Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Illinois the New Gitmo?; Mourning Fort Hood Victims; Summit to Stop Chicago Violence Held; Veteran's Ashes Stolen; Selling Off Madoff; Shoes for Africa: Changing Lives Two Feet at a Time

Aired November 14, 2009 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight on CNN, a possible new home for Guantanamo Bay detainees right in the president's home state. It is causing quite a stir in Illinois and around the country.

Those killed in a massacre inside military walls at Fort Hood are being laid to rest.

Mitt Romney back in the spotlight and possibly back on the campaign trail with a few choice words for President Obama, and it's not nice.

The suspects caught on tape in the brutal beating of Chicago high school honor student are in court. Meantime, the violence hasn't stopped. Another teenage death and there is a grassroots call for change.

And he served this country in honor, but before his family laid him to rest, a thief stole his remains. Family members live tonight with an emotional plea.

And one woman's calling halfway around the world to change lives, two feet at a time, all with the help of singer Kenny Lattimore. We're going to talk to him tonight on CNN.

Hello everyone. I'm Don Lemon.

President Obama is overseas tonight on an important trip to Asia, but it's being overshadowed by a decision he made just before leaving. He wants five detainees at Guantanamo Bay tried in federal court in New York City for the attacks of 9/11, and that's not all.

We are learning tonight the Obama administration is considering a number of possible relocation spots in the U.S. for the 200 or so detainees at Guantanamo Bay. One site under consideration is a maximum security prison in Thomson, Illinois. The facility is nearly empty and the Illinois governor has already spoken personally with the president about sending detainees to the Thomson Correctional Center.

Not everyone is pleased by the prospect of the Gitmo detainees in the president's home state. It is certain to become a hot political issue in the coming days.

And among the Gitmo prisoners -- they are five men accused of key roles in the 9/11 attacks. Bringing them to New York for a trial is a very risky political move for Mr. Obama. And amid all of this, it is worth remembering that 9/11 is the reason the U.S. war in Afghanistan started.

Eight years later, 68,000 American troops appear no closer to defeating al Qaeda or the Taliban. President Obama is now considering whether to send up to 40,000 more troops in a bid to bring the war to a close.

We start tonight with Lynn Sweet of the "Chicago Sun-Times" and PoliticsDaily.com. She's been on top of the story about the Gitmo detainees possibly being brought to the president's home state.

What is the latest on this? We are understanding tonight that -- we're waiting for a reaction from the Obama administration or from the president overseas, but in the state of Illinois, some folks are happy about it, others are not.

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Well, Don, it's breaking along partisan lines right now. Most of the Republicans are lining up against it and Democrats are keeping an open mind. Senator Dick Durbin is hailing the potential relocation of detainees in this closed security prison, calling it a big economic boom for the depressed economic area in Thomson, Illinois.

LEMON: So, what about those that are -- what about those that are opposed? Because we're hearing from not only Illinois lawmakers, Lynn, but we're also hearing from lawmakers across the country who are saying that this is a bad idea by bringing terrorists and putting them here, placing them here on American soil.

SWEET: But that's the ongoing conversation. It's been going on for some months, whether or not Guantanamo should be closed. You know, Illinois now is just a microcosm of this whole larger national debate that's been going on, Don, about what to do with these detainees.

But Obama has kind of boxed himself in on this one. He campaigned on closing Guantanamo and he made a pledge that he won't be able to keep -- to close it by January 22nd.

This site in Illinois in his home state is going to get particular scrutiny partly because it involves a lot of the figures with, you know, from back -- his -- back in his home. But the argument over whether it's safe will be discussed in the next coming days. The administration says it will, if it's just another maximum, super max facility out there.

LEMON: And what about the timing in all of this, Lynn, with just yesterday the attorney general, Eric Holder, saying that the 9/11 conspirators or alleged conspirators, they're going to be tried in New York. What about the timing of all of this coming out now?

SWEET: Well, what -- what we have is that this first year coming to an end and Obama has got -- President Obama needs to show some progress on his pledge, even though he won't be able to keep it. And so these are the facts right now. We now know after many months in office that there aren't nations out there who are going to take these 200 or so detainees left in Guantanamo. So, the idea of relocating these prisoners in the United States is a reality that the Obama administration is confronting. Congress will have to change some -- will have a heavy say in this. They already have weighed in.

So, you will be hearing a lot these days now that it seems realistic that -- to presume these people are coming, and now we know that for the 9/11 five, that Holder dealt with Friday, that they definitely are going to New York.

LEMON: OK. Lynn Sweet, thank you so much. Thanks for bringing this story to us early. Lynn Sweet, one of the first reporters to have this story about possible Gitmo detainees being brought to Illinois.

SWEET: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you so much for that.

We mentioned the president. We're waiting to hear from him and he is in Singapore at this hour. CNN's White House correspondent Dan Lothian is there. Just a short time ago, I spoke with him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Has anyone had the chance to question the president about that?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I have not had a chance yet to question the president on that issue, Don. As you pointed out, though, CNN has confirmed that it is being considered that this facility in northern Illinois is being considered as a potential facility to house those Gitmo detainees.

I've reached out to several administration officials to find out if indeed this is one of the facilities on the list, but still have not gotten any confirmation at least from the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: President Obama's top stated priority in Afghanistan -- getting it right before sending more young men and women into war. Right now 68,000 Americans troops are on the ground in the Afghan war zone. The top U.S. commander there wants to deploy as many as 40,000 more. Some critics say President Obama is dragging his feet, but he is preaching patience, saying a decision is coming soon.

Well, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney is taking on President Obama over his policy in Afghanistan. Romney ripped the president before a group of conservative activists last night in California, accusing the president of finding time for politics even while he deliberates over a new strategy in Afghanistan. Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I find it incomprehensible and inexcusable that this president has been in office for 10 months and he does not yet have a strategy. What has he been doing?

There's so much more important than developing -- though he has some ideas -- than developing a strategy to protect the lives of our soldiers who are in harm's way. He is the commander-in- chief. What has he been doing?

Do you realize he carried out more than 30 campaign visits in this last season for various Democrats while he can't make up his mind on Afghanistan or have enough time to meet with generals? He's out there campaigning.

I think the president's inattention and dereliction have reminded me of the Northwest Airline pilots who became so distracted with things of little importance that they lost their way, which is exactly what this president has done in Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

ROMNEY: In this case, with greater consequence.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Mitt Romney is widely expected to make another run at the GOP nomination for president. He has raised thousands of dollars this year and spoken at dozens of party rallies all across the country.

If you lost a loved one on 9/11, would you want the trial held just blocks away from ground zero, the place where your family member died?

Well, many people are pondering that question now, and you'll hear from a man and woman with very different and passionate feelings about it.

And another family's unimaginable story of losing a war hero, preparing to lay him to rest at Arlington, but his remains are stolen before they could bury him. Their heartfelt plea live just moments away.

And we want to hear you from tonight. Be a part of the conversation just by logging on to your computer or your cell phone.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: It's been a day of mourning across the country as families, friends and fellow soldiers say goodbye to victims of the Fort Hood shootings.

Friends and family of Private Aaron Nemelka braved the snow today in Utah to say goodbye. In Plymouth, Indiana, services were held for Army Staff Sergeant Justin DeCrow.

Those were two of the seven funerals held today.

Others being laid to rest were Staff Sergeant Amy Krueger in Wisconsin, Private Michael Pearson in Illinois, Army Reserve Captain John Paul Gatney in San Diego, Private Kham Xiong in Minnesota and Specialist David Dean Hunt in Oklahoma.

President Obama used his weekly radio address to promise a full investigation into shooting suspect, Major Nidal Hasan, but he is urging Congress not to get involved, at least, not yet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know there will also be inquiries by Congress, and there should. But all of us should resist the temptation to turn this tragic event into the political theater that sometimes dominates the discussion here in Washington. The stakes are far too high.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Hasan's lawyer says his client is paralyzed from the waist down from wounds he suffered at the hands of police. He is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder.

And just ahead here on CNN, a mother wants justice for her son killed on 9/11.

Also, a Korean War vet is dishonored at his death when the urn holding his ashes is stolen. The family joins us live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The alleged mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He supposedly boasted of planning the attacks during a military tribunal back in January. But the confession also came after he had been water-boarded. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was born in Kuwait and educated in the United States. He was captured in Pakistan in 2003 after a global manhunt.

The other four 9/11 suspects to be tried in New York include Waleed Bin Attash, suspected of recruiting two of the 9/11 hijackers and a suicide bomber who attacked the USS Cole, Ramzi Binalshish, a Yemeni suspected of helping finance the 9/11 attacks, and Mustafa Ahmad al Hawasawi, allegedly a close associate of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and Ali Abd Al-Aziz, a nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who was believed to have acted as a key lieutenant on 9/11.

Just the thought of the 9/11 suspects coming to New York has awakened raw emotions. Earlier tonight, I spoke with the relatives of two victims of the terrorist attacks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHARLES WOLF, WIFE KATHERINE DIED ON 9/11: I am dead set against this. In June, I was one of a part of a group of 9/11 founding members who met with the attorney general and he explained why they need to close down Guantanamo, and it's not for a reason why a lot of us think.

And so this -- bringing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and putting him in a civilian trial is absolutely the wrong thing to do. By doing this, you are -- you are taking his actions out of the realm of being an act of warfare and calling it a crime.

This was not a crime. This was far behind a crime. It's an act of warfare.

TALAT HAMDANI, SON MOHAMMED DIED ON 9/11: I trust my justice system, the constitution which has been enforced in the last 230 years, and I want them tried home. My son was murdered here. And I want to see them go to trial here and I want to attend each and every single day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That was earlier here on CNN. The decision to hold the 9/11 trial in New York will be one of the defining events of the Obama administration.

Earlier, I spoke to an attorney who is an expert in both civil and military law. He says bringing the terror suspects to New York City sends exactly the wrong message to America's enemies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Is there a possibility here that one of these guys could be let go or something could happen on a technicality here? What's the reality of that?

THOMAS KENNIFF, DEFENSE ATTORNEY/FORMER JAG OFFICER: Well, you know, it's hard to say without knowing exactly what evidence the government has. But, look, anything is possible in a civilian trial. And it's going to be a much higher standard of proof than in the military commissions and much higher standard for as far as admitting evidence.

I mean, look, the rules of evidence are a juggernaut even for seasoned criminal defense attorneys. So, if we're looking at something like let's say a confession, the standard for admitting a confession in a civilian trial is that it must be voluntary and that the defendant must be advised of his rights.

I mean, are any of us to believe that these CIA interrogators, when they were softening up Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, were, you know, at the same time reading him his Miranda rights and telling him that he had the right to remain silent? Does he have an attorney present?

You know, we know that didn't happen. So, that's going to create a serious evidentiary roadblock as far as getting in confessions. Chain of custody. You know, CIA operatives aren't trained in a chain of custody because generally the cases they handle aren't brought into civilian court.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: This is only the beginning of this story, so stay tuned.

The message to Chicago teens? Give peace a chance. The summit targets those on opposite sides of the bloodshed as a wave of violence in that city goes on. We'll talk to the organizers next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: For one question for teens on Chicago's deadly streets -- are neighborhood beefs worth dying over?

A 16-year-old girl shot and killed just last week. But Sharill Williams (ph) is just the latest victim of the city's epidemic violence. So, today, a peace summit targeting rival groups on Chicago's South Side. Many blame their ongoing feud for sparking the videotaped brawl that killed 16-year-old Derrion Albert back in September.

Well, just yesterday, three teens pleaded not guilty to fatally beating the honor student. The simple goal of today's meeting -- stop the killings by starting a conversation.

Well, that summit was hosted by the anti-violence group CeaseFire. So, joining us now tonight from Chicago, we have the executive director of the group, Tio Hardiman, and then Victor Woods, author and a reformed criminal, that's what he says.

Tio, let's start with you. There are a lot of anti-violence pushes there in Chicago. What is the difference about this one?

TIO HARDIMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CEASEFIRE ILLINOIS: You know, this is good today, Don, because we got a chance to bring the young brothers and sisters together that are closely associated with the problem around Fenger High School, because you have a lot of conferences and you have a lot of summits all the time, but nobody's talking to the youth.

The youth have not been invited. So, today, we got a chance to interact with the young people and they got a lot out of the message today.

LEMON: What makes you confident that this time -- that this summit is going to be any different than the other one?

HARDIMAN: Because we're going to follow up. It wasn't just about today. We're going to keep reaching out to the young people every day and we're going to have a similar type of summit, Don, every month. Bringing more people to the table and starting the dialogue process of getting these young men comfortable with one another and the young ladies as well. LEMON: OK. So, Victor, I understand that you have been -- and this is -- they don't usually allow this, at least the schools don't. They have been allowing you to go to Fenger High School and speak to the kids. Talk to me about that.

VICTOR WOODS, AUTHOR, "A BREED APART": Yes. Well, Liz Dozier there is the principal there. And, you know, although, you know, we're all aware that they've got a volatile situation there. You know, she's allowed me to go in there. I worked with the juniors and seniors last week and I did something with the sophomores the week before. And, you know, they were receptive to it.

I think, you know, the thing is that what I'm talking to these young people about is empowering themselves. They're the ones who are in charge. And you can you bring in all of the police you want. You can bring in all of the psychiatrists you want.

But, you know, no police officers are going up on the corner of any street and opening up fire. These young people, when they're angry or frustrated enough, are doing that.

So, I'm empowering those young people to have to take control of their lives and to empower them to say, hey, you know, let's stop shooting. They have to want to stop the shooting.

LEMON: Let me ask you this, Victor, then. Because we know he was there right after the beating at Fenger High School with Derrion Albert.

WOODS: Yes.

LEMON: You've been inside the school. What is it like now? Do the children still talk about that, think about that? Has their demeanor changed? What's the mood like inside of Fenger High School?

WOODS: Well, those young people are not going to forget about that. I mean, you know, one of their classmates have been killed and the media have been all over the place and, of course, the police are very visible.

So, those young people are still talking about it. They've still been traumatized and they need help. And quite frankly, what they are talking about, Don, is they need jobs.

I asked those young people -- how many of them have a job? And about 99 percent of them do not have jobs.

We have to find unemployment for these young black boys and girls. If they don't have any money, particularly now around the holidays, they're going to go out and commit more crimes. They need jobs.

LEMON: Let me -- let me -- let me ask you this. Sharill Williams (ph), who was a sophomore at Phillips Academy, he was shot on Sunday, right?

WOODS: Yes.

LEMON: But there have been -- since we have been there and covering the Derrion Albert story, there have been a number of shooting incidents and deaths. This is just one of them.

WOODS: Yes, there have been many, many young people who have been killed. And that young man was a young man that, you know, was a -- they say that wasn't in school, but that's not really the point. You know, this young man, they said he dropped out of school and he was a gang member. He's a young, black boy who had lost his way and we have to embrace these children. There are no excuses.

Chicago is still in a critical situation. We cannot waste time and we still have too many people philosophizing and pontificating about this problem. The juvenile detention center in Chicago is pivotal. They need to work at that center, and we need to get people immediately in these schools before more children die.

LEMON: Victor Woods and Tio Hardman, thank you. Are you saying that more light needs to be placed on it even after the attorney general and the secretary of education have left Chicago.

WOODS: Absolutely.

LEMON: Thank you so much. We appreciate you joining us. Update us, will you?

WOODS: Thanks for having us.

HARDIMAN: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: He served this country with honor but before his family could lay him to rest, a thief stole his remains.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't go to a funeral and like, oh, oops, there's no body, you know, you don't do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It is an outrage, and we'll speak with the family, coming up.

And making a difference a world away. One shoe at a time. We'll tell you how one woman's passion is inspiring others, and what singer Kenny Lattimore has to do with this project.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: You know, this really talks about the state of our nation. It is a heartbreaking ordeal for a family of a Korean War veteran. His ashes were stolen just hours before his scheduled burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Suzanne Kennedy of CNN affiliate WJLA has the story. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE KENNEDY, WJLA CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The burial at Arlington National Cemetery went off with full military honors. But one critical element of this somber event was missing -- the remains of retired Army Colonel Norbert Otto Schmidt. The family's rented van was broken into outside the Smithsonian. That's when thieves stole an urn containing the colonel's remains.

CAROL SCHMIDT, VETERAN'S DAUGHTER: We lost him three months ago. We went through all that. And, as my sister put it, it's like we just lost him all over again. You know, it just feels like he died yesterday again.

KENNEDY: Schmidt was a West Point graduate and a Bronze Star recipient. He always wanted to be buried in Arlington so he could be alongside soldiers he fought with in the Korean War.

SCHMIDT: I think that a lot of it had to do with that, just sort of to be with the people that I think he sort of felt he should have died with back then because they all died around him.

KENNEDY: The family debated whether to hold the service but in a driving rain, they got into the van from which the urn was stolen and headed to a service of which they were uncertain about.

SCHMIDT: You don't go a funeral and like, oh, oops, there's no body, you know, you don't do that. So, yes, that's the big difference. I mean, if we're just having a memorial to honor him, that would be one thing, but this was supposed to be the burial.

KENNEDY: The family now heads home with one last request.

SCHMIDT: It means nothing to them. And they've got the jewelry, they've got the computer, they got the GPS, you know, those are things. We need my dad's ashes back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Norbert Junior and Carol Schmidt are Colonel Schmidt's children. They join us now tonight from our Washington bureau.

Thank you both for joining us. We can only imagine what you're going through. We can't really imagine.

Norbert, you said something that stuck with me and with our viewers earlier about your mother and how your mom is dealing with this.

NORBERT SCHMIDT JR., URN WITH FATHER'S ASHES STOLEN: Well, I'd say she's not dealing with it very well. It's obviously a pretty traumatic experience for her. You know, her expectation was that, you know, after he was buried, she'd be buried with him.

And so, that's pretty traumatic for her to, you know, for him to be missing and, you know, it's pretty gut-wrenching for her right now. She's not at all taking this well.

LEMON: Carol, in the story, you said that, you know, you lost your father back in August, three months ago. You feel like you've lost him again when this was stolen. It was stolen just a few days ago, right?

C. SCHMIDT: Yes, it was stolen Thursday afternoon around -- between 3:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon here in Washington, D.C. Basically, you know, he died in August and we've grieved and we've cried and we've hugged each other and we've gotten together and we've cried and we've -- we've -- you know, he's 83 years old and we've worked our way through this a lot and we're sad.

But we're coming here excited to just kind of review his life. He's had a very full life. And we were -- we're coming here for all of us to just say, wow, think of all of the great things daddy did. And -- and, you know, it feels like he just died again, you know.

LEMON: Explain to -- if you can describe that -- in case someone sees it, describe what the urn looked like. What kind of car was it? And it was stolen out of your car or...

C. SCHMIDT: It was in my mother's carry-on bag.

LEMON: OK.

C. SCHMIDT: It's a blue-green -- greenish with hint of blue in it, rolling carry-on bag, that's made of a thin nylon material. And the urn is a brass urn with a cross on the front of it. And it's very heavy, it's like 25 pounds.

LEMON: Yes.

C. SCHMIDT: And -- that's what it feels like to me -- and it was in the carry-on. We'd taken it to Arlington, my brother and my mother to go over the procedure for the burial the next day, for Friday.

So, it was Thursday afternoon and we had the bag in the car and, frankly, we sort of after going there, forgot that it was still in the back under things because they didn't need it at Arlington. And we went to the Smithsonian, American Indian Museum and we weren't out of the car for an hour, and when we come back, it was gone.

LEMON: It was gone. And anyone who's ever dealt with a funeral had to, you know, prepare a memorial service or burial for a family member, knows it's very hectic. Sometimes you don't know right from left, right, or up from down.

So, listen, if -- and I asked you this question earlier, Norbert, if the person who is responsible for this may be watching or someone may have seen that bag or seen that urn, what do you guys say to them?

N. SCHMIDT: Well, it's our hope that there is somebody watching who knows about it, especially somebody -- possibly somebody -- you know there's going to be somebody in their family who's ex-military somewhere, whether it's an uncle or a cousin or brother, and they're not going to be happy when they hear that they did this, you know.

So, they just got to get it back to us. I mean, we offered $1,000 reward for it and, you know, we've heard nothing. You know, they can pick up the phone, call one of the news channels and get in touch with you guys and try to get it back that way.

I mean, you know, like Carol said, you know, they got the computer, they got the GPS and those are things and, yes, it hurts, but, you know, it's nothing like, you know, when you lose your dad. I mean, it's -- there's just no words for it. You know, it's just -- it is just gut-wrenching.

LEMON: Well, Carol, I'll give you the last word, because we unfortunately have to go here. But this to someone may just be something they've stolen because they think they're going to get some money for it. To you, this is your father.

C. SCHMIDT: Yes. We want to get him back. We need to bury him. My mother needs to bury him and have closure. This is really important to us and they've got the money and everything else, and this is what we need back and I hope somebody will have the...

LEMON: Courage.

C. SCHMIDT: ...courage, really, to come back with it and leave it someplace, give it to somebody. It's got the death certificate attached with it. If they leave the death certificate with it, somebody should. You know, with all of the help of you all and the news have been really great at getting the word out, hopefully, somebody will recognize what it is and get it back to us through any of you.

LEMON: And we certainly hope that happens. Carol and Norbert Schmidt, thank you so much. Best of luck to you. Let us know, please, if you find out anything, OK.

N. SCHMIDT: Thank you for all of the effort you guys have made. We really appreciate it.

LEMON: Selling off Bernie Madoff's valuables. Pieces belonging to the disgraced financier on the auction block. The benefactors of the sales -- investors who were swindled out of millions.

And a major snowstorm in the Rockies tonight. There she is. Our Jacqui Jeras.

Jacqui, what's going on?

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Don. It's really ramping up. You know, ski season is right around the corner. The snow couldn't come at a better time.

And is Ida really out of here? We'll let you know. Coming up with the forecast.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: He bilked people out of billions of dollars. Today in New York, Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff's possession -- well, his possessions were sold to the highest bidder. CNN's Susan Candiotti describes a few of the items up for grabs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Fast and furious bidding to buy a piece of Bernie Madoff. Anyone could watch online.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten thousand, now 20 -- 20, now 30.

CANDIOTTI: But inside the auction, no cameras allowed. Here's part of Madoff's spread at a preview.

More than 51 watches, lots of gold-studded Rolexes among them. This one, a rare prisoner watch from World War II, sold for $65,000. Ruth Madoff's triple diamond-drop earrings, estimated at around $21,000, went for --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last call. 32.5. Sold.

CANDIOTTI: $70,000, more than triple their projected worth.

Madoff's house sign, valued at $20, sold for $2,000.

His decorative buoy labeled Bullship took in $7,500.

Madoff's custom silk Mets jacket worth about $500 went for more than $14,000.

A retired St. Louis businessman flew in for the auction ready to spend big.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): You snagged a number of items. Do you have any idea how much you spent?

LESTER MILLER, BIDDER: No, but it was -- I'm sure it was in the six figures, or high up in the six figures.

CANDIOTTI (voice over): He's taking home a bundle of glamorous jewelry, including these pearls for $1,200, four times their estimated price. Surprise gifts for his six grandchildren on an upcoming cruise.

MILLER: We're going to make them all take numbers and hold them one at a time and buy up or take a piece of jewelry.

CANDIOTTI: Yet, Madoff's belongings from golf clubs to boogie boards to everyday china failed to impress professional collectors.

LARK MASON, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW: And what I saw instead is a garish display of gold and diamonds and things that are expensive but not tasteful. And the art antiques were mostly reproductions and were lower quality things that you'd find in any suburban garage sale. CANDIOTTI: Didn't seem to matter to some. Wooden duck decoys valued at about $50 each went for more than $11,000.

VIVIAN GIANGOLA, BIDDER: It's like getting a plate of china from the Titanic and Bernie Madoff may have been an even bigger shipwreck.

CANDIOTTI: The proceeds, more than $900,000, will benefit victims of the convicted swindler.

Lester Miller will make sure his grandchildren know it.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): What is the lesson that you're going to tell your grandchildren?

MILLER: That greed is no good. This man had a lot of greed. He lived on greed and he lived in it with a lie.

CANDIOTTI: More Madoff auctions to come. It ain't no lie.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Wow. Not that it's going to bring back the millions and billions of dollars so sadly that a lot of people lost in that.

So, Jacqui, let's move on and talk about -- and talk the weather here. This nor'easter, is that correct? Can you call it? I thought that was before this time of year.

(WEATHER REPORT)

LEMON: Bye-bye, Ida.

What did you do? Did you change something? You look great. You always look great, but you -- what did you do?

JERAS: Well, thanks. I suited up today.

LEMON: You did?

JERAS: I did.

LEMON: Thank you, Jacqui. I know I'm embarrassing you, but I always do, so. Thank you, Jacqui.

Walking back from poverty one step at a time. We'll talk to a woman who is sending shoes to Africa. It's "What Matters" tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: This is "What Matters" tonight. Changing lives two feet at a time. That's the goal of The ASHE Foundation, which just shipped 10,000 pairs of shoes and more than 2 tons of medical supplies to Ghana. We were there watching it all come together with the woman behind the movement. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON (voice over): She's a mother.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: No, I'm OK. I know how to get down.

DION FEARON, FOUNDER, THE ASHE FOUNDATION: You're in the thicket.

LEMON: A visionary.

FEARON: And you put a pair of shoes in between. There is a science to this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, OK.

LEMON: And a fighter.

FEARON: She's packing the shoes wrong.

LEMON: Battling extreme poverty on the continent of Africa. Her weapon --- shoes. A million pairs, she hopes.

FEARON: A million pairs of shoes, but I believe it's going to be way more than a million pairs.

LEMON: Dion Fearon founded a non-profit called the Ashe Foundation. Ashe is Yoruba for the power to make things happen. And that's exactly what she did after seeing this image.

FEARON: That image of the feet wearing pop bottles for sandals kind of struck a cord in me and I said, you know what, I could do something about that.

LEMON: Shoes for Africa was off to a running start with a little star power from R&B recording artist Kenny Lattimore, celebrity stylist Okera Banks and Antina Campbell, a complete stranger who would become Fearon's closest ally. The two met in church after one of Fearon's appeals for shoes.

ANTINA CAMPBELL, DIR. OF OPERATIONS, THE ASHE FDN.: She started talking about the ASHE Foundation and collecting shoes and taking them over to Africa and all of that was like, wow to me, you know, like, I got to help her.

OKERA BANKS, CELEBRITY STYLIST/COSTUME DESIGNER: I had just wrapped up a Nickelodeon show. So, I had abundance of shoes for kids. And I said I'm going to go home and I'm going to go through that garage and give her some shoes.

KENNY LATTIMORE, SINGER: I didn't want it to just be -- or somebody use my name and, you know, I came by, I dropped a little donation in the bucket and kept going. I wanted to really be a part of something that was going to be life changing.

LEMON: The organization's mission is to change the lives of millions of children in African nations who have been orphaned by the devastating effects caused by HIV and AIDS.

Thanks to actor Will Smith, the ASHE Foundation took its first shipment of shoes to Africa in January.

FEARON: Will Smith was in church one Sunday and he heard me begging for shoes and he said OK, I'll pay for 15 people, 15 members of the congregation to go to Africa to deliver these shoes.

LEMON: The experience made Fearon even more determined to, as she calls it, beg for shoes for barefoot children. These two showed up for the shoe distribution sharing one shoe each.

FEARON: My heart is in Africa. It beats in Africa. And I, for a very, very long time, I ran from the responsibility of knowing that I was going to make a difference there.

LEMON: And now she's at it again, this time it's more than two tons of medical supplies and 10,000 pairs of shoes en route to Ghana.

LATTIMORE: This looks like it's hardly ever been worn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never been worn.

LEMON: Volunteers showed up to pack the shoes. A box like this one holds 70 pairs. It packed right and packed tight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, what's the count?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seventy pairs in this box.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dion, it's good.

LEMON: On shipping day, a handful of volunteers loaded this 20-foot crate with box after box after box. It's hard work but it's fueled by purpose and passion. The crate is finally packed to capacity and ready to head to the shipping dock.

FEARON: This is a good day.

LEMON: She says a prayer --

FEARON: That this container makes it to its final destination.

LEMON: And hope that its contents will change lives two feet at a time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: So, Kenny, the ASHE Foundation is less than two years old. Already, the organization has sent thousands of pairs of shoes and other essentials to Africa. So, how do you do it?

LATTIMORE: Yes, amazing, right. I mean, we're operating on what, a zero budget. So, it really has been about the volunteers and churches in the San Fernando Valley. I have some -- I took some notes because I have to mention some people that have really helped us to get some things out.

The Magna World Partners, Blue Sea Shipping, HOPES's House, Living Waters Church in San Fernando Valley with Pastor Barry Lyons, Mayo Church in Illinois. I mean, we've had some wonderful people to just to sell into what we're doing and that's how we make it happen. All the volunteers that tie up the shoes and box them and send them out, you know.

LEMON: How long before the shipment arrives in Ghana?

LATTIMORE: You know, it is estimated that it will be there Christmas eve, which is very, very interesting.

LEMON: Will ASHE be at least be there when the cargo door opens?

LATTIMORE: Absolutely. We have representatives there who have been just wonderful partners with us and with the Ghanaian government, so we will be there.

LEMON: ASHE is organizing a domestic effort shoes for LA, right, but you're hoping it turns into shoes for the U.S.? Why is that?

LATTIMORE: Absolutely. We had a really amazing time with the Midnight Mission in Los Angeles in June, where we washed the feet of the homeless, we put fresh socks and shoes on their feet. So -- because we understand there's also the need here.

LEMON: That's not part of the 50/50 Challenge, right? Is that 50/50 challenge...

LATTIMORE: No, our 50/50 cha50 challenge is a -- what it is -- let me get this right now, I want to say this right.

LEMON: You have your notes there.

LATTIMORE: I have my notes here. We are asking for -- we're talking about 50 ambassadors and 50 states raising $5,000 or more in 50 days and what's going to happen is the money that they raise are going to help us to sell into our programs, do our shipping and get our shoes over to Africa, because it's very expensive actually.

But in addition to that, we're hoping to do even greater things. We have a city of orphans in a city called Limpopo and an organization called the Lonely Road Foundation that we've partnered with.

We want to build drop-in centers for our children. So that when they go -- it's almost like a boys and girls kind of club. But the orphans over there have lost their parents to AIDS. So, they're very vulnerable children that are out there and we want to create safe havens for them...

LEMON: And you're looking for.

LATTIMORE: ...and get back into their future.

LEMON: You're looking for people to help them. LATTIMORE: Absolutely.

LEMON: Hey, listen, you're an entertainer and then you're doing this stuff that's good, you know, to help mankind. I think it's absolutely wonderful. Kenny Lattimore.

LATTIMORE: Thank you. Thank you so much.

LEMON: Many of have you been asking how to get involved with the ASHE Foundation and what they're doing. So, here it is, theashefoundation.org, and make sure you check out our blog at cnnnewsroom.com -- cnn.com/newsroom, I should say, and then click on don, and you'll see the blog right there. It was written by my producer Annika Young, who went to Los Angeles to cover this amazing group of people. Cnn.com/newsroom.

It looks like a scene from a classic film, but this is a scene from real life. A plane crashes into an airport terminal. Plus this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get him!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: You hear the guy in his lawn, what a welcome. Talk about being man's best friend. You're going to see that after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right. I want you to take a look at this, right. This jet carrying 14 passengers took off from Rwanda's Kigali Airport on Thursday. The pilot reported technical problems, then turned around and attempted an emergency landing, crashing into the VIP lounge. One person was killed. Rwanda Air had leased the CRJ 100 jet from the Kenyan airline JetLink. Wow.

A soldier returns home from Afghanistan. I love this -- this next story and these pictures. If he didn't know that he was missed by his best friend, he sure does now. Look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get him!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jesus Christ!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I told you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gracie, you remember da-da.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: All right. Everybody in here say it all at once.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Oh!

LEMON: It is very sweet. We should all be so lucky, right.

Well, he broke baseball's color barrier and now one of Jackie Robinson's old jersey sells for big bucks, really big bucks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Hey, check this out. An autograph by President John F. Kennedy just hours before he was assassinated has sold at auction.

A California man paid $39,000 for a copy of the Dallas morning news signed by Kennedy only two hours before he was killed. It's believed to be one of the last -- if not the last autograph Kennedy ever signed. The buyer immediately insured the autographed newspaper for $25 million.

Probably a good idea.

And another auction to tell you about. This one includes a jersey of an American legend. This is a 1948 Brooklyn Dodger uniform once worn by Jackie Robinson, the man, of course, who broke baseball's color barrier. It sold today for more than $373,000 at the Louisville Slugger Museum auction. Other items sold include a 1996 Mickey Mantle bat, which went for more than $26,000.

OK. Time now for some of your feedback. Real quickly here. Let's see.

Dieverdog says, "Love the doggie homecoming video. Animals really tug at my heart."

Tambunny says, "OK, so I really need for @donlemon to say hello so I can go back to blocking my tweets. I feel like a cyber stalker."

There you go. I said hello.

"My heart goes out to the family who has been forced to grieve all over again." Talking about the remains -- war hero's remains who was stolen.

"How strange and sad beyond belief."

Same story and on and on and on.

Thank you. We really appreciate your feedback tonight.

I'm Don Lemon at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. See you back here tomorrow night. Have a good one.