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A Florida 7-year-old Disappears on the Way Home From School
Aired October 20, 2009 - 20:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Breaking news tonight, live, Florida. A beautiful little 2nd-grader, looks like an angel, walks the 10-minute walk home from school with her sister and her twin brother, all their little friends. She gets separated momentarily broad daylight. Seven-year-old Somer Thompson never seen again. Four o`clock, only an hour later, Mom rushes home, flags down police. No good. Now we learn of a kidnap attempt on a little 5- year-old girl also in broad daylight just one week before. Are they connected? It`s only been 24 hours. She could still be alive. But where?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A massive search right now is under way for this little girl. She is from north Florida. She is 7-year-old Somer Thompson. And officials in Clay County are asking everyone to be on the lookout. The 2nd-grader vanished walking home from school.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somer`s family is tormented. They have no idea where their little girl is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mom is not doing very well. You know, as each hour goes by, she gets less and less hopeful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Clay County sheriff is asking for information about a blue sedan seen in that neighborhood about 10 days ago. They say that two men and a woman in a car tried to lure a girl near Somer`s elementary school.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She told me everything that happened and that they were trying to get in the car and that they said that, Mommy said get in the car, let`s go and I`ll take you home, and she said no.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seven-year-old Somer Thompson has been missing now for more than 24 hours, last seen walking home from school.
DEBBIE BOWLING, MISSING 7-YEAR-OLD`S GRANDMOTHER: When you think about this and you think, This can`t be happening to me, this can`t be happening to my family. But it is. And it`s very hard!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: And tonight, a beautiful young Virginia Tech co-ed keeps tickets to a Metallica concert for six months taped up on the fridge. She goes to the concert with all her friends, but just before the band takes the stage, she goes missing from a packed John Paul Jones Arena holding 16,000 people. And nobody knows what happened? Found in the arena parking lot, 20-year-old Morgan`s purse and cell phone, battery removed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN HARRINGTON, MORGAN`S FATHER: If Morgan is out there and hears us, please come home. And if someone has Morgan, please let her come home safely!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Virginia State Police are asking for the public to help locate this missing Virginia Tech student. She is Morgan Harrington. She has not been heard from since she and her friends went to a Metallica concert Saturday night in Charlottesville, Virginia, John Paul Jones Arena, UVA.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the time Morgan was at the concert, she was wearing a black T-shirt that had the words Panera (ph) written across it. She was also wearing black knee-high boots, black tights and a black miniskirt. During the concert, she became separated from her friends and has not been heard from since.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Morgan`s a great kid. And this is very atypical behavior.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She most likely will not have any identification with her and most likely will not have any cell phone with her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cops may have found her purse, along with her cell phone. The family`s pastor says what`s really odd, the phone`s battery has been removed.
GIL HARRINGTON, MORGAN`S MOTHER: We`re pretty distraught with her absence because we miss our little baby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Also tonight, to Texas. Day 5, a 3-year-old little boy in extreme danger, stolen from his own home after the boy`s young mother found murdered on her bedroom floor. Why? You know what? I don`t care why! I just want to know tonight, where is 3-year-old Mitchell Romero, and why did cops take down the Amber Alert?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her husband, who very well may have murdered her in cold blood, still on the run, apparently has their 3-year-old child with them. Police very eager to speak with him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just after 6:00, Denver City police arrived to 212 East 10th Street to find 29-year-old Veronica Romero dead inside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police say Romero is considered a person of interest in Veronica`s murder and is wanted for questioning. Authorities in Mexico are also on the lookout as reports surface Romero may be trying to take Mitchell across the border.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last time he was seen was last week sometime. They don`t know if he was with that child. They live together in the same house. How do we know that? Because earlier this year, he pled guilty to beating her up in that home. This is a scumbag who`s capable of doing anything to people who make him mad. Nancy, Lord only knows what he`s going to do with this child when this child starts crying and asking where his mommy is. That`s why we need to find this guy as soon as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us. Live, Florida. A beautiful little 2nd-grader, looks like an angel, walks the 10-minute walk home from school with her brother, her sister, all their little friends. She gets separated just momentarily, broad daylight. Seven-year-old Somer Thompson never seen again. It`s been barely 24 hours. She could still be alive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police dogs search the area around little Somer Thompson`s home. Deputies went door to door, then lined up to scour nearby woods as a helicopter searched from above. It`s now been more than 24 hours since this 2nd-grader was last seen after school.
BOWLING: It`s the hardest thing, even telling them there`s danger out there. And she`s just very sweet and loving.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had an attempted abduction here in the city of Orange Park about 10 days ago.
APRIL BOOTHROYD, MOTHER OF ATTEMPTED ABDUCTION VICTIM: I`m just thankful that my daughter got home safe. This car stopped her, lured her to the car, wanted her to get in the car, and my daughter said no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a blue four-door sedan, possibly a Nissan, that was involved in this incident. If anyone knows anyone that drives a car like that that matches that description, that would just be one area that we`d like to look into.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven-year-old Somer Thompson last seen where she went to school at Grove Park Elementary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She`s a 7-year-old girl. It is dark outside. It`s very cold out here. It is a very concerning situation for us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s just been a roller-coaster. We keep holding out hope, hoping that we hear something!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Straight out to Tiffany Griffith with WOKV radio joining us from Orange Park, Florida, there at the command post. Tiffany, thank you for being with us. What is the latest? This is so hard to take in. She`s with a group of children. It`s broad daylight. They get out of school around 2:45 PM. This couldn`t have been much later than 3:00 PM. What happened?
TIFFANY GRIFFITH, WOKV RADIO: And what we`re also hearing, Nancy, is that it`s very normal for a lot of the kids in this neighborhood to make that simple quick walk home. And this is what we`re hearing. At 2:45, she made the walk from Orange Park elementary school. She was with her little brother. She was with a few of her friends. And then at some point, there was a little fight and she ran ahead of them.
But at some point between when the other kids got to the home at about 3:05, they couldn`t find her. She had disappeared. Nobody knew where she was. By 4:00 o`clock, the mother calls home to make sure that all of the kids arrived home safely. They said, Somer`s not here. By the time the mother got home, she flagged down a deputy. And at that point, several officers started to increasingly arrive here in this Orange Park neighborhood, and there`s just been a massive police presence in this area ever since.
GRACE: OK, Tiffany, let me get something straight. They get out of school at about 2:45, correct?
GRIFFITH: Correct. Correct.
GRACE: Her twin brother and her sister, they`re home at about 3:05, right?
GRIFFITH: They make it home. Correct.
GRACE: In 20 minutes, this 7-year-old girl is gone?
GRIFFITH: No sight of her, no sign of her anywhere. And officers say that they have questioned everyone in this neighborhood, including the 57 sex offenders that live in this area. In fact, they`re spreading that search area out to another five miles so they can question an additional 37 sex offenders, to see if maybe they had anything to do with her disappearance. But officers are saying that still, they`re no closer to finding her at this point.
GRACE: We are showing you a zoomed-out map with all 87 known registered sex offenders around the area there at Orange Park, Florida. And don`t think this is unusual. Put your own zip code into the computer.
Marc Klaas, tell them how it`s done. And I promise you, all those little red dots will pop up just like there in Orange Park. Marc?
MARC KLAAS, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION: In fact, Nancy, about 630,000 orange dots will pop up throughout the country. Go onto Klaaskids.org, check Megan`s Law, pick your state, and it will take you right to your state`s sex offender registry. Or you can go to USDOJ.gov and they`ve got a national registry right there.
It`s absolutely mind-boggling how many of these individuals there are. It doesn`t matter where you live in America, they are in your neighborhood.
GRACE: Marc, Marc, look at your monitor. Look at this girl. She`s 7. She`s in the 2nd grade, a 2nd-grade little girl, completely defenseless. She`s only unaccounted for for less than 20 minutes. She`s not alone. They`re doing everything right.
GRACE: And she`s gone. To Ellie Jostad, our chief editorial producer. Ellie, what can you tell me about an alleged kidnap attempt just one week before not far away? That little victim was about 5 years old.
ELLIE JOSTAD, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: Right, Nancy. This was one block away from where Somer went missing. It was 10 days ago. Apparently, this little girl, a little 5-year-old girl, riding her bike after school, is approached by a woman driving some type of blue sedan. It might have been a Nissan. The woman says, Your mother told me to give you a ride. Get in the car. The little girl doesn`t want to do it. There are also two men in the car.
Luckily, a good Samaritan happened by while this was happening, saw the little girl trying to take off on her bike. The little girl was crying. The woman pulled over, said, Do you know these people? The girl said no. At that point, the car sped away, once they realized this other woman had intervened. And it was a near miss for this other little girl.
GRACE: And that was a Hispanic female with two men in the back seat?
JOSTAD: Also -- yes, two men in the car. Not sure if they`re in the back seat. Two men in the car, also described as Hispanic.
GRACE: Norm (ph), do we have Lisa Rukab (ph) with us yet? Joining us shortly will be the neighbor of this little girl`s family.
But right now, there is actually a vigil going down for this little girl, the family, the neighborhood, the community, all together tonight praying for a break in this case.
Back to Tiffany Griffith, WOKV. I understand that in a couple of hours, when it gets good and dark, they`re going to go out with an infrared helicopter?
GRIFFITH: That`s correct. And they said that this is going to be a 24-hour search. They`re going to take those helicopters from overhead, search from overhead, heat-seeking. They`re also going to take their officers who are on the ground and keep searching through some very wooded areas within the area of this girl`s home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe foul play is suspected due to the fact of the child`s age, the size of the child, the cold weather last night, the fact that this is totally out of character for her, and we still haven`t found her. That certainly is foul play.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twenty-seven hours since little Somer Thompson was last seen. Hundreds of police officers have joined Clay County in the search. JSL, FDLE and the FBI are here. They`ve gone door to door. They`ve combed nearby woods on foot, searched on horseback, and scoured the area from above. Somer`s grandmother, Debbie Bowling, has been by Somer`s mother`s side all day.
BOWLING: As each hour goes by, she gets less and less hopeful. You know, you think about this, and you think, This can`t be happening to me, this can`t be happening to my family. But it is. And it`s very hard!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At Somer`s home family and friends stop by, bringing food and leaving with flyers to pass out, everyone hopeful, desperate for some good news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are hoping and praying that she is alive and that she is in our area and that we find her very soon.
BOWLING: I`m just so worried about her! This is not like her. She`s a very, very loving little child, and very friendly. If anybody knows anything, please contact us. Call the police. Call the sheriff. Let us know something.
Oh, Somer is such a sweet child! I mean, she has never met a stranger. That`s the hardest thing, you know, to tell them there`s danger out there. And she`s just very sweet and loving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: This little girl just looks like an angel to me. She`s a 2nd- grader. She`s only 7 years old. How many of us walked home from school with all of our little friends and our neighbors every single day? We had almost a two-mile walk, a mile-and-a-half, every day to and from. This child was only unaccounted for for about 15 minutes. She was with her twin brother and her 10-year-old other sibling, the sister. They got home at 3:05. Somer has not been found yet.
We are taking your calls live. To Sharon, Alabama. Hi, dear.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. With the type of job you have right now and covering these sad stories, how are you going to handle it when your children get of school age?
GRACE: School age? Are you kidding? At the play school they`re at right now, the teachers know it`s me out in the parking lot, staring in. I don`t care if it rains, it`s me out there with a towel over my head looking in. They just go -- because these stories -- how can you forget a face like this child`s? I don`t know what I`m going to do when they finally go to school. I`m going to burn that bridge when I get there. What`s your question, love?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted to know if the mile walk from the school to her home -- what was it like, the volume of traffic?
GRACE: Oh, good question. To Tiffany Griffith, covering the story. She`s with WOKV radio and she`s joining us from the command post. You know, that`s a good question. Is there a lot of traffic between the school and her home? What kind of terrain is it? And does she pass, for instance, a strip center or a grocery store or a Target? Is it rural? What is it?
KLAAS: Well, the area is mainly consisting of residential traffic. There`s mainly homes in this area, with a wide wooded area, a few retention ponds, a few other ponds. Most of the main traffic, the main thoroughfare traffic that you`d see on the major roadways are a few blocks away. So fortunately, the only cars that would come through here are the people who actually live here or have their children go to school through here.
GRACE: Bonnie in Florida. Hi, Bonnie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. How`re you doing? I love your twins. I got nicknames for them, Lulu and Juju.
GRACE: Well, I like those nicknames. I have nicknames, little baby man-man and little baby gir-gir.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, that`s beautiful!
GRACE: What`s your question, love?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it`s just a comment. First of all, if the little girl is 7, why would she let her walk home anyway and all those (INAUDIBLE) that live around? I got a son that`s 10 and I don`t even let him walk home by himself. But does the mom work?
GRACE: The mom is at work. And she called home -- I remember my mom calling home every day around 3:30 to make -- she was working. My dad was working. Sometimes he worked the night trick. And you know, mothers have to work.
Very quickly, Tiffany Griffith, isn`t it pretty common there that all the kids walk home from this public school? They all walk home together?
KLAAS: It is very common. And even going back to what you said earlier about this community -- I mean, this community is pulling together. So losing this child feels like losing one of their own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven-year-old Somer Thompson last seen where she went to school at Grove Park Elementary. She was walking home with a group of other kids, may have had some kind of argument with her brother or some of those other kids, ran ahead of the group, and that was when she was last seen, around 2:45. Her mom then notified a passing deputy that she was missing at around 5:00 o`clock.
BOWLING: We`re just so worried about her! This is not like her. If anybody knows anything, please...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: To Marc Klaas, founder of Klaas Kids Foundation. Marc, she`s only been gone barely 24 hours. Statistically, she could still be alive, right?
KLAAS: Well, sure. I mean, Jaycee, Elizabeth and Shawn Hornbeck all prove that there`s always hope, even sometimes after many years.
GRACE: Well, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Everybody, you are seeing live feed of the vigil that`s happening right now. Marc, Marc -- but are you suggesting that those are the exceptions? I thought it was within 72 hours it`s likely the child is dead. But it`s only been about 24 hours, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of children that are taken by a preferential predator, 74 percent of them will be dead within the first three hours. That`s why it`s incumbent upon parents to be able to do a quick cursory search, and if their children are still missing, they should notify law enforcement.
Nancy, the way I see it right here, there are two probable and possible scenarios. The first is a preferential predator. The second one would be tied back to the Nissan that was seen last week with the roaming gang. If it`s something like that, the possibility is very strong that there might be a human trafficking element in it.
GRACE: What is a preferential predator?
KLAAS: A preferential predator is a pedophile. That`s what it is, somebody who wants to have sex with little boys and/or little girls. In this case, it would be little girls. That`s what it means.
GRACE: Please help us. The tip line, 877-277-6911. Look at her!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The young lady who`s 20 years old, she`s a white female. Her name is Morgan Dana Harrington. She has long blond hair and blue eyes.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Police say that she met up with friends at JMU on Saturday before coming here to the John Paul Jones arena for a Metallica concert. Now, police say she became separated from her friends around 8:40 p.m. Saturday night.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Cops may have found her purse along with her cell phone. The family`s pastor says what`s really odd the phone`s battery has been removed.
DAN HARRINGTON, MISSING CO-ED, MORGAN HARRINGTON`S FATHER: This is just not behavior that she would have. You know, she, to our knowledge, did not have a boyfriend. And you know, there may be circumstances we`re not aware of, but you know, I think Morgan was pretty transparent with us. You know, and this is just not something Morgan would do.
GIL HARRINGTON, MISSING CO-ED, MORGAN HARRINGTON`S MOTHER: She is as beautiful inside as she is outside. She has family and friends that love her and miss her. If there`s any information that anyone could offer that would help us find her, we would appreciate you contacting the police.
D. HARRINGTON: I actually did not see her that day. She was at our house. And I was working. And her mom and Morgan picked out outfits that she would wear to the concert that evening. And so Morgan left alone about 12:00 noon, and I did speak with Morgan prior to her leaving.
And then she called me. The last time I spoke with Morgan was at 2:00 on Saturday, when she called me after she arrived safely in Harrisonburg and it was in Harrisonburg, where she hooked up with her friends, and they drove with one of the friends to the concert in Charlottesville.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY GRACE, HOST: We are taking your calls live. Out to Tim Martin with News/Talk 960 WFIR, joining us from Roanoke.
Tim, look, this is what I find hard to believe. This girl had the tickets to the Metallica concert taped, posted up on the refrigerator, for six months. Why would she get up and leave her seat just before they take the stage?
TIM MARTIN, REPORTER, NEWS/TALK 960 WFIR, COVERING STORY (via phone): I think that`s a question the police are asking, Nancy. This whole thing started as an innocent trip to see a concert. The question now, did something terrible happen to 20-year-old Morgan Harrington, a junior at Virginia Tech?
Police say she was attending the Metallica concert at the John Paul Jones arena. Friends say she went outside before Metallica even took the stage. They say they`re not sure why she went outside but she never returned. Police found her purse, cell phone, with the battery out of it.
Then 16 hours later, the next day, around noon on Sunday, her father calls the friends, they say we haven`t seen her. He then calls police, and this whole thing just goes wide open, Nancy.
GRACE: OK. Stacey Newman, our producer on the story, what more can you tell me?
STACEY NEWMAN, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: Well, Nancy, what I can tell you is state police as well as University of Virginia police are converging there. John Paul Jones arena. As we speak, Nancy, just trying to find leads.
They also are asking concertgoers who had cameras there, who had cell phones and may have taken video, if they have any pictures of 20-year-old Morgan Harrington.
GRACE: Stacey Newman, joining us on the story. So the cops are just now converging? Why?
NEWMAN: They`re not just now converging, Nancy. They actually have been there since about I think Sunday.
NEWMAN: . but what did happen is because of bad weather over the weekend they couldn`t put choppers up until Monday.
GRACE: OK. Good point, Stacey.
Tim Martin, what about surveillance video in that arena? I mean, 16,000 people? Surely somebody saw what happened.
MARTIN: You know, absolutely right. And that`s what police are looking into. And they`re really asking the people that were at this concert to check their videos, check their camera phones, because somebody may have a picture of this girl on their phone. They may have key evidence, you know, in their purse or something and not even know it.
That`s something police want to see. They say they`re following up on leads today, or yesterday. They canvassed the area. They had choppers up, dogs out. They`re just trying to pore through this information right now, and obviously it`s not coming fast enough for a very worried family.
GRACE: This girl is beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. She looks like a fairy princess. A 20-year-old Virginia Tech student majoring in education, the world in front of her.
You`re seeing photos of Morgan Harrington from Facebook. And joining me right now, taking your calls live, her mother, Gil Harrington.
Miss Harrington, thank you for being with us.
G. HARRINGTON (via phone): Thank you so much for letting us come on and put Morgan`s information out there. I appreciate your time so much.
GRACE: You know, I have a little girl. She`s about to turn 2. And I cannot imagine, Miss Harrington, pouring my heart and soul into her and her brother and then somebody making off with her or her just vanishing like this.
You were with her in the hours right before she went to the concert. What was her frame of mind? What was she talking about?
G. HARRINGTON: I mean, she was excited about the concert. She brought home three outfits that she tried on for me, and we chose one, and she said, Mama, it is a rock concert, so this probably is not what you would choose, but is this one OK?
And you know, it was cute, and she was covered, and I said yes, that one will do fine. So you know, we`re pretty close. And I was excited for her. You know, you have to give your kids wings.
GRACE: Well, I mean, she`s 20 years old. She should be able to go to a concert with all of her friends. And I`ve got to tell you something, Miss Harrington, you did something right. Because there are not a whole lot of 20-year-olds who would ask their mom what they thought of the outfit she was wearing to a concert.
If they thought their parents wouldn`t approve, they just wouldn`t let them see it or they`d sneak out and change behind your back. Tell me about your little girl.
G. HARRINGTON: You know, Morgan has a really -- a pretty close relationship with us. Especially with her dad, if you can imagine Dan with long blond hair. They look the same. The temperament is both the same. Both of them are pretty mellow.
She`s involved in many different things. Her friends have the same core group of girls. She doesn`t really date much. In fact, very little. The same core group of girls that she`s been friends, hanging out with since high school, do things together.
GRACE: Was that who she was with at the concert?
G. HARRINGTON: With some of her girlfriends, yes, that she has been in high school.
GRACE: Well, Miss Harrington, what are they telling you about why she left right before Metallica took the stage?
G. HARRINGTON: You know, I don`t really know that piece. And I don`t know that they know that piece. I mean, it`s one of the questions that we need to ask her.
GRACE: OK. We`re taking your calls live. To Jamie in Arizona, hi, Jamie.
JAMIE, CALLER FROM ARIZONA: Hi. How are you, Nancy?
GRACE: I`m good, dear. What`s your question?
JAMIE: My question is the battery missing in the cell phone. I find pretty odd. I was wondering, could it be possible that there was some type of a struggle where the phone might have fell and the battery fell out and when they threw the phone back in the bag to act like, you know, it wasn`t missing they didn`t even realize that the battery had strayed from the phone?
GRACE: Good question. To Vito Collucci, private investigator, author of "Inside the Private Eyes of a P.I,"
Vito, I find that extremely intriguing and possibly probative. In other words, it might prove something, that the battery was removed from the phone. Now, it`s very important, when they found the cell phone, was it put back together or was it possible that it cracked open when it fell and the battery flew out?
Now, on a BlackBerry that`s easy to do, but on cell phones it`s not as easy for the battery to go flying out.
VITO COLUCCI, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR, AUTHOR OF "INSIDE THE PRIVATE EYES OF A PI": That`s true, Nancy. Most cell phones it is very difficult. You know, if you watch "CSI" and all these law shows nowadays, they`re starting to show that if you take the battery out it stops that whole ping process that`s going on.
So maybe the individual, rather than an altercation of a fight and a struggle, maybe somebody took that out purposely. I called than official for -- a higher-ranking official at Verizon just to verify that and they told me that`s indeed what happens nowadays.
GRACE: To the lawyers, Pam Hayes, Randy Kessler.
Pam Hayes, you`re a veteran defense attorney, former prosecutor. If someone intentionally took the battery out of that cell phone, they have much more malice aforethought. Much more planning went into this.
PAM HAYES, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, absolutely right. What happens is they were just trying to cut down on the fact that maybe that they could follow the different poles of the cell phone because what happens is they are poles that pick up exact locations of where the persons are, if they make any phone calls, et cetera, et cetera.
So I envision it as they were just trying to kill the trail early on and, you know, that`s what happened.
GRACE: You are seeing photos right now of Morgan Harrington, age 20. 5`6", 120 pounds, blond hair, blue eyes. Last seen at Metallica concert. Take a look.
Tip line, 434-352-435. We`re taking your calls live. Her mom is with us right now. As we go to break, a very special happy birthday to one of our superstars, Jillian. She loves Britney Spears, and she loves crusading for a charity founded in honor of her late mother, the KFO Foundation, giving help to those suffering from MS.
Happy birthday to our little crusader, Jillian.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
G. HARRINGTON: We miss our little baby. She is our precious daughter. We hope that this attention can help bring her back to our home.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Morgan Harrington, somehow separated from her friends at an arena in Charlottesville, Virginia, hasn`t been seen since Saturday night. She`s a junior at Virginia Tech, very close to her family, calls home every day. And mom and dad say it is so out of character for her to just disappear with no contact.
D. HARRINGTON: A group of friends she went with are friends from middle school. You know, from what I understand she went to the restroom and they then got a call from Morgan that she was outside the arena.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It is suspicious to me that she ended up outside the arena, and it makes me wonder if she saw someone she knew and walked out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People do come up missing. However, it`s very unusual that we have not heard anything, either from her friends or from her family, regarding her whereabouts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If anyone has seen Morgan, either in a store or by the road after the concert, anyone that looks like the description of Morgan, please notify the police. It would be very helpful to all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: I want to go back out to Tim Martin, News/Talk 960 WFIR.
Tim, I`m just having a hard time understanding why she left and why her friends aren`t telling police or the mom why she left, who she left with, anything else like that. Certainly they wouldn`t let her just walk off and not find out where she was going.
MARTIN: Well, and -- absolutely. And I mean this is a girl who loved Metallica, as you said, had concert tickets on the refrigerator for six months before the concert. And you know it`s intriguing. A lot of people don`t understand, you know, why the parents weren`t notified that night.
You know, the friends drove back to JMU. The father had to call Morgan`s friend just to find out she was missing. And that was 16 hours after it happened. And that could be 16 critical hours that police could have been searching.
GRACE: Tim Martin, you`re absolutely correct. To Morgan`s mom, Gil Harrington, joining us live tonight, taking your calls.
Gil, it was 16 hours later. Why didn`t the friends bother to call and let you know?
G. HARRINGTON: You know, Morgan has this group of good friends, and she doesn`t have any biologic sisters, but these girls are kind of her chosen sisters, and they do cover her back. And they all would do anything for each other.
GRACE: Well, wait a minute, Miss Harrington. That just doesn`t make sense to me. If they`re covering her back, why weren`t they concerned she was missing? Unless they think she was somewhere else.
G. HARRINGTON: I think the disconnect is that children think that they are invincible. And I think that was the disconnect. They`re good kids. They`ve been in and out of my home since they were young. They`re holding a vigil for her on Thursday. They`re --there was no wrongdoing on anybody`s part. I don`t really know.
GRACE: Well, I would.
G. HARRINGTON: . the crowds work. At something as big as Metallica, never having been to a concert like that, but I think people do get lost and I think kids.
GRACE: Did they all just go on home without her?
G. HARRINGTON: I think they waited for a long time and were not able to hear from her or get her by phone.
GRACE: OK. Out to Randy Kessler. Randy, if someone has made off with her, the fact that her cell phone battery was intentionally removed from her cell phone is very probative.
RANDY KESSLER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It certainly is, Nancy. You`ve handled your share of prosecuting domestic violence cases where when you`re in an argument the powerful person, the one who wants to be in control, yanks the phone out of the wall and says you can`t call the police, now what are you going to do?
It might be a similar action. If they were going to throw somebody off the lead they would have taken the phone and put it in someone else`s car. So I think it shows there was some sort of struggle.
And also why did she leave? Maybe there was a guy she liked, maybe she was poisoned, maybe there was this date rape drug, she felt sick and she excused herself. And maybe her friends thought she was having a good time with someone she liked. You know there are a lot of questions.
GRACE: To Lauren Howard, psychotherapist joining us out of New York. Lauren, in some misguided way, do you believe the girlfriends thought they were covering for her?
LAUREN HOWARD, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Absolutely. I find it highly suspect that she`s with a group of her girlfriends, she excuses herself right before the concert, say, to go to the bathroom or whatever reason she used to leave, and she goes alone?
That to begin with is unusual. Usually, a friend would go with you. And for them to have left that concert that evening and not notified either her parents or the police to me implies that they knew that she was meeting someone. That`s the implication.
GRACE: Or thought that she was. That`s a good point, Lauren Howard. And very quickly, Stacey Newman, the video surveillance in that concert hall holds 16,000 people, do we know how often they roll over? Have they already taped over that night?
NEWMAN: We don`t know, Nancy. But I would imagine it is because they have so many events, there are so many concerts, basketball games, "Disney on Ice," you name it. Video evidence is probably gone.
GRACE: Everyone, we`re switching gears, still taking your calls live. A 3-year-old little boy missing. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Veronica Romero was laid to rest in the tiny Texas town of Denver City. This is a city of only about 4,000 people. I talked to one long-time city worker today. They said it`s been at least a decade since there`s been a murder in this city.
Her husband, who very well may have murdered her in cold blood, still on the run, apparently has their 3-year-old child with him. Police very eager to speak with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Straight out to Michael Board, WORI Newsradio. What`s the latest with this missing boy?
MICHAEL BOARD, REPORTER, WOAI NEWSRADIO: Well, Nancy, the latest is that they have actually cancelled the Amber Alert here in Texas now. The police department in Denver City, Texas is focusing on the investigation now into where Mario Romero is.
They believe according to prior reports that he may have slipped across the border, may be in Mexico hiding out there with his 3-year-old child. It`s a very dangerous situation we have right now. They are very worried about this 3-year-old child and what may happen to him.
The father has a history of rage, uncontrolled rage. What is going to happen? Is he going to snap again, and what could he do to this 3-year-old child?
GRACE: With me right now is a very special guest, the sister of the murdered mom found dead on her bedroom floor, Maria Esquivel.
Miss Esquivel, thank you for being with us.
MARIA ESQUIVEL, SISTER OF MURDERED MOM; DISCOVERED HER SISTER`S BODY (via phone): Thank you so much for having me with you.
GRACE: Maria, first of all, tip line 806-592-3516. What happened when you went to the home and you realized she was dead and the baby is gone?
ESQUIVEL: The first thing that came to my mind was he killed her. We walked in there. My daughter had crawled in through the window to open the door because we knew something was wrong since that Tuesday evening real late and Wednesday morning, that afternoon we just had to go look for her.
We -- my daughter walked in and crawled in through the window, unlocked the door. And we just kind of stood there and looked around. And we went into her bedroom and the first thing I seen was my sister laying there on the floor. I just went hysterical. It`s something that I never thought would happen. Not to her. Not to my sister.
GRACE: When did you realize that the baby was gone?
ESQUIVEL: As soon -- we realized that he was gone because his sister came about Tuesday night -- was it Tuesday night? Wednesday night -- asking to see if I had seen my sister.
GRACE: With me right now, Dr. Titus Duncan, general surgeon, Atlanta Medical Center, an expert in his field.
Dr. Duncan, thank you for being with us. How can you tell how long the mother had been dead? What I`m getting at, Dr. Duncan, is how much of a head start did the perpetrator get with the little boy?
DR. TITUS DUNCAN, M.D., GENERAL SURGERY, ATLANTA MEDICAL CENTER: Well, there are several ways you can actually tell how long the body has been deceased. First thing you want to look is always the temperature. The temperature and color of the body. And then after that is the rigor mortis has sets in which is the muscles get really stiff. And then the final stages you see insects around the body consume the body itself.
So the first thing like I said is basically the temperature of the body. The body decreases in temperature about 1 degree per hour. And so you can kind of get an idea as to how long that person has been dead within several hours if you find that person fairly early. Until they get to the point where they reach the temperature of the surroundings.
GRACE: And Dr. Duncan, quickly, would there be insects even if the body were indoors?
DUNCAN: Absolutely. There will be insects inside. There.
GRACE: What insect?
DUNCAN: Well, you`ve got larva. You have basically the little small insects that actually come from the material itself.
GRACE: You mean the maggots?
DUNCAN: Yes. The maggots.
GRACE: You have to break it down for us lawyers, Doctor.
DUNCAN: OK. I see.
GRACE: We`re just JDs, not MDs like you.
DUNCAN: That sounds good.
GRACE: Back to Michael Board very quickly. You just heard what Dr. Titus Duncan said. How long do they believe this beautiful lady had been dead, her son missing, and why do they believe the husband has headed to Mexico?
BOARD: Well, they believe that she was murdered either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. And it is very possible that she was murdered by her husband while their three children were in their home. That`s a distinct possibility. They believe that he is in Mexico because he has family there. Both his parents and a brother in Mexico.
GRACE: And very quickly.
BOARD: Also -- yes.
GRACE: Lauren Howard, we only have a couple seconds. But say these children are extremely young. Would they remember the murder if they were in the home?
HOWARD: They would not remember it concretely. They would remember it in a sort of dream state but their abstract reasoning is not developed so, you know.
HOWARD: It would not have the force of a trauma of a real memory blocked or otherwise.
GRACE: Everyone, I want to give you that tip line again. 806-592- 3516. This child gone.
Let`s stop and remember Army Staff Sergeant Kyle Wehrly, 28, Galesburg, Illinois, killed, Iraq. A soldier`s soldier. Had a smile that lit up a room. Lost his life after a surprise visit home for his anniversary and watched his brother graduate from med school.
Loved sports, riding his motorcycle, playing with Iraqi children. Leaves behind parents, Peter and Nita, four siblings, widow and high school sweetheart, Janet, and a 10-year-old little girl named after him, Kylee.
Kyle Wehrly, American hero.
Thanks to our guests but especially to you. I`ll see you tomorrow night 8:00 sharp Eastern. Until then, good night, friend.