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Body Believed to Be Missing Girl; Connection Between Drugs, Violence?

Aired June 5, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, absolutely heartbreaking news. Cops believe they`ve found the body of missing 5-year- old Nevaeh Buchanan. Two men were fishing seven miles from where the adorable girl was last seen on her scooter and stumbled upon a block of cement with an awful smell.

Cops arrived and uncovered a child`s remains in the shallow grave on the river bank. A family and community now devastated. Where does this investigation for this unspeakable crime go from here?

Then, beautiful 27-year-old Tracy Ocasio missing after what cops say was a night out with James Hataway, the man with a long rap sheet and an alleged history of violence.

Eerie similarities emerged between this case and the 2006 disappearance of Jennifer Kesse, another Florida woman in her 20s. Kesse used to hang out at the very same bar where Tracy was last seen. Kesse`s car was found abandoned just like Tracy`s. Are these two abductions linked? I`ll speak to Jennifer Kesse`s frantic parents, who are also desperate for answers.

Plus, the hosts of A&E`s hit show "Intervention" joins me to dissect the connection between drug use and the avalanche of horrific violence in America. There`s a clear link.

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, unspeakable horror outside Detroit. The gruesome discovery of a small child`s body encased in cement, lying along the banks of a river is believed to be that of 5-year-old Nevaeh Buchanan, who disappeared almost two weeks ago.

A father and son out on a fishing trip made this horrific find just seven miles from where little Nevaeh was last seen playing on her scooter. One of the men says he sat for hours fishing on top of a crude cement slab, having no idea that it contained a child`s body, thinking the smell coming from the cement was rotting fish. Then he accidentally kicked off a piece of the cement, saw flies and human skin.


RYAN BICKLEY, FATHER FOUND REMAINS: It did feel like it was starting to crack. And when you bent down, like, the smell got really bad. And he chipped away a little piece of it, and he saw bare skin. And as soon as he saw that, he backed up and called the police.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: With cops confident that little Nevaeh has been found, the investigation now turns to finding the twisted sicko who committed this incomprehensible travesty. Police promise an intense manhunt.


SHERIFF TILMAN CRUTCHFIELD, MONROE COUNTY SHERIFF`S DEPARTMENT: That person, to our knowledge, is still out there in the community. In my opinion, it is a very sick or disturbed person we`re looking for, a person that is able to abduct and murder an innocent 5-year-old child.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Nevaeh`s anguished grandmother had custody of the child. Now she is demanding that the cretin responsible be caught and subjected to the worst possible punishment.


SHERRY BUCHANAN, MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER OF NEVAEH: I will get the capital punishment back here in Michigan, even if I can do it for my granddaughter.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A family left to pick up the pieces after their worst nightmare comes true. Police race against the clock to find the little child`s killer and bring that individual to justice, let`s pray.

Straight to my panel: Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, professor at New England School of Law and author of "And Justice for Some"; Bill Manion, forensic pathologist and assistant medical examiner for Burlington County, New Jersey; Jeff Brown, criminal defense attorney; Steve Kardian, former criminal investigator and director of Defend University; Dr. Dale Archer, clinical psychiatrist; and Dave Murray, special assignment editor at the "Toledo Blade," who joins us by phone.

But I want to start with you, Wendy. The discovery of a precious child`s body encased in concrete is enough to turn anybody`s stomach. You have prosecuted so many vicious cases. What does it say about this killer that he or she, or them, would leave the victim ultimately trapped in cement?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: You know, Jane, inhumane is too good of a word for this monster. As if it isn`t bad enough that you take a child, you hurt a child, you kill a child, you stuff their body in cement? I mean, I thought I`d heard it all when we heard about a suitcase with little Sandra Cantu being dumped like trash in a pond. This child dumped in a river.

What I want to know is, how many more little girls have to die before somebody does something meaningful to protect these defenseless kids? I am sick of it. In every case it`s a sex offender, some pervert. When are we going to do something? These kids can`t stand up for themselves. They are totally defenseless.

Every week we`re on this show talking about something gruesome like this happening. Where`s the president? Where`s Obama? You know, if these girls died from swine flu, he`d be on the news tonight. Or if they were Muslim little girls, he`d be on the news tonight, talking about it. Why isn`t he saying anything? That`s what I want to know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well -- well, listen, I do agree that we do as a nation have to come to terms, politics aside, with the issue of violence in America, particularly violence against young children who are defenseless, sitting ducks, who have absolutely no way of determining whether somebody who has maybe a toy or a piece of candy is a killer or not.

You know, cops say the body of this little girl, which they believe is 5-year-old Nevaeh Buchanan, as we`re saying, found encased in cement. Buried along a river, just seven miles from where she was last seen playing on a scooter outside her mom`s apartment.

This is left the entire region in anguish and fear. Listen to what the dad of Nevaeh`s best friend said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This little girl was my son`s very best friend in the world. He hung out with her every single day. And my son is a total tragic mess because of this. He is missing her every day that she`s been gone. And now he`s going to miss her forever.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Adding to the fear, the sheriff today said he believes the killer is still out there in the community, even though they have two persons of interest in custody right now.

Dr. Dale, what should parents in that area be telling their kids?

DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: Well, you have to tell your kids, first of all, that everyone misses Nevaeh, everyone`s hurting. She was a sweet little girl. You wrap your arms around your kids, you tell them you love them, and you tell them it`s OK to talk about it and you`re there for them. The most important thing is you have to be available to your children for them to talk.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, cops are very tight-lipped about the evidence found at the shallow grave in the river. Let`s listen to the news conference.


CRUTCHFIELD: Preliminary indications would be that it`s been there for awhile. We have recovered a shirt that is similar in nature to that -- that has been described as belonging, or what Nevaeh was wearing at the time she was abducted.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Manion, there`s not saying much. But how more difficult is it to do an autopsy when the body is trapped in concrete? And what can that concrete tell us about the killer? Can it provide clues?

DR. BILL MANION, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Absolutely. The concrete will be subject to very extensive analysis. If you think about it, whenever a building collapses, or a dam collapses, there are forensic investigators that know how to analyze concrete and see what was the problem with the concrete. Was there too much water, not enough silica, whatever? So that -- those concrete fragments are being analyzed. I`m sure the FBI will tell us exactly what type of manufactured concrete that was.

In addition, they`ll be fanning out to stores in the area to find out, has anybody been buying concrete in the last two weeks. Any credit card slips, things like that. So they`ll be focusing on that. That`s a great piece of evidence right there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I was just thinking -- it`s a gruesome thought, but we are following this very gruesome case. And so I have to ask, I mean, when they get a body encased in concrete for an autopsy, how does that work? How do they separate the body from the concrete?

MANION: Well, I think because of the decomposition, the concrete and body will probably separate very easily. In fact, the concrete may have slowed down the decomposition. The few cases I`m familiar with, I know we had a case here in Philadelphia here several years ago where a murderer buried his girlfriend in concrete, and he was a construction worker. And he buried her like in a wall or something.

But when the police investigated his home, they found all these flies hanging where the dried concrete was, because there was still enough decomposition that the flies were attracted to the concrete. So that was an amazing find right there. They just went to the source. They broke open the concrete, found the body.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Steve Kardian, you`re the criminal investigator. What does the use of concrete tell us about this suspect in terms of creating a profile? I always associate concrete with organized crime. Now you`re hearing it being associated with someone who works at a construction site. How can they use this as a way to find this person?

STEVE KARDIAN, FORMER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: Jane, they`re going to likely try and relate that back to someone that does have something to do with the industry possibly. The fact that the concrete was found there, you just don`t use concrete on a porous surface and then pick it up and throw it away. There had to be some sort of a container that that was placed in, dried and then moved and deposited at the crime scene.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But what I don`t understand is why. You know, I don`t understand why anybody kills anyone, obviously. But that being said, why go to the extra length of doing something like this? I mean, what does it achieve?

KARDIAN: Hide the evidence.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s the -- what`s -- go ahead. Who`s talking?

KARDIAN: In their minds, the ultimate concealment of the crime, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How so? I mean, it`s in a shallow grave. So...

JEFF BROWN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: But the idea is to hide the evidence. And this is common place with a lot of crimes and a lot of criminals. It`s one thing to commit the crime and then the second part of it is usually they try to hide the body or hide the evidence. That`s exactly what the killer did here. The killer is thinking by mixing the cement, they can hide mixed the cement, they think they can hide the body so that nobody will ever find the body.

But wrong for him; they did find the body. And because it`s encased in concrete and not in the water, it`s going to preserve the body, it`s going to help them find some clues. I think it`s our best case of finding the killer.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I certainly hope you`re right. Dave Murray, was it encased in concrete or was it a shallow grave and just concrete over the top?

DAVE MURRAY, "TOLEDO BLADE": I was just going to jump in, Jane. It was really a shallow grave. And someone, they believe, placed the body in the shallow grave close to the edge of the river raisin, and they poured something we call ready-mix concrete, which is a dry mixture, on top of the body. And then the water in the area solidified. That`s what we think happened.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Everyone stand by. More analysis of this heartbreaker in just a minute. I will examine frightening similarities, as well, between the case of missing Tracy Ocasio and the nearby disappearance of Jennifer Kesse three years ago. Two beautiful women. Could they be linked? They`re both in their 20s. I will speak to Jennifer`s distraught parents in the moment. They are demanding answers.

But first, a family, an entire community reeling after the discovery of what cops are saying is likely the body of Nevaeh Buchanan found covered in cement, just miles from her home. Here`s the heartbroken father of Nevaeh`s very best friend.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This little girl was my son`s very best friend in the world. He hung out with her every single day. And my son is a total tragic mess because of this. He has missed her every day that she`s been gone. And now he`s going to miss her forever.




CARLA ELLIOTTE, NEVAEH`S PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER: Jennifer, if you know anything, you know, please, come on. This has been long enough. We need Nevaeh home.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Nevaeh`s paternal grandmother making a thinly-veiled accusation that Nevaeh`s mother, Jennifer, knows more than she`s saying. We are told the two sides of Nevaeh`s family are at odds. So is that comment the sign of a feud or something more significant?

Investigators say the mom is cooperating, but they won`t say anything more. Could Nevaeh`s own mother be under the microscope?

What do we know about this controversy over whether or not the mom failed a question on a lie detector test? I`m going to throw that question to Dave Murray, who is special assignments editor with "The Toledo Blade."

MURRAY: Well, as you can imagine, Jane, police aren`t talking much. We do know that Jennifer Buchanan, Nevaeh`s mother, has a criminal history. She met George Kennedy, one of the sex offenders in custody right now, who was a, quote, "person of interest" at a parole office. So this is a -- this mother`s a troubled mother.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. To put it mildly.

MURRAY: But we do not know how she did on the polygraph.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Nevaeh`s mom, Jennifer Buchanan, spoke to reporters the day after her daughter went missing. Here`s what she says she saw happen.


JENNIFER BUCHANAN, MOTHER OF NEVAEH: Almost 100 percent sure that she got snatched.

The little girl came in, and she said, "Nevaeh is playing outside in the road on a scooter." So I go outside, and I go to tell her not to play in the road, to stay on the sidewalk. And I couldn`t find her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve just learned a lead from one of Nevaeh`s little friend turns out to be bogus. An 8-year-old boy originally said he saw Nevaeh a man stab Nevaeh in the woods around the time she went missing. Now reports are his mom says he saw nothing of the kind, that he was playing with Nevaeh inside their home until 3:30 or 3:45, when Nevaeh`s mom, the woman you just heard from, picked her daughter up to go to the store.

Then we hear little Nevaeh was last seen playing on a scooter after 6 p.m. outside the house.

Wendy Murphy, do we need to reexamine the whole underlying premise that she was on that scooter? Could that also be a phony story? Or do you think there`s enough there that says, well, yes, she was on the scooter and that`s it?

MURPHY: Well, look, if the information we think is true came from the mother, then I say let`s reexamine it, because not only she has a criminal record. That doesn`t, in and of itself, make me think she`s involved in some way, but if she has a criminal record, she was palling around with a sex offender, who wasn`t supposed to be with children, and she had problems with the polygraph, I`d say go back to square one, and assume she had something to cover up.

Because you have to -- you know, the way the investigations work, you`d go with a theory until you can disprove it. I think she`s suspicious. I don`t know why. I would have to make something up out of whole cloth to suggest what I think could be possible. But I don`t think she`s out of my list of suspects yet. No way. And I don`t mean she killed him. I mean she knows more than she`s saying.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that was the claim of the paternal grandmother. But by the same token, I want to be very sensitive here. This is a woman who`s just got the worst news that any human being could ever possibly get. And God forbid if she has absolutely nothing to do with it, which all indications are at this point she has nothing to do with it, we have to have compassion for her. She`s grieving.

Cops have two persons of interest in custody. Authorities, however, made this shocking claim today. Listen.


CRUTCHFIELD: The person, to our knowledge, is still out there in the community. In my opinion, it is a very sick or disturbed person we`re looking for, a person that is able to abduct and murder an innocent 5-year- old child.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So they believe the killer is still out there. But they have these two people behind bars, which I think is pretty fascinating. We`re talking, No. 1, George Kennedy, and I believe we have a photograph of him. He`s a convicted sex offender and allegedly a former boyfriend of Nevaeh`s mom.

And then also, in custody, Roy Smith, a convicted sex offender, and again, a friend of George Kennedy`s and the little girl`s mom, both taken in on parole violations. Neither of these two men have been cleared. They`re considered persons of interest.

Now, Kennedy, this is the other guy, says he had nothing to do with it. He insists he has an alibi for that afternoon. Blood found in his hotel room does not match the child`s.

But what, Dave Murray, about this other guy, and we`ll go back to the other guy, the convicted rapist, Smith? What do we know about him? What was he doing at the time the child went missing?

MURRAY: No one knows what he was doing. The police aren`t saying. He`s not granting interviews. All we know is he lent his van to -- his nephew`s van -- it`s very convoluted -- to George Kennedy. Now George Kennedy has multiple alibis, including using his eBay (ph) card to get gas at the time she was abducted.

Both of these people have been -- are in custody because of parole violations. The sheriff`s department has pretty much said that it`s ruled them out, although I think they`re going to go back and look at everybody, including the mom and all the family members.

But I`ve got to tell you, the family`s been through a nightmare for the last 12 days, as has the entire community. People are not just angry; they`re scared.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Gosh, I can imagine.

MURRAY: He`s still out there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Jeff Brown, what do you think should be next for this investigation? Obviously, forensics teams, examining the dirt. There`s divers in the water of the river. But what do they do from a perspective of finding this mystery man, or woman?

BROWN: Yes, I think always criminal investigations that are the most successful are the ones that start with the facts. And now that we have the body, they can do an autopsy. They can see if there`s any DNA in the body. They can see for any other physical clues that are around the body that may have been stuck to the cement. What`s on the girl.

And from the scientific part of this case, they can begin to find the clues. Then they can see whether stories or alibis are matching up with that. That`s the best way to start.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Panel, don`t go anywhere. We`re going to have more insights. Those are amazing insights. We will also have expert analysis of the horrific discovery of what cops believe is the body of little Nevaeh Buchanan, found just seven miles from the little girl`s home.

And beautiful 27-year-old Tracy Ocasio missing for more than a week. Two women now coming forward, saying the person of interest in that case assaulted them, too.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: In the "Spotlight" tonight, is there a connection between abuse of drugs and booze and the avalanche of horrific violence in America? Here on ISSUES, we see drugs and alcohol becoming an issue with two many cases?

From Nevaeh Buchanan`s mother, Jennifer, whose own mother reportedly said she had a drug problem. To Casey Anthony`s partying, while her daughter Caylee went missing. To little Haleigh Cummings and people in her life, with rap sheets littered with drugs.

The bottom line: study after study show a massive percentage of people behind bars are addicts. People commit crimes to support their habit. People commit murder and assault because they`re high or they`re drunk. It`s time for an intervention, America.

Joining me, Ken Seeley, a man who has spent the past two decades helping people confront their addictions and doing interventions on them. You will recognize him as the host of A&E`s hit show, "Intervention." And he`s the author of this new book, "Face It and Fix It." It hits this subject hard.

Ken, as you know, I`m a recovering alcoholic with 14 years of sobriety. You, as you well know, are a recovering addict with 20 years of sobriety. Congrats on that, by the way. What does America need to do to come to grips with the fact that drugs and booze are really the common denominator behind so much of the violence that plagues us?

KEN SEELEY, INTERVENTIONIST: You know, Jane, I was just speaking at a drug court graduation up in Stockton, California, with 200 graduates. That`s the answer.

If we`re going to fight this war on drugs, that`s what we need to do. We need to give these people a chance and get them into recovery, as we have. And we`ve been so open about our recovery. And give them that chance of life. Because throwing them in jail is not the answer.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, everybody`s talking about, "Oh -- oh, we spend so much money incarcerating people." It would cost a pittance of that to give people treatment. Time and time again, in all the stories that we cover here on ISSUES, there is one underlying theme, and that is, young people connected to drugs, doing drugs, going out partying, having kids. So it`s like out-of-control kids, glorified teenagers having kids.

SEELEY: Yes. And as you can see, what I`m doing with the show on A&E is we`re helping educate the families to let them know that it doesn`t have to get to that point of getting them in jail.

And then with the new book that I just have coming out, with "Face It and Fix It," with this, we`re able to help reach the people and get them prior to even getting into jail, and getting involved in the court systems. That`s really the answer. Getting the people the help, get them into recovery and getting them healthy. These are sick people. These aren`t bad people.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, they become bad people if they continue to use and they don`t get treatment. A Columbia University study found three- quarters of all the prison inmates that they surveyed were either drug addicts or alcoholics. I mean, to me, that one stat says it all.

You want to stop murder? You want to stop muggings? You want to stop rapings? Get people help before they get so screwed up in their head that they go and do something like that.

SEELEY: We`ve come a long, long way. You know, back when I was arrested, they never, ever had drug court. Now like I said, speaking at a graduation, and all over this country they have every state, they have some form of a drug program. But we`ve come a long way. But we have a long way to go.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ken, thanks.

A small Michigan community in despair after the discovery of what cops believe are the remains of a 5-year-old, Nevaeh Buchanan.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops believe they`ve found the body of missing 5- year-old Nevaeh Buchanan. They uncovered a child`s remains, sealed in cement on a river bank seven miles from Nevaeh`s home. Where does the investigation for this unspeakable crime go from here?

Then, beautiful 27-year-old Tracy Ocasio missing after what cops say was a night out with James Hataway. Eerie similarities emerge between this case and the 2006 disappearance of Jennifer Kesse. Are these two abductions linked?

Tonight a grisly discovery on a river bank outside of Detroit rocks an entire community. The body of a young child encased in cement is believed to be that of 5-year-old Nevaeh Buchanan. Investigators, family, friends, desperately searching for the child for nearly two weeks.

Now cops vow they will leave no stone unturned in their hunt for the sicko who committed this unspeakable travesty. Two persons of interest are already behind bars on unrelated charges. But the cops today say they believe the killer is still out there in the community somewhere. Everybody`s frightening.

So where will they turn next to find out what happened to little Nevaeh?

Straight to my excellent panel: Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor and professor at New England School of Law and author of "And Justice for Some;" Bill Manion, forensic pathologist and assistant medical examiner for Burlington County, New Jersey; Jeff Brown, criminal defense attorney; Steve Kardian, former criminal investigator and director of Defend University; Dr. Dale Archer, clinical psychiatrist; and Michelle Sigona, national correspondent for "America`s Most Wanted."

Michelle, give you have been tracking this case, give us your insights into what authorities can do next to hone in on this killer or killers.

MICHELLE SIGONA, AMERICA`S MOST WANTED, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At this point what we`re waiting for is for the autopsy to come back to see if there`s any DNA or any kind of evidence that was left on little Nevaeh`s body.

Once we can figure that out and if there are clues that could in fact lead to the killer, I think it`ll put this case in a better direction than what it is in right now. We do know that she was covered in some sort of cement; that that was actually broken-off of her when she was found by the father and the son who were fishing along the river.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Dale Archer, from a psychological perspective, what does it say about this individual -- that they went -- or individuals, it could be plural, that they went to the length of topping-off the shallow grave with concrete? From a psychological perspective, what does it say?

DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: Well, I don`t think that they`re trying to bury everything very, very deeply. So you can look at is psychologically, or practically. It would have the same meaning. They`re trying to cover the evidence. And...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But don`t you find that with a lot of these crimes, things have meaning beyond their practicality? That there`s a metaphor in how the crimes are committed? That it says something about their thought process, their belief system, how they view the world, that they would not only do this, but then go to that extra length -- because it takes time, it takes planning, it takes effort.

You`ve got to get the cement, you`ve got to get a mixer, as we`ve heard. You`ve got to mix it with the water. It`s only a certain kind of sick mind that could do all that after killing a 5-year-old.

ARCHER: But Jane, I think the point is very clear that you have to realize that it is a sick mind. And you were trying to use logical minds to understand a sick mind. It doesn`t always work.

So I think that -- yes there may be this deep hidden meanings there. But when you`re dealing with psychosis and when you`re dealing with a mentally-ill person and anyone who would commit this act you would have to argue that there would be -- that there -- then it`s very, very different...

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Why are you saying they`re mentally ill? Why are you saying they`re mentally ill? They could just be evil, a piece of junk human being who doesn`t care about this child and wants not to get caught. Dumps concrete like it`s a piece of trash.

ARCHER: I know, but...

MURPHY: That`s not sick, that`s evil.

ARCHER: Yes, it can definitely be evil. But by the same token, you`ve got to be able to understand that it is still a sick mind. I`m not saying that they were insane. I`m not saying I`m giving them license to be able to do this, but I`m saying that their mind is definitely broken.

MURPHY: Well, they`re just selfish.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, I want to go back to my original theme.

Steve Kardian, do you think it says something -- which I do -- about the type of killer; the mind that they would go to these lengths.

In other words, there are a certain kinds of crimes that are -- it`s a horrible thing, it`s an act and then it`s like I`m going to run away from the act. I did something perhaps out of character.


STEVE KARDIAN, FORMER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: No Jane, we see the criminals enjoy a certain comfort level when they`re acting out.

BROWN: Whether you`re leaving from crime, Jane?

KARDIAN: Excuse me -- they enjoy a certain comfort level when they`re acting out. So there is an association and a certain degree of comfort with the type of activity that he did by concealing the body in this manner.


BROWN: I don`t buy that for one second. But Jane, you`re trying to put psychological meaning to everything that happens here.


BROWN: This is a killer. And basically they were trying to hide the evidence. Don`t try to play more into this than...

KARDIAN: No, no.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait a second. Jeff Brown, Jeff Brown what did you want to say?

BROWN: This happens all the time. We have people that lie after they get caught in an untruth. We have people that hide evidence afterwards. It doesn`t mean that they`re sick.

But I think it`s common, it`s human nature sometimes when somebody does something wrong, they lie about it, they try to cover up. Rare is the individual who steps forward and says I did something wrong. So I don`t think you can read into this is other than...

MURPHY: And Jane, Jane...

BROWN: ...the killer is obviously trying to bury the evidence.

ARCHER: And I agree with that.

MURPHY: But you know, can I add one other thing?


MURPHY: When you are dumping little kids in water and trying to expedite decomposition, sometimes it`s because you know that if they find the body quickly, you`re in real trouble, because they`re going to find out whether there was sexual abuse, which we found out with Sandra Cantu.

Her little body didn`t decompose before they found it, thankfully. You might find drugs evidence in the blood that`s the good news that she was found fairly quickly.


MURPHY: Maybe these are things we`ll uncover as well. But I think that`s part of this as well. It isn`t just, "I want to get away with it, but I want the body to decompose quickly so there`s nothing but bones left."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Manion -- Dr. Manion, let me ask you this question. Dr. Manion, would somebody who wanted to accelerate decomposition put the body in concrete? Because to me I would think that almost would preserve the body like a mummy.

ARCHER: That would slow it down.

DR. BILL MANION, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: And it would -- it would preserve the body from decomposition.

MURPHY: It wasn`t in it. It wasn`t in it. It was under it.


MANION: The concrete -- it covers it, like you do on a patio. For instance it`s going to cover it. And yes, I think the killer was wrong here to do that. But I think what the killer is trying to do is he`s trying to make sure nobody finds this body, because this body is evidence. Everybody knows that...

ARCHER: Yet you`re saying that the killer is smart enough to know what he did was wrong.


MANION: Yes. Now if he gets caught, it gets to the issue of the difference between right and wrong, too, which could really hurt him in a penalty phase.

MURPHY: Oh, please.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michelle, let me ask you this.

All right, now I`m going to use my gavel.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michelle Sigona, what is next for this investigation? We see the video there of investigators at the scene. We`ve been told they`re going to go through the dirt speck by speck around the area where the body was found.

We know there are divers in that river. Going through what exactly are they looking for? Just anything?

SIGONA: They`re looking for any clues that are left behind. For instance, even if it`s tags from clothing, shoe prints, anything that could possibly be around that scene, or that grave, that could lead them to the killer, or killers as you mentioned.

So that`s really what the investigators are looking for at this point. Any sort of clues even around the waterways. Anywhere up to a mile.

MANION: Maybe the bag of cement, maybe the bag itself.

SIGONA: Yes, exactly -- maybe the bag itself. It`s not really too clear why someone would want to put the cement over the top of this. Sometimes criminals they just don`t think. They`re just looking to get rid of it.

BROWN: Why are you trying to say that this guy is smart enough to be able to think that, oh, yes, this is going to aid in the investigation? He doesn`t know. He`s not thinking that far ahead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, but what I`m saying from a psychological perspective, sometimes there are what you would call crimes that are done in the heat of the moment and there is like immediate remorse and a person just leaves the body and runs, or throws the body.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But when you see something like this that seems more methodical, to me it says more this guy is a real sicko who may have enjoyed what he did and is approaching it, Steve Kardian, almost more from a business-like standpoint.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: As opposed from simply just an emotional standpoint. Am I making any sense whatsoever, Steve?

KARDIAN: Yes. And/or perhaps, Jane that this may have been something that he`s done in the past or something similar in the past.


ARCHER: I don`t see it`s a big mistake to try to give a psychological meaning to everything that happens in a case like this and with a criminal act.


ARCHER: I think -- you can`t always figure out their mind. And you`re basically trying to put meaning where we just don`t know. And so I think that is a mistake. This is a criminal, that committed a heinous act and to try to put meaning into every little act at this point without knowing anything about them I don`t think helps us.


Well, Wendy Murphy, we`re going to give you the final word on this horrific, unspeakable crime.

MURPHY: Whether the guy`s sick, evil, or a little bit of both, I don`t care. I`m just glad he was a bit of an idiot because the body is not decomposed. The poor child is gone but I think we`re going to find out lots of important information. That`s the good news.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you to my excellent panel. What a horror story.

An American man accused of drowning his wife -- during their honeymoon, no less -- Down Under, now gets off easy. Another case of justice denied.

And Florida cops following all leads in the search for beautiful Tracy Ocasio. Could the similar 2006 disappearance of beautiful Jennifer Kesse help the investigation?


Tracy Ocasio`s mysterious disappearance strangely similar to the nearby 2006 disappearance of Jennifer Kesse; both beautiful young women in their 20s -- could it be linked?

First, "Top of the Block" tonight.

Outrage in Australia: the American man accused of murdering his wife during their honeymoon Down Under gets off real easy. Pleading guilty to a manslaughter charge -- get this -- Dave Watson was accused of shutting off his new wife`s oxygen tank, while scuba diving in Australia, causing her to sink to the ocean floor -- there she is in the little -- circle and drowned. Unbelievable.

There she is in the little circle at the bottom of the water. Watson originally faced a potential life sentence if convicted of murder. But with this new deal, he will serve one measly year of a 4 1/2-year sentence for manslaughter. The victim`s family, understandably furious. Looks like America isn`t the only place where justice can be hard to come by sometimes.

That is tonight`s "Top of the Block."

Gut-wrenching new developments tonight in the case of missing Florida woman Tracy Ocasio. The beautiful 27-year-old was last seen leaving a bar with a man who it turns out has a terrifying, I mean terrifying criminal history. He is now reportedly being investigated in the mysterious disappearance of a male buddy, who just simply vanished. Plus four assaults on women.

Now, one Florida family is coming forward wondering whether the man you`re looking at there, James Hataway, could be responsible for their daughter`s disappearance, too. Drew and Joyce Kesse were quick to notice eerie similarities between the case of missing Tracy Ocasio and their missing daughter, Jennifer.

Jennifer went missing more than three years ago from her Florida condo. Her car was found abandoned days later. Tracy`s car was also found abandoned.

And then there is a shocking link between these two cases. Jennifer Kesse used to hang out at the very same bar where Tracy Ocasio and James Hataway were last seen. Plus, Jennifer Kesse used to work in Okoe -- that is the very city where Hataway lives.

This is even more chilling. James Hataway`s description could match this surveillance shot of a man who was seen abandoning Jennifer`s car. Could the devastating disappearance of Tracy Ocasio be connected to the unsolved disappearance of Jennifer Kesse? Both beautiful young women in their 20s. Could we be close to a break in the two cases?

Joining me now, Steve Kardian, former criminal investigator and director of Defend University; Dr. Dale Archer, clinical psychiatrist; Darren Kavinoky, criminal defense attorney; and I am honored to have with us the father of Jennifer Kesse, Drew Kesse.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Drew, thank you so much for being here today.

KESSE: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What were your first thoughts when you were watching the TV news and found out about Tracy Ocasio`s disappearance and what did you do?

KESSE: Well, actually, I read about it in the newspapers. And it was forwarded to me by several people.

First thing I did was put it right to our lead detective who was already in contact with the Okoe police, having actually known the detective working that case, too. When you start looking at some of the similarities, obviously it is a path that should be looked at. It`s just incredible.

In fact, Jennifer lived just a property over from the Tap Room. I`ve been in the Tap Room myself handing fliers out. I don`t think Jennifer was a regular at the Tap Room. It`s just a neighborhood place where she was.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s take another look at the shots of the surveillance camera of the man who police believe got out of your daughter`s car after he abandoned it. The man looks like he could possibly -- possibly -- fit the description of James Hataway. But some investigators say Hataway is several inches taller than this man; the suspect in this photo.

Drew, what have investigators said to you about that?

KESSE: Well, we have -- we`ve had a problem with the height of our suspect all along. It was actually three different heights that came out and the investigators to my knowledge decided to go with the FBI`s. But we have had ranges right up to 5`10", 5`11" from other law enforcement agencies, as well as news agencies, too. Let`s throw away the height because it could be different now. It just could be different.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Steve Kardian, former criminal investigator, height is relative to the movement of the body. If he has a wide stride, and he`s moving quickly, and taking up a lot of space per stride, that could lower his height on that photo, no?

STEVE KARDIAN, FORMER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: Yes, it could, Jane. You see he`s that stepping off in one of the photos on that back foot, actually up on his toes. I did an experiment this morning, and every time I took a moderate to lengthy stride, I drop down three to four inches in height.

Consider that the camera, the elevation of that camera is an above- the-door camera as it appears, that could have some sway with what they`re dealing with, too. There has to be a magnitude, a deviation plus or minus. So correct.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: James Hataway has a very troubling criminal history. He was convicted as a juvenile of kidnapping and bodily harm. He`s currently in custody on a drug charge. He`s now reportedly being investigated, as we`ve mentioned, in six cases total: two separate missing persons cases, and four assaults.

Listen to one woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, tell reporters how Hataway allegedly attacked her.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He came up behind me. He started slamming my head down on the sidewalk. I started screaming. And then he took his hand and took both fingers and put them in my mouth and tried to snap my neck again. I was screaming, "Somebody please help me, he`s going to kill me." And two people walked outside, thank God, and saved my life.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: New reports just in are that he may be charged as early as Friday for that vicious attack. This woman came forward because her friends saw Hataway`s face on TV.

But what gets me, Darren Kavinoky, is that that happened almost a year ago. And the cops never caught this guy, never prosecuted this guy. Even though that victim that you heard from saw his face and was able to recognize his face.

This guy just moved from one county, Seminole County, to another county, a neighboring county. And it`s frustrating to me that had they done that work, not only might we have prevented Ocasio`s disappearance, but Jennifer Kesse`s parents might have gotten information a lot sooner.

DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Your point is well taken. And investigators certainly have a lot to answer for, for those kinds of delays.

Of course, you bring up such a great point, that the courts always struggle with, which is, how do you deal with all this other evidence of the accused being a bad guy? Is it relevant to any particular case that he`s actually defending himself in?

And in -- generally speaking, evidence of other crimes or prior bad acts don`t get admitted in a particular trial unless they`re so characteristic as to be a signature. So we really need to know a lot more before we`ll see how this one`s going to be able to play out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Dr. Dale Archer, there are commonalities in some of these cases. The woman who spoke anonymously was also giving him a lift home from a bar when she claims he attacked her. And Tracy Ocasio gave him a lift home from a bar, and she disappeared.

DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: This may not play out legally in being able to admit this, but psychologically this guy just looks like he is a bad, evil person right down the line, and I think you`re right. The similarities are shocking. And I think it looks to me like this is the guy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, but he says he`s innocent. He hasn`t been charged with anything yet except he`s there on drugs; drug allegations.

Sit tight, everyone. More on this mystery in a minute. James Hataway, a person of interest in Tracy`s disappearance. He`s maintained his innocence throughout this investigation.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The "Big Tease" tonight: the terrifying story of the Malibu couple stabbed to death in their glamorous beach house. Now a woman from an upscale beach neighborhood just miles away is fatally stabbed in her bedroom. Monday on ISSUES find out if the grisly killings are connected.

And now back to the disappearance of 27-year-old Florida woman Tracy Ocasio. James Hataway, the last person seen with Ocasio, says he has nothing to do with the 27-year-old`s disappearance. But new questions about whether this man could be related to the disappearance of another Florida girl, Jennifer Kesse, who disappeared more than three years ago.

Steve Kardian, we heard him just before the break say "I`m innocent. I hung out with my dad." Ok? So what does that mean? Who hangs out with their dad at 1:00 in the morning?

KARDIAN: Jane, I`ve got a problem with this guy. I just look into his face and I see something evil. And based on his criminal history he`s got a drug arrest, robbery, burglary, some heavy-duty stuff. I think he was a graduating criminal.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but they -- did they talk to the cops? Do the cops talk to the dad and if the dad says, "Yes, I was with my son that night, you know. He came in and we spent the evening together at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning."

KARDIAN: Well, I`m sure that they`ve done that and you have to factor in this is a father. How many fathers would cover up criminal activity for their children?

KAVINOKY: Well, use a polygraph also.

And parents are notoriously horrible alibi witnesses and juries routinely reject that evidence. But keep in mind there`s a huge gap between somebody who`s got a criminal history who may have the face of evil and look like a bad guy and somebody who actually commits the crime that they`re being charged with. So let`s not rush to judgment on this.

He may be a bad dude, but innocent of any relationship to this particular crime.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Drew, let me -- I want to talk to Drew Kesse, Jennifer`s dad.

Tracy Ocasio`s parents are furious, out of their minds that this guy was on the streets given that woman saying that he tried to attack her almost a year ago. Do you share the outrage given the possible link?

KESSE: Yes, you do. And one of the reasons is that people have to -- you know, if police don`t react, people didn`t react, police didn`t react when we first brought up Jennifer. They shrugged their shoulders, laughed, and said she had a fight with her boyfriend and walked away.

You don`t give up. You get in their faces. You keep going until you are listened to. And you take care of it then and there so we don`t have this problem.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Drew, I applaud you. You`re one of my heroes. You`re sticking to this. I hope we get answers for you and for everyone missing a loved one.

You are watching ISSUES.