying to get people to help find baby Maddy. This beautiful 4-year-old girl`s disappearance has sparked the interest of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, Simon Cowell of "Idol," Sir Richard Branson from Virgin Airlines, Beckham, of course, donating his time, all trying to find baby Maddy. The 4-year-old baby girl goes missing off a vacation at a luxury resort, the Ocean Club Holiday Resort at Praia da Luz, Portugal.

This is a shot of baby Maddy. According to reports, she and her two twin siblings were alone at an elite rental. The parents, somewhere between 50 and 100 yards away, at a dinner party. According to them, they kept checking back on the children intermittently. They went back, baby Maddy gone, the twins remaining.

To Jean Casarez, this guy, Robert Murat, has emerged as an official suspect, but he has been released. When did he become a suspect? What were the circumstances around that?

CASAREZ: Well, he became a suspect when they started to question him for, I think, almost 19 hours. But here is how that all happened. He believed he was being surveilled by police, so he went to police to confront them on it. And then what they did was brought him back in for all the questioning. They didn`t feel they had the evidence to arrest him, but they have searched his home, which is across the street from the resort. They`ve taken computers; they`ve taken cell phones; they`ve taken three videos from his mother, because she lived with him there, and even searched forensically his water tank.

GRACE: His water tank? Out to Courtney Hazlett with "OK" magazine, is it true that the suspect, who has since been released, has a daughter similar in age and appearance to baby Maddy?

HAZLETT: This is true. In fact, Robert Murat is actually in the midst of this very bizarre sort of love triangle going on, where he lives with another woman and her ex-husband, and sometimes he also lives with his mother and he has this daughter. He`s definitely a very complex individual. Tossed into that, too, he was actually acting as the translator for the McCann family when they first contacted police.

GRACE: The reward climbing tonight, out to the lines, Jennifer in Nevada. Hi, Jennifer.

CALLER: Hi, Nancy.

GRACE: What`s your question, dear?

CALLER: My question was, was there any surveillance in or around the hotel or around the villa that might have caught something?

GRACE: I find it very difficult to believe there was not, at a resort area like this. Can you enlighten us, Courtney?

HAZLETT: I believe there was surveillance, but it`s not the type of surveillance that you get maybe at a very, very high-end resort that`s used to having to deal with security issues. This is believed to be a very safe place, a very family-friendly place. It`s not the type of place where people had to be looking over their shoulder.

GRACE: You know, it`s very interesting, Susan Moss. Jeff Gardere said, you know, for $10 more a night, you can get a nanny. He`s right.

MOSS: He`s absolutely right! What is being reported is that they refused to have a nanny because they didn`t trust strangers with their children. Obviously, that was a big mistake. All they needed to do was to do their background, to do their due diligence, to learn who these babysitters are, find someone who they trusted, and for literally maybe $10 an hour, this all could have been avoided.

GRACE: Jean Casarez, is it true that initially police didn`t take it seriously?

CASAREZ: That is what is being reported, but the police say otherwise, that they were. They`re just not releasing a lot of the investigation that they did from the onslaught, but they have been working hard on this.

GRACE: What about it, Courtney Hazlett with "OK," is that true? What do you know about police not taking it seriously?

HAZLETT: That`s absolutely what`s been reported. Apparently, they called and they just said, "Oh, she`s just sort of missing. Maybe she just wandered off." It took several, several hours and quite a bit of coercing to make sure that the police were treating this as a real missing persons case.

That meant that the rooms were left open to have the crime scene damaged. That meant that people -- the borders weren`t being protected, the ports weren`t being shut down. There was so much time for people to slip through the cracks here.

GRACE: And the most important thing in my mind, to Dr. Jeff Gardere, is the lead time. They reported the little girl missing, by their calculations, within an hour after she was taken from the condo. And then, when hours passed, that gives the abductor plenty of time to get away with the little girl.

GARDERE: Absolutely plenty of time to go somewhere, to hide this little girl, and that was inexcusable. That time lapse should not have happened.

GRACE: Mickey Sherman, your advice to Robert Murat tonight?

SHERMAN: Get a good lawyer. The problem is, the damage is already done. We`ve already exposed this guy for being a weirdo, living with another couple, with his mother. He`s the prime suspect. He very likely has nothing to do with this crime, but this is the kind of crime that we are just dying to solve.

GRACE: Here you are, sitting in studio five, claiming he has nothing to do with the crime.

SHERMAN: No, well, he hasn`t been arrested for it. And there`s no proof that`s been shown to us that he did it. But we`re condemning him because we want to solve this crime. This little girl is so adorable, we want to solve this crime.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We would like to say a few words to the person who is with Madeleine or is being with Madeleine. Madeleine is a beautiful, bright, funny and caring little girl. She is so special. Please, please do not hurt her.


GRACE: Out to the lines, Margaret in California. Hi, Margaret.

CALLER: Hi, Nancy.

GRACE: What`s your question, dear?

CALLER: Yes, I`d like to know if the other children can be taken away from the parents because of negligence?

GRACE: Good question. What about it, Renee Rockwell?

ROCKWELL: You know what? Anything could be attempted, but don`t forget that...

GRACE: Quickly.

ROCKWELL: I don`t see that happening.

GRACE: OK, I can`t believe it. You put it in a nutshell.

Jean Casarez, question, before we sign off, how long had they been there?

CASAREZ: Well, they had been there for a few days. They had not just arrived. And they had gone to dinner every night, and it appears as though they had left the children checking in on them.

GRACE: This was routine. And Jean is right. They had been there about 14 days. Whoever took this child had been able to watch their routine of dinner every night. Where is Maddy?

Tonight, let`s stop to remember Army Specialist Joel Lewis, 28, Sand Springs, Oklahoma. A free spirit who had no fear, he stood tall at 6`5" with a beautiful laugh. He put marriage to his sweetheart, Julie, on hold until he could get home from Iraq in October. Lewis leaves behind grieving parents, Larry and Gail, brother Justin. Joel Lewis, American hero.

Thank you to our guests, and especially to you, for inviting us into your homes. See you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.


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