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Memphis Mom Says She Gave 9-Month-Old to Stranger

Aired September 21, 2010 - 20:00:00   ET


RITA COSBY, GUEST HOST: Breaking news tonight out of Tennessee. A precious 9-month-old baby girl wearing a brown onesie with a pink flower reported missing by her own mother. But there`s one problem. Mommy doesn`t call police for eight days. Mommy claims she gives her baby away to a complete stranger who picks up the little girl at Mommy`s apartment. Then the beautiful baby`s never seen again. Why would Mommy call the police if she gave her baby away willingly? And why did she wait eight days? Something stinks. Tonight, what happened to 9-month-old baby Lauryn?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police are desperately searching for a 9-month-old Tennessee girl.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After her mother allegedly gave her away to a complete stranger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: White female, 40 to 50 years old, eyeglasses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Authorities say the mother, 19-year-old Shakara Dickens, told them she gave away her daughter Lauryn to a total stranger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) shoulder-length straight hair, khaki capri pants, white closed-toe sandals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And didn`t report it for over a week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The incident report says the baby`s mother told police she talked with the baby`s father September 7th.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the father allegedly told Dickens to give the baby away to an unknown white female.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The quote, "welfare of the child and her not being able to care for the child properly," end quote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dickens allegedly says that female arrived later that day, reportedly claiming to be a friend of the father, and took the child.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The baby`s father, Benjamin Norfleet, is in jail on a burglary charge. He told police he knows nothing.


COSBY: And also tonight, two beautiful young women suddenly attacked by strangers, acid thrown into their faces, leaving them scarred. One of the victims, tugging at the heartstrings of people across America, bandaged like a mummy, ends up with more than $25,000 in donations. And cops finally catch the prime suspect. But in a shocking twist, it`s the victim herself. Turns out she pulled a fast one on America. But tonight, the joke`s on her. She`s facing felony charges and serious jail time.


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Bethany Storro.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Victim turned suspect.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An African-American woman said, Hey, pretty little girl, you want something to drink? And she turned around, and boom!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The stranger threw acid all over her face.

GRACE: I don`t understand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m going to carry some acid in a cup.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Detectives drop a bombshell.

GRACE: Bombshell tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The attack itself did not occur as she had previously reported.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was all a hoax.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She did it to herself.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She did this to get attention.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She wanted a face job and this was her way to get free plastic surgery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the right thing to do was to file the charges that I filed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And she`s been charged with three felony counts of theft.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You look at the splash pattern.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can see there are no splash marks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You look at the time of night. Would people usually be wearing sunglasses?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And she didn`t wear sunglasses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did not like them.

GRACE: Bethany Storro, you can consider yourself responsible for the other woman being scarred for life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t live the rest of my life like that. That`s not fair.


COSBY: And good evening, everybody. I`m Rita Cosby, in for Nancy Grace. I want to thank you all for being with us tonight. Breaking news this evening out of Tennessee, a precious 9-month-old baby girl reported missing by her own mother. The mom claims she gave her own baby to a complete stranger. But there`s one problem. Mommy doesn`t call police for nine days.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mother who allegedly gave her baby away to a total stranger.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Didn`t report it to police for eight days.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welfare of the child, not being able to care for the child.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nineteen-year-old Shakara Dickens told cops she gave her 9-month-old baby away to a stranger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unknown female white.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forty to fifty years old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just hours the after the baby`s father allegedly told Dickens to give the child to an unknown white female.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The baby`s mother says the woman came to her Raleigh (ph) apartment complex that day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cops say Dickens claims she gave baby Lauryn to the female without knowing who she was or where she lives.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dickens hasn`t seen the baby since.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lauryn Dickens was last seen wearing a brown onesie, 1 foot, 9 inches tall, 17 pounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now reports emerge police are investigating whether the baby`s father, who is currently behind bars on unrelated charges, knows where Lauryn is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He told police he knows nothing.


COSBY: And let`s go straight to Nancy Grace producer Matt Zarrell. Matt, what does this mother claim happened? And I say claim because I don`t trust her story.

MATT ZARRELL, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: Yes. And there are reports that police are not buying the story, that there`s evidence that they can`t even prove the story. Police were called just days ago to this home. This 19- year-old mother, Shakara, was reporting her 9-month-old daughter, Lauryn, missing. Now, apparently, what had happened is eight days earlier, she claimed that she got in a conversation with the biological father of Lauryn. They had spoke, and they discussed the mother not being able to properly care for the child. And that is when the father allegedly suggested that she give the baby away to this unknown white female, who then showed up at the home hours later. And the mother gave the baby away. Since then, the mother has not seen any sign of little Lauryn.

COSBY: You know, let`s go to former NYPD detective Bill Majeski. Bill, what kind of a mother gives her baby away to a stranger?

BILL MAJESKI, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: Well, first we have to believe that she actually gave the child away to someone.

COSBY: And I don`t believe it for a second!

MAJESKI: I don`t believe it at all.

COSBY: I don`t either, but I think...


MAJESKI: The whole story stinks.

COSBY: I think she`s a con artist!

MAJESKI: Yes. Absolutely. I mean, there`s something here. Hopefully, the child is still alive. But the thing is that police have to start an investigation at this point in time. They should be searching the apartment for some kind of forensic evidence, to see if there was anything done to the child.

You know, clearly, the mother is coming out with a story. The husband -- the father, biological father, is not corroborating that story in any way, shape or form. If, indeed, she visited him in prison, and then if, indeed, he then contacted someone to come to the apartment to pick up the child, there would be a record of some kind of communication by him to this other person. So that`s clearly something that the police can check into and verify one way or the other.

COSBY: Absolutely. Let`s go to Marc Klaas, if we could, president and founder of Klaas Kids Foundation. You know, Marc, this smells fishy. The other thing, too, the description that she gives of this, quote, "stranger" -- you know, white woman, she says closed-toe sandals -- can you believe this? -- and parted in the middle, her hair. She seemed to have this perfect description, over the top. Doesn`t that say something to you?

MARC KLAAS, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION (via telephone): Well, it says a lot of things to me. I agree with you and Bill, this stinks from the get- go. This is shades of Susan Smith and Elizabeth Johnson. You might remember, in 1994, I believe it was, Susan Smith murdered her own children and then blamed it on what turned out to be a very generic nonexistent black man.

Now, this mother seems to have done a very similar thing. She says that a very generic-looking, nondescript middle-aged white woman came and took her baby but has no idea who this is. I think that once this investigation plays out, we`re going to find out, unfortunately, that this little child is no longer with us.

COSBY: And I`m very suspicious. By the way, everybody, the pictures you`re seeing right here are Shakara Dickens. This is the mom, whom, from what we believe, these are her pictures from MySpace and also FaceBook pages, too. So it gives you a sense of what this woman looks like, with this very questionable story.

Let`s go to our callers. We got Hope from Texas on the line. What`s your question, Hope?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey. How`re you doing?

COSBY: I`m good. What do you think of this case? It does not smell right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the second case in less than a year that we have had a missing child that supposedly was given away to someone in Tennessee. I believe that there is, in fact, human trafficking going on in this country, as well as in other countries. And we know that over 800,000 children and women come up missing every year. Now, whether this is a case of human trafficking or not, we`re yet to -- we will have to see, you know? But I pray that this child is alive, and I pray that just having this information being broadcast on your show tonight will ensure her safe return.

COSBY: And look -- and I certainly -- we all certainly pray. When you look at this beautiful little baby, we pray that she`s alive. We pray she gets back safely. But it does not smell good.

And let`s go, if we could, to Joe Lawless, defense attorney. He`s also the author of "Prosecutorial Misconduct." Is it possible crime, maybe human trafficking, as this woman suggests, as Hope brings up? Or does it just seem like more likely there`s something wrong with this woman`s story and there`s something a lot more to the story nefarious than she has shown?

JOE LAWLESS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Rita, I have to agree with Marc and the detective who spoke to you earlier. It seems to me that there`s no human trafficking involved here at all. This just hearkens back to something I`ve said before. You need a license to drive a car. Any shmuck can be a parent.

Something has happened to this child, and I`m sure the police are looking at this as a lot more than a missing persons case. Any contact that the husband would have had with anyone fitting this description is easily verifiable. There`s phone records. There`s visiting records...

COSBY: And he`s in jail! By the way, Joe...

LAWLESS: And he`s in jail.

COSBY: ... he`s in jail! What is he going to be doing, roaming around looking for people? Give me a break!

LAWLESS: Well, my...

COSBY: You`ve got -- you`ve got a record of his phone calls.

LAWLESS: Yes, my question is...

COSBY: I`m sure they looked at her cell phone records, too.

LAWLESS: My question is why did she report it at all? I mean, if no one had reported the child, the child`s missing, she sits there and keeps her mouth shut and...

COSBY: For eight days! For eight long days!

LAWLESS: For eight days. Well, the more she would let time pass, the less evidence there would be of what she did. Why did she even come forward now? I just don`t understand any of this. I think the woman is clearly one brick shy of a full load, and I think something very, very tragic has happened to this child, I agree with Marc.

COSBY: And I pray that that`s not the case. Of course, we all do tonight.

Let`s go to Charisma from Texas who`s on the line. Charisma, what`s your question, dear?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. My question is, if she is telling the truth, which I doubt that she is, the person that she supposedly gave the baby to -- why hasn`t that person contacted any medical authorities or any police authorities or social workers, anything of that nature, if she just walked up, gives the daughter to a complete stranger? That`s what I don`t understand.

COSBY: Well, you know why I think, Charisma? Because there probably is no person that she gave the baby to, sadly.

Let`s go to Ray Giudice. He`s, of course, a defense attorney. Ray, you know, I got to ask you, when you see all this -- you know, I don`t think there was another person. I would love for somebody to come forward and say, I`ve got the baby and the baby`s safe and sound, but I have a hard time believing the story.

RAYMOND GIUDICE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think our caller reflects the attitude of all reasonable, rational people. And I`ll even include Joe Lawless in that group for tonight.

COSBY: Oh, don`t go that far.

GIUDICE: They hear this story and immediately say something is very wrong. What concerns me is that her story is so shallow and so poorly constructed that that seems to me to be a response to an emergency situation -- in other words, a very sudden trauma or illness or danger to this child that she felt she had to quickly respond, call police, and start laying her cover story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Tennessee mother who allegedly gave her baby away to a total stranger didn`t report it to police for eight days. Nineteen-year-old Shakara Dickens told cops she gave her 9-month-old baby away to a stranger just hours after the baby`s father allegedly told Dickens to give the child to an unknown white female.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Tennessee mother who allegedly gave her baby away to a total stranger didn`t report it to police for eight days. Nineteen-year-old Shakara Dickens told cops she gave her 9-month-old baby away to a stranger just hours after the baby`s father allegedly told Dickens to give the child to an unknown white female. Cops say Dickens claims she gave baby Lauryn to the female without knowing who she was or where she lives. Dickens hasn`t seen the baby since. Now reports emerge police are investigating whether the baby`s father, who is currently behind bars on unrelated charges, knows where Lauryn is. The father has already reportedly told cops he has no idea where Lauryn is located.


COSBY: And I`m Rita Cosby, in for Nancy Grace. And now we have some big breaking news in the case. Let`s go, if we could, to Jason Miles. He`s a reporter with the CNN affiliate WMC, who`s right there on the scene. I understand, Jason, you`re at the home of the mother. Tell us what the new leads are.

JASON MILES, WMC CORRESPONDENT: That`s right, Rita. Another day of record-breaking temperatures here in the Memphis area and some hot new developments in this case. Homicide detectives, crime scene technicians spent the day in the upstairs apartment of the building you see behind me. This is the Raleigh Village apartments on the north side of Memphis. We arrived around 3:30 this afternoon and saw homicide detectives, other police and a cadaver dog here on the scene. Those dogs, of course, generally used to detect the scent of dead or decomposing bodies. We don`t want to get too grim here. But we saw the dog enter the apartment after police made entry and heard the dog bark at least two or three times, which means that they did detect some sort of scent.

However, just within the last few minutes, Memphis police told me they did not find anything here, although we did see them remove some small paper sacks and some baby`s toys, also what appeared to be perhaps little Lauryn Dickens`s carseat. They brought it out here, loaded it into a CSI van. And they cleared the scene just within the last hour or so.

But again, all of this follows the initial report of this missing baby, which came on Thursday or Friday of last week, some eight days after the mother says the baby actually was handed over to a stranger.

COSBY: And Jason, this is the first time, I understand, that they have checked her home. I`m surprised, first of all. The other thing is, what tipped them off to go there now?

MILES: You know, that`s something we`re not being clued in on. Memphis police really haven`t commented, other than to say this still remains a missing persons case. The baby is still missing. And no one is in custody this evening.

Now, I don`t know for sure if Memphis police made an initial search of this apartment. I assume they were here at some point to take the initial missing persons report from the mother. I understand this is where she reported the baby missing initially late last week. However, this did appear to be the first, I guess, search of the apartment using a cadaver dog and other crime scene technicians. But again, police...

COSBY: And Jason, real quick, is she there now? Do we know where she is?

MILES: We haven`t seen Shakara all day here, Rita. I did have a conversation with her last week through the door of her apartment. She declined an on-camera interview and has repeatedly denied our request to give us more information about how her baby became missing.

COSBY: Let`s go to Bill Majeski, former NYPD detective. You know, Bill, when you hear this...


COSBY: ... and you hear, you know, unfortunately -- and I always hate to hear these words -- homicide detectives...


COSBY: ... and cadaver dogs.

MAJESKI: Yes, I mean, clearly, when the detectives went and spoke with her, they didn`t believe her story. There were a lot of holes in what she was saying. It may have taken them this long to get a search warrant, get a judge to sign the search warrant to go and search the apartment. You know, putting that aside, she probably did not give them permission to enter in and search on invitation.

Now, you know, clearly, the conversations that she had with the police have alerted them to the fact that this whole story is bogus. They don`t believe anything. The cadaver dogs are an indication of that. They are clearly thinking along the lines that this child -- something terrible was done to this child and they`re just trying to find out where the remains may be at this point in time.

COSBY: Let`s real quick go to Denise from Illinois. We have Denise on the line. Denise, what`s your question, unfortunately, with this breaking news happening here?

Let`s go to Nancy first, if we could, from Colorado. Nancy?


COSBY: Hi, there. Unfortunately, you`ve heard the latest news. They`re searching the home of the mom. What`s your question tonight, Nancy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, thanks for taking my call, number one.

COSBY: You`re welcome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question -- actually, you answered my first question. But my second question would be, have they talked to maybe a sibling, her mom or dad, what her character is?

COSBY: Jason, real quick, two-second answer, Jason. Have they talked to the siblings?

MILES: My understanding is the sibling is perhaps too young to give any really comment to police at this point.

COSBY: And brothers?

MILES: I`m told little Lauryn does have one sibling, perhaps an older brother, who they attended the same day care. They were both last seen there a couple of weeks ago.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The baby`s father, Benjamin Norfleet, is in jail on a burglary charge. He told police he knows nothing. But I`ve uncovered new information about the conversation between the baby`s parents the day she disappeared. The incident report says the baby`s mother told police she talked with the baby`s father September 7th about the, quote, "welfare of the child and her not being able to care for the child properly," end quote. She said the baby`s father, quote, "told her to give the child to an unknown female white."


COSBY: And we`re continuing with this story. It`s Rita Cosby, in for Nancy Grace tonight. Let`s go to Matt Zarrell, our producer here on the show. You know, Matt, I`ve got to ask you a question. This husband -- he`s behind bars. He`s got a long rap sheet, and also, so does the mother, right?

ZARRELL: Well, the mother has one arrest from 2009. Now, both of them have a history of allegedly trying to steal cars. Apparently, she was with him on one of these car thefts. She was never prosecuted for that. He has been in jail since June 23rd. He`s got a laundry list of charges -- burglary and theft.

But one thing I want to make clear, Rita, it is still a missing persons case. And as of now, the mother, Shakara Dickens, is not a suspect and is not a person of interest.

COSBY: You know, Bill Majeski, I also thought that Joe Lawless hit it on the head. Why report the baby missing after eight days -- the timing? Something must have happened, don`t you think?

MAJESKI: Yes. Apparently, something did happen in her life. Someone called attention to the fact that the child is missing. A neighbor may have said, Listen, I haven`t seen the baby, where is the baby? Perhaps someone from the -- you know, the center where she was leaving her children in day care, perhaps they contacted her in some fashion. Someone made her aware that there is knowledge that the children, or at least the baby, is missing. And she`s looking to cover her tracks in some fashion.

COSBY: Let`s go to Dr. Panchali Dhar. She`s the author of "Before the Scalpel," also a doctor of internal medicine. Dr. Dhar, I have to ask you, what kind of a mother waits eight days to reporting her child missing, even if we believe her story?

DR. PANCHALI DHAR, INTERNAL MEDICINE: Well, there`s obviously some degree of nervousness involved on her part and why she came after eight days. But I`ll tell you, if she did any harm to this child, it would not be difficult to kill a 9-month-old child. You could smother this kid, strangle this kid, throw this kid down a flight of stairs. Anything could cause fatal injury. And then she`d have to bury the kid somewhere to keep it out of sight. I think those cadaver dogs are looking for the body, and any smell of blood would lead to the body.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The city (ph) watch (ph) says this may be a case of custodial interference. Family law books define custodial interference as, quote, "the taking or keeping of a child from the custodial parent with the intent to interfere with that parent`s rightful physical custody."




UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Police are desperately searching for a 9- month-old Tennessee girl after her mother allegedly gave her away to a complete stranger.

Authorities say the mother, 19-year-old Shakara Dickens, told them she gave away her daughter Lauryn to a total stranger and didn`t report it for over a week. Dickens told cops that she had a conversation with the baby`s father on September 7th and the father allegedly told Dickens to give the baby away to an unknown white female.

Dickens allegedly says that female arrived later that day reportedly claiming to be a friend of the father, and took the child. Dickens has not seen her daughter since.


RITA COSBY, GUEST HOST: And breaking news tonight. Cops are out at the scene of Dickens` apartment. Apparently they have sent homicide detectives and also cadaver dogs.

Let`s continue now if we could. Let`s go with Lillian Glass, Ph.D., she`s a psychologist, also a body language expert.

You know, Dr. Glass, you`re the perfect person to ask about this. Because neighbors were saying, how come she`s not hysterical? She waits eight days to basically report it. Who knows what changed, then all of a sudden, eight days later, surprise, let`s mention that my baby is missing.

What is going on inside this woman`s head even if you believe her story?

LILLIAN GLASS, PSYCHOLOGIST, BODY LANGUAGE EXPERT, AUTHOR OF "TOXIC PEOPLE": Absolutely, Rita, that`s exactly the point. It`s how she`s approached this. We`ve seen this before with other cases in the news. Where the parent waits a long time. There`s not that hysteria in terms of what`s happened to the child.

But what`s really telling, she can`t tell us the name of the person she gave the baby to, but she can tell the hair color, she can tell the -- that it was parted down the middle. That detail -- she could tell it was open-toed shoes. When someone gives that detailed information it`s often a signal of deception.

COSBY: Yes, absolutely.

And everybody, we`re going to show you some of the pictures that you see there on the screen. These are photos of Shakara Dickens, the mother, from what we believe to be her MySpace and also Facebook pages.

So you can take a look at the woman who says that she gave her baby, a 9-month-old baby, to a stranger after she talked to her husband, who by the way, in jail. What a great pair the two of them are.

Let`s go to Jason Miles who`s out at the scene where they are doing a search as we speak. At the apartment there of the mother.

Jason, you talked to her, right? Not that long ago. Whatever. A little over a week ago. How did she act? Did she seem like a mother in distress?

JASON MILES, REPORTER, CNN AFFILIATE WMC, ON THE SCENE FROM POLICE SEARCH AT MOM`S HOME: It was Friday afternoon, Rita, after we initially learned of this baby being reported missing. I came by the apartment obviously to see if the mother would like to talk.

Obviously our interest was to help her find little Lauryn Dickens. She kept the door pretty closed. Only open about that much as I spoke with her. Not on camera. She did not want to talk on camera.

But she did not appear upset at all. She said she was interested in finding her baby, didn`t know where the baby was, and didn`t know anything about the lady who supposedly took the baby.

But she did not seem distraught in the slightest. And as you mentioned, I was going to say, a neighbor who told me who has three or four children of her own, said if this was my baby who`s missing I`d be at every apartment door in this complex in this city hysterical searching for my child.

COSBY: You bet. Jason, I think that`s disgusting. Here she is not upset. I think that that`s extremely telling.

Let`s go to the callers. Let`s go Marie from Wisconsin who`s on the line.

Marie, what`s your question? You know as I hear this, Marie, I get sickened, thinking this poor little baby is missing. I pray she`s alive tonight.


COSBY: And yet she`s not upset? There`s a problem here.

MARIE: Oh, big-time. But looking at the other flip side, just for a second, if indeed the mother wanted to believed of this, why didn`t she use the Safe Haven law where you can bring a child to a fire department or a hospital or maybe church where the child would be cared for or a home found for this baby instead of some stranger on the street?

COSBY: You know, Marie, you bring up a great thing. And that`s my point. If she couldn`t financially or mentally handle the child, give it to someone who would love this beautiful baby.

Let`s go to Dr. Panchali Dhar. She is doctor of internal medicine, also the author of "Before the Scalpel."

Dr. Dhar, you know, as we sit here, give the baby up to someone who will love this beautiful baby.

DR. PANCHALI DHAR, M.D., INTERNAL MEDICINE, AUTHOR OF "BEFORE THE SCALPEL": Yes, that`s definitely an alternative that someone can take if they find that they can`t financially care for a child.

I mean, the mother is 19 years old. How much capacity and support system does she have to take care of the needs of a kid that needs to be clothed, bathed. Nine months old needs a lot of attention and needs a loving and caring environment which she could not provide.

So that`s a good alternative for someone who doesn`t feel the capacity that they can care for their child. Sure.

COSBY: And yet, Joe Lawless, the child is missing for eight days. She doesn`t report the child missing. What kind of a mother, what kind of a sick human being doesn`t report -- and as you heard from the caller -- isn`t frantic, isn`t looking, you know, until heck of high water? I mean this is nuts.

JOE LAWLESS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY, AUTHOR OF "PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT": I think Detective Majeski was right. I think something happened where she realized that someone noticed the child was missing and now she`s panicking and moving to cover her tracks.

It could have been very easily done for her to take the child to a hospital, to take it into a police station. Something happened to this child. That`s why the police are there searching for it. It took them a while to get probable cause to get a judge to issue the warrant.

COSBY: Why do you think it too so long? Why do you think?

LAWLESS: Well, you have her story. But then what they have to do is check it. They have to go interview the father at the prison. They have to check the prison records. They have to see if there was contact. They have to look at their interviews with her and see if there`s inconsistencies.

And when you have a circumstantial case you have to put it together in such a way that you can go to a judge and say, Judge, number one, we believe the child has been -- something`s happened to the child.

The child wasn`t given away. The child is missing and could be harmed. We believe that the mother was involved in committing the crime and we believe that because this is where the mother was with the child in the apartment that this is where there would be evidence of the crime.

You can`t just go in and get a search warrant on a suspicion. You have to build the case and that takes time. I`m sure that`s why it took this long.

COSBY: And remember, everybody, she is not a suspect officially at this time. They are just searching her location. But certainly the case looks very questionable.

Let`s go to our callers. Let`s go to Tracy from Texas. What`s your question?

TRACY, CALLER FROM TEXAS: My question is, if the father said that someone came to her house -- I mean, he sent someone to the house for the baby, I`m thinking that the mama knows more than what she`s telling.

She has too much information describing the lady and everything. She knows the -- the lady, whoever got the baby. I`m thinking she knows the name of the person and also, they also probably paid her if it`s true.

But I`m praying that the baby is safe and the baby is not harmed.

COSBY: No, and we certainly do, too, as well. And I think there is a lot more to the story.

Let`s go to Sheree from Ohio. Sheree, what`s your question?

SHEREE, CALLER FROM OHIO: I just wanted to know -- OK, I don`t understand what it is. I believe this young mother is using her child as leverage. If she`s going to allow a man, who`s supposedly the father of her child, to tell her to take it to a woman that she doesn`t know, just leave her and drop her off, I have no -- I have no clue why anybody would do that.

I wish my son`s father would come to me and say, hey, take the baby down the street to this lady, I don`t know -- you don`t need to know where her name, you don`t need to know where she lives. Just take -- I would be -- I would call the police on him. I don`t see how she could do that.

COSBY: You know, Sheree, I agree with you. No sane human being would ever do that to this beautiful, beautiful baby, to their own child, to any child. Especially their own child. It`s outrageous.

Let`s go to defense attorney Ray Giudice. You know, when you hear all this, Ray, you got to go, you know what, what normal person gives a baby -- the other point Sheree brought up, I thought was an interesting point, could there be some sort of custody issue here?

Could it be some sort of domestic issue? The guy -- you know, the father is, you know, behind bars, maybe there`s some sort of financial, some sort of custody problem. Let`s pray that that`s what the case is, and that`s the baby is safe and sound.

RAY GIUDICE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Rita, let`s go with that. Let`s paint a picture of how this might not be as bad as everyone thinks it is. Let`s say the mother and the father of this child are going through a very heated battle over the custody and the care of this child.

COSBY: So Ray, so Ray, so Ray --

GIUDICE: And for some reason --

COSBY: She just takes the baby away? I mean, come on.

GIUDICE: Let me finish.

COSBY: All right. Go ahead.

GIUDICE: And as the mother she feels she must take immediate steps to protect that child. Maybe the father`s getting out of prison, maybe he`s making threats.

COSBY: So Ray, Ray, please.

GIUDICE: And she`s somehow --

COSBY: Ray, please don`t expect me to feel sorry for this woman.

GIUDICE: I`m not at all.


GIUDICE: But what I am trying to do is make sure that this hour-long conversation focuses not just on this poor mother, a 19-year-old woman, that may have had more issues than we understand about.

Some of the callers have been very insightful to say there may be more going on here with family members and the father than we`re initially led to believe. Let`s remember, innocence until proven guilty in this country.

COSBY: And by the way, and everybody, she is not a suspect. But what kind of mother, what human being waits eight days? It`s outrageous.

GIUDICE: That`s a bad -- that`s a bad decision, Rita, but that doesn`t necessarily mean --

COSBY: Yes, it`s disgusting and it could be a deadly decision.

GIUDICE: But it does not necessarily mean that.

COSBY: No, and let`s -- look, let`s pray that this beautiful child is alive. Let`s pray that this woman is a custody issue. And shame on this mother regardless.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Nineteen-year-old Shakara Dickens told cops she gave her 9-month-old baby away to a stranger just hours after the baby`s father allegedly told Dickens to give the child to an unknown white female.

Cops say Dickens claimed she gave baby Lauryn to the female without knowing who she was or where she lives.




UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The image of 28-year-old Bethany Storro after she says a complete stranger threw acid on her face is hard to forget.



STORRO: She -- she was 5`8" about. It looked like she was shorter than me. And she looked totally normal like a normal person, not homeless or anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Several discrepancies began to emerge regarding the alleged attack.

STORRO: She had a green shirt on, khaki shorts. I didn`t get her shoes. She -- she was African-American and she had black hair pulled back into pigtails.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would she do this? What would be her motivation?

STORRO: She might have had some earrings in, that was the one thing I can`t -- I`m not quite sure. She might have had three piercings in the top of her ear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During the interview, Miss Storro admitted that her injuries were self-inflicted.

STORRO: She was very (INAUDIBLE). You know, just natural, no makeup. And she was a pretty girl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The attack itself did not occur as she had previously reported.


COSBY: And I`m Rita Cosby in for Nancy Grace.

Two beautiful young women suddenly attacked by strangers, acid thrown into their faces, leaving them scarred. But one of the victims ends up with more than $25,000 in donations.

But a shocking twist now. Cops reveal the prime suspect is the victim herself. And now prosecutors are throwing the book at her.

For the very latest let`s go Lou Brancaccio. He`s the editor with "The Columbian" newspaper.

Lou, first, tell us about the ruse, the story that she put on, this 28-year-old con artist.

LOU BRANCACCIO, EDITOR, THE COLUMBIAN: Well, as most of the world knows now, Bethany told everybody that she had been attacked by a pretty black woman. And that this pretty black woman threw acid in her face and suddenly thereafter this massive hunt was on to try to find this mad woman.

COSBY: And let`s go to Clark County deputy prosecutor, Tony Golick. You know, she not only had the search out everywhere, she got tons of donations, right? Thousands upon thousands of dollars in donations. People felt sorry for her, correct?

TONY GOLIK, DEPUTY PROSECUTOR: That`s correct. According to court documents that`s been filed -- filed affidavit by Detection Stefan (ph), the lead detective from Vancouver police, about $28,000 that had been given by Good Samaritans by the time she confessed she did it herself.

COSBY: Tony, $28,000. That`s a lot of money.


COSBY: Let`s go to Paul Pax. He`s the co-owner of Anytime Fitness who helped do a fundraiser for this woman.

Paul, what kind of fundraiser did you do and how did you feel when you first heard this story? I`m sure you felt sorry for her as we all did.

PAUL PAX, CO-OWNER, ANYTIME FITNESS, HELD FUNDRAISER FOR BETHANY STORRO: Yes. She`s a gym member of ours. And, you know, like any part of the family, you know, if somebody needs help, we`re there to help them out. And so we decided to do a fundraiser, a women`s self-defense seminar, to help her out and raise awareness in the community and raise some money toward her medical bills.

COSBY: Yes, and Bill Majeski, former NYPD detective, she also helped cops with a sketch. She went to incredible lengths here.

BILL MAJESKI, FMR. NYPD DETECTIVE, MAJESKI ASSOCIATES, INC.: Yes. I mean she created a dilemma for the police department. She used up a lot of resources that could be better used catching real criminals.

I`m sure the investigation went on for quite some period of time. So the amount of money that was spent investigating this, you know, fallacious crime is something that she should be punished for.

You know, clearly she has some issues internally with her own psychological makeup to have done something like this to herself. Now I know that she`s being charged -- you know for filing the false claims and for collecting the money, but in all likelihood when she winds up going to court, if indeed she goes before a jury, I think jurors are going to probably feel more sorry for her about what she did to herself.

And hopefully she`ll have some punishment by the court. But I kind of doubt that she`ll be punished severely by a jury.

COSBY: And -- and I hope, Bill, they throw the book at her. By the way, she kind of gave herself a facial peel --

MAJESKI: Yes, she did.

COSBY: -- with liquid drain cleaner.

Let`s go to Lou Brancaccio, how did they finally break the case and expose this scam artist who, by the way, I hope a jury doesn`t feel sorry for her. Because all of these people came to her aid. There have been other cases of acid thrown in women`s faces, real cases.

And you don`t want people to be afraid to help the real cases in the future. I think it`s outrageous. I`m glad they are charging this woman.

But tell us how they broke the case, Lou.

BRANCACCIO: Well, discrepancies started to creep into the case. And I will say that the police department did know about this shortly thereafter, shortly after the incident was finally revealed.

The way in which the acid was on her face did not match as though it had been thrown into her face.

COSBY: And in fact, by the way, I want to show -- I want to show because this is her before and after. And again, it turns out it was liquid drain cleaner. I also want to show everybody, let`s put up if we could, Katie Piper.

This is a 28-year-old woman, beautiful woman, a model. She really did get acid thrown in her face. And you can see it`s all over her. It`s on her neck, it`s all over her face. And in this particular case, Lou, correct me if I`m wrong, that she only had it in certain areas like her nose and her forehead.

But somehow she was able to avoid her eyes, able to avoid her mouth, which you would think you`d be screaming if someone did this. Avoid her hair. It was too neat. Is that right?

BRANCACCIO: That`s absolutely correct. I particularly think the idea that she didn`t have any acid in her mouth, down her throat or on her lips, when anybody in this situation would have yelled out and it obviously would have gotten into her mouth and on to her lips.

COSBY: Absolutely. Let`s go to Alicia from Texas who`s on the line. Alicia, what`s your question tonight?

ALICIA, CALLER FROM TEXAS: Yes, my question is, I mean, obviously she has mental health issues, but I`m wondering, you know, because she is so young and was so beautiful before, what sort of mental health history -- do we know what sort of mental health history that she had, if she was ever committed to psychiatric hospitals or anything of that nature?

COSBY: Alicia, that`s a great question. Let`s go, if we could, to Tony Golick, he is the Clark County deputy prosecutor there.

Tony, what`s the history of this woman? And by the way, Alicia, she`s 28 years old. This is not a teenager who did this.

But what`s the history of this woman? Any arrest, any mental history, Tony?

GOLIK: At this point I don`t have any records of mental health issues in the past. But I`m not saying she does or doesn`t have any. What I`m saying is at this point I don`t have any of those records.

I`ve got minimal reports at this point. The case is just coming in. So I have probable cause affidavit. I don`t know much about her history. I don`t have any --



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Bethany Storro told police a woman approached her on the street and said --

STORRO: Hey, pretty girl.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pretty girl, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Then threw a glass full of acid in her face.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: She is now facing serious charges here.


COSBY: And shame on that woman. She apparently said first that acid was thrown on her face and it turns out she did it herself. Drain cleaner. All a hoax. Meantime, people donated close to 30,000 bucks. In fact, $1500 of it she took her parents out to dinner with some of the money that she got donated.

Take a look at this. Anytime Fitness raised $800. Bank account $4500. Savings account, $20,000. Also she spent about $600 on a facial peel. She was paying back the facial peel that she got. Not this facial peel.

Let`s go real quick to Paul Pax. He`s the co-owner of Anytime Fitness.

Real quick, Paul, are you angry at this woman? You guys raised money for her. You felt sorry for her.

PAX: Oh, we just feel sad and disappointed that, you know, it had come to this. And, you know, we believed her story and feel bad for her parents.

COSBY: Yes. What a nut. Lillian Glass, psychologist, what kind of woman does this?

GLASS: You know, it`s interesting. Yes, there`s obviously psychological problems. But I`m wondering if there are also some problems in terms with her mental capacity. If you listen to her speak, it sounds as though she does have a speech disorder, because the R sounds are very distinct.

It`s not just the fact that she`s covered with gauze. So you wonder, does she have other physical problems like deafness or is she a slow learner? Or does she have problems with her mental capacity?

COSBY: Lots of questions tonight. And she clearly is nuts to do this. And I think shame on her for terrorizing that community and having that community worried and kind people to help. I hope that people learn when they throw the books at her.

Tonight, everybody, let`s stop to remember Marine Lance Corporal Nicholas Erdy, 21 from Williamsburg, Ohio, killed in Iraq. He was awarded the Purple Heart, Navy Commendation medal and the National Defense Service medal.

He dreamed of enlisting since a young boy where he would build forts and read about military war strategies. He loved football, children and rooting for the underdog. He`s remembered for living life to his fullest. He leaves behind parents Jean and Bill, and sister Erin.

Nicholas Erdy, an American hero.

And thank you to all our guests and to you at home for being with us tonight. I`ll see you tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. sharp Eastern Time. Until then, everybody, have a fantastic evening. Good night, everyone.