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Toddler Disappears From Home Full of Family Members

Aired February 10, 2011 - 20:00:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Breaking news tonight, live, Texas, 30 miles north San Antonio. A parent`s worst nightmare, desperate 911 call, 18-month-old toddler boy Joshua vanishes, just seen 10 minutes earlier -- 10 minutes! Local temperatures dipping down in the 20s.

Bombshell tonight. Investigators first believe baby Joshua wanders off on his own. But in a new twist tonight, cops now say he didn`t just walk off on his own. Eight people in that home when baby Joshua seemingly vanishes into thin air, Mommy confirming to us the 18-month-old could barely reach the doorknob, much less turn it. As investigators seize evidence from the family`s back yard, including a tarp and a bucket, including neighborhood trash cans, tonight, where is baby Joshua.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The mysterious disappearance of 18-month-old Joshua Davis, Jr.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The probability that someone came into the residence and actually abducted the child is very, very (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Authorities believe the toddler wandered off. Joshua`s parents believe he was abducted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think he wandered off.

SABRINA BENITEZ, MOTHER: My baby`s out there somewhere. Somebody has him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They believe their son was kidnapped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s an unfortunate circumstance that we do have to look at it.

BENITEZ: He can`t reach the doorknob. Like, he reaches maybe to the bottom of it, but he can`t reach tall enough to where he could turn the doorknob.

GRACE: Well, if he can`t reach the doorknob, then how did he get out?

BENITEZ: That`s what I want to know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Believe he was abducted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The child was possibly abducted.

BENITEZ: They have the cadaver dogs. He`s nowhere in this area, I don`t believe, because there`s no trace of him coming in the yard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The search for little Joshua has been expanded.


GRACE: And tonight, live, Orlando. A North Dakota couple brings their three children to sunny Florida, checking into the International Palms Resort. But the vacation comes to an abrupt end when the 7-year-old little boy calls the front desk. What do they find inside that hotel room? Cigarette butts, feces, towels smeared with feces covering the floor. The three little children, including a 1-month-old premie living on a heart monitor, wandering, no access to food, to drink, supervision. Where`s Mommy and Daddy? Oh, they`re out, to go shopping!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cops say parents visiting Orlando left their premature 1-month-old toddler alone in a dirty hotel room with his 11- month-old and 7-year-old brothers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They found cigarette butts. They found dirty towels.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cops say the 7-year-old calls the front desk to tell them they`ve been left alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When police showed up, they found the kids in filthy and dangerous conditions, and the balcony door was wide open.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re on the tenth floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As cops place parents Richard Watts (ph) and Jamie Weaver (ph) under arrest, they say they discover a small baggie containing methamphetamine in the father`s pocket. Shockingly, this is far from the first time a situation like this has happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) returned home to find police on her porch and her kids gone.

911 OPERATOR: Is your mama there?


GRACE: The mommy gambled at the casino.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This mother stumbles to the front door of her home to find police waiting to arrest her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 911 call (INAUDIBLE) from Christina Reit`s (ph) 9- year-old. Deputies found a 2-year-old in a dirty diaper, a 5-year-old in tears, and a 9-year-old in charge.


GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us. Bombshell tonight. Live, Texas, a desperate 911 call when an 18- month-old toddler vanishes, seen just 10 minutes earlier -- 10 minutes! Investigators first believe baby Joshua wanders off on his own. But tonight, in a new twist, cops say the baby didn`t just walk off. As investigators seize evidence from the family`s own back yard, including a tarp, a bucket, and neighborhood trash cans, tonight, where is baby Joshua?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still no sign of a missing 18-month-old boy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody took him. Had to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Josh Davis, Jr., just vanished from his home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The child was possibly abducted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We feel that he was taken.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police search the home, also had a helicopter cover the area.

BENITEZ: He was wandering from our room to the living room, where the other family members were. When I realized after about 10 minutes that it was unusual my baby hadn`t been back in the room to come get a toy, come watch the movie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They had seven adults and two children in the residence. According to the parents, the residence was completely secure.

GRACE: I thought the theory was that somehow, he had managed to turn the doorknob and get out the door. But you`re saying he absolutely could not do that, right?

BENITEZ: Yes. I know he`s still alive.

JOSHUA DAVIS, FATHER: I hate going in there. I hate seeing my kid`s toys with him not playing with him. I hate seeing (INAUDIBLE) I used to get on my son and tell him, Pick those toys up. Boy, he would look at me and laugh and run off. I wish I even had him here. I wish I had him here for the toys to be dirty or the room to be dirty, you know? I wish I had him here.


GRACE: We`re taking your calls live. Straight out to Michael Board, WOAI Newsradio, joining us there in San Antonio, Texas. Michael, the whole thing is farfetched. I talked to the mom myself. She told me that there were nine people in the home total. That this little boy could go to the door -- everybody knows at that age, they can turn a latch, but she said -- a lock. But she said he couldn`t twist the doorknob.

MICHAEL BOARD, WOAI NEWSRADIO: Who knows what happened. The only people who know what happened in this home are the people who were in there. We know that all of them except for one have given polygraph tests to police. The only person who has not been given a polygraph at this point is the mom because she`s pregnant. Pregnancy is a big problem with polygraph tests.

Also, we know today that both the FBI and Texas Rangers now involved with this investigation. Somebody in this home knows something about what happened to this child. Texas Rangers, FBI, they`re experts. They`ll be able to find out what exactly happened last Friday.

GRACE: To Jean Casarez, legal correspondent, "In Session." What more can you tell me, Jean?

JEAN CASAREZ, "IN SESSION": Well, they have executed some search warrants in that home. They have taken out a bucket, a tarp, and items in black plastic. But Nancy, here`s what I think is critically important. Bloodhounds went to that home. They could not find a scent outside of that home of the little baby.

GRACE: Well, I know he`s not hidden in the home or they would have found it in the home, don`t you think, Jean Casarez?

CASAREZ: Yes. But I think -- you know, I think we came down to the theory was that when a friend left the home that night, that he must have walked and crawled out along with it. But the scent wasn`t found outside. And when the emergency notification system went out to all the neighbors, no one saw him after massive amounts of searching.

GRACE: To Lieutenant Michael Penshorn, New Braunfels Police Department, joining us there in Texas. Lieutenant, thank you so much for being with us. I questioned the mother extensively myself, and she told me that she was watching, I think she said "Toy Story 3" on a DVD. that the baby, the toddler, 18-month-old Joshua, would come in and out of the room, that he then went to his father, who was in another room. He came up behind him and was pulling on his jacket or his cap or something.

And he was only gone for about 10 minutes, to her knowledge, when she jumped up and realized he hadn`t been in the room for a while, went out, and nobody could find him. You know, nine people -- eight, including Joshua -- in the home, and nobody saw him leave, Lieutenant?

LT. MICHAEL PENSHORN, NEW BRAUNFELS POLICE DEPARTMENT (VIA TELEPHONE): Exactly. I agree. When you have that many people in a residence, obviously, there are people that probably have information and for whatever reason are not necessarily sharing it with the police.

GRACE: Let`s take a listen to what the mother had to say.


BENITEZ (via telephone): We were all in the house. There was nine people in the house. I was sitting on the bed watching "Toy Story" with my baby. He was wandering from our room to the living room, where the other family members were. When I realized about 10 minutes that it was unusual my baby hadn`t been back in the room to come get a toy, come watch the movie, I jumped up and I ran to the grandfather`s room, where there was another baby that my baby was interested in and asked if he was in there. When the grandfather`s girlfriend told me he hadn`t been in there, so I ran out to the living room and I asked everyone if they`d seen the baby. We started searching, but there was no signs of the baby. I ran out of the house and everyone started looking, and we called the police about 10 minutes because we realized we had no -- nowhere to -- where we hadn`t found him.

DAVIS: I don`t think he wandered off. He knows his play zone and -- they had the scent dogs out here, and they said there was no scent of him leaving out of the, you know, yard or anything like that. So I don`t see how he could have wandered off or else they said they would have picked something up.


GRACE: We are taking your calls. Out to Lavonda in Missouri. Hi, Lavonda. What`s your question, dear?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I had a comment and a question. I was wanting to tell you how -- I`m glad you and the twins are doing good.

GRACE: Thank you. Thank you. Praise the Lord.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. They`re so beautiful. And my question was, if there was so many people in that house, how did nobody see him go out the door? Did he -- which door did he go out of?

GRACE: Well, you know what? That`s a good question. I`m going to go back to Lieutenant Penshorn. You know, Lieutenant, at my home, we have a latch high up so -- the twins can`t reach that high. And you know why? Because they absolutely, by this age, 18 months, 2 years -- they can turn a deadbolt and open the door and get out, all right? They can. The only thing you can do is put something way up where they can`t reach it. And we keep that shut on all the doors to the outside at all times. But if you don`t have those and a child wanders to another part of the house, it could get out.

PENSHORN: Exactly.

GRACE: Tell me about the layout of this house. Liz, show me the father standing out front. Is that the house in the background? Lieutenant, is that the house? Because it doesn`t have that many doors.

PENSHORN: Yes, it`s a double-wide mobile home. It does have several interior rooms. From what we understand, there were seven adults and two children, including baby Joshua, at the time when he disappeared. The individuals were scattered throughout different rooms. There were at least two adults that were in the main room of the house, watching a sports game that was on television.

It is completely conceivable that the child could have possibly slipped out of the residence undetected...

GRACE: But you know, you`re telling me...

PENSHORN: ... with all the people spread out like they were and also being distracted.

GRACE: But how small the house is, it probably only had two, three at most doors to the outside. There`s nine people in the home. They had to have seen the baby go out unless they were all asleep.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had a child that one moment, he was there. The next minute, he was simply gone. He disappeared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is Joshua Davis, Jr.?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The toddler vanished from his Savannah Hill home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Investigators are checking in with sex offenders in the area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know that the latch on the door in this home did not work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Search teams combing a radius around his home.

BENITEZ: The only way he could have got out was the front door. The screen door might not close properly and he could find (ph) himself and push the door open. But like I said, that door had been closed all day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scent-sniffing dogs were brought in to assist, and search teams went through vehicles, were even digging through garbage cans in the neighborhood, with no luck.

BENITEZ: He`s still out there. Don`t give up looking for him!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Believes her baby boy was abducted.


DAVIS: I just want my son back.

BENITEZ: There was a family friend in the house, and that was the latch that the door had been opened. And I at first thought, like, maybe the friend had took him. But the police say there`s no signs of that. So they said he had been in and out the back door. I thought maybe he could have slipped -- like, walked out the back door. But I highly believe that -- I believe that wasn`t the case, either, because when I walked out the back porch, there was ice all over the steps. It was too cold. And my baby`s real smart. I mean, if it was that cold, he would have found a way to come knock on the door, or there would have been signs of him out the back door because it was icy.


GRACE: We are taking your calls. For those of you just joining us, an 18-month-old toddler boy -- he`s beautiful. He looks like he should be sitting on a shelf in the toy section. Show me that picture of a close-up of Joshua`s face, Liz. There`s another one -- no, one more. He is just gorgeous.

The family says this 18-month-old baby boy was in the home with them. There are eight other people in the home, plus the baby. Take a look. They say they`re watching DVDs. They`re all sitting around. And suddenly, 10 minutes later -- 10 minutes -- the mommy says he`s gone. How did this happen?

To Pat Brown, criminal profiler, author of "The Profiler." How could it be? If somebody did not take the baby out on their own, how did this baby get out and nobody saw it?

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Yes, this is a very freaky story. I mean, even the mother says the baby didn`t -- probably not walk out of the house. She suspected possibly the family friend -- the only person she`s pointing out that might have abducted the child.

But here`s what concerns me. She`s (INAUDIBLE) in her room watching a movie. And in 10 minutes, she freaks out that her child is not back in the room. Now, I know when you have a 1-and-a-half-year-old, 10 minutes is not really a long time for them to be playing with a toy or being over with Daddy or being over with the grandparents. I`m not so sure why she`s saying she freaked out so quickly, why she didn`t just yell out his name and say, Honey, where are you, and just wander into another room, assuming he would be there. Why is she freaked out after only 10 minutes of him not returning, when there are so many people out there to watch him?

GRACE: Joining me right now is a special guest, Jack Trimarco. He is world-renowned as a polygrapher. He`s a lie detector specialist. Jack, thank you for being with us. I`m sure you`re familiar with this case. The mommy says with eight other adults in the home, her 18-month-old baby boy somehow wandered out the door. We believe they`ve only got two doors to the outside, possibly three. It was a very small home. She seemed very genuine when she told me her story. I asked her questions. But she has not taken a polygraph, police are saying because she`s pregnant. Would pregnancy affect a polygraph? Are you telling me pregnant women can`t take a polygraph?

JACK TRIMARCO, POLYGRAPH EXPERT (via telephone): Well, Nancy, the short answer to that is we have to go with policy. Most law enforcement agencies will not polygraph a woman after the first trimester. And there`s a good reason for that. Number one, a polygraph is a stressful procedure under any conditions, whether you did it or whether you didn`t do it. Everyone`s nervous and everyone hopes that the examiner is as good as he`s supposed to be, if they`re innocent. And of course, if they did it, they hope the examiner isn`t as good as he`s supposed to be and they don`t want even him to know that they`re the person responsible for the crime.

Now, that having been said, physiologically, there`s a good reason not to test a woman after the first trimester, and that is because you`re looking for physiological responses and changes from their physiological norm. And with the fetus moving around and the movements that accompany a pregnancy, you`re not sure, as the polygraph examiner, whether those reactions are a reaction to a deceptive answer or a chart marking based on movement of the child-to-be.

GRACE: With me is Jack Trimarco, polygraph expert, who agrees no polygraph for pregnant women. The only person in that home who was not submitted to polygraph is Mommy.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eighteen-month-old Joshua Davis, Jr., was last seen by family members inside their home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, police tell us they have expanded their search area, but they have not found any sign of him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vanished from his home.

BENITEZ: There was nine people in the house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Family members are being interviewed by police.

BENITEZ: We started searching when there was no signs of the baby. I ran out the house, and everyone started looking, and we called the police about 10 minutes, realized we had nowhere -- we hadn`t found him.


GRACE: We are taking your calls. Now joining me, former APD homicide special investigator, now a renowned polygrapher, Woodrow Tripp. Woody -- W.W. Tripp -- I want to get a second opinion. I just had Jack Trimarco. I`m sure you guys know each other. He`s telling me that you do not polygraph pregnant women. Explain.

WOODROW TRIPP, POLYGRAPH EXPERT (via telephone): We don`t, Nancy. And normally, by APA, or American Polygraph Association, standards, it`s not something that`s recommended. It has to be under absolutely extraordinary circumstances. But no, we don`t as a policy and as a rule. You`ve just got too many things going on there. Certainly -- and again, depending on how pregnant the female is, if it`s something that just (INAUDIBLE) in their first trimester, possibly. But pretty much, the standard policy and recommendation is that we do not polygraph pregnant females.

GRACE: With me is W.W. Tripp. You see him all the time as the polygraph expert on "Swift Justice." Thank you, Woody. You and Jack Trimarco have just cleared something up for me.

Lieutenant Penshorn, at first, I didn`t believe you -- I`m guilty -- that you couldn`t polygraph a pregnant lady because I don`t get it. It`s not that hard. But I guess...

PENSHORN: Yes, you`re exactly correct. She is eight months pregnant, which precludes her from taking a polygraph exam. But really, I can`t go into specifically whether they were administered, just that they have been interviewed.

GRACE: Oh, I see. So I`m reading between the lines and I`m hearing that not everybody`s been polygraphed.

PENSHORN: Unfortunately, I can`t answer that.

GRACE: So that sounds like a big, fat no. To Sheryl McCollum, crime analyst, director of the cold case squad, Pine Lake PD, author of "Cold Case: Pathway to Justice." You know, Sheryl, this is right up your alley. When people won`t submit to a polygraph...


GRACE: I don`t like it.

MCCOLLUM: I don`t like it and...

GRACE: I`m not talking about the pregnant mom because I`m giving her...

MCCOLLUM: Oh, no. She can`t...

GRACE: ... break. I understand why she didn`t do it.

MCCOLLUM: That`s fine. Right. Anybody that was in that house that will not submit to a polygraph is a big, old flag because here`s the deal. Every piece of evidence they`ve gotten so far has come from that house. Period. In those conditions, that baby could not have survived more than 24 hours. Cadaver dogs have hit on nothing. Somebody in that house knows. The baby didn`t walk away. The baby`s not in the house. Where`s the baby? The tarp is a problem. The bucket is a problem. Mom and Dad, they`re a problem.


BENITEZ: I went to sleep, and all I could hear was my baby crying, calling Mommy, calling for Mommy. I just want to know he`s OK, that he`s still alive, anything!




UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The mysterious disappearance of 18-month-old Joshua Davis, Jr.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The possibility that someone came into the residence and actually abducted the child is very, very slim.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Authorities believe the toddler wandered off. Joshua`s parents believe he was abducted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think he wandered off.

SABRINA BENITEZ, MOM OF MISSING 18-MO-OLD BOY: My baby`s out there somewhere. Somebody has him.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They believe their son was kidnapped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s an unfortunate circumstance that we do have to look at it.

BENITEZ: He can`t reach the doorknob like he reaches maybe to the bottom of it. But he can`t reach tall enough to where he could turn the doorknob.

NANCY GRACE, HOST: Well, if he can`t reach the doorknob, then how did he get out?

BENITEZ: That`s what I want to know.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They believe he was abducted.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The child was possibly abducted.

BENITEZ: They had the cadaver dogs. He`s nowhere in this area, I don`t believe, because there`s no trace of him. Probably in the yard.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The search for little Joshua has been expanded.


GRACE: We are taking your calls. Take a look at this boy, an 18- month-old toddler. All of you mothers, you`ve been there. The first time they turn that latch and get out the door, you can`t believe they can actually do it. They can. But did this boy leave the home on his own volition? His mommy tells me, pointblank, he could not turn a doorknob.

Unleash the lawyers. Joining us, Penny Douglass Furr, Atlanta, Alan Ripka, New York.

To you, Penny, to me, that speaks in the mom`s favor that she had nothing to do with his disappearance, because if she had she would have said, oh, he could get out. He could definitely get out. That`s not what she said. She told me that he could barely reach the doorknob. And that he couldn`t really turn the doorknob. That speaks to her defense.

PENNY DOUGLASS FURR, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it does, Nancy. But it sounds like somebody in that house wandered out with him. Or he did get out, and she didn`t think he could get out but he got out and somebody picked the kid up when he was in the yard. Maybe somebody drove by and picked this child up. Either that or some --

GRACE: Take a listen to exactly what the mom said, Penny and Alan.


GRACE: Has your son ever done that before? Have you seen him go out?

BENITEZ: No, ma`am, he can`t even -- he can`t reach the doorknob. Like he reaches maybe to the bottom of it, but he can`t reach tall enough to where he could turn the doorknob.

GRACE: Well, if he can`t reach the doorknob, then how did he get out?

BENITEZ: That`s what I want to know.

GRACE: OK. I thought the theory was that somehow he had managed to turn the doorknob and get out the door, but you`re saying he absolutely could not do that, right?



GRACE: You know, Penny, you have an excellent reputation as a defense attorney. But when you use the phrase somebody else wandered out with him, yes, I don`t agree with that. Adults don`t wander out. You make it sound like they`re aimlessly wandering out the door.

FURR: No, I`m saying --

GRACE: They don`t know what happened. Hello, suddenly I`m outside and the baby`s gone. It doesn`t happen like that.

FURR: No, I`m saying somebody intentionally took him out and left with him, or --


FURR: He got out the door and somebody picked him up in front of the house. Either one of those scenarios.

GRACE: Because I`ll never forget, and Penny, you`ve seen the twins plenty.

Alan Ripka, I will never forget the first John David flipped that -- right in front of them, flipped the lock on the door, opened it the went out. I was like, I couldn`t believe it. I yelled out, he got out. He`s getting out. Like there was an emergency. Because I`ve covered all these cases.

You know they can get out. And I -- you know I suddenly reached and got the other door before he could get out the laundry room to stop him. And they want to get out. That`s their goal. I don`t think they have any idea where they`re going to go, but they want to get -- they want to get outside.

ALAN RIPKA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I understand. You know in this particular case, Nancy, you have eight adults in a very, very small area. All of them witnesses to this situation. And in interviewing each and every one of them and tracing back the steps of this child, the child had to be within eye shot of one of these adults at all times.

It seems to me that if these scent dogs picked up no scent, the only explanation is this child was handed to somebody outside and then went into a car and drove off. It`s the only reasonable explanation I can think of.

GRACE: Let`s go out to Ellie Jostad, our chief editorial producer.

Ellie, what more can you tell us?

ELLIE JOSTAD, NANCY GRACE CHIEF EDITORIAL PRODUCER: Well, Nancy, some other things going on in this search right now. The mother tells us that an FBI recovery team, evidence recovery team came to the home, took the clothes that she was wearing that night, and the clothes that the father was wearing that night.

We also know that they`ve collected trash cans from every home on that block where the family lived. They`ve also taken the step of pulling those skirts that are at the foundation, or where a foundation would be of a mobile home. They`ve searched under those, at both the family home and at neighbors` homes.

They`ve done a very thorough search. Still no sign of Joshua.

GRACE: We know that the Texas Rangers in on the search.

Michael Board, joining us out of Texas, what does that mean?

MICHAEL BOARD, REPORTER, WOAI NEWSRADIO: It means you`ve got the very best police officers in the state of Texas on this case. The Texas Rangers are trained in missing person`s cases, and they are going back and they are re-interviewing everybody in that home.

It`s a much different situation when you have a New Braunfels police officer and a Texas Ranger there sitting in front of you asking you question. If something happened, if someone knew -- in that home knew what`s going on, the Texas Rangers and FBI will be able to find out.

GRACE: Right now, I`m quoting Lieutenant Michael Penshorn from Braunfels, Texas. He says, although we are still searching our primary focus now is shifting more towards the investigation aspect. Investigating to find out exactly what happened to Joshua Davis on the evening in question.

Well, we are fortunate tonight to have the lieutenant with us. What did you mean by that Lieutenant?

LT. MICHAEL PENSHORN, NEW BRAUNFELS POLICE DEPT.: Well, you know, I think we all agree that obviously children do not simply disappear. You know, this is not necessarily a case of a stranger coming and taking this child. Nothing to indicate this is a kidnapping or abduction. Mainly we`re looking at it that something happened to this child in and around this home which led to his disappearance. Period.

GRACE: In fact, police are saying it`s less likely that the boy wandered off. What does that mean, Lieutenant?

PENSHORN: Well, again, whenever our officers arrive at a scene, when you can -- when you look at the doors, they actually have a glass storm door, and an interior door. And literally the entire time that our officers were there, the interior door would be open. The exterior glass door with the faulty latch was the only one that was closed. Very conceivable that the child could have wandered off undetected.

GRACE: You had a helicopter hovering the area. Why?

PENSHORN: We actually had helicopters on multiple occasions. Not only from the night where the child disappeared, circling the area, using their flare which is the heat imagery system. Also just flying around doing aerial photography, just again looking for anything out of the ordinary where the child may be.

GRACE: And could you tell me, Lieutenant Penshorn, what exactly the dogs discovered? You brought out the tracker dogs.

PENSHORN: Yes, we actually had several different types of dogs. Just standard search and rescue dogs, cadaver dogs, bloodhounds from some of our state prisons, each one of them specializing in different type of tracking methods. Although we may have had several locations where we had some interest, not necessarily alerting to some type of a location where the child could be, though.

GRACE: Hundreds have come to help search. Volunteers, shoulder-to- shoulder with police, prayer vigils there around the home, trying to find baby Joshua.

Where is the 18-month-old toddler? Now, Lieutenant Penshorn, I`m not attacking you, but I seem to hear two different theories coming from you. One is that you`re now -- this has now turned into not necessarily just a search for a baby that wandered off, but an investigation as to what happened that evening.

But you`re also saying at the same time that, hey, maybe he wandered off. Which one is it, Lieutenant?

PENSHORN: Well, you have to keep in mind that in all probability, if a child disappears from a residence, he`s wandered off, and that was our primary concern. The entire time we were running a parallel investigation just making sure that any of the other scenarios, be it somebody taking him, that somebody else is involved in it, we have to make sure we have all of those bases covered should we not locate the child in close proximity.

Obviously that`s what`s happened. We have not located the child in well over a mile around this residence, so now we`re starting to look at these other options that we have been investigating the entire time.


BENITEZ: My baby`s out there somewhere. Somebody has him. I still have hope he`s going to come home.




UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Orlando, Florida, home of world famous family fun. But one couple tonight is in for a bad ride after cops say they left their three children, including two infant boys, alone in a hotel room.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Hotel workers called 911 after the 7-year-old called the front desk from the room because he was scared.

CARRIE HOEPPNER, DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN & FAMILIES: Our concern really was that we had a newborn infant who has a condition that requires a heart monitor.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Employees say the room was filthy, including finding cigarette butts on the carpet and soiled towels.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Police waited in the room for at least an hour with the kids and then the parents were spotted in the parking lot. They were questioned and investigators say Watts had a bag of meth on him at the time. It seems as neither of the parents are too worried about their kids right now.

BARBARA JONES, ORLANDO POLICE DEPARTMENT: I just talked to somebody that was at the jail. And he was inquiring if they were -- if they made any inquiries about their children and they didn`t at all.


GRACE: Our story is that they went shopping. Shopping for what? Meth?

Out to Matt Zarrell, our producer on the story. Matt, what happened?

MATT ZARRELL, NANCY GRACE STAFFER, COVERING STORY: Yes, the 7-year- old boy called down to the front desk. He says I`m all alone, my parents left me alone with my two little brothers.

The hotel workers, they go up to the hotel room on the tenth floor. Now keep in mind there`s a balcony right outside the door to the hotel room. They go inside the door, they find a 1-month-old premature baby and 11-month-old baby crawling on the floor and the 7-year-old, who I guess was watching both of them.

GRACE: To Jean Casarez, legal correspondent, "In Session." What do you think, Jean? What more do you know?

JEAN CASAREZ, LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, "IN SESSION": Well, listen to this. When the people from the hotel, the employees walked into the room, they found cigarette butts all over the floor of the hotel room. And they found towels with feces in it. And the little toddler was crawling amongst the towels.

GRACE: This is a preemie. A preemie on a heart monitor. Look at these two. How could you leave the children in those conditions?

To Brad Lamm, board certified interventionist, author of "How to Help the One You Love." Leaving your three children? 7-year-old, 11 months old, 1-month-old. Born extremely premature. On a heart monitor. Alone? In a room covered in cigarette butts and feces on the floor? Are they crazy?

BRAD LAMM, CERTIFIED INTERVENTIONIST, AUTHOR OF "HOW TO CHANGE SOMEONE YOU LOVE": Well, exactly. And that`s what crystal meth addiction is.

And, Nancy, as you know me, eight years ago I was that crazy crystal addict. So I can -- I know what it`s like to be addicted, but it`s also a way you can get in and help somebody but --

GRACE: Wait. Stop right there. Stop right there, Brad Lamm. Don`t ask me -- I mean I`m a lawyer. I`m trained to look at things analytically. OK, I can`t help it at this point. Don`t throw yourself in the same pot with two that leave a premature baby --

LAMM: I`m telling you --

GRACE: -- in a room full of cigarette butts and feces. Did you ever do that? No.

LAMM: Exactly. No, but Nancy, I did some crazy stuff that I am not proud of, that today I use to, you know, help other people. But my point is, you want to know why it happened because they`re crazy crystal meth addicts. That`s why.

I`m just glad that the kids are alive and I think the parents should be locked up and get treatment and the kids should get a good home.

GRACE: Arrested out in the parking lot, the children turned over to the Department of Family and Children.

Out to the lines, Janci in Texas, hi, Janci.

JANCI, CALLER FROM TEXAS: Hi, Nancy, I can`t believe I get to talk to you.

GRACE: Likewise. Thank you for calling in, dear, what`s your question?

JANCI: Well, I am just outraged by this. And I wanted to know, did they find drugs on the floor with the cigarette butts?

GRACE: Did they find drugs on the floor? Good question. What do we know about that, Jean Casarez?

CASAREZ: I don`t think so. And I`ll tell you why. The father in all of this, in his pocket was a plastic bag with methamphetamine. So he`s charged with one count of possession. But that`s it, as far as illegal drugs.

GRACE: OK. Sheryl McCollum, how do we put it together? How do we take this crime scene, put it together and figure out what really happened?

SHERYL MCCOLLUM, CRIME ANALYST, DIR. OF COLD CASE SQUAD AT PINE LAKE P.D.: Well, the 7-year-old is going to be able to tell you exactly what happened. The people that, you know, answered his phone call are going to tell you exactly what he said.

And then they look out the window and they see the parents just walking around the parking lot. It`s not like they went shopping. Parked and were dashing back in. They`re in the parking lot just walking around, Nancy. And then when they asked them about it, they get angry and say, we were only gone 30 minutes.

So what they`re on the tenth floor? So what they`re all by themselves with the door open? They get mad at the people that are trying to help their children.

GRACE: To Dr. Leslie Austin, psychotherapist in New York, what about the 7-year-old that calls the front desk? What does that say to you?

DR. LESLIE AUSTIN, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, good for him. He`s a really smart, mature little boy. And I`m so glad he knew how to do that. He was smart enough to call for help. These parents did him no good whatsoever. And he`s a great little kid for doing that. I`m really proud of him.

GRACE: To Pat Brown, what do you make of these two?

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER, AUTHOR OF "THE PROFILER": Sadly, I think there are some people when they have children, don`t really think of them as children. They`re just things that they have.

As a matter of fact, I think they consider kind of them like a litter of puppies. And you see how some people treat their litter of puppies when they don`t really want them. They just kind of leave them around, and when they get around to it, maybe they`ll feed them a little bit, but they kind of think they`ll take care of themselves, they`re just puppies. Pretty sad.

GRACE: The premature child born in around 30 weeks. There you go, hi, mom. On a heart monitor, has been taken to the hospital. Oh, there you go, with the DEA hat on. The irony. Taken to the hospital.

The other children, a 7-year-old and an 11-month-old are in the custody of family and children services.

You know what, mommy, watch out. Because people all across America would love to take these boys in and adopt them. And really, do you really think these two deserve to have these children?

Jean Casarez, take it from the top. Describe the conditions exactly and the sequence of events.

CASAREZ: All right. First of all, this couple`s from Bismarck, North Dakota. So they went a long way with their three kids to Orlando, Florida. But this is what happened. The 7-year-old calls down saying, I`m all alone with my two brothers. Employees come up and there they find carpeting with cigarette butts all over it, and towels with feces, and a little toddler just crawling around.

And the little 1-month-old, that`s right, 1 month, has a heart condition. Needed a heart monitor. Heart monitor was there. It wasn`t working.

GRACE: These children with no access to anything to eat, to anything to drink. There was some formula, but they couldn`t get to it.

To Dr. Evelyn Minaya, health expert joining us out of New York. Explain to me the health risk of a baby crawling through feces and about the heart monitor.

DR. EVELYN MINAYA, M.D., WOMEN`S HEALTH EXPERT: Well, first of all, what woman in their right mind, or a man or whatever, takes a flight from North Dakota, with a preemie, that`s 1 month old with a heart monitor. I don`t understand that. But nevertheless, the heart monitor is also an apnea monitor, because premature babies also are not mature in their breathing, they stop breathing.

That`s why it`s very important to always -- and it signals you when that baby is not breathing. That 11-month-old in that feces, do you know how much bacteria, as you can well imagine, and on the floor of a hotel? It`s deplorable. And those two children are --

GRACE: But what would happen -- what would happen if they ingested that?

MINAYA: Oh, first of all, he would throw up. I mean first of all, it`s not even tasty or anything, as you can well imagine. But the bacteria inside that is e. Coli. And usually that is -- and that could be a very bacteria.

GRACE: Listen to this, Doctor. The door propped open with the night light -- I`m reading the police narrative. And then they said when the two arrived at the room the little child, the 11-month-old came crawling to the open front door. That room on the tenth floor with a balcony.


JONES: I just talked to somebody that was at the jail, and he was inquiring if they were -- if they made any inquiries about their children, and they didn`t at all.




UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Richard Watts and Katie Weaver were in central Florida visiting from North Dakota and decided to leave their three kids alone in their hotel room. A 7-year-old, an 11 month, the kids in filthy and danger left inside the International Palms Resort so the parents could go shopping.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When cops arrive they allegedly find another surprise, methamphetamine in dad`s pocket.


GRACE: We are taking your calls. I want to go straight back out to Matt Zarrell.

So the 11-month-old crawls up to the door to let these strangers in. It`s a miracle that they didn`t get snatched. But who points out the parents wandering around in the parking lot? I can only imagine what they`re doing in the parking lot.

ZARRELL: Yes, and that`s what`s interesting, Nancy. When the hotel workers went up to the hotel room to talk to the kid they asked him, where are your parents? And as they`re talking to him the 7-year-old looks out the window and sees both of them in the parking lot, goes, there they are.

GRACE: The lawyers, Penny Douglass Furr, Alan Ripka. Go ahead, Penny, give me your best defense.

FURR: It`s very clear to me. I think the guy was in withdrawal and he needed drugs. So they had to leave their children in the hotel room or they had to take them to buy drugs.

GRACE: Well, with that defense --

FURR: As sad as it is that was the better choice.

GRACE: -- they`re going to get convicted. What about it, Ripka?

RIPKA: Well, the bottom line is here you have no history of child abuse, no history of drugs or arrests, you have parents that took their three kids on a trip. They`re obviously doing the right thing, they`re being responsible. Unfortunately drugs --

GRACE: I`ll tell you what. What planet are you living on? Did the right thing? Leaving your children alone?

RIPKA: No, I didn`t say that.


RIPKA: I didn`t say.

GRACE: You did. You did say they were doing the right thing.

RIPKA: I said getting -- bringing them on a trip and being a family and going away together.

GRACE: That`s not the right thing. I heard you.

Everybody, let`s stop and remember Army Corporal Jimmy Shelton, 21, Lehigh Acres, Florida. Killed Iraq. Awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart. Buried at Arlington. Left a job at Department Corrections to enlist. Loved fishing, camping, line dancing.

Favorite teams Miami Dolphins and Florida Gators. With the heart of gold. Had a ministry at a nursing home. Favorite hymn, "He Gave His Life for Me." Leaves behind grieving parents, Burgess Sr. and Billie, brother Burgess Jr. Serving the army.

Jimmy Shelton, American hero.

Thanks to our guests but especially to you for being with us.

And thank you to one of our stars, Alexis, founder of the shoe fly bags. Here they are right here. You use them to travel with your shoes and other objects. The proceeds go to charity.

To help children suffering from life-threatening mitochondrial disorders. And to find out more, go to

And tonight, thoughts and prayers with one of our stars, Hunter, and his beautiful wife, Chris. A "Larry King" producer for years and dear friend of our producer, Dean Sicoli. He`s in the fight of a lifetime.

Please, Hunter, stay strong.

Everyone, I`ll see you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.