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Two Children Shut in Closet by Mom Dead

Aired September 23, 2010 - 20:00:00   ET


RITA COSBY, GUEST HOST: Breaking news tonight. Instead of finding a baby-sitter to watch her children while she heads out shopping with a friend, cops say an Indianapolis mother of five uses a closet as day care, four children crammed by their own mother into a hot bedroom closet only six feet long and 24 inches deep, no air, no food. The mother, taking her sweet time to return home, opens the closet 10 hours later to find two of the children dead with absolutely no pulse, stiff as a board in full rigor mortis. And one of the children surviving the 10-hour nightmare reveals it`s not the first time they`d been locked up in the closet. Well, let`s see how you like being locked up, Mommy, behind bars!


911 OPERATOR: What`s the problem there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s (INAUDIBLE) one of my neighbors. And a mother who has five babies, and I believe -- I believe one of them already dead.

911 OPERATOR: OK, you believe one of them is what?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A coroner`s label seals off the back patio door of 4663 Londonderry Drive where police discovered two children dead inside.

911 OPERATOR: Is the child awake right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn`t look like it.

911 OPERATOR: And is the child breathing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think so.

911 OPERATOR: Can you go inside by the child? Because if the child`s not breathing, then I`m going to need to tell you how to do CPR.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) already dead. It`s not breathing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first officer who arrived on the scene reported signs of rigor mortis in the body.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neighbors told Fox 59 News that the children appeared undernourished and needy, and while they told apartment managers they were worried, no one called police.


GRACE: And major developments tonight in the suspicious disappearance of a beautiful 9-month-old baby girl whose mother claims she gives to a complete stranger. Baby Lauryn is never seen again. In the moments just as we go to air tonight, police announce charges against the mother, as investigators execute search warrants, including seizing a car.

Baby Lauryn`s mother charged with aggravated child neglect and endangerment. After intense questioning by homicide detectives, Memphis police reveal the mother is changing her story and say there`s no evidence to back her claims. At this hour, CSI analyzing baby Lauryn`s carseat, her little walker, toys and other evidence. Tonight, we are live in Tennessee. What happened to 9-month-old baby Lauryn?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her mom is locked up.

COSBY: Arrested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Claims she gave her baby to a total stranger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 19-year-old mother.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taken into custody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She had her head down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The pressure is on.

COSBY: She`s wearing a nice orange jumpsuit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shakara, where is Lauryn, do you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) have anything to say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`ve collected a lot of evidence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The crime scene technician removed a number of paper sacks and baby toys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brown paper bags filled with items.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re looking for DNA evidence, hair and fiber evidence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Little Lauryn Dickens`s carseat.

COSBY: It smelled. It stunk. There was some foul odor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police cadaver dog hit on a scent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The scent of death.

COSBY: Smelled like something was dead inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shakara, do you have anything to say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know where Lauryn is?


GRACE: And good evening, everybody. I`m Rita Cosby, in for Nancy Grace. Breaking news tonight. A closet used for day care, four children crammed by their own mother into a closet, a tiny one, no air, no food. And 10 hours later, two of the children found dead. And in a shocking twist, we learn it`s not the first time their mother has locked them in the closet.


911 OPERATOR: 911. Where`s your emergency?


911 OPERATOR: I`m sorry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, please, we would like -- we would like to get emergency, please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stuffed animals at death`s doorstep, silent tributes that speak to the inhuman treatment that went undiscovered inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ll tell you, this is one of the most disgusting incidents I`ve heard about, and I`ve been on the department 28 years.

911 OPERATOR: OK, and what`s going on there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a child dead.

911 OPERATOR: A who?


911 OPERATOR: What`s wrong with the child?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s already dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five children, ages 1 through 7, spend more than 10 hours locked inside a small upstairs closet. Two of them didn`t make it out alive.

911 OPERATOR: I`m sorry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s already dead.

911 OPERATOR: You need an ambulance?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, ambulance and everything.


COSBY: And for the very latest, let`s go to Gage Lutes. He is the news director with WBIW. Fill us in on what happened in this horrible case.

GAGE LUTES, WBIW 1340 AM (via telephone): Well, the mother locked her four -- four of her five children in the closet, like you heard, for 10 hours. And she`s been charged with neglect of an attendant (ph) and is being held on $200,000 bond right now. And they`re trying to get a gag order, and they`re -- prosecutors are asking for 72 hours or a little more time to find out more information on the story.

COSBY: Let`s go to Ellie Jostad, NANCY GRACE producer. You know, Ellie, what is so upsetting, you think about the size of this closet, how many kids were inside and sort of describe -- there were other things inside, not just the kids, right?

ELLIE JOSTAD, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: That`s right, Rita. And this is a closet that is six feet by 24 inches. There are four children inside. We`ve got in the closet a 3-year-old, a 4-year-old, a 5-year-old and a 7- year-old. Police say this wasn`t an empty closet, either. There were clothes inside, other items. And they believe these kids were in there at least 10 hours. The 7-year-old who survived said it was dark when she entered the closet and it was dark when she got out.

COSBY: Carl Brizzi, Marion County prosecutor, I have to ask you, Carl, when you hear this story, it almost seems like it doesn`t get any worse, and yet she doesn`t rush to call 911. In fact, I understand she fought to call 911. Her uncle was trying to do it and she didn`t want him to do it, right?

CARL BRIZZI, MARION COUNTY PROSECUTOR (via telephone): No, that`s right. According to the probable cause affidavit, she attempted to prevent the uncle from calling 911, threw -- actually threw the phone away from him, actually tore his -- his glasses off to try and prevent him from calling 911. I can tell you that we, as a community, are struggling with this case. I personally am struggling with it. I`ve been the prosecutor here for almost eight years (INAUDIBLE) over a decade. And as a parent of four, this is really difficult to comprehend.

COSBY: You know, it is so upsetting, this case. And you cannot think -- beautiful little, young kids, two of them, to die. And apparently, this mother has locked children in the closet before.

Let`s go to our callers. We`ve got a lot of them already. Tiffany from Indiana. Tiffany, what`s your question tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Yes. I was wanting to know if her neighbors or this friend that she went shopping with knew that she locked these kids in the closet and left them there like that for 10 hours, with no food and no water? Or did any of her people know that, like, her parents or -- you know, this is crazy.

COSBY: It is crazy. Let`s go to Gage Lutes, the news director with WBIW. Gage, is there any indication anyone else know or did -- was someone tipped off by her behavior?

LUTES: Oh, well, some of her neighbors said the -- you know, the kids were very nice, but they were never really outside. And they heard some of the sisters yelling, but they just figured, you know, it was sisters arguing with each other. But other than that, they didn`t really suspect anything at all.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, ma`am. I`ve got a couple questions. First of all, looking at this woman, it looks like she may have been addicted to something. I mean, she`s so thin, you know? And the other question is, the 7-year-old, obviously, I would hope she was in school. And I`m wondering if maybe we can help stop these things from happening by providing more education to the children in the schools and having them tell on their parents, you know, and cry out for help, instead of letting this go on and on until something like this happens.

COSBY: You know, it is so upsetting. And you hit had a lot of good points there, Patty. In terms of the addiction, or maybe this woman`s history, let`s go to Ellie Jostad, NANCY GRACE producer. Anything in this woman`s history, Ellie, that we know?

JOSTAD: Well, the Department of Children and Family Services tell us they didn`t have a history with this mother. However, mentioning the thinness, she did say -- the mother told police that her uncle told her, you Need to cook more, you need to feed the kids more, you yourself need to eat more. And she says she agreed with him on that. But she did tell him, I did something wrong, and started to cry the day that this happened.

COSBY: Let`s go to Eleanor Odom, felony prosecutor. You know, one of the questions -- I thought this was a great question that Patty asked about the kids, and this is -- if the story doesn`t get bad enough, everybody, my understanding is the 7-year-old was in the closet at the time, started screaming when she realized that her brother and her sister were dead next to her. And when she started screaming, that`s the only reason the mother opened up the closet. That`s what I`ve seen from reports. This is devastating, don`t you think?

ELEANOR ODOM, PROSECUTOR: Oh, my God! Can you imagine watching your own siblings die in a closet? This mother should be charged with so many crimes, from murder to cruelty to children, for forcing the children who remained alive to watch their siblings die. It`s terribly cruel.

And you know, the question was asked, why don`t -- why isn`t there education in schools to have kids tell? Well, there is that type of education, but you got to remember, oftentimes, they are loyal to their parents, they still love their parents. And parents will threaten children and say, You don`t tell what goes on in the home. And sadly, we see that every day, Rita.

COSBY: You know, the other question, took, in terms of the timeframe -- let`s go to Gwenn O`Keeffe. She`s a doctor, pediatrician, author of the new book "Cybersafe." Dr. O`Keeffe, do we know, can we gauge how long the kids were in there? It is so upsetting to hear that the kids may have been stiff and that, clearly, rigor mortis set in. But then we hear from the little girl, the 7-year-old, that it was dark when she got in and dark when she got out.

DR. GWENN O`KEEFFE, PEDIATRICIAN: We can`t tell for sure, Rita, but we can tell from just what the kids described. If it`s dark when they got in and dark when we got out, that`s a huge amount of a day. And rigor mortis takes a good amount of time to set in, so that`s certainly an amount of hours. I think it`s safe to say the kids were in there at least half a day, if not longer.

COSBY: It is so upsetting. Let`s go to Amy from Tennessee, who`s on the line. Amy, what`s your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I was wondering if, like, she had any kind of investigations with DCF and if she`s got any kind of an arrest record.

COSBY: That`s a great question. Carl Brizzi, Marion County prosecutor, any track record with this woman, any history?

BRIZZI: You know, I`m not able to talk about that, due to the ethical guidelines that are imposed upon prosecutors. But you know, one of the things that I can say, though, is that -- just to echo what some of the callers and other guests have talked about -- is the fact that this case not only affects these two babies, 3 and 4, who died in the closet. But also, can you imagine the 7-year-old, who literally witnessed these 3-year- old to 4-year-olds -- they were crying before the 7-year-old said they fell asleep. And the 7-year-old was the person who alerted the mother that the babies were dead, and she watched the mom carry the 3-year-old and 4-year- old down the stairs in full rigor, which means that rigor mortis had set in. So they had been dead for some time, according to the probable cause affidavit. And again, this woman is presumed innocent until proven guilty. But they had been in that closet for over 10 hours, no water, no food.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At 4663 Londonderry Drive, where police discovered two children dead inside. The first officer who arrived on the scene reported signs of rigor mortis in the bodies.




911 OPERATOR: What`s the problem there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s -- there`s one of my neighbor and (INAUDIBLE) a mother who has five babies, and I believe -- I believe one of them already dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ebyan Farah is accused of putting her five children in a small upstairs closet, where they spent all day.

911 OPERATOR: And is the child breathing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two of them didn`t make it out alive.

911 OPERATOR: What`s wrong with the child?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s already dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neighbors told Fox 59 News that the children appeared undernourished and needy. The first officer who arrived on the scene reported signs of rigor mortis in the bodies.


COSBY: And I`m Rita Cosby, in for Nancy Grace. A horrible, horrible case, a mother locks her four kids in a closet for 10 hours and two of them die, one a 3-year-old boy and a 4-year-old little girl. This story just doesn`t get any worse when you see it, in a small closet there, six feet wide by two feet deep. Can you imagine? Also clothes inside and all these other items inside.

Carl Brizzi, the Marion County prosecutor, I have to ask you, what was the scene like when investigators got there? Describe what it was like. And I also understand that there was something blocking the closet so the kids couldn`t get out.

BRIZZI: Yes, there were twin mattresses that were blocking the closet so that the children couldn`t get out. And again, these kids had been in this closet for 10 hours. The 7-year-old, after realizing that her siblings, her 3 and 4-year-old siblings had, in fact, not fallen asleep, they, in fact, died, she was screaming for her mother, who was gone.

And when Mom finally came back, she discovered that the babies were dead, and she carried them down. She carried them down the stairs -- the 7-year-old witnessed this -- one by one, placed them on the couch and on the floor respectively, and then again fought attempts by neighbors and relatives to inform the police. But she did acknowledge that she, in fact, did something wrong. And you know, folks ask -- I`ve been doing this now for a decade. And they say, you know, Is this the worst crime that you`ve ever seen? And it is absolutely one of the worst crimes that we have experienced. We`re still reeling from this here in Indianapolis. And we have seen crimes where boyfriends and relatives and others have abused and killed and sexually assaulted children. But really, never have we experienced a mother, the natural mother of children, doing something like this.

And again, folks have said, Well, maybe she`s from Somalia. Maybe there`s a language barrier, that sort of thing. The bottom line is this, is that maternal instincts transcend any sort of language barriers. And we are absolutely dumbfounded as to how something like this could happen.

COSBY: Absolutely. How could you do this to your own kids, to any kids? It is just -- it`s sickening when I hear it. It`s upsetting everybody just to report this.

You know, I -- the other thing, Peter Odom, how do you defend a woman like this? And I have to ask you, I think who`s going to be a key witness is the 7-year-old, Peter, because what happens is this daughter, who`s screaming, begging for her two kids, you know, her -- her -- you know, her brother and also, you know, her sister, who are dead, 4 and 3 years old, dead, died right in front of her -- she`s screaming. And then she tells authorities, apparently, that Mom has done this before. Mom has locked them in the closet when she went cooking or when she was punishing them before. This isn`t a one-time thing, Peter.

PETER ODOM, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the first thing that I`m going to do in defending this woman is have her evaluated. We`re going to find out what the situation was at home, what her mental situation is. I`m a little bit surprised to hear about the prosecutors on the show talking about what a horrible crime this is and...

COSBY: How could you say it`s not a horrible crime!

PETER ODOM: ... charging people with murder...

COSBY: How could you say, Peter...

PETER ODOM: ... and throwing -- throwing people in jail...

COSBY: Peter! Peter!

PETER ODOM: ... when we don`t even -- this was an accident. It appears to be an accident.

COSBY: But Peter, she has done it before!

PETER ODOM: And until you rule that out...

COSBY: Peter, they`re just charging her, everybody, by the way, right now, it`s eight counts.

PETER ODOM: There`s no...

COSBY: It`s not murder, it`s -- it`s -- it`s neglect at the very...

PETER ODOM: Correct.

COSBY: I mean, that -- she`s off easy right now, a lot of people would say.

PETER ODOM: It`s certainly not murder. She didn`t set out -- and no one`s even suggesting that she set out to kill these children. What she did is something...

COSBY: But she was reckless!

PETER ODOM: ... born of stupidity.

COSBY: She was -- she was reckless! And she`s been stupid time and time again!

PETER ODOM: We really -- we really don`t know yet.

COSBY: We do know she`s...

PETER ODOM: We really don`t know yet.

COSBY: ... done this before, according to the daughter. If you believe the daughter, she`s done it before!

PETER ODOM: Well, the first thing I`m going to insist on is an actual investigation before we start talking about murder charges.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neighbors told Fox 59 news that the children appeared undernourished and needy. Neighbors say the father would bring home the groceries, but he returned to Somalia this summer, leaving the mother and five children to fend for themselves.




911 OPERATOR: 911. Where`s your emergency?


911 OPERATOR: I`m sorry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, please, we would like -- we would like to get emergency, please.

911 OPERATOR: OK, and what`s going on there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s -- I have some -- a child dead.

911 OPERATOR: A who?


911 OPERATOR: What`s wrong with the child?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s already dead.

911 OPERATOR: I`m sorry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s already dead.

911 OPERATOR: You need an ambulance?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, ambulance and everything.


COSBY: And a mother locks, barricades her four kids into a closet. Two of them die. And now she`s facing eight felony counts, but not murder charges.

Let`s go, if we could, to Sheryl McCollum, crime analyst, director of cold case squad with the Pine Lake Police Department. Sheryl, she pleads not guilty to neglect. First of all, what do you think of that? And should there be more serious charges against this woman?

SHERYL MCCOLLUM, CRIME ANALYST: Oh, there`s more serious charges coming. And let me -- let me tell you, Rita. I am livid at what I am hearing on this show, including the caller`s question, because let me be very clear. It is not a child`s responsibility to protect themselves against their parents, period! End of story! It is our responsibility.

COSBY: You bet.

MCCOLLUM: Every neighbor -- every neighbor that heard them screaming, every neighbor that saw them banging on the door for help, every family member that saw them basically evaporating before their very eyes, that`s who`s responsible. We are. We are responsible when we deliver the mail and we don`t notice. We`re responsible...

COSBY: So what about this woman -- Sheryl, what about this woman, now charged with eight felony counts of neglect, basically, neglect and criminal confinement? What about something more serious for her?

MCCOLLUM: It`s coming. It`s coming. Let the DA do his job. They`re going to do the toxicology. They`ve already said there`s no obvious signs of trauma. But that 7-year-old is going to be the best witness against her.

COSBY: I absolutely agree.

MCCOLLUM: This is not the first time he`s been -- or they`ve been in that closet. And as far as the rigor mortis -- rigor mortis sets in about three hours into it, very maximum 12 hours. There`s no telling how long they were in that closet.

COSBY: Renee Rockwell, big trouble, don`t you think, for this mom?

RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No. Let me just say this...


ROCKWELL: Let me say this. She is not the only one at fault here. This was bound to happen. And I`m...

COSBY: Wait, wait, wait, wait! How was...


COSBY: It`s bound to happen because she kept doing it!

ROCKWELL: It`s bound to happen because this wasn`t the first time. And this neighbor -- did you hear the 911 caller, I need an ambulance and everything. You`re god-darn right you needed everything! The neighbors stood by. The children were emaciated. Where`s Daddy? How are you going to leave a woman with five kids? He might not have even let her put the children in day care.

COSBY: But she does it repeatedly -- Renee, she does it repeatedly...

ROCKWELL: It was bound to happen.

COSBY: ... locked them in. It`s bound to happen because she caused it!

ROCKWELL: That`s right. But you know what? It`s not murder. And shame on everybody around there for letting this go down.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s something here, hopefully the child is still alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something has happened to this child. And I`m sure the police are looking at this as a lot more than a missing person`s case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can smother this kid, strangle this kid, throw this kid down a flight of stairs. Anything could cause fatal injury.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: White female, 40 to 50 years old. Eyeglasses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly the mother is coming out with a story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something happened to this child.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Gray, shoulder length straight hair, khaki Capri pants. White closed-toe sandals.

LILLIAN GLASS, PSYCHOLOGIST, BODY LANGUAGE EXPERT, AUTHOR OF "TOXIC PEOPLE": When someone gives that detailed information, it`s often a signal of deception.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly the conversations 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.


RITA COSBY, GUEST HOST: I`m Rita Cosby in for Nancy Grace.

Breaking news tonight out of Tennessee in the case of a young mother who claims her 9-month-old baby goes missing after giving the little girl to a stranger. Police announced charges against the mother, execute search warrants and seize a car.

Lots of new details, and for the latest, let`s go to Jason Miles who`s a reporter with the CNN affiliate WMC.

Jason, tell us what just happened.

JASON MILES, REPORTER, CNN AFFILIATE WMC: Rita, as you snow, Shakara Dickens, 19 years old, was being held on what`s called a 48-hour hold since Tuesday evening. With moments to spare Memphis police announced charges just within the last hour or so.

Shakara Dickens charged with aggravated child neglect and endangerment, as well as false reporting. Basically what I`m told police did not buy her story, the story about her giving her baby over to a stranger. That`s no big surprise.

But the big mystery, the problem here, is that the whereabouts of little Lauryn Dickens remain a mystery. Apparently her mother is not divulging the location of Lauryn either alive or dead at this point.

Now as far as the mother is concerned, she will remain behind bars at this point until a court appearance and -- at which time a bond will be set. And depending on whether she can make that bond she could be released later this week or remain behind bars. Rita?

COSBY: Renee Rockwell, defense attorney, they had to give her some sort of charges to hold her, right? Even for just a short term?

RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Actually, you can`t just -- you can`t just put somebody in jail and just lock the door and hope that they confess to a homicide. What they did was they initially put these neglect charges on her, hoping they could kind of squeeze out maybe some statement. Well, she`s in the lake, she`s in the pond.

COSBY: You think it`s going to work, Renee?

ROCKWELL: No, it worked. What worked?


COSBY: Do you think they`re going to squeeze her? Do you think they`ll get her?

ROCKWELL: She did say something. Unfortunately, she made a statement that she gave the child away, but I think that there was --


COSBY: To a stranger.

ROCKWELL: To a stranger, who looked like me, 40 or 50, glasses, with khaki pants. That`s everybody, right?

COSBY: Yes --

ROCKWELL: Well, not everybody.

COSBY: Well, that`s --


COSBY: By the way, that`s probably why she picked it.

Let`s go to Sheryl McCollum, crime analyst, also director of Cold Case Squad. Renee hit it on the head. She picked some generic description.


COSBY: It could be anybody.

MCCOLLUM: Renee was perfect. It`s every single one of us on the show. We`re all 40 to 50. You know, white female --

COSBY: Speak for yourself. No.

MCCOLLUM: I know, right. But again, we don`t drive around looking for somebody to give us their baby. This is the most asinine story we`ve ever heard. But of course it rings very similar to baby Gabriel.

And you know what she`s done here is she`s told us a story that nobody`s going to believe. That, you know, she doesn`t look for the baby for eight days, she never panics, she never calls the police, doesn`t send the car seat with the baby, no clothes, no toys.

They`re going to squeeze her until she says, OK, I accidentally killed the baby. This is where the baby is or something similar.


MCCOLLUM: She`s not going to go anywhere. Absolutely.

COSBY: No. I agree with you.

Let`s go to Nicole Partin, she`s an investigative reporter covering the story.

Nicole, tell us about the search warrant again. Lots of new stuff happening in this case. I mean there`s been so many new developments. Interesting things that they`re searching and that they seized.

NICOLE PARTING, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Good evening, Rita. Yes, brand new search warrants have been issued. Police now have searched a second home, and this is apparently where Shakara was living before she moved into the apartment.

We learned, you know, a few days ago that she`d only been living in this apartment for maybe about a month, several weeks. So police now go into the home where she lived before the apartment. They`re searching there.

Also important to remember, they took those cadaver dogs into the apartment. And those dogs hilt on the fence. At that apartment, they hit on human remains in the yard. Police say they dusted, they found no body, but again, this led them to begin to look further.

They searched a second home. There`s also been the car that`s now been confiscated. Brought into the tunnel as they call it here at the police station. They`re investigating the car. There have been cell phones confiscated, along with the items that we know about, the car seat, the stroller, the baby toys and so forth.

COSBY: Let`s go to Stephanie from Kentucky who`s on the line.

Stephanie, what`s your question this evening?

STEPHANIE, CALLER FROM KENTUCKY: Hi, my question is, the baby`s father who is supposedly in prison. She said the lady that came and took the child, the stranger, she knew the father. So wouldn`t the father know this lady if that`s really the case?

COSBY: Well, that`s why, Stephanie, investigators are very suspicious of her story. Apparently the father, by the way, who, everybody, has a long wrap sheet, he`s in jail. He claims he`s had no contact with her recently. In fact that she was blocking his calls, according to his attorney who spoke with us.

I mean, Peter Odom, when you hear this, if they can prove that there was no contact between her and the daddy, whether it was a visit or phone calls, they can check that, you know that.

PETER ODOM, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right. And I mean they`re going to dig into that story. What the police did that was really a mistake is they used the vinegar approach when they should have used honey. They should have let her go about her business and if they wanted her cooperation, you don`t throw somebody in jail and threaten them with charges to get their cooperation. And I think they`ve lost an opportunity and --

COSBY: Peter, what if -

P. ODOM: Let`s hope that this turns out OK.

COSBY: What if they were worried she might flee? What if they were worried she might take off?

P. ODOM: Come on, there`s no indication that this woman has the capacity to flee. She`s from the area. Her family`s from the area. The ex-boyfriend is from the area.

COSBY: What about the other kid, she`s got a child. There`s another child apparently. I think it`s like a 3-year-old or 4-year-old child.

P. ODOM: Keep her on a short leash. But they -- I mean --

COSBY: Keep her on a short leash? Meanwhile this other one`s missing and she -- some white woman with closed-toed shoes, glasses, generic woman shows up, she gives the baby to a stranger, we`re supposed to trust her with another child?

P. ODOM: Well, she is that other child`s mother. And at this point, we don`t know what happened to the other kid, and the police just -- they got this one wrong. They always think that somehow incarcerating someone is going to elicit their cooperation, and it just never works.

COSBY: Sheryl, I don`t think cops got this wrong. I think they`re squeezing her and I think that hopefully this will get her to crack to say whatever the story is. We know for a fact conflicting stories, right, Sheryl McCollum?

MCCOLLUM: Rita, going to jail is a pretty good wakeup call.

COSBY: Sure is.

MCCOLLUM: I mean she`s not going anywhere so you might as well make it easy on yourself and tell us what`s going on.

COSBY: Absolutely. Let`s go to Jennifer from Massachusetts who`s on the line. Jennifer?

JENNIFER, CALLER FROM MASSACHUSETTS: Hi, Rita. Thanks for taking my call. I think this is absolutely horrible. These women, you know, that are harming their babies when there are so many women that want to have children.

Unfortunately, I don`t believe the child is alive. But my question is, if she is charged with murder, do you believe the prosecutors will seek the death penalty for her?

COSBY: That`s a great question. Let`s go to Eleanor Odom. What do you think? Do you think they can go for the death penalty in this case?

ELEANOR ODOM, PROSECUTOR: I think you certainly can, based on the evidence and based on -- if they find the child and how the child died.

You know she was in jail on child neglect charges. She was in jail for a lawful reason. So these defense attorneys you think well, she shouldn`t be there. They`re using the vinegar approach. They`re completely wrong.

She was in there on a legitimate criminal charge. Throw away her story and now let`s look at all the evidence that the police are collecting now.

COSBY: Yes. And by the way, your child is missing, you better keep your story straight.

Bethany Marshall, what kind of a woman does this? What kind of a woman comes up with conflicting stories? And as we`ve said, this amazes me. She doesn`t seem hysterical. If you talk to neighbors, she`s calm, she`s cool, doesn`t seem upset.

And then she gives a child to a stranger. Even if you believe her story, what`s going on in this woman`s mind?

BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST, AUTHOR OF "DEALBREAKERS": Rita, there`s only one story that never changes, and that is the truth. And do you know what really stinks to high heavens about this story? The fact is that this mother`s relatives will not come forward.

According to one report, they`ve disconnected their phones and will not talk to the police and that tells me that they know that something was happening in this household.

What was happening? Did this mother resent this little baby? Did this mother have a boyfriend? Did she abuse the baby to get back at the baby`s daddy? Did she want an idealized life? Was she starving the baby?

We know from our last story that some mothers see their children and their babies as greedy and depriving and they resent the fact that the baby has needs, and that is the mindset of the mother that abuses and kills her child. The mother hates the child and is not maternally bonded.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Lauryn Dickens was last seen wearing a brown onesie with one pink flower and pink dots. She stands 1`9" and weighs 17 pounds. Memphis police say Lauryn Dickens` mother Shakara admitted she gave her baby to a stranger and did not report it to police for days.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The charge on which she is being held is aggravated child abuse.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A Tennessee mother who allegedly gave her baby away to a total stranger didn`t report it to police for eight days.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Investigators, homicide detectives, cadaver dogs comb the apartment where 9-month-old baby Lauryn lived before her mother supposedly gave her away to a stranger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re looking for DNA evidence, hair and fiber evidence, anything that indicate that there may have been something done to that child that would show up in forensic testing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re going to look for DNA and things related to blood and those types of things.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Items were removed such as the highchair, the walker, the car seat. Brown paper bags filled with items.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the dog giving a positive indication that there was a cadaver scent in there. It`s a good indication that they likely have information that they have that they`re holding very closely to the vest, thus the reason that she`s being held and charged.


COSBY: And breaking news tonight, that mother, a 19-year-old mother who says she gave her baby to a stranger, well, she has now been charged. And when you look at this beautiful little baby -- let`s show if we could do a close-up of her. It just breaks my heart.

She is going to be 10 months old tomorrow. Beautiful little Lauryn Dickens who at this hour is still missing tonight after, again, her mother claims she gave this beautiful child, beautiful helpless, defenseless child to a stranger. But then somehow waited eight days to report her missing.

Dr. Gwenn O`Keefe, pediatrician and author of "Cyber safe." When you see this and you see this beautiful little baby, again, going to be 10 months old, how dangerous is this baby to be without the proper care?

Who knows if you even believe the mother`s story, which I have a very hard time believing -- you believe the mother`s story, she`s with a stranger.

DR. GWENN O`KEEFE, M.D., PEDIATRICIAN, FOUNDER & CEO, PEDIATRICSNOW.COM: It`s a high-risk situation, Rita. You know, I think whether we believe the story or not, it`s always a high risk situation for a baby this young to be without the proper care.

And even with a 19-year-old mother, this child was at risk because 19- year-olds aren`t well equipped to take care of a child this young. So either way, this baby was in a risky situation and needed a little extra TLC.

COSBY: Absolutely. And probably needs a lot of care. And again, if this baby is missing at this hour, if anyone has seen this child, please, absolutely call authorities right away.

She`s going to be 10 months old tomorrow. And we all, of course, pray she`s alive tonight.

Nicole Partin, investigative reporter who`s covering the story. Tell us real quickly about some of the search warrants that are being looked at in relation to the mother. I thought it was really interesting, when you look at some of the things as they`re trying to pinpoint where this little beautiful baby could be. They search cars, they search phones, correct?

PARTIN: That`s true, Rita. And I -- to think that something in this is very interesting to note. We really don`t have a timeline of events other than what little Lauryn`s mother is giving to authorities.

She`s telling them she last saw her baby on September 7th. That`s her story. As we know, her story isn`t adding up so I think that`s why maybe the authorities went in and went back to a former house of residence for Shakara and the baby girl.

You know, we really don`t know who saw her last. We really don`t know the last time she was seen by the mother, by a neighbor, by a family member. We`re only hearing September 7th from the mother.

Police went back. They`re now searching a second home where Shakara lived before she moved into this apartment. They`ve gone in there, they`re investigating, they`re searching. And then there`s the car that was also picked up from a local elementary school. We have not determined if that car belonged to Shakara or her mother.

That`s still being determined but police brought that in. They`re combing through the car for any bit of evidence. And then there are the cell phones. Remember her story that she was phoning the father of the baby into the jail. So they`re checking her phone records. They`re trying to search for any clue that they can possibly link to the baby`s disappearance.

COSBY: And the father`s attorney who spoke with us tonight -- by the way, everybody says that the father knew nothing about this case, until investigators questioned him. Again the father is in jail on burglary charges.

Let`s go to the callers. We`ve got Sarah from Iowa. Sarah, what`s your question this evening?

As we look at this beautiful little baby, it breaks my heart to think she`s missing at this hour.

SARAH, CALLER IOWA: Me, too. I think we need to have a children`s rights movement in this country. But my question is, if she said that she talked to the father and the father told her to give the baby to someone, those calls in jail, aren`t they recorded? Can`t they just listen to the tape and find out if she`s telling the truth?

COSBY: Absolutely. Peter Odom, defense attorney, you know that authorities probably know the answer to that already, right?

P. ODOM: Well, they -- I mean, they might. They might have lost the tape. I mean I would think that they would easily be able to refute that story. But we haven`t heard anything about that yet so they probably don`t have it.

COSBY: Kathy from Alabama who`s on the line. What`s your question, Kathy?

KATHY, CALLER FROM ALABAMA: I was just wondering if the daddy`s in the jail and if he owed a debt, can the baby was payment for the debt? And when a family member came over and said, you know, like, where`s the baby? And she told them what she did, that that`s when they made her call the police?

COSBY: That`s an interesting -- was there any payback? Let`s go to Jason Miles who`s a reporter with CNN affiliate WMC.

You know, there`s sort of this theory, maybe there was some sort of payback with the father, maybe some financial debt with the stranger. Is there any evidence of anything outside of her with her conflicting stories?

MILES: Not that I`m aware of, and certainly police are not going into speculation or rumor or possibilities regarding anything like that. We did have a chance to interview Police Director Larry Godwin, the chief, if you will, here on the 12th floor of the building you see behind me.

He told us his gut feeling today was not good regarding the whereabouts of little Lauryn Dickens. He believes this may -- this story may end very tragically here. He just hopes they can determine as quickly as possibly what happened to this little girl.

COSBY: And let`s pray at this hour that she is still alive. You know some of these cases end up where, you know, we don`t expect that`s going to happen and then at the end of the day this turns out to be this amazing great news. So let`s pray that that`s the case as we look at this beautiful little girl.

Let`s go to Edith if we could from Delaware. Edith, you`re on the line. What`s your question?

EDITH, CALLER FROM DELAWARE: How are you doing this evening?

COSBY: I`m good. What`s your question, dear?

EDITH: My question is -- I mean if the baby was missing in September 7th, weren`t there any real relative or neighbor or anybody who realized that this child haven`t been seen?

COSBY: Well, that`s a great question, but so far it sounds like she didn`t have a lot of communication with people. I mean it seems to be the case. I mean if you look at it, it seems that she didn`t talk to a lot of folks, didn`t seemed to know a lot of people.

Isn`t that the sense you get, Nicole, real quick?

PARTIN: Yes. Yes, absolutely. You know, we can`t find anybody who says they really communicate with her or heard much at all.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Shakara, where is Lauryn? Do you know?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A mother who allegedly gave her baby away to a total stranger.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Stranger. Stranger. Stranger.

COSBY: The mom`s story is not adding up.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you say to all the people who are concerned about the whereabouts of your daughter?




UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: New developments in this case.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The 19-year-old mother was taken into custody, arrested, booked into the jail.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This 19-year-old mother Shakara was reporting her daughter Lauryn missing.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This little beautiful baby.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Some eight days after the mother says the baby actually was handed over to a stranger.

COSBY: Very questionable story.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A 48-hour hold meaning police have 48 hours to charge her or set her free.



COSBY: And breaking news tonight the mother is now charged but with child neglect. Not with murder. She is being held at this point on those charges. That just happened a short time ago if you`re joining us.

Let`s go to Danita from Michigan if we could. Danita, what`s your question?

DANITA, CALLER FROM MICHIGAN: Yes. Obviously the mother -- I mean, why are they waiting? Are they doing a search for the baby, an actual body? The guy just said that he feels this is going to end in tragedy. So why haven`t they taken it upon them to actually look for a body or the -- you know?

COSBY: Well -- and by the way, Danita, they are looking. In fact let`s go to Jason Miles, our reporter on the scene. The sad news as I understand that cops are now confirming that cadaver dogs did pick up a scent of a body somewhere near the house, right?

MILES: You may recall Tuesday night, Rita, we had video of a dog barking outside the apartment which means he detected the scent of human remains. Police now confirm that`s indeed what happened.

I`m told they actually searched an area around that apartment Tuesday night but found nothing and I just heard word from police that there is no active search for a body tonight. However, they will continue to follow any and all leads.

COSBY: Eleanor Odom, real quick, doesn`t look good if there is a cadaver scent. Right now of course, again, she is charged, everybody, with child neglect and endangerment. Do you think more is coming?

E. ODOM: I definitely think we`ll probably see a murder charge of some sort and I don`t think this child will celebrate her 10-month birthday here tomorrow or ever hear happy birthday at her 1-year party.

COSBY: Well, I hope you`re wrong. I know we all do tonight. Let`s pray that little beautiful baby is alive as she turns 10 months old tomorrow, everybody.

And tonight let`s stop to remember Army Colonel Theodore Westhusing, 44 years old, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, killed in Iraq. He was one of the highest ranking officials to lose his life in Iraq. Awarded the Bronze Star, Legion of Merit medal, Iraq Campaign medal, and the Global War on Terrorism medal.

His troops called him Tulsa Ted. A West Point professor, he`s remembered for his bright eyes and smile. He loved cycling, Duke basketball, and the Dallas Cowboys. His favorite food was Italian. His favorite singer was Bruce Springsteen. He leaves behind widow Michelle, his daughter Sarah, and sons Aaron and Anthony.

Theodore Westhusing, a true American hero.

And thank you to all of our guests tonight and especially to all of you at home for being with us this evening.

I`ll see you tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. sharp Eastern Time, and until then, everybody, have a fantastic evening. I`m Rita Cosby. Good night, everyone.