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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
College Student Disappears After Metallica Concert; More Details Emerge in Balloon Boy Hoax
Aired October 20, 2009 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, the war on women escalating out of control. A young college student vanishes right in the middle of a crowded rock concert. Cops say the Virginia Tech student was in a Metallica show with her friends on Saturday, and she hasn`t been seen since. Her purse, her cell phone, her car, all found abandoned outside the stadium. Tonight, we`ll go inside the search for Morgan Dana Harrington and hear from her desperate, heartbroken father.
And head-spinning new insights into the balloon boy soap opera. New pictures shine light on dad`s Hollywood past. Are his handsome head shots exhibit A? That it`s all about fame and fortune? Cops say this guy planned the whole thing so he could get a reality show. But now he could get a $2 million fine. Could he also spend time in jail?
Also, right from the headlines, a new "Law & Order" focusing on the drunk-driving mom who killed eight people in a wrong-way crash. Some critics think it`s too soon, and claim the show is cashing in on the victims. But isn`t it about time we shine the spotlight on this national epidemic and expose these drunk-driving moms? We`ll debate it.
Plus, disturbing new insight into the murder-suicide of Steve McNair and his mistress. We now have text messages sent to and from the NFL superstar, just hours before he was killed. This young woman begged to see McNair and possibly hinted at murder, telling him, "I`m going to have all of you soon."
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, the words every parent fears most: "Your child is missing." A frantic search is under way for a beautiful young woman who vanished during a packed rock concert. Where is 20-year-old Morgan Harrington? The Virginia Tech student went to a rock show Saturday night in Charlottesville, Virginia. She was separated from her friends. She has not been seen since.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN HARRINGTON, MORGAN`S FATHER: I`d like to say if Morgan is out there and hears us, please come home. If someone has Morgan, please let her come home safely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Morgan was at her parent`s home Saturday in Roanoke. Later she went to a Metallica concert on the campus of University of Virginia. Somebody had to have seen something. In a building full of thousands and thousands of people, are there clues on the arena surveillance footage? Police are not sharing very much at all about the evidence in this case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. JOE RADER, VIRGINIA STATE POLICE: I won`t comment on any evidence that has been found or any belongings that have or have not been found, for obvious reasons. To do that would, No. 1, jeopardize potential investigative matters. But I can tell you that she will not have any identification with her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A family friend says police found Morgan`s purse in the arena parking lot. Inside, her cell phone with the battery removed. Does that ominous discovery point to an abduction? Is Morgan the latest victim in the war on women in America? It is a battle we cover every day here on ISSUES.
The war on women is being waged more and more on college campuses across the country, where female students are becoming crime victims with greater frequency.
What do you think about all of this? What can we do about all of this? Call me and let me know.
First straight out to my outstanding expert panel: Stacey Honowitz, supervisor of the sex crimes unit at the Florida prosecutor`s office; Brian Russell, clinical psychologist; Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels; Karen Desoto, defense attorney and former prosecutor. Joining me on the phone, Kareem Geller, spokesperson for the Virginia state police.
But first we are very honored to have with us tonight Dr. Dan Harrington, Morgan`s dad.
Dr. Harrington, this is the worst-case scenario for any parent. I can`t even imagine what you`re going through. We really hope something we bring up tonight helps find your precious, beautiful daughter.
Explain how your daughter got separated from her friends at the rock concert, if you will, sir.
HARRINGTON (via phone): I think it`s -- I think that information`s really not clear. Our understanding is that she was with her friends at the arena and went to the rest room. And somehow, for whatever reason, ended up outside the arena. The arena rules are that you cannot re-enter after you leave the building.
And her last phone call was to the friend inside, letting them know that she was outside and could not re-enter the -- cannot re-enter the -- cannot re-enter the arena. I`m sorry.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s OK. I think I hear a dog. Is that the little dog that your daughter is holding in one of the photos?
D. HARRINGTON: Yes, that`s...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The family dog?
D. HARRINGTON: Yes, that`s her dog, Kirby.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my gosh. Well, let me bring in another aspect that I think is very crucial, Doctor. Police say the arena does have surveillance cameras, which I think is good news. What clues could be on that footage? If Morgan was not allowed back in the concert after she went to the ladies room. Would there be footage of her lingering outside of the stadium?
If somebody approached her, or let`s say she struggled with somebody, have you gotten any indication from law enforcement that they are reviewing that videotape to see if somewhere in the 16,000 people in the parking lot, they are -- are catching something, perhaps a vehicle, perhaps an individual who had some contact with your daughter?
D. HARRINGTON: We have no information about that from the authorities. And so your information is as much as mine at this point.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Doctor, I`m going to ask you to stand by for one second. Please don`t hang up. Because we have Corinne Geller, spokesperson for Virginia State Police. What can you tell us, Corinne, about what law enforcement is doing to review the videotapes, or the photos, surveillance?
CORINNE GELLER, SPOKESPERSON, VIRGINIA STATE POLICE (via phone): Well, our investigators have been in touch with the arena and have been discussing with them about what they do have available in regards to surveillance tapes. At this time, it`s a very active investigation, and we`re pursuing every lead that`s coming in. We`ve had numerous leads, which is very encouraging. And we`re really not in a position to start divulging a lot of those details, as we`re still very new into this investigation.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, here`s what I don`t understand, and please explain this to me. Because I would think that, if you do have a description of a car or a person, that would be useful to let us know in the sense that anybody who was at that concert might say, "Oh, I know that guy," or "I`ve seen that car."
Do you have any kind of a vehicle or individual description in terms of somebody who might be in some way connected to Morgan that night?
GELLER: If we had information that would be able to pinpoint a certain vehicle or individual we were looking for, we would obviously put that out immediately. We`ve been as forthcoming as possible with the information we have. And we really appreciated the many individuals in the public who have come forward and provided us with tips and with information.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s my big issue. There is an epidemic of violence against women in America. It seems like every week we`re talking about a new horrific case of a missing woman. And it really is -- is -- it`s demoralizing and scary and horrifying to all of us women.
And there are some eerie similarities, for example, between Morgan`s disappearance and the case of Kristi Cornwell. She was abducted two months ago, walking alone on a rural home from her parent`s home from Georgia. She`d been talking on her cell phone. That phone was later found away about three miles away.
In this new case, in the case of Morgan, her cell phone was found inside her purse in the very area where she disappeared.
Dr. Harrington, what can you tell us about the purse and the cell phone? We understand the battery was missing.
D. HARRINGTON: That`s my understanding, as well. But I really don`t have any anymore information about that, except that the -- her I.D. was in the purse, as well as the cell phone with the battery missing. That`s the only information I have.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tell us about your daughter Morgan. Is she a person who would be likely to scream? Is she sort of a feisty talkative young lady or is she more demure?
D. HARRINGTON: Morgan is a -- Morgan is a wonderful girl. I think, probably, she`s like a lot of people, I think maybe somewhat trusting. And you know, that`s a worrisome part of all of this.
I think -- you know, she doesn`t think the bad things about those around her. And she`s -- this kind of -- I don`t think she has gone away with a boyfriend, which she didn`t have, or gone away for some other reason. She was quite close to us and really, pretty transparent in how she lived her life.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, no problems with drugs or alcohol or fights? She was just a contented, happy, good student living her life?
D. HARRINGTON: We had -- we just had a wonderful summer with Morgan, who lived with us and worked for me at our new medical school. And Morgan would spend the evenings watching TV with us, which you know, was kind of a nice thing on have.
And when she went away to Tech for the fall semester, you know, we would hear from her usually daily, and -- because Tech`s only about 35 minutes from here. You know, she maybe would come home midweek or -- and certainly almost every weekend she would at least pop in for part of the day. You know, she was really pretty -- pretty open with us.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, she is a beautiful young lady. Our thoughts are with you. I`m sure I speak for the entire panel and for our entire staff, Dr. Harrington. We`re going to do everything we can to help find your daughter, and we hope and pray that she is safe.
Now we`re going to bring in the expert panel to analyze some -- some of the information that`s coming up.
Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor. Your thoughts on all of this?
STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: I mean, there`s really not a lot to say, Jane. Just the hopes that the investigation will lead to something.
I think the real crucial issue in this case is, what do the friends know? They were the last ones to hear from her. And if the bathrooms were inside of the arena what lured her to go outside, not to be able to get back in again? Because certainly during a concert you can go to the bathroom and come back in.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, sometimes you can`t. I`ve gone to -- I`ve had times where I have gone to a concert. I didn`t buy the ticket, so I didn`t have the ticket. The tickets were all held by one person. I walked out. And then when I tried to get in, I was told, "Oh, you don`t have a ticket, you can`t come back in." That`s actually happened to me.
Corinne Geller, spokesperson, Virginia State Police. Is that something that you believe happened to Morgan?
GELLER: We`re obviously building that time line, and we`ve had great cooperation from Dr. Harrington and his family, as well as the friends. As far as detailing exactly her movements and activities leading up to the last contact she had with her friends that night, and of course, trying to piece together exactly what happened after...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Have you looked at the videotape yet?
GELLER: I`m sorry?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Have you looked at the videotape yet of the stadium?
GELLER: Have I seen the videotape?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Has anyone from the law enforcement?
GELLER: Are you talking about surveillance video?
GELLER: Yes. Our investigators are working with the arena as far as looking at what they have available in regards to surveillance.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Have you looked at it though, yet?
GELLER: Yes. They have. They have been working with the arena yesterday and today and reviewing what is available on that surveillance video.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.
HONOWITZ: Well, Jane, that...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That has to be so difficult. Yes?
HONOWITZ: Jane, you made the comment before with which I agree with you. Sometimes, you know, you said you went outside. You couldn`t get back in. And if that is the case and you texted your friend and said, "I can`t get back in," then circumstances would lead you to believe that that friend would say, "Let me go to the door and get you back in with the ticket that I`m holding for you."
So I think these are all of the issues that the investigators now are trying to piece together. Because that`s going to be, you know -- that`s going to lead you to some answers.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say this. We`ve to go -- we`ve got to go to the tease. But you know, when I was a teenager, I went to rock concerts. And what happens you is meet somebody while you`re milling about, and that`s what usually happens. You`re talking to somebody, your guard`s down. And the question is, who did she meet? Who was there? Is there somebody on videotape? Is there a vehicle on videotape?
More on the desperate search for Morgan in a bit. We`re also taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. Call me with your theories.
Coming up, uproar over an upcoming episode of "Law & Order" you`re not going to believe. Where show producers got their latest idea from.
But first a desperate search, a frantic search for this beautiful Virginia Tech student. Where is Morgan?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. HARRINGTON: I`d like to say if Morgan`s out there and hears us, please come home. And if someone has Morgan, please let her come home safely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JILL HARRINGTON, MORGAN`S MOTHER: As you can tell we`re pretty distraught with her absence. And want her back home as soon as we can. We`ll be fine, because we miss our little baby. She is our precious daughter. And we hope that this attention can help bring her back to our home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was the heartbroken mother of Morgan Harrington. Her daughter vanished Saturday during a crowded Metallica concert on the University of Virginia campus.
The Virginia Tech student, we don`t know, but it`s quite possible that she could be the latest victim on the war on women, as the battleground appears to shift to college campuses. Just last month Annie Le, a Yale grad student, was found murder and stuffed inside the walls of a university laboratory. This innocent woman was inside a secure Ivy League building, and now she is dead.
We certainly hope that this young woman that we`re talking about tonight comes back safe and sound.
Curtis Sliwa, you`ve been hearing all of this. You`re an expert in fighting crime. What are your thoughts in terms of what cops need to do to find out what happened to Morgan?
CURTIS SLIWA, FOUNDER, GUARDIAN ANGELS: Well, two things. As you mentioned, Jane, you go to a concert, you go outside, you`re not getting back in, because the people at the gate already know that ruse. You normally leave the concert area because you want to do something inside the concert that might be illegal and you can`t, so you go outside and you do you it. Maybe with friends, maybe with people you just hooked up with.
Second, you notice they find the purse and the cell phone without the battery. I can`t tell you how many times guys and gals have had fights, and the guy immediately says, "I`m taking your battery until you calm down." There`s all of a sudden some kind of momma drama out there, and it`s the battery that they take out of the cell phone.
So I`m assuming something went wrong out at parking lot or in the immediate area of the arena.
And these are heavy metal-heads, remember. This is not an Usher concert, where everyone is cool, calm and collected. These are headbangers. The headbangers` ball. They`re freaky and deaky to begin with.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re right, Metallica concert. I love Metallica. But I know what you`re saying. It attracts a certain kind of tough crowd, in a sense. Although, it kind of attracts middle-age people too, because they`re that old at this point.
But joining me on the phone is Wayne Townsend. He believes he saw Morgan at the Metallica concert Saturday night. Now, this is a Facebook page Wayne created to help spread the word about Morgan`s disappearance.
Wayne, tell us what you saw Saturday night. Did anything stand out to you at all?
WAYNE TOWNSEND, WITNESS (via phone): Well, when I pulled up the news Monday morning after hearing about Morgan`s case, after seeing her picture and the description of what she was wearing, it just kind of stuck a bell in the back of my head. And I said, you know, I do remember seeing a girl that matched that description. However, the only thing that...
TOWNSEND: The only place that I can actually describe the location in the arena, cause it was, you know, very crowded throughout the whole area.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Inside or outside? Was she outside?
TOWNSEND: She was inside on the -- as you call it, the upper corridor, where all the vendors are and where they serve all the beers and the I.D. check.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Was she alone?
TOWNSEND: I couldn`t tell if she was alone, because there was so many people, and it was kind of like a passing by kind of thing.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But she says she went out to go to the bathroom and couldn`t get back in. Was this she after she went into the bathroom or would this be something inside the stadium?
TOWNSEND: This was going to be inside the stadium is where I can remember seeing -- seeing her.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whew, wow, but she didn`t seem in any kind of anxiety?
TOWNSEND: You know, I mean, we were all kind of, sort of pushed through and kind of like to get where we were going. I mean, everyone kind of -- had a bit of anxiety to them, you know, trying to push through. And kind of get to whatever part of the arena that they were trying to get to.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brian Russell, psychologist. What do you make of the fact that this was a Metallica concert, and it would attract a certain kind of customer?
BRIAN RUSSELL, PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I don`t know that I`d make, really, that much of that. I`d be interested in hearing from the caller who was at concert. Is this is the kind of a venue where somebody could end up outside the ticket gates, trying to get to the restroom? Or must there have been some other reason for going outside of the ticket area?
HONOWITZ: That`s what I -- that`s what I was saying. Yes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wayne, are you still there?
TOWNSEND: I`m here.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Karen Desoto, I know you`ve been cheated a little bit tonight. Just tell us your thoughts in ten seconds.
KAREN DESOTO, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: My thoughts in ten seconds are three things. This is a young girl. We knew from her dad that she`s very trusting. She was separated from the pack. Those are three elements that predators will definitely look for.
And even more so...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we`re going to leave it right there. We`re going to hold on one second. We`ll be right back. Just a moment.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: In the spotlight, tonight...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SETH MYERS, CAST MEMBER, NBC`S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": In other news this week, the Senate Finance Committee voted to approve their bill in the health care. This is the first -- oh, no. It`s the balloon from Colorado.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Seth, how`s it going?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s pretty funny stuff, but the alleged balloon boy hoax has gone over like a lead balloon with authorities. Colorado prosecutors could charge Richard and Mayumi Heene with a slew of felonies next week. And now the FAA wants to know if the Heenes violated regulations because their crazy little craft may have flown within five miles of Denver International Airport.
Meantime, TMZ has posted bizarre audio of a call made by police to the Heene home after a 911 hang-up back in February. Cops reportedly responded to a, quote, "family disturbance situation."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, I couldn`t even talk after that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The responding officer said when he arrived he heard a man yelling. Mayumi reportedly had a broken blood vessel in her eye and a mark on her cheek. She blamed her contacts. Cops were very suspicious that it could be domestic violence, but they didn`t have enough evidence to make an arrest.
Meantime, check out these newly-revealed publicity head shots of balloon boy`s dad. Clearly, he thinks he is devastatingly handsome. Not. The photographer who snapped the pics on two separate occasions was also Richard Heene`s landlord. She says he was filthy and trashed her home. Nice.
All this as video of an all-out balloon boy media brawl explodes on the Internet. This flew Sunday. Local TV news crews are caught on camera getting physically violent. Way to go, guys. Those are the TV crews I know and love and remember back in my days in local news. Yes.
Back with us Karen Desoto, defense attorney, and Mike Walters, assignment manager of TMZ.
Mike, I`m afraid to ask what is the very latest on this thing?
MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Well, you know what? You talked a little bit about this domestic violence call that went on a family disturbance, where the wife said, "You know, it was my contact." You know, the same old story, after she had a mark on her face. Well, I did some digging and found out that he has a really colored past. A violent past.
Assault with a deadly weapon, a gun, in the early `80s. He has several arrests here in Los Angeles. One of the cases where he did 30 days of home arrest. And basically, what happened was he tried to run someone over with his car and ended up hitting the guy`s car while the guy got out of way.
I mean, it sort of shows the pattern that this guy flies off of the handle in several of these cases, it seems. And if you watch some the videos that we got and some the stuff you showed, it`s kind of -- this guy kind of acts out. And it does...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You think?
WALTERS: ... paint the picture, that -- well, yes, now that we know all this, it`s so weird.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Get this.
WALTERS: The balloon boy is riveting. But then you look in the research and look back on his criminal record and some of the stuff online, and it shows a good pattern that this guy, this hoax was probably a long time coming.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Karen, what might he face when -- if he faces charges next week? And I`ll address that to Karen.
DESOTO: Forget it, let me count the ways. First of all you`re going to have state, and you might -- what -- the more serious charges, Jane, I have to tell you, are probably going to be associated with the FAA charges. When you interfere with a flight pattern, and remember, they stopped planes during this process. So those are very, very serious charges. That`s like calling in a bomb threat. It`s right up there. It`s a very serious felony.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hang in both of you. Guess what? We`re going to come back to this story. Can`t leave it alone.
A real-life tragedy coming up next. You`ll hear about it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ripped from the headlines, a new "Law & Order" focusing on the drunk-driving mom who killed eight people in a wrong-way crash. Some critics claim the show`s cashing in on the victims. But isn`t it about time we shine the spotlight on this national epidemic and expose drunk driving moms? We`ll debate it.
Plus, disturbing new insights into the murder-suicide of Steve McNair and his mistress: we now have text messages sent to and from the NFL superstar, just hours before he was killed.
But first balloon boy dad, Richard Heene, under fire tonight: former colleagues, friends and now the fed, all on his case.
Cops say he and his wife Mayumi might have committed felonies when they hatched their wacky publicity plot last Thursday, allegedly. Now the FAA is looking into whether their balloonless balloon, or their boyless balloon, violated airspace by flying too close to the airport.
Meantime, no shortage of talkers on the morning shows today. Here`s the guy who says Richard Heene deliberately hoodwinked the public to get attention for a reality show. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT THOMAS, SAYS HE COLLABORATED WITH HEENE: I was under the impression that he was attempting to get the attention of the network for a reality show. I will say that he was very interested in being famous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You think? Turns out balloon boy dad was reaching out to Hollywood too. According to his former video editor, Richard Heene once spoke to William Shatner a.k.a. Captain Kirk -- live long and prosper from "Star Trek." Shatner`s comment on the matter: "His story is overblown. He inflated the amount of contact we`ve had."
Mike Walters from TMZ, I think I have a motive now. In fact, I`m going to direct this over to Karen Desoto.
Ok, an attorney for the former associate said Heene wanted to get rich quick so he could build a bunker or something underground where he could be safe from the sun exploding because he thinks the world is going to end in 2012.
KAREN DESOTO, ATTORNEY: Well -- well, thank god he`s insane because anyone who would do this and do this type of hoax, I would hope that they`re hearing voices and drooling because any person who is somewhat with it, it`s very disturbing that they would do this.
And use their children, Jane. I think that`s what`s so disturbing is the use of the children. I`m sure that there`s probably been at least ten, 20 complaints to youth services at this point. So I hope those investigators get out.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I wonder if he`d plead insanity. I wonder if he could because this stuff is really crazy. A lot of the stuff that friends are saying he talked about...
DESOTO: I don`t ...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... is really crazy stuff.
DESOTO: I don`t think is going to work unless he`s hearing voices and drooling like I said, because who -- I mean, this is just ridiculous what he did and how he did it. And he should be more worried about losing custody of his children at this point.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Several of Richard Heene`s former co-workers have been speaking out in the wake of his busted balloon stunt. Here`s what one of his business partners told the CBS "Early Show."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA SLUSSER, HEENE`S FORMER BUSINESS PARTNER: Richard just went ballistic. And it was more than acting. I mean, I actually became afraid and to the point that the producer stopped -- stop the shot. The cameraman pulled him off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he do?
SLUSSER: Oh, he...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell.
SLUSSER: He jumped off of the couch, ran down the hall, grabbed some toilet paper and ran back and was physically trying to shove it in my mouth for my verbal diarrhea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Walters, bad stuff being said about this guy. That he`s filthy. That he`s mean-spirited. That he tried to stuff toilet paper in somebody`s mouth.
MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Well, yes, I mean I actually saw photos today of his office here in Los Angeles that he left and went to Colorado. He left it a pig sty.
But I can also tell you one of his ex-employees -- we just listened to one of them -- Another one he worked with in L.A. actually called the Department of Child and Family Services on him claiming he obviously uses his children in some of this stuff.
I mean, I have videos here where he uses his children to film his antics, like launching rockets and these, 6, 5, 3-year-old kids are right near all that stuff. It`s unbelievable. And like you were saying earlier that`s the most serious thing here is if he uses these children and he gets the felony for the delinquency to minors I mean that is the disgusting part with this guy is that.
You know what, you want a reality show. Fine. Go to the networks, come around Hollywood, try to get it. Don`t use your 6-year-old to hide in a box for 4 1/2 hours and get it that way. It`s disgusting.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hear, hear. I agree with you 100 percent that. This guy has got a lot of explaining do.
All right. Thank you both.
We`re going to turn now to a very, very tragic story: the wrong-way drunk driver story. NBC`s "Law & Order" is reportedly filming one of their famous ripped from the headlines episodes based on this tragedy.
Cops say Diane Schuler was wasted on booze, high on pot when she wrecked her minivan driving the wrong way on a New York highway in July. She killed four little kids including her own daughter and three other men in an oncoming SUV; total death toll, eight people, including herself.
Now Michael Bastardi Jr., whose dad died in that carnage, is outraged over the show. He tells the "New York Post" that the show was, quote, "grabbing a tragedy, and they`re going to get people to watch it. I hope the show displays the horror of it. How evil it is," end quote.
Now we reached out to NBC but we did not hear back before the deadline. Meanwhile, this wouldn`t be the first time viewers have seen stories we cover right here on ISSUES ripped from the headlines by "Law & Order."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justin Holland, grand malseizures while dancing; died in a private ambulance on the way to the ER.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Party animal, road kill. What are we doing here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s Lorelei Mailer`s (ph) son.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The stripper who married the 90-year-old billionaire? Is this his kid?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So she claims. His family`s been contesting it for years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe the contest`s over. What did he die of?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cause? A lethal cocktail of methadone and antidepressants.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You guessed it; that was a reenactment of the death of Anna Nicole`s son Daniel.
Straight back to my panel; and joining me by phone, Tom Ruskin, he`s a spokesman for Daniel Schuler, the husband of the now-deceased wrong-way driver.
Tom thanks for joining us. It seems both sides here can agree on one thing, the Bastardis and your client opposed to this upcoming "Law & Order" episode based on the tragic accident. Why is Daniel so upset about the show being made?
TOM RUSKIN, SPOKESMAN FOR DANIEL SCHULER (via telephone): Well, it`s -- it`s highlighting a tragedy in Daniel`s life, the Bastardis` life, the Longos` life and the Hances`. Four families lost family members that day when this tragic accident happened. And to sensationalize a very horrific tragic accident that`s less than two months old or just slightly over two months old I think it`s disgusting.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know. Tom, I love you and we have you on the show. You`re a friend of the show.
But I have to say, Stacey Honowitz, it doesn`t bother me because drunk driving is a huge problem in America. And one of the ways that people get information is through entertainment shows. And so to me, information is information. It really doesn`t matter the source. If it`s going to help people realize the horror of driving drunk, then it`s something that can be helpful.
STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: I have to totally agree with you, Jane. I think that to see it firsthand like that and I understand that the families may be upset. It is a tragic, horrible incident that took place, but it is reality. And I know that the show sometimes puts a spin on it but the bottom line is that`s how people get information.
I often tell people, if you want to know what really goes on in a courtroom rather than listening to it on TV go into a courtroom and see for a day. See it in your face and see what happens. See how you feel afterwards.
So I think it is a good idea for the public to see information like this disseminated in whatever form. It happens to be on an NBC show, then that`s the way to show it then.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now "Law & Order" also ripped the Casey Anthony story from the headlines. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here you are drunk and partying it up in Cabo. Going to crown your mother of the year?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have no right to judge me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were down at the shore grabbing some guy`s crotch while she stays at home. And that`s you in a nightclub in AC. Do you know when that was taken? Right after you killed your daughter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn`t kill her. She means everything to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Curtis Sliwa, that would be a bigger problem for Casey Anthony`s defense team because she hasn`t gone to trial yet so you could argue this show could influence the jury pool.
But in this case it doesn`t seem that there`s going to be any criminal case because the district attorney has said; the criminality has died along with the driver, who passed away.
CURTIS SLIWA, FOUNDER, GUARDIAN ANGELS: Yes, well first of all I disagree with the district attorney. She`s never empanelled the grand jury. She`s basically said it doesn`t require a grand jury. I disagree with that because there are so many facts that need to come to light.
Secondly, how many versions are there of "Law & Order" now Jane? It`s like what, five, six versions? They`re constantly ripping headlines. I know when I got shot on the orders of John Gotti Jr., they did a "Law & Order" episode on me. It didn`t put me in a very positive light but that`s the way that television is.
And in this case you are right, showing a woman, a mother with children in a van, going up the wrong way of a highway drunk and under the influence of marijuana, may send a lightning bolt of responsibility to others who may think twice before doing it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brian Russell isn`t it true that the person who made this story a story is the husband of the wrong-way driver who insisted that the police were wrong when they said she had a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit and also showed signs of smoking pot. He was the one who made it a story.
BRIAN RUSSELL, ATTORNEY & FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes, and he tried to tell us that it was because she was using some kind of tooth sensitivity medication instead of the obvious intoxication that was going on. I can understand why he doesn`t like the idea of this episode. Because it points you know, again, to the horrendous conduct of his -- you know unfortunately deceased wife.
I don`t understand so much why the other folks involved, the family members of the other victims are against it, because I`m with you. I think the only good that can come out of a tragedy like this is if it highlights the -- you know, the horrendousness of this behavior...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we have to leave it there.
RUSSELL: ... and makes other people to jump in and try to stop it when they do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think most of us agree, it`s something we`ve got learn. You know, drugs and alcohol are at the very heart of this heartbreaking tragedy. Was Diane Schuler a closet substance abuser? We may never know the truth about that.
In my book, "I Want," I talk about my own addiction with alcohol. How I struggled to overcome it and got sober 14 years ago. But I also faced an addiction to sugar, a whole bunch of substances.
Maybe you are battling some kind of addiction, maybe you know somebody who is, if so, read my book. It will help with any addiction.
You can order it online at cnn.com/Jane. It`s also in book stores.
Up next, a reality TV star busted selling thousands of OxyContin pills. Wait until you hear how he allegedly funded his drug ring empire.
And then Steve McNair`s murder a desperate act for attention? We`ll examine newly released text messages between McNair and his girlfriend/killer. I want to hear what you think, 1-877-JVM-SAYS; 1-877- 586-7297. Give me a holler about the McNair case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right let`s meet today`s winner, Mickey P. from Youngstown, Ohio. Mickey remembers his very first drink at age 14 during his grandparents` 50th anniversary party. That drink led to a 30-year-old addiction that ultimately led to two failed marriages and jail time. Rock bottom came for Mickey after heart surgery when he realized, "Hey I really have to make a change here if I want to live. Now he works in steps and he attends recovery meetings all the time.
On Halloween, this year, Mickey will celebrate one year sober. Way to go, Halloween. Good anniversary.
Mickey, for sharing your story you`re going to be getting an autographed copy of my new book "I Want," plus a chance to win a trip to New York City and visit me here on the set of ISSUES. I promise you a really good time. Congratulations, dude.
All right. Newly released-text messages between NFL star Steve McNair and his girlfriend moments before she shot and killed him.
But first "Top of the Block" tonight: yet another reality TV star making headlines. What`s going on here? And you know when that happens it means one thing, shrub ball (ph).
Case in point, "Big Brother" winner Adam Jasinski, this guy in a heap of trouble: cops say he`s been using the money he won in 2008 from the CBS reality show and bought thousands of OxyContin pills -- a half a million dollars worth? That`s a lot. He then sold them, allegedly, along the East Coast for a quick profit.
Federal prosecutors say he was busted Saturday in Boston when he pulled out a sock filled with 2,000 OxyContin pills and tried selling them to an undercover cop. His apparent insanely dangerous stunt could cost him 20 years in jail.
Wow. You know what that means, one less person on the streets angling for a reality show; a small step forward in a huge nationwide epidemic as well in the war on drugs. And that is tonight`s "Top of the Block."
Bone-chilling new details about former NFL star, Steve McNair`s final hours. The last messages between McNair and his mistress before the gruesome -- and I mean gruesome -- murder-suicide.
Tonight, a disturbing portrait emerging of a woman consumed with jealousy caught in a love quadrangle of cheating and lies. Desperate for money, did this toxic combination cause McNair`s other woman to crack and kill?
Cops believe McNair`s girlfriend Sahel Kazemi shown here in this Facebook photo posted on CBS.com, lured the quarterback, a big guy to the condo, where she shot him twice in the chest and once in each temple before killing herself.
A look inside of her mindset that night: police released a desperate text message sent hours before the murder. She begs McNair to meet her, saying, quote, "Baby, I have to be with you tonight. I don`t care where. Baby, I might have a breakdown. I`m so stressed. And I`m going to have all of you soon."
The persistent text messaging continued for eight long hours until McNair finally agreed, "I`ll meet you at the condo." Sahel sent him an eerie final message at 1:00 in the morning about the front door she texted "It`s open." Indeed, 12 hours later their bodies were discovered inside.
What caused this woman to snap? Was it because she`d apparently found out that she was not the only one, he was not only married, but he was seeing another other woman? She confided in a friend from work about that. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VERA MOSELEY, BEFRIENDED KAZEMI: The very first thing she asked me, have you ever been in love? That`s exactly what she asked me. She said we`ve been on all kinds of vacations. She says lately he act like he doesn`t want to spend time with me and said it`s just killing me and I don`t know what to do. She knew that the relationship was ending.
She was beautiful on the outside but she was just dead on the inside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did this woman plot a murder-suicide because she knew her relationship was unraveling?
Straight out to my expert panel and joining us Kate Howard, the reporter for "The Tennesseean." Kate, what can you add to this story? It`s such a complex web.
KATE HOWARD, REPORTER, "THE TENNESSEEAN": It is complex. And while most of the concrete facts haven`t changed, some of the details have been sort of evolving as we learn more about this case.
Obviously, we know now what Sahel Kazemi had been saying to Steve McNair during the course of the evening. That she was interested in knowing for sure whether he loved her, whether they were going to be together and that kind of thing. And we know now also that she had learned that he was involved in possibly a second relationship.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And she had a DUI, right?
HOWARD: She did.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Shortly before this. She may have had a drinking problem on top of everything else. Is this a case of a scorned lover turned into murder? Sahel allegedly found out she wasn`t Steve McNair`s only girlfriend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF RONAL SERPAS, NASHVILLE METRO POLICE DEPT: We also have reason to believe that Kazemi recently learned before this day that she believed McNair was involved with another woman and that too participated in her state of mind, we think.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now check out these photos of McNair`s other alleged girlfriend, Leah. These are from Facebook and they`re posted on CBS.com. And the Leah person claims that she felt that there was a woman in a black Escalade following her and watching her.
So Brian Russell, do we get a sense of a woman obsessed, with jealousy and fear that she might lose this man to another woman to the point where she`s driving around following the other, other woman? Remember, he`s married, too.
BRIAN RUSSELL: Yes, we get that. And the more important thing we get is a lesson for everybody watching and that is that engaging in extramarital affairs is risky business. First of all, it puts one`s spouse and one`s children in severe emotion -- in danger of severe emotional harm at the very least.
And then if anybody involved is emotionally unstable enough to become violent it puts oneself and one`s loved ones in physical danger. I`m not saying he deserved to get shot for having an affair, but I`m saying had he not had the affair...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hang in there. We`re going to be back. More after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERPAS: Now, we believe now at this time that McNair was seated on the sofa and likely was asleep. And we believe that Kazemi shot him in the right temple, then shot him twice in the chest and shot him a final time in the left temple. Kazemi then positioned herself next to McNair on the sofa and shot herself once in the right temple and expired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re talking about the horrific murder-suicide of NFL superstar Steve McNair and his mistress, Kazemi. Another aspect of this case, substance abuse: take a look at surveillance video shot two days before the murder-suicide.
Here she is, Kazemi getting pulled over and arrested for DUI. She was driving McNair`s black Escalade. Police say she refused a breathalyzer and told cops she was not drunk but she was high.
Curtis Sliwa, I wonder, could she have been on something the night of the murder-suicide? I mean, let`s face it, most of these crimes people don`t do stone cold sober, they do it when they`re hopped up on something.
CURTIS SLIWA: Oh, no question and no doubt on that Jane. But this sounded more like Maury Povich than anything we regularly see. Bill Clinton is envious of Steve McNair. He`s doing the double Dutch. He`s got two (INAUDIBLE) on the side plus the wife and the kids and he`s text messaging back and forth with (INAUDIBLE) number one and (INAUDIBLE) number two.
He`s almost double the age of this young lady who took his life. Man, this guy was asking for double trouble and he got it.
STACEY HONOWITZ: That`s why I have to -- I agree with what Brian had to say. It`s not just an idea that somebody got involved with a married man. It wasn`t even the wife probably that sent her over the edge because she knew what she was getting into.
It was the idea that she didn`t have money, she was living a life with him that she didn`t have before, he was traveling with her, taking her places, paying her bills and then he got another girlfriend on the side.
So the idea of all this combined with maybe a drug or an alcohol problem is what really sent her over the edge. And now in these text messages we really get to see her state of mind and the desperation that she was facing right before she saw (ph).
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well Stacey, you`re absolutely right because money problems figured in this. They were stressing Kazemi, she texted McNair that she was having a breakdown. She asked him to transfer $2,000 to her account, texting, quote, "Baby, I need to pay the cell phone bills in the hospital. Can you transfer $2,000 to my account?"
Well, guess what? McNair agreed to transfer the money and when talking about money she wrote she can hardly breathe. So Brian Russell, there`s another stressor.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s possible drug abuse. You`ve got the jealousy and now money.
RUSSELL: Yes and here`s another lesson for folks, Jane. If you`re with somebody who`s willing to cheat on somebody else to be with you, you`re crazy if you think they`re not going to cheat on you at some point.
Kate Howard, are we missing anything? We`ve got the money, we`ve got the DUI, we`ve got the jealousy, we`ve got the other, other woman and apparently she was afraid that he was backing off and may have been getting ready to break up with Kazemi.
KATE HOWARD: That`s what she had told some of her friends and she had said that she got the impression that he was becoming more distant. One thing I did want to point out is she didn`t have any alcohol in her system the night that she died but she did have a small amount of marijuana.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Small amount of marijuana? Interesting.
HOWARD: Which may have been from earlier in the week.
RUSSELL: That probably didn`t do it. I think it was psychological, emotional stuff more so than the substance. If the only substance...
HONOWITZ: I think it was getting worse as the days went on. I mean, every single day probably the stress was more and more. And finally it got to a breaking point.
And we saw that in the persistent phone calls that night. Call after call every three minutes trying to get to him. And it was an act of desperation clearly.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me tell you, she`s definitely got something in her system during this video because she can`t even walk.
Thank you, fantastic panel, for joining me.
Remember, click on CNN.com/Jane to order your copy of my new book "I Want."
You`re watching ISSUES on HLN.