Return to Transcripts main page
Government to Blame For Wall Street Fraud?; Mystery Death in Mississippi
Aired December 17, 2008 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Here is what is making news right now.
A young superstar athlete, with LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas all offering him scholarships, gets pulled over by a cop on a routine traffic stop. He's dead. Why? We are investigating.
New developments in the Caylee Anthony case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We continue to make additional discoveries here at the site.
SANCHEZ: Will this trail of bones lead to her mother? Brooks and Banfield all over this story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The latest development, he was re-arraigned on a second count for molesting this little girl's sister.
SANCHEZ: You heard it here first, the little girl who told Santa her darkest secret, which led to the arrest of her stepfather. Police believe her mother did not know. We want to know. FRANK CASEY, FORTUNE: This is a Ponzi scheme, I mean, in giant letters.
SANCHEZ: And enough is enough, allegations now that even charities are being crushed by the Bernie Madoff scandal. We ask, have we not paid enough attention to alleged thieves because they are wearing expensive suits? What do you say?
Tell us on the air, on the Net. It is lunchtime in Carson City, 3:00 p.m. in Lansing, Michigan. Your national conversation begins right now.
SANCHEZ: And hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez.
There are several stories that I want to have a conversation with you about and we're going to bringing them to you. So, go ahead and go to Twitter, go to Facebook, go to MySpace. Tell me what you think of these.
First, this -- show them this picture, if you would, Dan. Look at this young man, good-looking young man, stud duck, as my old football coach used to call them, built like you know what. He is ready to play football, led all of Mississippi in rushing, was offered scholarships to Alabama, LSU, Oregon, Mississippi State. This kid was touted and touted very high.
Well, all of the sudden, last week, he gets pulled over by a police officer, a sheriff's deputy, to be a little more specific in this case, and, suddenly, he is dead.
/ The police officer says that he found the young man's body next to the car with a shotgun on top of him. We are asking a lot of questions about this story. It is also being investigated by the police department and by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations. We will be all over that and this story as well that we would like to get some of your input on.
We have now decided to go ahead to show you the video of this stepfather of this little girl who yesterday as we told you had written a note to Santa that a relative had been touching her. This is video we are now getting of his arraignment. This is where he is charged. What a story.
We are still not going to give you his name, because we don't want the girls to be hurt anymore. We will tell you why we made the decision and we're going to bring you the rest of this story as well coming out of Pharr, Texas.
But we're going to begin with some developments in the Caylee Anthony case. I suppose the story that really is ringing true now is that they are closer to maybe making an announcement, and that there is some kind of nerve system going on with the attorneys in this case.
The attorneys for Casey Anthony, her mother, who is charged with killing her, as well as some of the prosecutors, as well as the judge, seem to be involved in a catfight of sorts all day long. This is heated. It has gotten nasty.
We have got two folks involved following this. Of course, we call them Brooks and Banfield, Mike Brooks, who is going to be following the story for us here -- he has been following this story for a long, long time -- as well as Ashleigh Banfield from truTV, who is joining us now as well.
Let's start with what is going on with these attorneys. What is all of the brouhaha about, Ashleigh?
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, TRUTV ANCHOR: Well, the problem is, this is a cart before the horse kind of case, Rick. I know you know how it works.
You have a murder. You find a body. You get into a discovery phase between attorneys and usually there's a lot of sharing that goes on. Unfortunately, the discovery began before the body was found. So, the attorneys for Casey Anthony want the regular discovery phase to continue, but the sheriff and the M.E. and the courts are saying not until we know that you are dealing with your body, not someone else's body.
Nobody has the right to walk in on an autopsy. Those are not public records until we know who that autopsy belongs to.
BANFIELD: ... family and friends can.
SANCHEZ: It has got to be highly irregular for defense attorneys to walk into a case and say, we want to be privy to everything that is going on in this investigation, when the police officers are saying, look, we don't even know that this is the body involved in your investigation, right, Mike?
BANFIELD: And they are. They will get absolutely everything. They are privy to that. They can have their own forensic expert. They can do a second autopsy. They can do all of these things when we know that this body belongs to this case, because right now we don't know that it does.
SANCHEZ: But will then -- now you have got something to gain for the prosecution. Why would they tell the media that this is the body as long as they know that by not telling them, they get to do everything outside the defense's (INAUDIBLE)
MIKE BROOKS, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Exactly right, Rick. And they also want access to the crime scene, and the judge has said, no. He said, no, no, we're not going to give -- now, prosecutors said we will give you some pictures, because and there is an interesting fact.
I just got off of the phone with Nancy Grace producer Natisha Lance, who is down there at the scene.
BROOKS: They are still there. They are expected to be there until tomorrow.
And she was telling me also it was thought that this was public property, maybe belonged to the county. This is private property. So you run into now to a case the judge said to the defense team, yes, you can have after law enforcement is done. But now if this property owner was to put up signs no trespassing after law enforcement is done, they might not be able to get on the scene.
SANCHEZ: Dan, show some of those pictures, if you would, of this investigation and this search as it's going on.
This is crazy. Look at the amount of investigators who are out there looking for this, and how -- they are actually taking down parts of trees as potential evidence in this case. Now, the linchpin here is Casey Anthony. That's the mother.
Ashleigh, I understand you have some information about some perhaps peripheral evidence that may have been found in her car that could implicate her?
BANFIELD: Well, no, here is the problem.
A lot of people have been talking about a lot of different theories and a lot of that gets out there as fact. I just spoke to the attorney for Casey's parents, the grandparents, George and Cindy Anthony. And one thing I found very interesting what he told me was that the state attorney's office and the sheriff's have been in contact with him, and he has had it definitively said to him that his two clients, George and Cindy, are not being prosecuted. They are not interested in prosecuting them in this case at this point. He did add at this point.
So, clearly, all bets are off and things change, dynamics change if they body turns out to be Caylee. But, at this time, anybody who thinks that they're under suspicion, that they are getting fingerprinted because they're people of interest, they're not.
SANCHEZ: Has Casey said anything in jail? I know she is in jail and she probably is smart enough to know that she is being recorded. But a lot of times, in a situation like this, she probably has a lot to say. Have we heard anything from her?
BANFIELD: Well, here is the interesting thing as well. The attorney for her -- for Casey's parents said that they have actually had no contact at all with Casey since all of this blew up, because they are concerned about the communications being public record.
I found that very odd, because I thought, well, what about just communication to say I love you, because who cares if that is public record? And they said, no, there's been no communication, that the attorneys have been doing all the communications with Casey.
There were these reports, Rick, that we should very much characterize as unconfirmed that she had had this panic attack in the cell. Others had said that it was not a panic attack at all, that she was a grieving mother who cried and asked for a sedative upon hearing of the discovery of bones.
So, nobody has been able to clarify what kind of an attack that was or what kind of reaction she had to this most recent development.
SANCHEZ: Mike, take us out on this, if you would. I have been in this business long enough to know that when you see ton of lawyers running around, lots of investigators on the same scene for a long period of time, and lawyers arguing with judges, there is something going on here that is pretty big. Why is this being stretched out so much?
BROOKS: Well, law enforcement, there is no rush right now, Rick, to turn over that scene. They are going to make sure that they go through every square inch of that area...
SANCHEZ: Even if they are 99 percent sure they know what they need already?
SANCHEZ: They got what they need already.
BROOKS: Exactly. Because you are running -- you are looking at two things right now. You're looking at trying to identify the bones, the remains, to see whether or not it is Caylee, and you are also building a case for the prosecution, a death possible, death penalty case now, Rick. So, they want to make sure if there is any evidence at all that can be gleaned from the scene, they are going to make sure...
SANCHEZ: Cross the T.'s and dot the...
BROOKS: And the prosecutors were actually out at the scene today taking a look at the scene themselves.
SANCHEZ: One last thing, Ashleigh. Down to about 10 seconds.
BANFIELD: Yes, real quickly, I did learn today that the Anthonys' house was absolutely ransacked by the time the investigators had gone through and taken out all those bags of evidence. When the Anthonys actually got back in, it was a complete disaster area. And they are just trying to put back their together at this point.
SANCHEZ: Brooks and Banfield, there you have them, best in the business. Thanks, guys. We appreciate it.
BROOKS: Thanks, Rick.
BANFIELD: Thanks, Rick.
SANCHEZ: Why would a football star shoot himself, whether by suicide or accidental, while he has probably the best part of his life coming his way? That is what he looks like. Police officers say it was a routine traffic stop and suddenly they heard something and then found him dead with a shotgun on top of him, curiously enough.
We are asking questions. Stay with us. That is coming up.
SANCHEZ: Here is a story we actually meant to bring to you yesterday, but we had to hold it because we had so much breaking news. But I want you to watch this report. This is about a man who is going home, but he somehow has an accident on his way home, on the freeway in Cleveland. He doesn't call anyone, and everyone seems to be looking for him. Two days later, he is found dead in the impound lot, where police officers, without noticing that a body was inside the car, had impounded that vehicle.
It is an amazing story. I want you to watch how it goes through, and the interviews that we do with some of the people who are waiting for him.
It is told by Alicia Sikalone (ph) of WEWS News.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (voice-over): Lee Abdala was a close friend and co-worker of Emil Azzam. He was the last to see him Friday night at work at the Middle East Restaurant on Prospect Avenue.
LEE ABDALA, FRIEND: At 8:00, I started calling him. There was no answer. It is not him to not return my calls.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And, after numerous calls to local hospitals with nothing to go on by 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning, he went to police to file a missing-persons report.
ABDALA: She checked it out. She said, yes, it was involved in an accident on I-760 and 480. And the car was impounded 230th. So, fine, where is Mr. Azzam? She said, I don't know. Saturday went by looking for him. Never thought he would be -- who would think or who would even consider that the body still in the car?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But it was there. Sunday morning, Abdala says he went to that impound lot with the Abdala family. As they walked up to the car, they saw the 50-year-old's body.
ABDALA: None of them checked inside the car to see if anybody in there. For two days, the man was inside his car dead.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Abdala now wants someone to take responsibility for his friend's death.
ABDALA: A beautiful guy, a wonderful person. It is killing me.
SANCHEZ: This is an amazing -- Mike Brooks, we have got to bring you into this. As a former police officer, somebody screwed up here.
BROOKS: I'll tell you what. As a former police officer and an assistant volunteer fire chief, this really bothers me.
Number one, if fire and EMS were called to the initial accident scene, you are supposed to go there to make sure the cars are safe, disconnect the batteries, and also you're supposed to check to see if anyone is entangled in the wreckage.
Number two, after you -- even if you put them aside, the police officers, when they impounded that car, you are supposed to take inventory of the car, what is in the trunk, what is in the glove compartment, what is in the back seat.
And if they had...
SANCHEZ: Some there didn't do their job.
BROOKS: Somebody didn't do their job.
SANCHEZ: And the guy could have been alive.
BROOKS: You know what? The autopsy will tell them that.
BROOKS: They will be able to tell about when he died and whether or not his injuries could have been treatable.
SANCHEZ: To be fair, the police officer said they didn't think this car that he was in was involved in the accident, because it was over to the side, and they thought it may have been from a previous accident.
But we will continue to stay on the story.
When we come back, the story of the little -- of the young man who dies outside his car. Police say the gun, the shotgun, was lying on top of him. Hard to explain. We are asking the questions.
And then, do you remember yesterday? We brought you this story. It is the story of a little girl who wrote to Santa, and said to Santa that a relative was essentially abusing her. There has been an arrest. There has been an arraignment. We have the video. We are not going to give you the name, but we're going to show you the pictures.
Stay with us. We will be right back.
SANCHEZ: I have been reading your comments during the commercials, and I'm very interested in sharing much of what you have to say with the viewers, and we will continue -- with the rest of our viewers, I should say, and we will continue to do so throughout this newscast.
By the way, the video-hosting Web site darkdownhere.com talks about my interview with Pastor Mark Holick, who put up a sign -- Do you remember this story? -- he put up a sign saying America is sinning by electing a Muslim, Obama, president. Well, if you go to my blog at CNN.com/ricksanchez, you will see that toward the end of the interview, Pastor Holick reconsidered his position, and I said at the time, kudos to him. But darkdownhere.com doesn't buy it, saying this pastor a good example of religion, Christianity, in this case, separates people.
We continue to be written about on this show on many, many blogs, and we will continue to check them and share with you what some of the folks are saying about us or me, good or bad.
Meanwhile, in Mississippi, we want to know how it's possible that a young superstar football player with an incredible future died after being pulled over by police during a routine traffic stop, and how the shotgun could have ended up on top of him. Was it accidental? Was it suicide? Was it something more nefarious? We don't know, but we will be joined by his father, a lawyer and football coach when we come back.
SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back.
Going through some of these police reports on this story that we have been investigating throughout the course of the day that I am sure many of you will want to respond to.
Let me set this up for you. Billey Joe Johnson is a superstar athlete, apparently a great kid, great football player. He looks like he's going to get a scholarship, being recruited by Alabama, Mississippi State, Oregon, Auburn, many, many, many schools. Apparently, he broke records, was one of the best football players in the entire state of Mississippi. He is also a hunter, we should tell you.
Last Monday, he was pulled over by a police officer on what is described even by the police officer as a routine traffic stop. I think we have got some video of the actual scene of this incident. There it is.
The police officer says that he went to the radio to make a call, and during that time period, he heard something like a loud blast. He says he then returned to find the young man, Billey Joe Johnson, on the ground outside of the car with the shotgun on top of him. He had been shot on the left side of his head.
It is a curious situation. Let me do this. If we have that pilot, let me read to you now what the sheriff's department there in George County, Mississippi, is saying about the incident. This is what the police officer said, all right?
He says: "I asked for his driver's license and advised him to have a seat in his vehicle while I check his license out. When I went back to my vehicle, I picked up the radio to call it in and heard a gunshot and glass breaking. I looked up, and the black male fell on the ground, and the gun he had in his hand fell on top of him." Now, think about those words as we bring in now Jerry Mitchell. He's an investigative reporter with "The Jackson Clarion-Ledger." He has been filing reports on this story.
We should probably also tell you a couple of things. We have obviously have reached out to the sheriff's department in George County today. They say that they are not commenting. The case has now been handed over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, and they expect that this case may be heard in February in Mississippi -- pardon me if I misspoke -- that this case may be heard in February by a grand jury.
Back to Jerry Mitchell.
What are you hearing from the police department to describe what happened on that night?
JERRY MITCHELL, "THE JACKSON CLARION-LEDGER": Well, the details are pretty sketchy, Rick.
Basically, what you have read is all that they have released publicly about that. And, obviously, the fact that -- the fact that the shotgun was found on top of him suggests, wouldn't appear to what you would think would match up with let's say a suicide, in other words, a purposely self-inflicted wound.
SANCHEZ: Well, there is only two kinds of self-inflicted wounds. It's either a suicide or an accidental shooting.
MITCHELL: An accident, right.
SANCHEZ: I suppose that -- and there is some conjecture...
MITCHELL: And then homicide obviously is -- homicide is obviously another possibility.
But the possibility that he could have been reaching for the shotgun that may have been in the back seat, and it could have gone off accidentally. Possibility? I imagine that has been discussed with police and others, right?
MITCHELL: I am sure there is some discussion of whatever scenarios. It is going to be presented to a grand jury early next year.
SANCHEZ: Let me bring Mike Brooks into this, just before we get out of that part of the discussion.
As an experienced law enforcement officer, is it possible, do you see a scenario where you can hold a gun and it can accidentally go off?
SANCHEZ: And let me just go ahead and add a caveat to that. Wouldn't there be recoil? How would the gun end up on top of you? Wouldn't it want to go in the other direction?
BROOKS: It is unusual.
And from what we know, we're hearing that there was a small wound behind the left ear. There was some brain matter on the truck and the window was broken. Now, just like we're talking about, is it accidental, is it suicide, or is it homicide?
Now, as you say, if you went to pull that out -- number one, why would he be pulling that shotgun out of his truck during a traffic stop? Was he pulling it out to use it against the officer? That's another question...
SANCHEZ: Would he have wanted to hide it from the officer?
BROOKS: But he would have just left it there. He would have just left it there.
Or if the officer came up, many times, I have pulled over people, and they say, I have a shotgun in the back of the car or I have something in the trunk or I have a handgun, but I have a permit to carry that.
Just there is a lot of questions, angle of the shot...
SANCHEZ: But I was right about the recoil, right? The gun would not go towards you. It would go away from you.
But if he had a good grip on that barrel...
BROOKS: ... it would have fallen back and his body would have taken it back with him.
SANCHEZ: Let me go back to Jerry Mitchell.
I understand there is probably -- there's already been some reaction to this story and that the NAACP is calling for an investigation?
MITCHELL: Yes, they are investigating the case.
And they are calling and hoping to do a second autopsy as well. The family is seeking that.
SANCHEZ: Jerry, let me bring in a couple -- stay with us, Jerry.
And, Mike, stay with us as well.
We now have the opportunity to talk to Billey Joe Johnson Sr. This is obviously Billey Joe's father. And he is also being represented by his attorney, Jerome Carter, who is with the Johnnie Cochran law firm.
First of all, Mr. Johnson, our condolences to you, sir.
BILLEY JOE JOHNSON SR., FATHER OF BILLY JOE JOHNSON: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Thank you so much for being with us. What are you accepting at this point in terms of the description that you have been given for your son's death? Or are you accepting it?
JOHNSON: No, I haven't -- I ain't accepting it.
SANCHEZ: You said you are not accepting it?
SANCHEZ: Let me bring your into attorney this, Jerome Carter.
Are you alleging that there may have been something other than what the police are describing at this point?
JEROME CARTER, JOHNSON FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, we have made no allegations yet. We are conducting our own investigation, and that is what Mr. Johnson called us and asked to us do.
SANCHEZ: OK. What have you found that would lead you to believe that this may have been something other than either a suicide or an accident?
CARTER: Well, we are not making an announcement either way, but what we are saying is that the circumstances that are around this turn of events don't make sense with what the sheriff concluded.
SANCHEZ: Specifically why? Give us some specifics.
CARTER: Well, you kind of mentioned, you kind of mentioned and touched a point already, that the recoil with this shotgun, I have never seen it in my experience of hunting and using rifles and shotguns that a person would be able to, who was right-handed, take a long-barreled shotgun and be able to reach it around to their left side and then cause the kind of injury to their head that is evidenced.
SANCHEZ: Was there anything -- this is an important question, because obviously in a situation like this, you want to know as much as you can about the victim in this case. CARTER: Absolutely.
SANCHEZ: Was there anything about Billey Joe that we need to know about that could lead to any possibility that he would want to harm himself? Was there anything going on in his life at the time?
CARTER: Absolutely not.
There is no allegation from anyone's part -- and Mr. Johnson Sr. can speak very well to that point about his son. He had everything to live for.
He had -- on that same day, there was an awards ceremony that was for his athletic prowess that was going to be presented to...
SANCHEZ: As a matter of fact, I have that here. In fact, I can read that to the viewers. That is interesting, because -- and I think, Mike, you will agree.
He called his coach. "He texts me last night," says the football coach. "It was a lunch to accept an award that he was supposed to receive Monday afternoon, wanting to know what to wear."
And then the coach goes on to say, "And, all of the sudden, this morning, that is irrelevant."
That says that he was a young man who was looking forward to the next day.
And the whole thing, Rick, the wound behind the left ear, that just -- that kind of bothers me.
SANCHEZ: Just to be clear, where are we getting the information? I believe this may come from the family and from the attorneys, that there was a wound that is a small entry point behind the left ear.
When I hear a small wound and I hear shotgun, I am thinking two different things. There seems to be a conflict there. Where did you get that information, Mr. -- Mr. Carter?
CARTER: We have photos that were taken when the body was released to the family.
And let me say this, Rick.
SANCHEZ: Well, hold on. I am going to have to press you on this a little bit.
SANCHEZ: You have photos released to the family and you saw a small entry wound behind his head?
CARTER: Behind the left ear. And there seems -- there doesn't appear to be an exit wound. Now, again, that is...
SANCHEZ: Let me just stop for a moment.
Mike, can a shotgun make a small entry wound?
BROOKS: Well, it depends.
Say he had a .12-gauge shotgun. Now, if you're using buckshot, it is going to take off more than just a small entry wound. But if you had a rifled slug, that is still a good-sized round, because, if he hunts deer, he most likely would be using a rifled slug. And that is the only other thing that can come out of that shotgun.
SANCHEZ: Do we know what kind of weapon it was? I mean, do we -- I'm sorry -- do we know what kind of ammunition it was, Mr. Carter or Mr. Johnson?
CARTER: Well, we don't -- Mr. Johnson can speak to that. Mr. Johnson has indicated to us -- I don't know if you can hear him or not. I can't.
CARTER: But he -- he has indicated to us that his son did have a .12 gauge shotgun with a .3 inch Magnum and he fired buckshot, not the slug, but the buckshot is what he normally went hunting with. But there was a shotgun recovered. And we don't know if that was actually his shotgun.
SANCHEZ: Was there any...
CARTER: We don't know those things.
SANCHEZ: Was there any previous relationship between Billy Joe and the police department there or this particular sheriff's deputy who pulled him over that day?
Do we know anything about that, if there is anything to say?
CARTER: The name of the sheriff's deputy that was involved with this has not been released to us. There may be more information that was released to the family, because they were able to meet with the assistant district attorney or the district attorney of George County, just on Monday. They may have released a name to the family then, but they have not released that information publicly.
SANCHEZ: Mr. Johnson, if you would speak into the phone, sir, we'd like to get your sense of what's going on in this case.
What answers -- what question do you want answered most at this point about your son's death?
JOHNSON: Really, I just want this business done for my son, because he was a fine young player. He had a lot going for himself. I mean, just -- he was just joyful. Everyday -- he'd everyday he take days one day at a time -- life one day at a time. And he was just full of energy. He loved to hunt and fish. He'd do all of this. He loved to run. He and his dog run and down the road and jogged all the time. And I just can't figure out why he'd just want to just...
SANCHEZ: Do you know...
JOHNSON: ...they say he'd do something like this. You know and there isn't enough evidence that, you know, I just can't understand it...
SANCHEZ: What do you want them to...
JOHNSON: ...for them to say he did something to himself.
SANCHEZ: What do you want the police department or the justice system there to do, other than what they've done, which is they're taking the case to the GBI. They're taking it out of the hands of the police department involved and -- I keep saying GBI because I live in Georgia. Yes, the MBI and taking this to a grand jury.
Is that the proper course, either to you, Mr. Johnson or Mr. Carter?
CARTER: Well, I think that what Mr. Johnson wanted from us is to make sure that the investigating authorities are fully engaged and fully investigating. We were hoping that the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations has the -- has the ball on this thing. But we're also investigating and using our own resources and having our own investigator on the ground.
We've determined and developed information and our investigator has turned that same information over to the investigators that are working on the state side of this.
SANCHEZ: To be totally transparent, it's certainly a fascinating story that a lot of people want answers to. At this point, that's all we want to do is try and look for as many answers as we can. We don't know where this story is going to end up. We'll let the investigation take its course. We will continue to ask questions, though.
And Mr. Johnson and Mr. Carter, we'll continue to be in contact with you as the story progresses, as well.
My thanks to both of you.
And, again, our condolences.
CARTER: Thank you, Rick.
SANCHEZ: All right. We'll stay on top of this and we'll bring you more details.
SANCHEZ: Obviously, there's a lot of questions that need to be asked.
A letter to Santa leads to an arraignment that we now can show you the video of the relative of the little girl who said something to Santa that was dark and mysterious and now has led to this. We'll have it for you, you when we come back.
SANCHEZ: We are getting a ton of comments from you on that story that we were explaining just moments ago. And let me show you this. Let's go to the Twitter board first. This is SpringWolf: "I presume the police car was behind Billy Joe. Where is the car police camera? There's something odd here."
Well, I can give you the answer to that. We've looked into that throughout the course of the day. Only half of the cameras in Mississippi actually have -- pardon me. Only half of the cars in Mississippi actually have those dash cam cameras. This one did not, according to police.
Let's go over to MySpace now, if you would, Robert. "This story about the young man seems very suspicious. All I know is that doesn't seem like suicide. I hope the truth comes out soon for this family."
Well, that's why we report it and we're going to continue looking into it, as we did yesterday this story that there's now a follow to. This is out of Pharr, Texas. This is a 9-year-old girl who was asked in school, at Caesar Chavez Elementary School, to write a letter to Santa. And what she wrote in that letter to Santa was that someone was touching her inappropriately and that she wanted Santa to make this stop -- to make this go away. Interestingly enough, there has now been an arrest. It is her stepfather who has been not only arrested, but arraigned. We now have video of this arraignment. We can probably show it to you now, as this story develops.
Yesterday, we had decided we will not give his name, because we don't want to cause further damage to the little girl. We are sticking with that policy of not releasing his name. We did decide, though, to show you the arraignment that took place today as due process, as he is being charged.
Joining us again is Ryan Holywell. He is with "The Monitor." He is the reporter who first started writing about this story.
What can -- what do we know today about the family and the stepfather that we didn't know yesterday, Ryan? RYAN HOLYWELL, STAFF WRITER, "THE MONITOR": You won't believe this. The newest development is that this man has been an employee for 11 years with the McAllen School District. That's the school district in McAllen, that is the largest city down here. He's been there 11 years. Most recently, he had been working as a computer lab technician at the Lamar Academy, which is a sort of a magnet school for talented and gifted students.
SANCHEZ: You mean to tell me that this man was working -- his job was to work with students?
HOLYWELL: Working with students, working with teachers while in their -- while they were in the computer lab. I spoke with the police chief of the McAllen School District police. He says, obviously, they're aware of what's going on in Pharr. They're doing their own investigation and looking into whether anything was happening with students at the high school or the Lamar Academy. So far, no students from Lamar Academy have approached police about any problems with him so far.
SANCHEZ: That's an amazing development in this story, especially when you consider that I chose today -- and we made a decision here at CNN after lots of conversations that we would go ahead not give the name, because we don't want to do this little girl anymore damage and have her stigmatized, but we would show the picture, because many people had written to us and said, you know, there's always the possibility that this man has done this before. And if other victims see his picture on TV -- and, of course, on CNN, they'll be more apt to come forward. And now with this development that you've just shared with us, that probably could be more likely, I imagine, right?
HOLYWELL: It is. I mean it's a potential possibility. As I said, I talked to the police chief there. They're obviously aware and concerned about this. Also learned a little bit more about what allegedly happened through the victim's sister, a 10-year-old girl, according to the probable cause affidavit, that this man, a 55-year- old...
HOLYWELL: ...was touching her while she was working on her homework at her home after school.
SANCHEZ: Now, I have to ask you this, because we -- we really never got any information on this yesterday. And we tried to get some more on this.
Do we know yet why he was in the house and why this happened without the parents ever finding out or how that happened?
HOLYWELL: Again, you know, details are slow to come out. As you said, he was the stepfather. Obviously...
SANCHEZ: So they trusted him?
HOLYWELL: I'm sorry? SANCHEZ: They trusted him.
HOLYWELL: Right. They trusted him. When he -- at the time he was arrested, he was no longer living in that house. Apparently, he had been separated from the mother. But...
SANCHEZ: Well, Ryan, I'm going to let you go.
Unbelievable information that you've just shared with us.
Boy, it almost seems like as strange as it was, it's even more strange now...
HOLYWELL: Take care.
SANCHEZ: ...the fact that this man worked at a school with other children after these allegations.
Let's do this. I want to bring in a special guest on this story now. It's Meg Tilly. You know Meg Tilly, Oscar-nominated, "Agnes of God." She was in "The Big Chill." She's written two books on the very subject that we're talking about now. This is -- this is very personal to her, because you've -- you've been abused.
MEG TILLY, AUTHOR, FORMER ACTRESS: Oh, yes. Sure.
SANCHEZ: What did you think when you -- when you heard this -- when you heard us reporting this story yesterday on TV?
TILLY: My heart started jumping out of my -- like I just and my eyes filled up, because it reminded me so much of my own childhood and how you hang on to -- there's this hardship and you're hanging onto this belief in magic. And the hope of her writing this letter and how wonderful that it was actually heard -- that change is actually going to be made. Because in so many cases, it isn't. In so many cases, these kids have to just sit with it.
SANCHEZ: What was it like -- maybe I should ask the question this way.
What do you know that these little girls are going through now that you experienced when that happened to you?
TILLY: Well, it's hard, because you -- you are taught to keep quiet. Usually the pedophiles will make sure that you're -- that the consequences of telling seem much more scary than the consequences of not telling.
When you think about the statistics, when I was doing research for "JAMA," the U.S. Justice -- the State Department came out with numbers in 2002 that one in three girls and one in seven boys are sexually assaulted before they reach the age of 18.
TILLY: So you think this is one girl and you think whoa, that's so crazy. I mean, this guy is in the schools and stuff. Yes. There's pedophiles out there everywhere. And there's people who are abusing children everywhere. And when I go and talk to schools, my heart breaks, every single school I go into, because...
SANCHEZ: So how do we make our kids tell us if something like this happens to them?
Teach me, as a parent, how to make sure my kid is prepared to come and tell dad or mom if something like this happened to them.
TILLY: It's hard to say because a lot of times -- people always say if somebody does, you know, you must tell. But everybody is always talking about a stranger. And the majority of these cases are actually somebody in the home -- somebody very close, maybe your mom's favorite brother, maybe the man your mother has fallen in love with and feels like her dreams have come true. Maybe it's your own father.
SANCHEZ: So you have to tell them that.
TILLY: Maybe it's your own mother.
SANCHEZ: So you have to tell them that it may be somebody I like and you like, but that's OK, please tell me.
TILLY: Yes. And that's what -- that's what I did with my kids.
TILLY: I said it doesn't matter if it's the person I love most in the world, if anybody -- anybody ever touches you...
TILLY: You know, and you teach them about what's OK and what isn't. And you also give your children the right -- like I think a lot of parents make the mistake of saying, oh, you know, oh, give uncle so and so a kiss. You know, and kids are expected to be kissed or be hugged or tickled. And I always gave my kids the choice, like you have the right to your body. If you want to shake somebody's hand instead, that's perfectly OK.
SANCHEZ: That makes sense.
TILLY: Whereas we're taught -- teaching our kids, oh, don't be rude, give so and so a hug. It's sometimes not appropriate. And when you think about the numbers, you just have to know that you have to be super careful. And you have to keep -- nothing they can tell you is wrong. They can tell you anything.
SANCHEZ: Movie star Meg Tilly.
Thanks so much.
TILLY: You're welcome.
SANCHEZ: And you know what? I know this is very important to you and very personal.
Thanks so much you for sharing that with us.
TILLY: Oh, sure.
SANCHEZ: We appreciate it.
SANCHEZ: All right.
Why do we only think the bad guys and the thieves are the guys that we see in back alleys somewhere?
What we learned of late on Wall Street, if nowhere else, is that sometimes they drive in limousines, they wear expensive suits and we don't think they can steal, but they do. We'll explain, when we come back.
SANCHEZ: Boy, so many comments on that case in Mississippi that we were just telling you about. Many of you are as curious as we are. This one pretty much sums it up. Justbethat is writing to us -- a lovely couple. And you can see them in their picture. They say: "Something is amiss in the State of Mississippi. Why is the name not released? Why?"
They're referring to the sheriff's deputy who pulled him over.
Again, we've made a commitment to this story. We're going to stay on top of it. We promise.
Here's something else I want you to take note of on this day. Many of my of my colleagues in the media are feigning outrage over this story about Bernie Madoff and his infamous alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme. You know how it works. It's like a pyramid scheme -- you take from the top and everybody else at the bottom gets hosed, right?
So now everybody is asking how could this happen?
Why didn't the regulators see it and be able to stop something like this?
You know, we lock up more people in this country than just about any country in the history of the world, put most of them in prison, who were not pretending to be respectable businessmen in expensive suits. Maybe we ought to start looking a little bit closer at these guys.
Oh, and, by the way, when it comes to schemes that regulators did or didn't see, is there a better example than the mess that we're in right now -- the one that's cost taxpayers $700 billion and counting?
What do you call giving a worker who makes $14,000 a year a no down payment mortgage to buy a $750,000 home?
And then you bundle that mortgage with 100 other mortgages into bonds. And then you sell them from one bank and one pension fund to another all over the world?
My colleague, Tom Friedman, of "The New York Times" asks: "If that is not a pyramid scheme, then what is?"
What do you think?
When we come back, I put that question to the financial correspondent, Susan Lisovicz. It gets good.
Stay with us.
SANCHEZ: Let's show you that picture now. I think we've got that. This is Bernie Madoff, who allegedly made off -- hmmm -- with $50 billion investor funds -- a Ponzi scheme, as it's being described -- allegedly, of course, as I repeated moments ago.
Susan Lisovicz joins us now.
She's our Wall Street correspondent, our Wall Street -- did you hear what I said a little while ago in my -- in my comment?
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: I heard it loud and clear, Rick.
SANCHEZ: Well, am I wrong or is there really a big difference between what he did and what happened on Wall Street?
LISOVICZ: Well, I think, KOBILINSKY: , well, first of all, you have to remember one of the fundamental motivations for stock movement is greed, right?
LISOVICZ: I mean and we essentially all benefit from greed. I think that most of us hope that it's done legally and in good conscience.
SANCHEZ: Well, forget legally. The good conscience is the part that I like there that you just said. And maybe we shouldn't trust ourselves -- we should design a system where the loophole is not so big that people know how to work their way through it, right?
LISOVICZ: Well, Rick, I mean, look, this happening at this time -- the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and one of the biggest stock frauds ever, speaks to not only a profound failure in oversight. The SEC chairman Chris Cox admits it, that they had numerous occasions where -- where they should have examined -- formally had an investigation. They did not do so.
SANCHEZ: But my point is...
SANCHEZ: But my point is, you know why they didn't do it?
Because these are guys in suits who look very honest. And they're rich businessmen and we think they're business guys, so they can't be doing anything wrong, right?
LISOVICZ: Well, history is littered with white collared criminals. And certainly we've seen plenty of them the last few years. Just think about the aftermath of the dot-com bust.
But I mean, to your point, Rick, it's not only a lack of oversight. I would have to say, it's a lack of responsibility that we've seen in this crisis that we're all suffering through. Everyone from the consumers who took on way too much debt and buying homes they should have known they never could afford, mortgage brokers making loans they knew they never should have made...
SANCHEZ: And then bundling them. And then putting them all together and just selling them all over the world to everybody -- look what a sweet deal I have. I'll tell you, that theory that we all went into the -- through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration with, which seems to say what's good for the rich is good for the rest of us, has been disproved. Susan Lisovicz, excellent conversation.
Let's do this some more.
I appreciate it.
LISOVICZ: I hope so.
SANCHEZ: We'll see you in just a bit.
The view on -- "The View" talks about somebody who named their child Hitler.
We'll be back.
SANCHEZ: This is the part of the show where we do you a favor. We figure you missed a bunch of stuff like "The Daily Show" and "The View," for example. So we collect some of that material for your viewing pleasure.
Here is The Fix.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHELSEA HANDLER, HOST "CHELSEA LATELY": There is a family in New Jersey and a supermarket refuses to make cake with Adolph Hitler on it, because somebody decided to name their kid Adolph Hitler.
HANDLER: His name is Adolph Hitler Campbell and he's turning three. His father is a Holocaust denier who has three children named for Nazism.
Well, guess who's not going to get invited to any Bar Mitzvahs?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he starts riding a bike, they're going to have to get him a helmet with that spike thing on the top of it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little sidecar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hogan?
HANDLER: If I have a kid, I'm going to name him after my heroes. I'm going to name him Gandhi Rumah (ph) Clanahan (ph) Handler.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST "THE VIEW": How would you put Hitler as the boy's middle name?
That's what I don't understand.
BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST "THE VIEW": Well, that's what we don't understand...
WALTERS: The line that they said...
GOLDBERG: It's nuts.
WALTERS: ...was, well, nobody else is going to have that name. That's for sure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's offensive.
WALTERS: But then it also allegedly represents their feelings, because they another child, a girl, whose name is...
JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST "THE VIEW": They have Eva Braun.
(LAUGHTER) WALTERS: Close.
BEHAR: Eva Braun Campbell.
WALTERS: But I don't have it in front of me...
WALTERS: ...but her middle name is Aryan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aryan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Whoa, Aryan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aryan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There you go.
ELISABETH HASSELBECK, CO-HOST "THE VIEW": This is awful...
HASSELBECK: ...using your children...
HASSELBECK: You're using your children -- this is what's happening...
HASSELBECK: You're using your child, who does not have a way of saying no, I don't want this happening to me...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
HASSELBECK: ...as a way to spread your hate. Disgusting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: There you go. There's an applause line.
Wolf Blitzer standing by now with the stories he's going to bring you in THE SITUATION ROOM -- Wolf, what you got?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Rick.
An unprecedented move between the departing president and his replacement. President Bush and Barack Obama -- they're working together to make sure the country stays stable during the transition. CNN is learning new details right now, but a special meeting being planned with President Bush, President-Elect Obama and other living presidents. You're going to hear all about it in just a few minutes.
And it's the most we've seen and heard from the Illinois governor in quite awhile. You're going to hear why his lawyer now says that's Rob Blagojevich should be allowed to keep his job.
And the federal government seizes a skyscraper in New York City because it's owned by a company that allegedly has been funneling money to Iran's nuclear program. We have all the details of this investigation.
Stay with us.
We'll have a lot more coming up at the top of the hour -- Rick.
SANCHEZ: All right, thanks, Wolf.
We'll look forward to it.
We'll be back with the closing bell in just a moment.
SANCHEZ: As we come back, we want to share some of the opinions that you guys have about some of the stories that we've been sharing with you during this newscast.
First of all, let's go to this one. It says -- let's go to the tweets, if we could: "Wall Street bankers have just become glorified Las Vegas players."
An interesting perspective.
And then we have this. It says: "Why didn't the police officer see the gun in the back or wherever it was? And police usually never take their eye off of you."
Yes. Interesting comment. It's one of the questions that's being asked right now.
Am I going to talk to Jesse Jackson, Jr. and his wearing a wire?
There is nothing to suspect that he was actually wearing a wire at this point, only that he may have been cooperating with some of the investigators.
All right. On this day, the market is closing up at about negative 104. We've been watching it throughout the day.
And Wolf Blitzer is standing by now with the very latest.
I didn't hear the bell -- Wolf, over to you.