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Missing Tennessee Nursing Student`s Body Found

Aired July 23, 2012 - 20:00   ET


RITA COSBY, GUEST HOST: And everybody, I`m Rita Cosby. Breaking news tonight, as we go live to Tims Ford Lake, Tennessee. A beautiful nursing student makes plans to visit her mother on a Sunday afternoon, but she never makes it. Just hours later, a driver spots a grass fire near a local bridge and gets the shock of a lifetime, the body of a young female dumped on the side of the road, up in flames.

A positive ID confirms it`s nursing student 24-year-old Megan Sharpton. The murder mystery thickens when it`s revealed Megan dies from blunt force trauma to the head. And a red Ford Mustang is found abandoned 16 miles away. Who murdered 24-year-old Megan Sharpton?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Authorities were called here to put out the fire, but quickly found Sharpton`s body and evidence of trauma to her head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The victim`s car found abandoned later that day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopes (ph) for clues in the death of Megan Sharpton are her car and her partially charred corpse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Devoted nursing student who showed no signs of being in any trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know if people are watching too much "CSI" or "NCIS."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deputies found her body on fire in this grassy area behind me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her Mustang, her red `95 Mustang, was found.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The murder has shocked co-workers at Yamato (ph) Steakhouse, where the 24-year-old worked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cops have ruled it as a homicide, saying she died of blunt force trauma, reportedly to the head.


COSBY: And good evening, everybody. I`m Rita Cosby, in for Nancy Grace. Thank you so much for being with us tonight.

Murder mystery out of Tennessee, the brutal death of a 24-year-old beautiful nursing student, Megan Sharpton. Who killed this young woman?

Let`s go straight to Dave Mack -- he is morning talk show host at Clear Channel WAAX radio -- for the very latest. Dave, tell us what happened.

DAVE MACK, CLEAR CHANNEL WAAX RADIO: Rita, good to have you on tonight. 3:45 in the afternoon on that Sunday, she calls her mom and says, I`ll see you later on this evening. She goes, hangs out with her boyfriend. Nine hours later, her body is found half burned in a grassy area just off the road. A passerby thinks he`s seeing a grass fire, calls authorities. That`s when they find her body.

Everybody liked her. She was naive and sweet and wonderful, a 24- year-old nursing student. What happened is the big question, Rita.

COSBY: Yes, lots of questions tonight. Let`s go to Wayne Thomas, crime reporter with "Tullahoma News." Wayne, we hear this whole background from Dave. It is a huge mystery tonight. Describe, first of all, where her body was found, what it looked like. And again, I understand they also found a car.

WAYNE THOMAS, "TULLAHOMA NEWS" (via telephone): OK. Rita, they found the car later on in the day. But when her body was found, it was in a grassy area just off of the road, just a few feet from the roadway, in a rural area of Franklin County, Tennessee, near Tims Ford Lake.

And the driver was driving by, and it was very dry conditions at the time, saw some kind of -- he thought it was a fire, turned around to make sure that wasn`t. And he was going to call 911. He did call 911. He saw a body laying there. The lower half of her body was burning. He called 911. A deputy quickly arrived and used a fire extinguisher to put it out, and then called for investigators to come to the scene. And since then, they`ve been asking a lot of questions of a lot of people.

COSBY: I can imagine. Dave Mack, morning talk show host, you know, when you see all this -- describe the area where the body was found. You said it`s a grassy area. There was a big grass fire. Describe it for our viewers.

MACK: Well, you know, Rita, it`s just over a bridge and just off the road. As you mentioned, it wasn`t even that far off the road that her body was placed. Remember, she was dumped there after the blunt force trauma that caused her death. And then somebody attempts to burn out in the middle of nowhere, so to speak, about 15 miles from where they found her car.

I`m telling you, Rita, when they set her on fire, the goal was it was far enough out that nobody would find it and all they would find are some just charred remains. The fact this guy got there in the nick of time (INAUDIBLE) she could be identified quickly enough that they could actually get on this case and try to find her murderer.

COSBY: And Wayne Thomas, it sounds like somebody passed by pretty quickly, that they got there pretty quickly on the scene, right, Wayne?

THOMAS: Yes, it was about 10 minutes after the body had been dumped. And actually, investigators tell us that they kind of sort of think that maybe that the body was placed where it was so that it would be found.

COSBY: Very interesting. Why`s that, Wayne?

THOMAS: Well, as close as it was to the roadway, you could see it from the road. And the road is heavily traveled. Even at 1:15 in the morning, a lot of people travel through that area. And they -- it was on fire, and it was a dry time of the season. And people were driving by there, so they see a fire, so immediately, they`re going to call and get the fire department en route.

COSBY: Is it a rural area, Wayne? Kind of describe the area. Is it sort of an abandoned area? But as you point out...

THOMAS: It`s very isolated...


COSBY: ... 1:00 in the morning, you`re going to see a fire.

THOMAS: It`s an isolated area. You cross over a large bridge, which over Tims Ford Lake, and there`s just a little pulloff area there where the body was actually found in a grassy area. And it`s wooded all around it and -- except for this area where her body was found, there`s an open space. And so there she is maybe 10 or 15 feet off the road and on fire.

COSBY: Let`s go to Chris Guess. He`s the public information officer with the Franklin County sheriff`s department. Officer Guess, first of all, thank you so much for being with us. I know you`re right in the middle of the investigation. Give us a sense of what you`ve been able to piece together of what happened to this beautiful girl?

CHRIS GUESS, FRANKLIN COUNTY SHERIFF`S DEPT. (via telephone): Well, we just continue to try to put pieces together, you know, as we go, interviewing and talking to as many people as we can, gathering as much evidence as we can. We`re waiting for some things to come back from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation crime lab.

You know, it`s just a day-to-day process, and it turns into a little bit of a grind where you just have to keep plugging away every day and hope you catch a break eventually.

COSBY: Her body was found, as we`ve been hearing, sort of off the side of a road. It`s a grass fire. Give us a sense of the scene that officers came upon and at least are able to piece things together.

GUESS: Well, it`s -- you know, it`s kind of hard to describe. You know, it`s one of those things that, unfortunately, in our line of work, that you see not often, thankfully. But it`s just horrific to think that, you know, a human being could do that to another human being.

But you know, you sort of have to put that aside and go about your business to make sure you don`t miss anything and you do your job technically correct. So you know, hopefully, when we do find this individual, we have all our affairs in order and we can go to court and give a good, solid, clean case.

COSBY: Absolutely. And that justice is served for some monster or monsters who did this. Officer Guess, describe also -- her body was burned, what, from the bottom down, from her navel down?

GUESS: Yes, we think that the fire was initiated there, from just right at the top of her knee to right around her midsection. And you can speculate as to why that was the area of the body.

We`re not saying anything definite about that yet because we`re not 100 percent sure and we have to be kind of cautious about what we say and put out in public. And you know, we concentrate on gathering facts and recording definitive things and discarding things once we find out that they`re not going to be beneficial to our case.

COSBY: Officer Guess, was she sexually assaulted? Was there evidence of that?

GUESS: Well, they just don`t know, and I don`t know that the forensics people will be able to tell us that because of the fire. That may be something we could possibly find out longer and farther on into the investigation through interviews and other avenues.

COSBY: How do you that it was blunt force trauma? First of all, you know, the body is burned. But it turns out it`s not the burn that killed her. She was killed before from some blunt force instrument. Give us a sense of what you think may have happened to her.

GUESS: Well, that was something that was determined via autopsy, and that`s a doctor`s ruling. That`s not something that we just, you know, came up with or determined on our own. And you know, the -- I guess the motivation of that`s obvious, and that`s just part of what we`ll have to try to piece together once we get closer and narrow down our investigation, and you know, do some hard interviews.

COSBY: Do we have any idea what type of instrument may have caused that blunt force trauma to the head?

GUESS: Well, I mean, it could be a number of things. And that`s another -- you know, there`s so many unknowns right now. You know, some kind of large object, which, you know, I hate to be any more specific than that because, you know, we really don`t know the exact weapon. And we`ll just have to kind of wait and see and go from there.

COSBY: We are taking your calls, everybody. Also, please get ahold of us on Facebook. This is just a terrible, horrible crime and obviously a mystery tonight. And authorities are also asking for your help on the tip line.

Let`s go to Erica from Indiana, who`s on the line. Erica, what`s your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I just wanted to know, like, with the purse being, like, five miles from the car, and you know, and the -- and certain items missing from the purse. You know, would it -- do you think maybe it might be, like, somebody that, you know, was trying to keep her from being able to escape or contact anybody?

COSBY: That`s a very good question. Let`s go back to Officer Guess. What are your thoughts as we hear these items from out of the purse, and the latest is it`s a phone. We also understand there`s a couple other things, keys, shoes are missing.

How do you piece this together? What do you think may have been the motivation, Officer Guess?

GUESS: Well, it`s like the caller just said. You know, it could have been a way to prevent her from making contact from -- with somebody else or maybe having an avenue of escape or -- you know, there are cases where people that who do these kinds of things, in their own sick, twisted way, I guess, keep memorabilia. So we just don`t know that. It could be a lot of different reasons.

But those things are missing, and you know, we need to -- that`s part of our investigation`s to try to locate these items. But the motivation for that could be -- could be, you know, for more than one reason.

COSBY: Officer Guess, was anything taken? Was there any kind of a robbery, any, like, her -- you know, we know that her purse was found. What about her wallet? What about her money?

GUESS: There`s no sign of a robbery that we`ve been able to determine. So we`re going with the idea that this is just a -- you know, it was just a cold-blooded murder.

COSBY: Absolutely. Let`s go to Marc Harrold, former officer, Atlanta Police Department, also an attorney. Marc, when you hear all this -- and now I think this is stunning, what the officer just told us, no money taken! Not -- it doesn`t look like robbery was the motive. What are you gathering from this, Marc Harrold?

MARC HARROLD, FORMER OFFICER, ATLANTA PD: Well, so far, it doesn`t look like robbery was the motive. The thing about the purse, it may -- what was taken out of the purse or what was missing from the purse maybe in interesting and it may lead to something.

But the most interesting thing about the purse is where it was located. If you look at that map, what they`re going to have to determine is it seems they know where she was dumped, and she was likely set on fire there. But where the blunt force trauma was inflicted upon her may be near the location of the purse.

So when you have items spread out like that, it can certainly help you both with chronology and the progression of the crime.

COSBY: And Marc, I do think it`s interesting you got three different locations. You got the location of the body. You got the location of the car. And then you got the purse sort of in between. Why all these different locations, Marc Harrold?

HARROLD: Well, at this point, everybody`s just speculating. Of course, the police may know more. The sheriff`s department and the TBI may know more than we do. But as far as we can tell, it looks like the purse may be near the infliction of the wounds. It may be where she was struck. The purse was left behind.

The vehicle looks to have gone in an opposite direction. And most likely, the body was dumped somewhere in the middle and then set on fire, most likely, as was alluded to, it may be to cover up a specific type of crime, given where the burning was done. And that may look towards or at least give us some evidence there may be a sexual assault.

I`m, of course. just speculating. And then the car went in the other direction. And most likely, when the car was recovered, that gives you an idea of where the perpetrator went.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A gruesome find.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They found her burning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire destroys everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A partially charred corpse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That woman is Erika Sharpton, or Megan, as friends call her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A 24-year-old nursing student.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Evidence of trauma to her head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The victim`s car found abandoned. Could it provide clues?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re doing everything we can to try to find whoever did this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) still (ph) hunting (ph), too.


COSBY: And I`m Rita Cosby, in for Nancy Grace. A beautiful nursing student supposed to see her mother on a Sunday afternoon. Instead, she ends up murdered, blunt force trauma to the head, and her body is found partially burned in a grass fire on the side of the road.

Let`s continue with Dave Mack. He`s a morning talk show host with WAAX radio. I want to ask you about this scene, Dave, where a driver comes upon the body. And all of a sudden, he sees this fire, right, on the side of the road. Do we know what started the fire? Was some accelerant -- were there things used at the scene?

MACK: Yes, they figured that out fairly early on, Rita. Imagine you`re driving wherever at 1:15 in the morning. And it`s a dry condition and you see a fire. You think you`re just going to call 911 and report a brush fire.

He walks over closer and sees that the body is half burned. Because of where the body was burned -- and you mentioned this earlier, between the knees and the navel -- they look closer at it, they determine that an accelerant was used and that it was purposely set in that specific area.

And police say this guy came upon the fire within 10 minutes of the perpetrator leaving the scene.

COSBY: Dr. William Morrone, medical examiner, forensic pathologist and toxicologist. Dr. Morrone, you know, it is just so heart-breaking to hear this story. The good news is it sounds like someone stumbled upon the scene within 10 minutes.

What kind of damage could have been done, though, to someone who would have been burned within 10 minutes? Would there still be some clues left on their body for investigators?

DR. MORRONE, MEDICAL EXAMINER/FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Rita, there`s a wealth of clues, and there`s very little damage done in the first 10 minutes. There`s so much information that they know that the blunt force trauma allowed them in autopsy to determine if there was a fracture in the skull, a hematoma, any other subcutaneous bruises. All that information is retained, and 10 minutes of burning is very little burning. There`s a lot of stuff there for them to go after.

COSBY: Dr. Morrone, at this point, we don`t know if she was sexually assaulted or not. That could be an important clue, of course, as to leading to maybe who would have done this. Would they be able to determine that after 10 minutes of burning the body?

MORRONE: Absolutely. Absolutely, 100 percent. There is so little damage done. It looks bad on the outside, but bodies only burn on the outside. It takes hours to actually cremate a body in a funeral situation. People overestimate their power when they try to destroy the evidence.

COSBY: Well, that`s what I was thinking, too, right away. And let`s go to Wendy Walsh, psychologist. What kind of person burns a body, Wendy? Obviously, a monster, but what kind of person does this?

WENDY WALSH, PSYCHOLOGIST: Somebody who wants to hide evidence, somebody who isn`t criminally insane and they know the consequences of their crime and they`re doing what they can to cover up.

And that`s clearly what we`re seeing here from where he moved the body from -- where he may have moved the body from where the purse is, and then taking the car and putting it in another location, there was a lot of work done after the fact to show that this assailant knew he was doing wrong seriously.

COSBY: Chris Guess, public information officer with Franklin County, is your sense that it`s probably somebody who knew her, not just some sort of random crime?

GUESS: That`s hard for us to determine, Rita, right now. We will have to, you know, digest some records that we have been able to obtain and just trace a lot of steps and try to put people with her, you know, later on in the evening after she spoke with her mother, and that`s part of what`s going on now and just continuing the investigation. So that`s a fact that`s yet to be determined.

COSBY: Officer Guess, was she wearing clothes? Was she clothed or unclothed?

GUESS: She was partially clothed. And from the waist down, she was not clothed.

COSBY: She was not (INAUDIBLE) Let`s go to Barbara from Arkansas. You`re on the line with our calls. Barbara, what`s your question tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. The minute I heard the story, the first thing I thought about her being a nursing student. How far does she live from Holly Bobo?

COSBY: That`s a good question. Let`s go to Dave Mack. Dave, can you answer that?

MACK: I don`t know how far she lived from the (INAUDIBLE) scene of where she was found versus everything else, other than that her car was 15 miles from the body.

COSBY: So is there any connection to any other prior case, Dave? Are they looking at past cases, seeing if there could be some connection?

MACK: They`re -- you know, as you`ve talked with the investigator (ph), they`re looking at everything right now. And they`ve conducted massive amounts of interviews. They`re looking at everybody`s past record, including her father. They`re looking deep into every employee, as well as the boyfriend. You haven`t even talked about that yet. You know, that`s where she allegedly went to, her boyfriend`s house, after she talked to her mother at 3:45 in the afternoon. And there`s that nine-hour window between the time that she talks to her mom and her body is found burning.


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

And joining me now is Kelly Sharpton. She is the mother of Megan Sharpton, that beautiful nursing student who was found dead from blunt force trauma to the head, also her body partially burned on the side of the road.

And Mrs. Sharpton, first of all, our condolences. We are so sorry for your loss. And I hope that whoever did this is absolutely brought to justice.

KELLY SHARPTON, MOTHER (via telephone): Thank you.

COSBY: I`m sure this has just been so difficult for you and your family. Our prayers go out to you. How did you find out what happened to your beautiful daughter?

SHARPTON: I actually read a post on Facebook where they had described a girl with a star tattoo on the back of her neck and one on her foot, and I knew that it was her.

COSBY: When was the last time you talked to her daughter? And what kind of mood was she in? I understand she was saying that she was going to go over and visit a family, correct?

SHARPTON: Right. My other daughter was here from out of town, and she had just woken up at 3:45 that afternoon. She had worked the late shift at the restaurant where she worked and was planning to come over after that. She said, after she got her shower, she would come on, and she didn`t come.

But we were under the understanding she had an interview with somebody to start sitting with an elderly lady, and so we just figured she had gone on and gone to that interview. But we lost track of her after that.

COSBY: And she never -- never showed up after that time, correct? You never saw her and never got word of anything after that point?

SHARPTON: Nothing after that point, no. She told her boyfriend goodbye at 6:00. He went to work from 6:00 to midnight, and he was accounted for the whole time.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her car and her partially charred corpse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charred remains will undoubtedly complicate an autopsy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess some criminals (INAUDIBLE) figured that out. It`s just like anything else. It catches on and then (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clues in the death of Megan Sharpton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s just too many unknowns right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deputies found her body on fire in this grassy area behind me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her Mustang, her red `95 Mustang, was found.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The murder has shocked co-workers at Yamato Steakhouse where the 24-year-old worked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cops have ruled the death a homicide, saying she died of blunt force drama reportedly to the head.


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

A beautiful nursing student, who`s also working at a restaurant, trying to make ends meet. She was supposed to graduate in October from nursing school, had her whole life ahead of her and now she has been found dead on the side of the road.

Let`s go to Dave -- let`s go to Dave Mack, actually, morning talk show host of WAAX Radio. Give us a recap again of what happened to this beautiful girl?

DAVE MACK, MORNING TALK SHOW HOST, CLEAR CHANNEL, WAAX RADIO: Well, Rita, when we start, we`ll start at 3:45 that afternoon when she calls her mother and has a talk with her, and says if she`s going to come over and visit. And then from there, we know that she went to her boyfriend. We know he went to work but then real hazy on what takes place between that and 1:15 in the morning when a passerby driving -- as was mentioned earlier, a barely heavily traveled road, sees what he thinks is a brush fire. He goes closer, calls 911 and sees a body.

COSBY: And also I understand we also see these items in this purse that are missing. Give us the significance, Dave, of those items that are missing.

MACK: You know, I -- her purse was found five miles away from the body. Missing from the purse were her car keys, her cell phone and a pair of tennis shoes. Those are things that are unaccounted for right now. So you`ve got the car, her `95 Ford Mustang found 15 miles away from her body was found. Her pocketbook, the pink pocketbook found five miles from her body and yet the contents, the phone, keys and shoes all missing.

COSBY: And that`s a lot of missing pieces.

Let`s go back to Kelly Sharpton. She`s the mother of Megan Sharpton.

And again, Kelly, thank you for being with us. I want to have you continue to tell us what happened that day, because obviously it`s still a huge mystery what happened to your daughter. We`re hoping anyone who is out there who has seen anything suspicious be sure to call authorities at the tip line, we have it up there, so make sure you absolutely call authorities if you saw something suspicious that night what could lead to information and evidence to find out what happened to this beautiful young girl, who was behind her killing.

You see the number up there, it`s 931-967-2331.

And Kelly, tell us, she was apparently going to see another family, right? Who was this family? Do we know who this family was, this elderly family she was going to go visit that day before she was supposed to come over and see you?

KELLY SHARPTON, MOTHER OF MURDERED NURSING STUDENT, MEGAN SHARPTON: We don`t know. It was a new opportunity for her and she was just going to meet with them and see if in fact their schedules would work with her school schedule and it would be a good fit for both of them. We don`t know if she ever made it there or anything. The number that she was given isn`t working anymore. The contact number for that family. So we just don`t know.

COSBY: Kelly, tell us a little bit, we`re seeing, you know, these beautiful pictures of her, we have heard from everyone, she was just such a sweet, kind, obviously a very hard working young woman, your daughter. Tell us, also, she was very trusting, so too, maybe to a fault at some points?

SHARPTON: I will agree with that. She gave everybody the same benefit of the doubt. She thought that there were no bad people, just people that made bad choices sometimes and she thought they all deserved the same fair chance. So she, you know, maybe was a little too empathetic with people. I don`t know.

COSBY: There was a beautiful story, Kelly, I saw of her even years ago helping a homeless man saying look, he`s a human being and doing some really beautiful, kind things to him, right?

SHARPTON: Well, yes. She was -- we lived in Michigan at the time and she would go to the back streets of Ann Arbor and visit with these people and she was probably 15 years old, and I was telling her, you can`t just wander around the back streets, but she said but mommy, he needs a friend, he needs somebody to talk to. And you know, actually, just had that compassion for people, that trust, that love for humans.

COSBY: She sounds like an incredible young woman and I hope that whoever did this horrible thing to her is brought to justice.

Let`s go to Marc Harrold, if we could, former officer.

Marc, when you hear all this information, I thought what Kelly, the mom, was just saying was very important that she was planning to go over to see this family, we don`t know who this family was. That`s obviously a key area to look at, right, Marc?

MARC HARROLD, FORMER OFFICER, ATLANTA PD, ATTORNEY, AUTHOR OF "OBSERVATIONS OF WHITE NOISE": Yes, they`re going to have to look at that -- they`re going to have to look at her relationship with the family. It sounds like it was a new relationship. There may be limited information about that relationship.

Most importantly, did she make it there? And if she did make it there, when did she leave? Chronology is very important. One thing about the body being set on fire, obviously that`s horrific aspect of this crime but the fact that it was set on fire, this is a very long chronology if all they have is when she left the house and when she was found.

But given the fact that the body was set on fire, they can tell by how much of that body was consumed by the fire when she was actually most likely set on fire and they can probably backtrack and see when she was killed. It helps with the chronology but you`ve got to look at that family and see if ever made it over there and what they could tell you as to when she left.

COSBY: Wayne Thomas, crime reporter, I bet you, look, cops have -- they don`t have the phone, but they`ve got to have phone records, right, Wayne?

WAYNE THOMAS, CRIME REPORTER: That`s right and the sheriff`s department has told us that they are working to get her records off the phone and get her contacts and you know the text messages and those kinds of things. And they`re hoping that that can lead them to whoever this person was and any phone calls that she might have received, they`ll be able to contact those people and also find out more about her last days on earth.

COSBY: Chris Guess, public information officer with the Franklin County Sheriff`s Department.

Officer Guess, what are the phone records showing?

CHRIS GUESS, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, FRANKLIN COUNTY SHERIFF`S DEPARTMENT: Well, they`re still just in kind of the preliminary stages. There`s a mass of information when you start to dissect, like the gentleman said earlier, this is a long chronology and when you start to try to dissect all that information, that`s a pretty huge undertaking so we`re in the process of doing that now and I feel pretty confident that we will be able to track, you know, at least to a degree who she came in contact with, or at least by her phone who she came in contact with at different points, and hopefully that will help us piece together a little bit more of a timeline and give us a little better direction or a little more specific direction of where to look.

COSBY: Officer Guess, do you know who this family is that she was going to see and help?

GUESS: We`re still, we`re still in the process of determining that and we have to be kind of careful about, you know, things we do release. I certainly don`t want to get out in front of the investigation too far because there`s things that we need to determine and be 100 percent sure of before we release. But that`s just part of the ongoing investigation. It`s part of the records that we`re dissecting now.

COSBY: And Marc Harrold, former police officer, you bet they probably got fingerprints and a lot of other things, too. The car was found, probably the accelerant, they can do some traces, there`s probably a lot of pieces here, right, Marc?

HARROLD: Yes, there`s a lot of pierces. When they find the car there`ll be a lot of physical evidence. There`s trace evidence, evidence of the accelerant. One fortunate thing for the family here is this is a rural area, but I have some experience with Tennessee law enforcement and both Franklin County and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have excellent reputations.

They`re going to do everything they can for this family. And a lot of that is going to start with the way they collect and analyze this information and evidence.

COSBY: Absolutely.

And to tonight`s "Case Alert," the prime suspect of the massive deadly shooting at a Colorado theater makes his first appearance in court today. Twenty-four-year-old James Holmes, a former PhD candidates, arrested Friday just moments after opening fire in a packed movie theater in Aurora. Twelve people dead, 58 wounded. Holmes who called himself The Joker, his hair dyed red, held without bond on first-degree murder. The D.A. is weighing the death penalty.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The shock of a lifetime.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Clues in the death of Megan Sharpton are her car and her partially charred corpse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her Mustang, her red `95 Mustang was found and they found her burning.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Where her pink purse is? Who would want to kill young nursing student?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Deputies found her body on fire in this grassy area.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just keep (INAUDIBLE) somebody knows something.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Called her to put out the fire, but quickly found Sharpton`s body and evidence of trauma to her head.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What happened to the young woman with so much life to live?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We try to find whoever did this and bring them to justice, that`s everybody`s ultimate goal.


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

Let`s go to Dave Mack, morning talk show host, Clear Channel, WAAX Radio. As we look at all this, Dave, and it`s just so baffling and so horrible that somebody would do this, she`s found partially clothed from the waist down, she is naked. Her body burned, but luckily it sounds like cops got there on the scene.

What do we know about people close to her, Dave? What do we know about, she`s got a boyfriend, she was going over to this family, has been anyone been polygraphed here?

MACK: Actually her boyfriend has been polygraphed and as you heard her mother mention --

COSBY: And what were the results? Dave, what was the result?

MACK: Inconclusive to a degree. I think he passed part of it but there was an inconclusive part on the second part.

COSBY: Very interesting. Wayne Thomas, what do you know?

THOMAS: He passed part of it but another part of it was inconclusive, they won`t say what part was inconclusive or anything like that. Now the roommate who also lived with them has passed the polygraph. And since the investigation has been going on they have received numerous calls and they`ve interviewed a number of people and they`re continuing to follow up with those people that they keep getting calls about, and following up on their leads and hoping that just one of those people have some kind of information for them.

And they`ve talked to -- you know, anytime there this type of murder, those closest to them will be questioned and the boyfriend and the roommate were questioned at great length. They took the lie detector test as we say. The boyfriend`s part of it was conclusive, positive, and the other part of it was inconclusive. And the roommate, well, he passed it without any trouble, Rita.

COSBY: Let`s go to Alex Sanchez, defense attorney.

Alex, what do you make about this fact, part inconclusive for one of these polygraphs, Alex?

ALEX SANCHEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I`d like to know what part is inconclusive but I think that merits further investigation of this boyfriend.

COSBY: Yes, it certainly does.


COSBY: Don`t you think -- don`t you think -- I mean, but first of all, you always go to the person close to them, whether they`re -- whether they`re tied or not, you just have to, right?

SANCHEZ: I think it makes absolute sense. I mean he spent a lot of time with her, and he was the last person with her, you`re going to go to him to find out what information he has. I think the police are being very circumspect, they`re being very careful about the information they`re releasing, but this is clearly a sex crime, the clothes were removed. The purpose of putting that accelerant was to obliterate evidence. No question about that.

The person does not look like a professional killer. They seem very sloppy in what they had done. And I think it`s more likely that. It`s somebody that she knew, somebody that she trusted. Somebody that she let into that car. And then something horrendous happened. I would suspect that this case is going to be solved relatively quickly.

COSBY: Yes, I think so, too. And I think there`s plethora of evidence.

Let`s go to -- if we could, let`s go to Ray Giudice, defense attorney.

I agree with Alex, I rarely do, but I will tonight. I think that it is probably somebody close to her and I also think that there`s going to be tons of evidence here. They probably got fingerprints, they probably got phone records, and I also think you got some interesting results here on this polygraph, at least what you`re seeing here. What do you think, Ray?

RAY GIUDICE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, let me disagree with Alex, and I don`t usually disagree with him. I think it`s going to be a stranger to her and a stranger to the area. Someone who knew that area would have been -- done a much better job concealing the body, the location of the vehicle and the purse.

This looks like someone, a stranger, and unfortunately we heard the mom talk about this young lady`s wonderful compassion and open heart. She might have picked up a stranger who committed a sexual assault on her, panicked, bludgeoned her to death, and then tried to get rid of the evidence and fled the area.

I think a local would have done a much better job getting rid of the evidence.

COSBY: Alex Sanchez, the other thing is predators in the area. There are, we are told, about 35 sex offenders in this area. You`ve got to question them, right, Alex?

SANCHEZ: Of course you do, and more likely than not, their fingerprints, their DNA samples are on file. Once they examine this girl and they obtain more information from her, unfortunately, there may be some bodily fluids come from inside of her. All they have to do is try to match it up against the local sex offenders and they may -- they may capture their men.

COSBY: Yes, and they`ve got to cooperate, right? What if you`re representing one of these folks? They`ve got to come forward. Anybody who sees anything at this point needs to come forward.

SANCHEZ: Yes, I mean you do have to cooperate if you`re a sex offender because you`re under certain restrictions by the court. But if you are -- if you believe that you`re being investigated by the police, you`re under no obligation to go to the police and say, hey, you know, I committed this crime. You want people to do this.

COSBY: But you just -- yes.

SANCHEZ: But they`re under no obligation to do that.


COSBY: You sit back and say, oh god, I just had a bad afternoon, I killed somebody. What the heck. I ought to sit back.

SANCHEZ: Yes, well, you know, you do have to look after your own interest unfortunately.


COSBY: What, so don`t report that you did something, Alex? Is that what you`re advocating?

SANCHEZ: Well, I -- I advocate people to not commit crime. But if you did commit a crime, talk to an attorney. But it`s not your obligation to go and make a confession.

COSBY: Yes, but Alex, what are you supposed to just sit at home and pretend like you didn`t do it? Is that -- you know, it gets me sick when I hear that, Alex.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it does. But in our society, in our justice system, a person who commits a crime is not -- you know, you`re under no compulsion to go forward.

COSBY: Wait, wait, Alex. Wait, wait, wait, Alex.

SANCHEZ: And admit that you commit a crime. And I don`t agree with that, but that`s the way it is.

COSBY: All right, so let`s just sit back, let`s just pretend we have no conscience, let`s just leave a woman at the side of the road, a nursing student, and don`t feel obligated, just call Alex Sanchez, instead, is that what you`re saying?

SANCHEZ: No, yes, look. The crime is horrible and I know the mother is here, and this is a terrible crime. And I don`t want to see anybody commit a crime.

COSBY: Yes, it`s disgusting.

SANCHEZ: And I don`t want to see people become --

COSBY: And don`t advocate people to be quiet.

SANCHEZ: I don`t want to see people become victims.

COSBY: Let`s not call the cops, let`s not call the family.

SANCHEZ: No, but -- no, listen.

COSBY: Let not call the tip line, let`s call Alex Sanchez.

SANCHEZ: This is the society that we live in. And if someone commits a crime, and they believe they`re a suspect, they have a right to call an attorney and they have a right to remain silent.

COSBY: I agree. I agree.

SANCHEZ: And that`s just the way it is here. If you don`t like that --


COSBY: But you know what, Alex?

SANCHEZ: There are other countries that don`t support that.

COSBY: Guess what? Guess what? You also have a right to have a moral conscience.

SANCHEZ: Yes, you do.

COSBY: And if you did do something, and you did do something wrong --

SANCHEZ: And I certainly encourage that.

COSBY: -- you better text or report it and you better turn yourself in.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Cops are still wondering who would want to kill young nursing student, Megan Sharpton?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Deputies found her body on fire in this grassy area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are doing everything we can to try to find out whoever did this and bring them to justice. That is everybody`s ultimate goal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somebody knows. Somebody knows something.


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

I want to put up the tip line, everybody, because if you have any information on this case, please make sure you call authorities, it`s 931- 967-2331. It is certainly a mystery tonight.

Of course, Alex Sanchez, as you just heard, defense attorney, well, he would like everybody to call him as opposed to calling the police if they did something.

Let`s go to Jennifer Smetters, family law attorney.

Jennifer, give me a dose of reality. Please tell me that you would tell somebody to call the authorities, that you would tell them to report the crime, as opposed to sitting back and calling an attorney instead?

JENNIFER SMETTERS, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: Yes, absolutely. But criminals very rarely have the conscientious spirit that we would like them to have. So realistically speaking I think what we`re going to find here is that there are four layers the investigators are going to focus on. One, the home life. Who are her friends? Who is in the family? What`s not fitting in in that circle? Two --

COSBY: Jennifer, do you believe --

SMETTERS: -- is going to be --


COSBY: Do you believe that somebody close to the family or do you believe it`s somebody that just came by? What do you think?

SMETTERS: It`s going to -- it`s either going to be home, work/school, a remote onlooker, some guy who was watching her and she wasn`t aware, or somebody online. We don`t know how she received information about this job posting. I think that is the most interesting thing. That is an unusual event that happened on that date. We don`t even know if that was a legit appointment.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The charred remains of a 24-year-old woman.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Clues in the death of Megan Sharpton are her car and her partially charred corpse.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Deputies found her body on fire in this grassy area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you know Megan is dead?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Megan Sharpton`s death investigation have uncovered no standout leads.


COSBY: So, who killed 24-year-old Megan Sharpton?

Let`s go to Dave Mack with WAAX Radio.

Dave, walk us through again, is there anything that people are narrowed in on and do we know any more about this family? Was it legitimate, this search to go meet with this elderly family?

MACK: You know that is where the police are looking at that. They are also looking at the boyfriend, obviously, because that is where she was headed. He left to go to work, supposedly, he didn`t do well on a polygraph test. There is an area of time we don`t know what exactly took place between the time that he left for work and she was found on the side of the road on fire, dead.

We`ve got her car 15 miles from the body, her pocketbook five miles from the body, and we`ve got missing keys, a cell phone, some sneakers. So was the car used to drop her body there and then the perpetrator left throwing things out the window? There`s so many questions and so few answers, Rita.

COSBY: There sure are. Let`s go back to Kelly Sharpton, she is the mother, of course, of Megan Sharpton.

Kelly, I think it`s important, too, for our listeners, right now the boyfriend is not a suspect. Authorities said they have not zeroed in on anybody. If somebody is out there listening tonight and they saw something, what would you like to say to them as you are desperately searching for clues for your daughter?

SHARPTON: Just please, if you saw anything, even the smallest detail, please call the police. Call CBR (ph), Franklin County Sheriff`s Department. They have been wonderful. They have kept us up to date. They have left no stone unturned. They have just been great and please call. She was our daughter. And a sister. We just miss her.

COSBY: She seems like an absolutely beautiful, beautiful young woman and I encourage everybody out there to call with any clues. And our hearts go out to you, Kelly, and your family.

And tonight, everybody, let`s stop to remember Marine Master Sergeant Adam Benjamin, 34 years old, from Garfield Heights, Ohio, killed in Afghanistan. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Ohio military medal of distinction. A gun collector, he loved hunting and fishing. He leaves behind his parents, Judy and Frank. His stepfather, Bob, and 11 siblings.

Adam Benjamin, a true American hero.

And thank you to all our guests but our biggest thank you, of course, is to you for joining us tonight and we also want to wish a happy 9th birthday to Drake in South Carolina. He loves video games, rescuing dogs and helping the elderly.

Happy birthday to cute little Drake.

I`m Rita Cosby in for Nancy Grace. Have a great evening, everybody. Dr. Drew is coming up next.