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What Happened to Haleigh Cummings?

Aired July 3, 2012 - 19:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s going to drop a lot of attention that people see a different view to look at abuse.

Now, I want to tell you about this, Clark. Something a little different. I used to swim. I follow swimming religiously. And I was watching last night when Dara Torres failed to make the Olympic team. But at 45 years old she went to her first Olympics in 1984. She`s got so much to be proud of. Got a lot to say. We`re going to cover her story.

But Jane Velez-Mitchell is next.

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: New developments tonight in a case that, well, it`s captivated all of us. What happened to little Haleigh Cummings? And are police any closer to some real answers?

(VOICE-OVER) Tonight a dramatic new twist in the search for Haleigh Cummings, The adorable 5-year-old who`s been missing for three years. Now, the little girl`s dad gets a weekend out of prison. Ron Cummings is less than a year into his 15-year sentence. So why was he temporarily let out? We`ll explain.

Plus, how has Misty changed during all this time behind bars? And are police any closer to finding little Haleigh?

Then, in tonight "JVM`s Most Wanted," who killed a beloved couple in their own home in a quiet California neighborhood? Their killer`s still walking free. We`re reigniting the investigation into this unsolved murder mystery.

And how to live better now: our fitness magician, Tom Holland, shows us how stability balls can change your life.

MISTY CROSLIN, EX-WIFE OF RON CUMMINGS: Everything`s focused on Haleigh. What Haleigh wanted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s always been a shadow of a doubt over Misty Cummings`s accounts of what happened to little Haleigh.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The blonde-haired brown-eyed little girl whose community wants her home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The missing 6-year-old now presumed dead by investigators.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Croslin says she heard Haleigh scream, cry and struggle.

CROSLIN: I didn`t do anything with that little girl. I loved her like she`s my own. And I`ll do anything to get her back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Misty was in tears as she heard she`ll spend the next 25 years in jail.

FLORA HOLLARS, MISTY GRANDMOTHER: Tied Haleigh up with a yellow rope and tied a brick or block to the rope and dropped her into the St. Johns River.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hank Croslin Jr. says his conscience has been eating away at him.

RON CUMMINGS, FATHER OF HALEIGH: If I find whoever has my daughter before ya`ll do, I`m killing them. I don`t care. I`ll spend the rest of my life in prison.

CRYSTAL SHEFFIELD, HALEIGH`S MOTHER: In my heart I know she`s out there.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, astounding new developments in a story that has captivated the nation.

Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell.

Little missing Haleigh Cummings vanished in the dead of the night from her father`s Florida trailer. And now, Haleigh`s father is making headlines for going to a new secret child custody hearing. Yes. Yanked out of jail to go to this hearing.

Tonight we`re re-examining everything about this confounding case. And also tonight, police are telling us this is not a cold case, that they investigate Haleigh`s disappearance constantly.


CUMMINGS: I just got home from work. My 5-year-old daughter is gone.


CUMMINGS: I need somebody to be here now. I`m telling you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Listen to me, we`ve got two officers...

CUMMINGS: If I find whoever has my daughter before ya`ll do, I`m killing him. I don`t care. I`ll spend the rest of my life in prison.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s the frantic 911 call over three years ago that launched a massive search for 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings.

Her dad`s 17-year-old girlfriend, Misty Croslin, was supposed to be babysitting little Haleigh. She claimed initially that she woke up around 3 in the morning, the back door was wide open, and Haleigh had vanished.

Thousands of volunteers, countless hours of investigation later, cops still have not uncovered what happened to this child. Was she murdered? Misty`s own grandmother, Flo, thought so. Listen to this.


HOLLARS: Tied Haleigh up with a yellow rope and tied a brick or block to the rope and dropped her into the St. Johns River.

She was crying. And I told her, I said, "Baby, don`t cry. This is something you should have said a long time ago."

She says, "But, Nanny, I was scared."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tragically, Grandma Flo has now died.

Meantime, both Haleigh`s dad, Ron, and his now ex-wife, Misty, are serving very long prison sentences on drug charges. Are cops just waiting for them to crack and tell them what really happened that night?

Straight out to Kim Picazio, the former attorney for Haleigh`s biological mother, Crystal Sheffield.

Thank you for joining us tonight. Kim, we`ve been hearing this news that Ron Cummings left jail just the other day to attend a child custody hearing that was shrouded in secrecy. We do not know the name of the child, or children or the mother involved.

Now, we reached out to Ron`s last attorney on record, but we haven`t heard anything back. What do you know, Kim?

KIM PICAZIO, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR CRYSTAL SHEFFIELD: The only thing I could find out, I called the prison and they had stated that he had been transported to -- from the prison itself to a local jail and had been transported to Brevard County, Florida, which is around the Titusville area.

And apparently, there is a court proceeding that has been confirmed. It`s in relation to a child and the mother. And I guess Ronald would be the putative father. We do not know who the child is or the mother`s name. However, the court dockets do not reflect any case wherein you can see Ronald was a party.

We also called, and we found out that would mean, most likely, that this is a proceeding wherein Ronald is a parent with regard to a Department of Children and Families proceeding. And we all know that Ronald is very used to being in department involvement, as he had lost custody of Junior, his son with Crystal Sheffield.

So this could be a second case where the Department of Children and Families is seeking to take away this man`s parental rights.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And again, if Ron Cummings still has an attorney, that attorney is invited any time anywhere for his side of it at all. We want to be fair here. And obviously, Ron Cummings is incarcerated, so he cannot talk to us directly tonight.

Let`s go out to Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor. If indeed Ron Cummings had another child with another woman before all of this drama that the world was engulfed in, does that change the equation? Does it open the door for other motives and other potential back stories?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, of course. I mean, but it depends why he`s involved, why he`s being taken here, and what the issue is. If -- and it makes sense that if it`s not on the docket, it`s got to be confidential, which means there`s some question, potentially, about abuse or neglect.

If there`s any reason to connect those dots in terms of him having a pattern of behavior, then it could not only help us understand more about his potential role in all of this, but it could open new doors in the investigation. So that`s a good thing.

You know, I wouldn`t want the guy out of jail for any reason. Why couldn`t they do it by video conferencing? I just don`t like the fact that he was allowed to breathe fresh air, frankly. That`s how I feel.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Haleigh`s father, Ron Cummings -- we all know this crazy story -- he married Misty Croslin, the person who basically was watching his child when the child disappeared just a month after little Haleigh went missing. Misty was just 17 years old at the time. And she was just positively beaming -- beaming -- and just overjoyed where she got engaged.


CROSLIN: Last night at Chili`s.


CROSLIN: He got down on his knees and said, "Would you marry me?"

Everybody`s starting to take this marriage thing the wrong way, but it`s -- it`s still focused on Haleigh. This is what Haleigh wanted.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, that fairy-tale romance, as we all know, didn`t last long. Here is their wedding video from NBC. Just seven months later they were divorced.

Misty has said they got married because Ron was worried about being in a relationship with a minor. Some other people said they got hitched so they could each get spousal privilege and not be forced to testify against each other in court about Haleigh`s disappearance.

Ron`s been quoted as saying he married Misty to try to get the truth out of her about what happened, reportedly saying, "You keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

I want to go out to Levi Page, crime blogger, Internet radio host out of Nashville, Tennessee. You`ve been all over this. What about this crazy relationship with these two? And what does it say about what happened to Haleigh that night?

LEVI BLOGGER, INTERNET RADIO HOST: Well, we know that these two have been involved in drugs, drug dealing, drug use for a very long time. And we know that both of them have not been cooperative with law enforcement. Ronald Cummings got an attorney in the very beginning of this case.

We also know that Misty has told inconsistent stories. Everything that she`s told has been a lie.

And you mentioned their marriage. Right after they got married, Haleigh had only been missing about a month, and they went to New York City and "The Today Show." And they also went on amusement park rides all the while this child is missing.

And now the police have said that she was dead. That means her body was rotting somewhere dead, and these two were out there partying. And they claim they love Haleigh, but their actions speak otherwise.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, to your point, the night Haleigh vanished from her bed, it`s still a mystery to investigators. But we`ve talked to them. And they assured us it is not a cold case.

Let`s look at some of the key facts we know. Misty, Haleigh`s father, Ron`s girlfriend. So Misty was going out with Haleigh`s dad, Ron. Misty was babysitting little Haleigh and Haleigh`s little brother, Ron Jr. that night.

Now, Ron came home after 3 in the morning. He says he discovered little Haleigh had vanished from the trailer. During the 911 call Ron blamed Misty, it would seem, for what happened. Listen to this infamous 911 call.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, sir, let me talk to your wife. Let me get some information from her.



CUMMINGS: How the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) do you let my daughter get stolen, (EXPLETIVE DELETED)?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. T.J. Hart, co-host of "Des Moines Morning News," you covered this case. Misty initially said she woke up in the middle of the night. The trailer door was propped open with a brick, Misty was gone.

But there were reports that claimed she switched her story and then talked about some kind of fight over a gun with a bunch of members of the Klan. And little Haleigh being snatched. How many versions are out there of what happened that night?

T.J. HART, CO-HOST, "DES MOINES MORNING NEWS" (via phone): Ask her, and when you ask her, but I`m only aware of about seven or eight.

The first inconsistency was that -- which bed was the child in? Because they had a large bed and a smaller bed.

Also, going out to get a drink of water, or going to the bathroom, seeing a light on. And a bathroom is accessible from the room she was in. Why would she go out into a hallway? That`s the only way that she could ever see that light.

There are inconsistencies also pertaining to whether the bed was made or not made. According to Ron when he came home, the bed was made. So where did the children sleep, if they did sleep at all that night? Where were they?

There were rumors that Misty had been out of that trailer. She`s told me point-blank that she was not partying that night. But as inconsistent as everything else has been with her story, you`ve got to -- you`ve got to believe that there`s something else going on there.

There are also stories that the -- the young boy had mentioned that he saw a stranger come in with tennis shoes and made the couch bounce. That`s another story that went around.

And then there were other ones where she might have heard something, but she wasn`t sure. She might have seen something, but she wasn`t sure. This is when she was allegedly under hypnosis, as well.



CROSLIN: I didn`t notice about Haleigh until I seen the back door open. And I go, and she`s gone. And that`s all I know.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Misty Croslin has changed. Look at her appearance. During her time behind bars she has put on weight. Oh, my gosh. She`s barely recognizable. She`s doing 25 years on an unrelated drug charge.

We`re investigating tonight.

Let`s go out to the phone lines. Laura, Illinois, your question or thought, Laura -- Laura.

CALLER: Hi, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hi, how are you?

CALLER: OK. How are you?


CALLER: It`s always been my feeling from the first time I saw Ronald Cummings give his first interview that he was in an altered mental state. I mean, there was no doubt in my mind -- I have personal experience with addiction -- that he was higher than a kite when he talked on the news.

And I really believe that somehow something happened before he went to work that resulted in the death of Haleigh. And I think both he and Misty were present. And I think that she`s more covering up for him than he is for her. I think...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think you`re making some excellent points. The Cummings/Croslin families have certainly had their own share of drama, even before little Haleigh went missing.

Misty`s own grandmother made some shocking allegations on our show about what happened, for example, between Misty and her cousin, Joe Overstreet, which kind of gets back to Ron at the end of it. Listen to this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Have they been friends in the past? Or was there friction?

HOLLARS: Oh, yes, they`ve always been friends. Now, Misty stated that Joe had molested her when she was up there in Nashville. But she never once said anything to me about it. And she always wanted to go to his house. So if he molested her, she must have liked it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Misty`s grandmother, Flo, again has now passed away.

This is Joe Overstreet. He`s never been arrested on molestation charges. We can`t independently confirm those allegations. He`s always claimed he`s being used as a scapegoat by his family. We have a call into his attorney and haven`t heard back.

One theory, though, and I`ll take this out to T.J. Ward, private investigator who`s covered this case. One theory from the night Haleigh went missing is that Joe Overstreet and Misty`s brother, Hank Croslin, went to that trailer to get a gun. Some kind of memorabilia, some weapon. And when they couldn`t find the gun, they took Haleigh instead. What do you know about that theory?

T.J. WARD, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Well, I administered the layered voice analysis on Haleigh [SIC]. And that was one of the things that came up. And she was not being truthful.

The whole test based around what she talked about and what events took place on the night that she went missing are totally false. She has just lied through the whole test.

And she wanted to take the layered voice analysis test after she had taken the polygraph and flunked and then shortly after that took the hypnosis test while I was there.

And ironically, she was talking about the hypnosis test just freely, that she basically knew she was going on. So I don`t think the hypnosis actually put her under.

But she talked about Overstreet. And she basically just said -- and used him as an escape goat. But I can tell you from the test results from me running the -- administering the voice analysis test that Haleigh Cummings [SIC] does know what happened -- I mean, Misty Croslin knows what happened to Haleigh Cummings on that night.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Misty Croslin does know, according to you.

WARD: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why do you say that?

WARD: Because all these direct questions and what she told about her story were very false and untrue. Which leads me to believe some of the questions that I asked her and what she talked about, that she personally had knowledge to come up with false statements and inaccuracies.



CUMMINGS: Keep Haleigh`s face out there. And if you have any information leading to her disappearance to call it in. It don`t matter who it hurts. And I want to let everyone know that I`m not hiding anything from anybody. And if somebody has something to do with it, let them fry.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So right now Ron`s doing 15 years. Misty, 25 years. What did they do to get thrown in prison?

Even as investigators were frantic to figure out what really happened to Haleigh, check out the dash cam video of Misty dealing drugs to an undercover detective. She was caught and sentenced, again, to a quarter of a century in prison.

At the time her grandma, Flo Hollars, said it was a good thing she was going to jail.


HOLLARS: Really, she knowed [SIC] better than to do that. And I feel like that after she gets in there and she starts doing all her stuff, she`ll come out early, and she`ll know what to do the next time around.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Misty did not have a prior record. She just turned 18 when she was sentenced to 25 years. Oh, my gosh. Twenty-five years for an 18-year-old. I mean, that is extraordinary. That`s like watching your life slip away.

Wendy Murphy, if in fact, she does know what really happened, as T.J. Ward, private investigator, just told us through voice analysis, and she`s been given a 25-year sentence, can she still use the truth as leverage to get a reduced sentence and help us get closure to find out what happened to Haleigh?

MURPHY: Yes. I mean, I think there`s no doubt that part of what we`re watching unfold is a strategy to separate and squeeze the two key suspects. One of them is clearly more responsible. I don`t think it`s Misty. I think she`s a dim-witted nitwit, frankly. I don`t think she knows the deal. She may know some stuff, but she doesn`t know the real deal.

I mean, that somebody owed somebody a lot of money and they took the kid as payment on some kind of drug debt makes sense to me. I don`t think that was Misty`s doing.

She probably does know a lot. But here`s the thing, Jane. I write about this in my book, "And Justice for Some," what`s called the cross finger pointing problem. So as long as these two, Ron and Misty, stay quiet about the truth, and they keep putting these nonsensical theories out into the court of public opinion, they each get to essentially point the finger at the other.

And that`s what makes it impossible for law enforcement to solve this crime. They need one of them to give that up, because you can`t let either of them go to trial. They`ll blame the other. They have built-in reasonable doubt. It`s a frustrating case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A lot of people think Misty`s covering up for Ron because she`s so in love with him. Remember, this woman tattooed Ron`s name on her body after all this went down. That`s pretty obsessed.

Now, Ron Cummings, of course, was thrown into the spotlight when little Haleigh went missing. He was in front of the cameras crying saying he wanted to find his child. Listen to this.


CUMMINGS: We got her off the school bus. She ran to me and jumped in my arms, drove the car home. Got out. Gave me a hug and a kiss. Loved on me.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Levi Page, what about Ron spilling the beans?

PAGE: Yes. Well, you know, Jane, that he got a plea deal in 2010 -- in the summer of 2010, and he got some of his charges dropped. And he`s serving 15 years. And we know as part of that plea deal that he gave a proffer to the state attorney.

And as part of that proffer, he gave new information in Haleigh`s case. We know that it was about Haleigh Cummings` case, Jane, because the proffer is sealed. If it was about the drug case, we would be able to know about it, because the drug cases are closed. He gave a proffer on an ongoing investigation.

So I think that Ronald does know information. I think that`s pretty evident by now. And I think that clip you played of him crying was a fake. I agree with the caller that called it earlier. He was high as a kite.



CROSLIN: Everything`s still focused on Haleigh. This is what Haleigh wanted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s always been a shadow of doubt over Misty Cummings` account of what happened to little Haleigh.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The blond-haired, brown-eyed little girl, whose community wants her home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The missing 6-year-old now presumed dead by investigators.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Croslin says she heard Haleigh scream, cry and struggle.

CROSLIN: I didn`t do anything with that little girl. I love her like she`s my own. And I`ll do anything to get her back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Misty Cummings was in tears as she heard she`ll spend the next 25 years in jail.

HOLLARS: Tied Haleigh up with a yellow rope and tied a brick or block to the rope and dropped her into the St. Johns River.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hank Croslin Jr. says his conscience has been eating away at him.

CUMMINGS: If I find whoever has my daughter before ya`ll do, I`m killing them. I don`t care. I`ll spend the rest of my life in prison.

SHEFFIELD: Deep in my heart I know she`s out there.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: New developments tonight in the search for missing Haleigh Cummings. As cops say this is not a cold case. And they continue to search for her and investigate every day.

We are learning that her father, Ron Cummings, was yanked out of prison where he is doing hard time and long time for drug dealing, and taken to a court hearing that is shrouded in secrecy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to Kim Picazio; you are the biological mother of little Haleigh`s former attorney, in other words Crystal Sheffield`s former attorney. What do you know about this secret family court hearing?

KIM PICAZIO, CRYSTAL SHEFFIELD`S FORMER ATTORNEY: We don`t know much because apparently the docket does not reflect any cases regarding children involved with DCF or Department of Children and Families. So at this point the verdict`s out. We don`t really know what type of proceeding this is. What we do know --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, but there is a possibility of another child that Ron had -- listen, I hadn`t heard about it. Look at the files that I have from the case. This is just one of them. We have drawers full of it. And we were frantically looking to see if, well, maybe this had come up earlier. We couldn`t find any evidence. If he has another child, is that a secret that`s just been revealed essentially to the public?

PICAZIO: I don`t think so. I think there is another child that was reported on during the case when I was -- my legal team was in town. It was very evident. And Ron understood that he had another child. He had never been involved with that child. He in fact had done news reports where he claimed -- and his mother, that they only had two children which was Haleigh and Ronald Jr.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what I mean.

PICAZIO: However, we do know there is another child by another lady who he used to date after Crystal Sheffield. He has never been through a paternity proceeding or otherwise. So this could actually be a proceeding involving that woman.

Or, since we know Ron very well, that he would think nothing of having multiple children out of wedlock with other teenage-type mothers since that was his MO. This could be a third child out of wedlock that he`s decided to shun and throw away as he`s done all of his other children.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, listen, we want to be fair here. We`ve been trying to reach out to his last-known attorney. We have not been able to. That person or any representative for Ron Cummings is invited on our show any time.

But to that point, Haleigh`s biological mother Crystal Sheffield has always been an outspoken critic of her ex, Ron. Here`s what she has had to say.


CRYSTAL SHEFFIELD, MOTHER OF HALEIGH CUMMINGS: Deep in my heart I know she`s out there. And nobody knows the pain that I go through -- nobody. And they never will. I don`t care who they are.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Wendy Murphy, we had sort of seen Ron crying and screaming about little Haleigh. We thought, well, he may have problems, but he`s a good dad, but this other child now -- potential child, surfacing. What does it say about his parental sense of responsibility?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, assume it`s a situation involving another child, you know, it doesn`t take a lot to get from point A to point B on what kind of dad he really is. Any guy who irresponsibly impregnates women of any age, particularly teenagers, is inherently a bad father and probably a terrible human being.

And this isn`t just about child support. It`s just irresponsible to create kids that you don`t give a damn about. You know, it`s too bad that there has to be a hearing for this guy to figure out what his rights are. I think if you`re in prison for the rest of your life and a suspect in the disappearance, likely murder of your own child, I don`t think you should be allowed to be a father no matter how biologically connected you might be.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s get back to the last major search for Haleigh Cummings. Two years ago -- there`s video of the search. You may remember this, cops scouring the St. Johns River which isn`t far from the trailer. They actually took Misty -- you see her there down by the river.

There were claims that Misty`s cousin, Joe used to feed al gaiters at that dock. Grandma Flo claimed that she thought Haleigh was thrown into the river.

T.J. Ward, briefly, you`re a private investigator, what do you know. Apparently they found nothing, right?

T.J. WARD, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: They didn`t find anything. They found bones and they found a rope that they thought may have been something, but they believed it was somebody from fishing. They found a couple of bricks with ropes on it, but I think they didn`t tie those up -- they didn`t tie it to her at all (inaudible) to her going missing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. What a tragic mystery. We`re all over it.

And now this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On October 1, 2006, the elderly couple were assaulted and killed inside their Bear Creek home before it was set on fire. Three years later, their murders still remain unsolved.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some days good; some days not so good. Sometimes I can be driving down the road and all of a sudden it hits you that I`m not going to see them today.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, in "JVM`s Most Wanted", we`re hunting down a vicious killer or killers who brutally murdered a beloved couple right in their California home. It happened October 1, 2006. 91-year-old Bill Chapman and his 81-year-old wife, Lena were home alone when they were assaulted and viciously murdered.

They lived in Merced, an artsy community in rural central California; it`s about 150 miles east of San Jose. This is not the kind of town known for brutal violence. The Chapman`s son, Bill, says police believe the killers are probably somewhere located in that town of 78,000 or were anyway right where they committed this crime.

Cops believe the killers set the Chapman`s house on fire to destroy any evidence. Cops are still working vigorously on this investigation and they do have evidence. Police have no official suspects, but they are watching more than one person. They do not consider this a cold case.

The family, meanwhile on a mission to find their parents` killers and have them brought to justice.


JIM CHAPMAN, VICTIMS` SON: They were known and loved by many people. This was just really a senseless crime.

GAIL CLENDENIN, VICTIMS` DAUGHTER: We always will believe that there will be an answer. It just may take a while. But we`re hoping it will be sooner rather than later.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to go straight out to Bill and Lena`s son Jim Chapman. Jim, thank you for joining us; I know this has to be gut- wrenching for you to relive this horror.

You say -- you`ve been quoted as saying you believe the killers are from the area. Why do you believe that?

CHAPMAN: Well, there is really nothing disturbed in the house except, you know, some things that had gone through. And we believe that it was probably people that were trying to get money. There wasn`t any specific reason for the break-in. So we believe maybe it was, you know, druggies that were in the area.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is what perplexes me. Who would have reason to kill this beautiful elderly couple? They`re just angelic-looking. The wife, Lena, 81; the husband 91; they were not wealthy -- or he was 92. The couple was not wealthy. The couple was beloved in the community. They had so many friends. They`ve lived in this town for half a century.

They had three kids. We`re talking to one of them tonight. They were church goers. No hint of scandal. They lived modestly. Why did somebody decide to pick them in this home and assault them in the middle of the night?

One neighbor did tell us that he had been robbed seven times in the last decade. So I want to go out to Joe Deliman, lead detective in the Chapman murder case. Do you believe that this was just part of a crime wave and these same perpetrators may have committed similar crimes in the area?

JOE DELIMAN, LEAD DETECTIVE, CHAPMAN MURDER CHASE (via telephone): It could have been in that respect. Also it could have been -- they could have been easy targets. They lived in the neighborhood. They were a quiet elderly couple. I think it`s something that maybe it was a crime of opportunity and maybe they were just easy targets.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I have to say what we always say in these cases is all it takes is just one good tip. So if you think that it`s somebody in the neighborhood, in the area I should say in the city of Merced which is I think something like 78,000 -- is that it? And we`ve got a place to call if you have information.

All it takes is one tip, 209-385-6992; or just e-mail me, We want to help.

I have to go to Tom Clendenin, son-in-law of the victims here. Briefly, what is your theory?

TOM CLENDENIN, VICTIMS` SON-IN-LAW: It`s really tragic to have something like this happen in our small community. And for it to go on this long, you know, without having anybody arrested yet is really disheartening to the family. It really takes its toll on us pretty much on a daily basis.

You know, we can`t -- it keeps coming back to us every time something comes up or somebody asks something about it. I probably get asked at least once or twice a week, you know, has anybody been arrested? Have they got any more leads? And it would be nice if just somebody came forward with something.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And here is your "Viral Video of the Day".





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, the couple`s children have teamed up with Merced County`s Most Wanted to put these flyers and shopping carts here and at the Save Mart downtown in hopes someone who sees them will come forward with information.

G. CLENDENIN: You have to be out there. You have to keep their face out there. You have to remind people that there is a murderer and they still walk among us.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We want to find the killer or killers -- it`s now believed to be killers -- of this beautiful elderly couple, Bill and Lena Chapman.

Straight out to HLN contributor and investigative reporter Jon Leiberman who brought us this story; you have new information. Tell us what you know.

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUOTR: Well, Jane, let me tell you this, we are going to follow-up on all leads just as law enforcement is as well, because this guy Bill, was an American hero. He helped to build B-29s during World War II and we know that tips continue to come in. And as you just saw the lead detective is going to follow-up on every single lead that he gets.

And I need to tell you how important, Jane, it is to this community. I got a phone call from a woman named Jacqui McDonald. Her own daughter was viciously murdered and it took nine years for her to help track down her daughter`s killer. And she called and said this family needs justice. We can`t forget this case. We have to keep it in the spotlight. And we have to bring it here to a national platform to get more eyeballs on it.

That`s how important it is to this town that this elderly couple and their children get justice.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And these sickos set the house on fire after they did whatever they did. Again, this was not a wealthy couple. What did they take? We don`t know because of the flames that engulfed the home, which has now been destroyed because nobody wanted this totem of this horror. And it really is.

Look at this, it breaks your heart. It`s been said that killers don`t keep secrets. They tell someone. They (inaudible) something else or they inadvertently do something suspicious suddenly painting their car, leaving town, acting different. All we need, people, is one good tip to dovetail with the individuals that cops say they have an eye on.

And I want to ask our lead detective. You say that you have more than one person that you are describing as a person of interest or persons of interest. Tell us what you can about this because this could jog somebody`s memory, Joe Deliman, lead detective.

DELIMAN: Well, when I say that we`re -- when we talk to people we get people who might be mentioned and things like that. So we keep these people in mind. And the more we hear it, the more we kind of stay on that track.

We can`t really call these people suspects yet. But when I say people of interest, it`s someone that we have to keep looking at and keep following up on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is in the middle of rural California. I spent a lot of time in rural California covering the Michael Jackson child molestation trial. There is a huge vast open spaces, mountainous areas, farmland; I mean, there is a lot of room to hide.

And I want to go back to Jim Chapman. Again, you`re the son of these two beautiful elderly people who were murdered in a totally senseless crime. Do you have any sense of what the motive may have been? Was anything taken? Or was all of the possibility of learning those answers destroyed by the fire that these sickos set?

CHAPMAN: No. As far as we know nothing was taken from the home. It might be that they were just looking for cash. We`re not sure exactly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And your father and mother had no enemies? There is nothing in their past where somebody may have had a vendetta against them or anything like that?

CHAPMAN: No. And many people have come up to me after the fact and told me how much my parents were loved in the community. They didn`t have enemies.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what about maybe sometimes there`s contractors, you know, often we cover these tragedies where somebody has some kind of minor dispute with somebody over a couple hundred bucks and the person is just a demented violent person. Anything like that come back?

CHAPMAN: Not that we know of. No.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable that people in this day and age would see this modest home but at the time beautifully well-kept. And go in there and kill these two elderly people in their 80s and 90s and then set the house on fire. What has this world come to that this would be their fate after half a century living in this community?

Tom Clendenin son-in-law of the murdered couple, has the community had more crime? When this happened in 2006, apparently one neighbor said there was a crime wave going on.

T. CLENDENIN: No, I don`t think there`s anything more, it`s just that what has happened has gotten very vicious. This is just one of those cases. And I don`t understand why. It`s just one of those things that happens in Merced or has happened. And it`s just really upsetting to the whole family and the community in a whole.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We asked you for fun pics and videos of your pets and we got some. Send yours to



TOM HOLLAND, FITNESS EXPERT: You don`t need a lot of time. You don`t need a lot of equipment. Don`t waste your money on expensive equipment that you`re not going to use. If you have dumbbells great; if not, grab those.


HOLLAND: I don`t know why suddenly someone said you had to go to the gym for an hour.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: I got to tell you, those of you who watch my show on a regular basis you know that I`m not all that stable. So I need this stability ball and I`m here with our fabulous guru and magician, Tom Holland.

Seriously, take a look at this. Let`s get a wide shot and see what I`m sitting on. I`m sitting on an inflated ball. And this thing, apparently you can do any number of exercises.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you can use it behind your desk. Show us briefly what do you do with the weights?

HOLLAND: So it is your weight bench. So for $20, Jane, you can do everything here. It`s your weight bench where you do your bicep curls, shoulder presses up top, right there. Yes, exactly.

And then I`ll do this one, you slide back and now it`s your weight bench. So instead of having a $250 big, bulky weight bench this goes in any room you deflate it. It`s so easy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now you were showing me how to do the plank because occasionally I do yoga and I have to do the plank, which it`s tough, but why with the ball?

HOLLAND: It`s unstable. Back to what you started with

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I know. I`m unstable. Ok.

HOLLAND: But that instability --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold this before I keel over --

HOLLAND: makes you work your core.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, go. Ok. That`s really tough.

HOLLAND: Your abs and lower back, right?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s really, really tough, if you let go of your hand. Look how hard it is. Oh my God.

HOLLAND: You`re working your entire abdominal region.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And I`m working everything. I am working. Ok, can you hold this.

HOLLAND: Great job.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh my gosh. Now these things are so fantastic and you can just deflate them and stick them in a closet.

HOLLAND: Deflate them, put it away. So simple take it any room in the house, your kids can play with them as you know, they`re toys.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, they`re kind of fun. I mean I really kind of like it, but don`t use it just as sort of an accoutrement in your office.

HOLLAND: No. You have to sit on it. You have to work on it. And you can build up, you know. So you went from the plank, Jane. You can take that to a (inaudible).

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Take a look at this.

HOLLAND: You know, alternate a foot, there`s so many different things you can do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do it again, do it again. Oh my God.

HOLLAND: So now you`re really getting your entire body, very simple.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable. It works if you work it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You had a great question too, different sizes Jane for different people. So when you go into a store, there are about three to four different sizes depending on how tall you are, that`s what you got.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If you take this, you literally take your desk and your chair that you use at your desk at work, you get rid of the chair and you literally sit on this. Why is it that just sitting on this helps you?

HOLLAND: If you think about your chair that you normally use, you`re hunched over, you`re going to get that back pain. Things are going to get shorter and tighter. This forces us to sit up right, to work the abs.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you`re kind of doing this kind of thing all day.

HOLLAND: You`re moving, exactly. So you`re utilizing all of those abdominal exercises. You`re getting a real ab workout sitting at your desk.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And -- well, they laugh at me anyway. So you know, it doesn`t matter if they laugh a little bit more. What the heck.

HOLLAND: you`re going to looking better, feel better.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I love it, I love it. A stability ball for me, I need it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All month long, HLN is bringing you our troops` stories of courage.

Navy Lieutenant Brad Snyder was blinded by a bomb blast in Afghanistan, but his injuries have only made him stronger.


NAVY LT. BRAD SNYDER: Everyone`s got a unique story, and everybody has made sacrifices and everybody`s story is inspirational. And that`s what makes something like this warrior games things so special.

It`s a very humbling experience. It really puts things in perspective and every day that you kind of think, well, I got a crappy lot or whatever. You look at some of the other people and what they put up with and it puts things in perspective really quick. And again, it`s just awesome to kind of participate in something that`s so patriotic.

After hearing that I was going to be blind for the rest of my life, I had made it a decision that I was only going to be moving forward. I have made it a point to kind of adopt that mentality, that there`s nothing I can`t do, and if you challenge me to do it, I`ll try my best to do it.

It`s a fruitless effort to look back. I know it`s a decision I made and it`s been awesome. And actually I think making that decision the way that it was has allowed me to not really have a lot of anxiety over going blind. It was just kind of -- it`s just a new hat that you wear, a new jacket. I`m blind now, ok, I`m moving forward.

Being taken out and riding the bench is not fun for anyone, so to be able to get back in the fight in a different manner is immeasurable and I think that that sentiment is shared by all the people here at the warrior games.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be close.

SNYDER: So to be able to share that camaraderie in a new way with a whole slew of different people, and again, it`s not relegated to service, it`s all the services here. It`s really an awesome experience. And that sentiment`s shared by all the soldiers, (inaudible) and marines here.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Join HLN`s Robin Meade for "Stories of Courage", tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Nancy is next.