Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Texas Shootout May Be Linked to Cold Murder; Wrongly Convicted Man Released From Prison After 23 Years; Remembering Grace
Aired March 21, 2013 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks.
Good evening, everyone. There's breaking news tonight and a 360 exclusive. Breaking news in the brazen doorstep murder of a top law enforcement official. The chief of prisons in Colorado, after a high speed chase, police opened fire. The question is, did they get the killer?
Also tonight, the exclusive, this man went free today after 23 years in prison for murder he almost certainly did not commit. You're going to meet the man who as a teenager helped put him away and then decades later helped free him. We'll ask what made him come forward finally, why he waited so long.
Plus, when it comes to the biggest art heist ever, here's the $500 million question. Who's got the goods? Where is the art? Who is behind it? We're going to track down the leading suspects.
We begin, though, tonight with breaking news in a crime that unfolded in as little time as it takes to press a doorbell and pull a trigger. That's how a gunman took the life of Colorado's prison chief, Tom Clements, at his home Tuesday night. He rang the bell and shot him dead on his own doorstep.
Now two states away, the story might be ending just as quickly and violently with a high speed chase and a shootout. Might be, if this is the getaway car and the driver was the suspect.
Ed Lavandera is in Wise County, Texas, where the chase and the shootout happened.
Ed, what's the latest?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, a crazy day here in north Texas. Around noon Eastern Time this afternoon, a large four-door boxy Cadillac with Colorado license plates was driving through Montague County. A sheriff's deputy there tried pulling the car over and when the deputy approached the car, the man driving the car started shooting at him, shot the deputy twice in the chest and a bullet grazed his head as well.
That deputy right now is in serious condition. The deputy was wearing a bulletproof vest so authorities are hopeful that that deputy will survive. But then a high speed chase ensued from Montague County to where we are in the town of Decatur, Texas, which is north of Fort Worth. And this chase, we're told, reached the speeds of more than 100 miles per hour and when that -- when that Cadillac drove out into traffic in a nearby street where we are right now, it was broadsided by an 18-wheeler truck.
The suspect got out of the car, continued firing at deputies and law enforcement here in the town of Decatur. They -- they fired back, killing the suspect just a short while ago. That suspect was taken off of life support but we're told that investigators had been unable to identify and didn't find any driver's license information on him or anything. They took his fingerprints and right now they are in the process of trying to identify this person.
In the meantime, Anderson, investigators from Colorado have scrambled to jump on planes, they're on their way down here, we're told by the Wise County sheriff, that there is evidence inside that car that they will be, quote, "very interested" to take a look at so they will begin that process here in the next couple of hours as those investigators arrive here in Texas shortly -- Anderson.
COOPER: So that's why they think there may be a connection because they say there is evidence inside the vehicle that those investigators might be interested in? That's the connection?
LAVANDERA: That's perhaps one of them. There is obviously strong connections with just the description of the car, just the way the suspect behaved and started firing. There is also the Colorado license plates.
Incidentally, the car had two different license plates on that car. So an indication that perhaps the person that was driving that car obviously tried to change license plates, trying to conceal himself in some way, so that's one of the other things they're taking a close look at, and trying to look into as we speak -- Anderson.
COOPER: No, I also understand Colorado authorities are looking at a Saudi national as a possible person of interest. Do we know anything about that?
LAVANDERA: This was a -- a situation that was -- that authorities in El Paso County had confirmed, that there was a Saudi national who was convicted of sexually -- sexual crimes against a housekeeper back in 2006 and that that person was trying to get paroled and be able to sent to Saudi Arabia but the -- that prison director had denied that request because the Saudi national refused to participate in a sex offender program.
So they were trying to -- they acknowledged that this was one of the -- an angle that they were also looking into and whether or not this is a real connection is not clear at this point.
COOPER: All right. Ed, appreciate the update on that. We'll continue to follow it.
Now the remarkable story of a man named David Ranta who went free this afternoon in New York after serving 23 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Convicted despite passing a polygraph, convicted despite alleged abuses by the investigating officers and serious doubt from the trial judge himself.
Convicted even though several witnesses now say they lied and one who you're going to meet in a moment says he was actually coached in the lineup who to pick.
First, Mary Snow on how David Ranta got his freedom back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The defendant's motion to vacate the judgment of conviction is granted.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is 58-year-old David Ranta today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Your Honor.
SNOW: This was David Ranta in 1990 when he was arrested for a murder he didn't commit and sentenced to 37 and a half years behind bars.
It all happened in front of this building in a Hasidic neighborhood of Brooklyn, after a thief tried and failed to rob a diamond courier who sped away. The robber then turned his gun on a beloved rabbi named Chaskel Werzberger. He was shot through his car window and died four days later.
The community was in anguish. And the NYPD was under pressure. A massive effort followed to find the rabbi's killer. The investigation dragged on for six months. The lead detective at the time was Louis Scarcella, a man known within the NYPD to use unorthodox tactics to get his man.
Then a major break in the case. A key witness came forward, a 13-year-old neighbor of the rabbi. On his way to school that morning, a teen named Menachem Lieberman saw a suspicious looking man in a car around the time of the shooting. Eventually, police honed in on David Ranta and he was brought in for a lineup.
The 13-year-old Lieberman identified Ranta as the man in the car. At trial, alleged accomplices of Ranta's testified that he had killed the rabbi. He was found guilty of second-degree murder and has been in prison ever since with all hopes of appeal failed.
That is until two years ago, when Menachem Lieberman revealed a secret, something that only he knew and that had been weighing on him for over 20 years. He admitted in an affidavit that he was coached, told by an NYPD detective to "pick the guy with the big nose."
More troubling allegations emerged. Michael Baum was David Ranta's original lawyer.
(On camera): Do you believe he was framed? MICHAEL BAUM, RANTA'S ATTORNEY FOR FIRST TRIAL: Without a doubt. Without a doubt. I believed he was framed then. My concerns about that have never wavered. Yes, he was framed.
SNOW (voice-over): There's always been the question of Ranta's supposed confession after the crime. When he was arrested, detectives said he admitted to being at the scene of the crime, but not the shooter, only that wasn't recorded. But written down on paper by Detective Louis Scarcella. Ranta says that's wrong that he didn't admit to anything.
(On camera): He said he never confessed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am, I really -- all I have to say is I stand by my confession, by the confession that I took.
SNOW: There are investigators who are saying that rules were broken.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I -- ma'am, I didn't do anything wrong. I stand by my investigation.
SNOW (voice-over): The Brooklyn district attorney did not stand by the investigation and today a judge agreed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, you are free to go.
SNOW: In an interview Ranta gave the "New York Times" this week as his release was pending, he said, quote, "I've lived for years in a cage, stripped down, humiliated. I'll be able to touch people again, to make decisions. To be honest, what's ahead scares me."
COOPER: Hard to imagine being in prison for 23 years for a crime you didn't commit.
Mary Snow joins me now.
You were in the courtroom. I -- what was the emotion like there? I can only imagine.
SNOW: Yes, Anderson, you know, it was so emotional that the judge started crying at one point, as soon as David Ranta walked into that courtroom. His family members were just overcome with emotion. And in particular, his daughter, Priscilla. She was 2 years old when her father was arrested.
And, you know, these family members have had their hopes dashed before so they were very nervous going into this hearing.
COOPER: And if David Ranta didn't kill the rabbi, who did?
SNOW: Well, a woman had come forward in the 1990s to say that her husband had admitted to killing the rabbi, but her husband had been killed in a car accident not long after the murder. Now Ranta's initial attorney said that he used that information to try and get the conviction overturned in the mid '90s and that didn't work. He said that there were questions about credibility that were raised, and now those claims had been examined once again.
Investigators now saying that the woman's claim there was not enough evidence to either back them up or discredit them so the bottom line is, we may never know who killed the rabbi.
COOPER: All right. Mary Snow, appreciate the update.
Again, David Ranta's road to prison, it started with that 13- year-old boy, Menachem Lieberman, when he was -- says he was coached in a lineup to I.D. David Ranta. Now David Ranta's road to freedom more than two decades later also began with that same young man, Mr. Lieberman, his word, only this time freely given and truthfully spoken.
Twenty-three years without freedom for one man. For the other, 23 years carrying a very heavy weight on his conscience.
Joining me tonight in a 360 exclusive, Menachem Lieberman.
Menachem, what happened during the lineup? What did the detective say to you?
MENACHEM LIEBERMAN, RECANTED HIS IDENTIFICATION OF DAVID RANTA: As I was walking in the room to the lineup, he basically told me that I should pick out the guy with the biggest nose.
COOPER: And when he said that to you, what did you think?
LIEBERMAN: I was too young back then to realize that this was a setup. I mean, to me this was just basically -- I never saw a lineup before. I -- it was just part of the process.
COOPER: When did you realize that David Ranta probably wasn't guilty and the investigation, particularly your picking him out of the lineup, was mishandled?
LIEBERMAN: I think as the years went by, I remembered what happened, that somebody told me, but as more and more I saw on the news of innocent people getting let free in various ways, I started to think back to the trial I was involved and remembered where I was told who to pick out of the lineup.
COOPER: At the time, did you tell anybody else about what had happened?
LIEBERMAN: No. This is something I carried with me. I mean, I didn't tell anybody in the world. As I grew older and saw more and more of this wrongful conviction, it really bothered me. I mean, it's something that bothered me very much, until two years ago I decided I have to get it off my chest. I have to tell the authorities what happened.
COOPER: What did it feel like to live with this secret all these years? I mean, as you started to think about it, how did that feel?
LIEBERMAN: When I was younger, I didn't -- I didn't even think that he's not guilty. I read a couple of articles. I never knew the wife or the part where he always categorically denied it. I mean, as I got older, I read a few times there was a local Jewish magazine that had the story, ran the story, and that's when I saw this Werzberger and actually I was -- it's got to be three years ago in Florida, and happened to meet Werzberger on one occasion and he found out I was one of the witnesses and he started to say that you're a liar. I didn't want to admit to him what happened but that's kind of reminded me that, you know, this can't go on forever. I mean, somebody has to know what happened.
COOPER: How do you feel now that you have spoken up and that justice has been done?
LIEBERMAN: I mean, I was very happy when I was able to call and basically the main point was for me to get it off my chest. I wasn't sure at that point. I felt he might not be guilty but as (INAUDIBLE) who was the first deputy who worked on this case told me, I mean, as he started to investigate it, the whole case fell apart. I guess an innocent man was in jail and is now free. The sad part is that the killer never met justice.
COOPER: Have you spoken to David Ranta at all during this process or is there anything you would want to tell him now that he's been released?
LIEBERMAN: No, I didn't -- never spoke to him. I haven't had the chance to speak to him. I mean, I just feel that I was set up as a kid and I just wanted to do my part, what needs to be, you know, justice, that I get it off and give it over to the D.A.'s office and I guess at the end of the day, the whole case just fell apart.
COOPER: Menachem Lieberman, I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us. Thank you.
LIEBERMAN: You're welcome.
COOPER: One final note on the lead detective in the case. You already heard Detective Scarcella say he stands by his investigation. Earlier tonight I asked David Ranta's attorney, Pierre Sussman, for his reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PIERRE SUSSMAN, DAVID RANTA'S ATTORNEY: Mr. Scarcella and Detective Chmil had everything to do with how this case progressed. The real killer in this case, the one responsible for the rabbi's murder, died within a year after the crime. The detectives knew that, but it wasn't -- it wasn't leading to the kind of result that they wanted, which was a live person to pin the case on and, you know, Mr. Ranta was the kind of vulnerable person that they were able to bring in and frame.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Wow. It's amazing. Twenty-three years in prison. Follow me on Twitter right now, let me know what you think about the case, @andersoncooper.
Up next, a call for Congress to do the right thing, pass meaningful gun control legislation. That call came from the mother of a child killed in the Connecticut school massacre.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYNN MCDONNELL, DAUGHTER GRACE KILLED IN NEWTOWN, CONNECTICUT, SHOOTING: I believe this with all my heart that if any of the senators and congressmen and women were in our shoes for one day, one hour, and felt the pain that we have without our daughter, you know, maybe they would find their own moral compass and take action over inaction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The conversation with the parents of Grace McDonnell, killed at Sandy Hook, just ahead.
Also coming up, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann takes to the floor of the House to make some pretty wild claims about Obamacare. Can she actually back up her charges, though? Does she have any facts? We're "Keeping Them Honest."
COOPER: "Raw Politics," there's new movement tonight on gun control legislation in Congress. Senate majority leader Harry Reid has introduced a bill that would expand background checks, beef up school safety and crack down on gun trafficking. It does not include a specific provision banning assault weapons which is a priority of the Obama administration.
However, Reid said he will allow debate on the ban as an amendment to the bill. Today, Vice President Joe Biden, the administration's point man on getting Congress to act, met in New York City with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, himself an outspoken proponent of stricter gun control laws.
They were joined by families of the victims of the December school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Excuse me, Biden pushed against the National Rifle Association and others who are trying so far successfully to block new laws, including a ban on assault weapons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: Three months ago, a deranged man walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School with a weapon of war. That's what he walked in with, with a weapon of war. And that weapon of war has no place on American streets and taking it off America's streets has no impact on one's constitutional right to own a weapon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the parents of Grace McDonnell, one of the Newtown children killed, they were there today. Grace's mom said they have a responsibility to their daughter to fight for change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
L. MCDONNELL: This isn't about completely eliminating the possibility of another Newtown. Unfortunately, very little in life is certain. However, if together we can make real progress and bring about meaningful change so that it is far less likely that others will have to die so young, so senselessly, then shouldn't we be doing everything we can to bring about that change?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Chris and Lynn McDonnell have been on this program before, sharing with us their enormous grief over the loss of their beloved Grace. I talked to them again today.
COOPER: I think so many people who saw the interview that you did in those terrible days immediately afterward were just stunned by your strength and your ability to even speak. How do you -- how do you move forward every day?
L. MCDONNELL: Thank you. I think we move forward for Grace and we move forward for our son. You know, every day we look at him and we know that we have to do this for him, and we have to do it to honor Grace. If we didn't try to live like we lived when she was with us, I feel like we wouldn't be honoring her, and that's how we celebrate her life. So every day, we talk about her at dinner and we have the same conversations and do the same things we would do as a family as if she was with us.
COOPER: I mean, after my brother passed away, I found it and even still find it hard to talk about him. I'm amazed that you're able to talk about Grace every day, to Jack.
L. MCDONNELL: Right. Well, we -- for us, we love to celebrate her. She was just so beautiful and had so much light around her and gave us so much that for us, talking about her is healing, and laughing. We laugh more than we cry. We remember -- we have beautiful seven years and if someone had told me seven years ago this would happen, we wouldn't change one day that we spent as a family or one thing we ever said.
COOPER: How's Jack doing?
CHRIS MCDONNELL, DAUGHTER GRACE KILLED IN NEWTOWN, CONNECTICUT, SHOOTING: He's -- as any young adolescent, he's -- has his own challenges, and he's with our guidance helping him to take a step forward each day.
L. MCDONNELL: Yes. It's a long road for all of us. And you know, I don't know if you ever get to the end of the road. I think from what I've heard, it gets less bumpy. But I think for us, we have to live in the moment and live in the day, and just get through that.
COOPER: You were at an event today that the vice president was at and Mayor Bloomberg was at. What is your message? What do you want people to understand?
C. MCDONNELL: We want people to make a personal connection with this issue of gun violence and to begin to look at things from a different perspective. We feel that if you can make a personal connection, find a new perspective, you're able to make change. You're able to move the dialogue forward.
COOPER: I knew it was interesting to me, you mentioned Senator Rob Portman, who because his son told him that he was gay, he changed his position on same sex marriage.
L. MCDONNELL: Right.
COOPER: That's a signal to you.
L. MCDONNELL: I mean, I respect him so much for, you know, respecting his son and his choices, but I think because that he felt that so personally, he was able to make that change. I wonder, and I believe this with all my heart, that if any of the senators and congressmen and women were in our shoes for one day, one hour, and felt the pain that we have without our daughter, you know, maybe they would find their own moral compass and take action over inaction.
COOPER: You think if they experienced what you have been through, they would know and understand a little bit more what it's like and actually work more towards some sort of legislation?
L. MCDONNELL: I think if anybody could feel this pain, to move yourself forward or to help try -- we owe it to our daughter Grace. I feel we owe it to our country, to our children, but we wouldn't want to see anybody have to go through this again.
COOPER: The president has said, Vice President Biden has said, that they're still hoping for an assault weapons ban or some sort of control on assault weapons. Is that, for you, is that a vital piece of legislation?
C. MCDONNELL: Any type of violence isn't as a result of one underlying factor. Sandy Hook massacre is a great example of that. I feel that if an assault ban was enforced at that time, the outcome would have been completely different. So it's a component of a broader set of more comprehensive solutions.
COOPER: You also said today that this wouldn't necessarily prevent, you know, a massacre from ever happening again.
L. MCDONNELL: Well, life is so uncertain. We can't predict anything. Look, we would have never thought we would be in the situation we are. Life is so fragile.
COOPER: Is there anything else you want people to know?
L. MCDONNELL: I would just like to thank everybody for the letters and the thoughts and the prayers and all the support we received has been overwhelming and has really touched our hearts.
C. MCDONNELL: Compassion of the broader community has been tremendous.
L. MCDONNELL: Amazing. And has really helped to give us peace and strength, and I know we'll continue to carry us through the next coming days, weeks and months.
COOPER: Thank you very much for talking.
L. MCDONNELL: Thank you.
C. MCDONNELL: Thanks.
COOPER: The parents of 7-year-old Grace McDonnell.
As always, you can find more on this story at CNN.com.
Up next, Michele Bachmann, she says Obamacare could literally kill you if you're a woman or a child or a senior. It's a strong statement. The question is, can she back it up with actual evidence? Decide for yourself. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
And later, the mystery of the starving baby seals and the extraordinary effort happening right now to save them.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" after staying quiet for the past day or so, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann took the House floor and, you might have guessed it, again made some unfounded claims. This time about Obamacare which House Republicans are trying again to repeal. She says it will literally kill people, literally. Kill them. Dead.
Before going further, though, we should point out that we're not partisan on this. When Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson said the GOP's healthcare plan was for people to die quickly, we called him out on it. We're not trying to pick parties or choose sides here. We're interested in facts and politicians who play fast and loose with those facts which of course brings us back to Michele Bachmann.
I say again because you may remember that when last we caught up with the Minnesota congresswoman just two days ago, we were literally trying to catch up with her as she raced away from our Dana Bash. We spent -- sent Dana to talk to her because the congresswoman was giving a speech on the Benghazi killings, she veered into claims, false ones, that the Obama White House budget was loaded with lavish perks, including a staffer just to walk the first dog Beau.
Here's Dana's exchange with Miss Bachmann.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What I want to ask you about is the fact that you said he had -- you talked about the excesses that he's engaged in, the fact that he has a dog walker, which is not true.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: So the big point of my speech was about Benghazi. This was an absolute disaster.
BASH: But you also made specific accusations about the president spending money that other presidents also made.
BACHMANN: Dana, the real issue is there are four Americans that are dead. The secretary of state was not in conversation with the secretary of defense or with the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
BASH: I think that's an important point.
BACHMANN: She was not there.
BASH: That's important but this is another --
BACHMANN: This is the president of the United States didn't care about those four Americans and they were killed. That's the point.
BASH: If you --
BACHMANN: We have to focus.
BASH: But if you want to focus then why did you bring up the other things.
BACHMANN: Dog handlers and there's four Americans killed?
BASH: But Congresswoman, you're the one who brought it up.
BACHMANN: These Americans.
BASH: But Congresswoman, you're the one who brought it up.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So she tried to twist it, making it look like Dana was the one bringing up dog walkers in the wake of the death of four Americans. It should be pointed out. Again, Michele Bachmann is the one who made that connection. So we're simply asking her about public statements she made and apparently she has no facts to back them up.
Today, she took to the House floor and said this about the affordable care act, Obamacare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACHMANN: The American people, especially vulnerable women, vulnerable children, vulnerable senior citizens, now get to pay more and they get less. That's why we're here. Because we're saying let's repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens. Let's not do that. Let's love people. Let's care about people. Let's repeal it now while we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens, her words. Keeping them honest, there may be plenty good or bad about Obamacare, but literally killing people, sort of a new one. Does she have any evidence to back up such an explosive and by the sound of it unequivocal claim?
We asked Ms. Bachmann tonight as we did Tuesday to come on the program. Like Tuesday, she declined. So once again, we ask chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, to try to get some answers.
She joins us now. You have just gotten a statement from the congresswoman's spokesman. How does she back up her claims?
BASH: That's right, Anderson. Well, let me just answer that by reading you the statement and the statement is from her spokesman, Dan Kotman. He says Obamacare is forcing doctors into the employ of cost- cutting hospitals, gives government the authority to determine services that will and will not be covered, has a board independent of Congress.
That can cut payments for care and allows the secretary of health and human services to force all health plans to eliminate any doctor that doesn't practice medicine the government's way. The history of government-run health care systems around the world is a history of denial, delay and sadly, even death.
Now Anderson, I notice that she responded not long after the Democratic Campaign Committee, which is in charge of getting rid of Republicans, of defeating them in elections, put out a press release blasting her, saying she would rather be in Washington as a right wing celebrity than solving problems back in Minnesota for Minnesota's middle class.
Remember, she got a scare back in November. Her election, her congressional election was closer than she expected and Democrats are hoping to beat her this time.
COOPER: I mean, we certainly appreciate the response. It doesn't seem to back up the claim, though, that this health care will literally kill women, children and senior citizens. A lot of the things she's claiming right now about the government will be able to select who gets care or not, you could say about insurance companies right now, choosing who gets coverage or not.
BASH: That's a great point. It doesn't back that up. She and other Republicans, you know, have argued for years they believe Obamacare will ultimately mean people will lose their insurance and their health will be in danger. Of course, she took that to a whole other level by saying that they would literally be killed, which you're right, she doesn't address in the statement. COOPER: All right, Dana, appreciate it. Isha is here now with the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, U.S. intelligence officials now believe the Assad regime in Syria did not use chemical weapons on its own people. Despite claims by rebel forces that those weapons were used, officials tell CNN there are multiple indicators that they were not deployed.
President Obama is on an out of state dinner in Israel marking the close ties between the U.S. and Israel. He was awarded the presidential medal of distinction, Israel's highest civilian honor.
Major change coming to Chicago, 53 underutilized public schools will be closed. Officials say the money saved will be used to install air conditioning in other school facilities, invested in libraries and used to buy iPads for all students in Grades 3 through 8.
And Anderson, a man in Australia himself a new father says instinct kicked in when a mom in a supermarket screamed her baby wasn't breathing. Although not trained in CPR, he came to the child's aid to clear her airway, listened to instructions from paramedics over the phone and Anderson, saved the child's life.
COOPER: Incredible, fast thinking there. Isha, thanks.
It's the $500 million question, who is behind the biggest art heist in history? The list of potential suspects reads like a Hollywood script. We will take a look at who may have done it ahead.
Also ahead tonight, a mystery at sea, dozens of sick sea lions washing up on California beaches, see what's being done to save them and why it's happening.
COOPER: Welcome back. In "Crime and Punishment," 23 years ago this week, the biggest art heist in history went down in Boston's Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum. Thieves dressed as police officers made off with 13 pieces of art worth an estimated half billion dollars. It's an absolutely fascinating story filled with mystery and intrigue and it's the subject of a special report we're going to be airing tomorrow night.
Last night we took you inside the heist with an exclusive interview with a night watchman who actually let the thieves into the museum. Tonight, we're digging deeper into the whodunit aspect. Now over the years everyone from museum employees to notorious gangsters have been considered suspects. Randi Kaye picks up the investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to say it is Boston's last best secret.
RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Boston's last best secret. Who stole the 13 works of art from the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum and where are they now? It is a question that continues to puzzle museum security director, Anthony Amore.
(on camera): What is it about this case that keeps you up at night that just doesn't sit right with you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were lots of quirky things about it. Every time you turned around there was a different interesting fact that you find.
KAYE (voice-over): One of the biggest questions for Amore, why did the thieves steal what they did. Remember the path of the thieves on the second floor, when they went from the Dutch Room to the Short Gallery, they bypassed valuable works of art that were small and portable, and worth a lot more than some of the other art they stole.
STEPHEN KURKJIAN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: The two big Rembrandts and the Vermeer, those three pieces account for 90 percent of what's called $500 million, $400 million, $500 million of the value.
KAYE: Another big question, why did the thieves bother taking the golden finial that sat atop a Napoleonic flag? At first it seems they attempted to steal the flag itself, but it proved to be too difficult to take down.
KURKJIAN: They wanted very badly to get that flag, and that always seemed to me to the clue that is the most interesting. I know the FBI has spent a lot of time trying to figure that out, visiting, talking to associations who are involved with Napoleonic memorabilia, to see was there a bounty for one of these?
KAYE: Why did the thieves want that flag so badly? Is it possible they were given a specific list of artwork to steal by a collector who especially loved those 13 works of art? That brings us to another theory, one that has been made popular by Hollywood.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One million dollars, Mr. Bond.
KAYE (on camera): Do you think it's possible they're in some private gallery owned by some eccentric billionaire somewhere like the Dr. No type character?
KURKJIAN: No. The whole idea that a collector's holding on to stolen magnificent works of art all came from that movie "Dr. No," it was a 007 movie, James Bond movie from 1962 where James Bond is going through Dr. No's lair and he sees a paint hanging on the wall.
The painting had been stolen the year before. That actually did happen. In 20 years the FBI and five years since then doing these investigations, I have never run into a collector who had million dollar paintings who were stolen.
KAYE (voice-over): Anthony Amore doesn't buy the Dr. No theory, either. ANTHONY AMORE, GARDNER MUSEUM SECURITY DIRECTOR: My gut instinct is that it's not far. Typically when art is stolen it doesn't get moved very far. If I had to guess, I would think it's still in New England.
KAYE: Since 2003, the U.S. Attorney's Office has offered complete immunity to anyone who came forward with information on the paintings. And the museum is offering a $5 million reward. That's a lot of money on the table, so why hasn't anyone come forward?
COOPER: Now Randi joins me now live. Randi, just this week the FBI announced it actually knows who the thieves are. What more do we know about it?
KAYE: Well, Anderson, the FBI's priority has always been to get the art back and return it to the walls of the museum, more so even than nabbing the thieves. But apparently, they have finally figured out who did this, who is behind it?
The FBI believes the thieves belong to a criminal organization they say is based in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. They aren't naming the thieves because they say this is an ongoing investigation, but here's the thing, Anderson. The thieves can't be charged anyway because the statute of limitations has expired.
Now, in terms of the artwork itself, investigators don't believe the thieves actually still have the artwork, so they're offering this possible immunity to anyone who comes forward with information about it.
The FBI thinks the thieves actually tried to sell the art about ten years or so ago in Philadelphia. That would have been more than a decade after the heist itself. That deal never happened and unfortunately, Anderson, the investigators lost track of all the art after that.
COOPER: It's fascinating stuff. Randi, thanks. It is an amazing story. We'll have more of it. Don't miss "81 Minutes Inside the Greatest Art Heist In History" tomorrow at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, a special right here on CNN.
Up next, why are baby sea lions beaching themselves in Southern California and why does it appear they're starving? We will see if scientists have answers to the crisis.
It's sad but true. Nancy Grace's handcuff necklace is missing, vanished. We will talk to her ahead in the "Ridiculist."
COOPER: Tonight, the story of heartbreaking mystery along the coast of Southern California. Baby sea lions are beaching themselves and scientists are finding the pups malnourished, half the size they should be, basically starving to death. The answer what's causing this dire situation lies underwater somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Scientists search for that cause, their first order of business is to try to save as many of the pups as they can. Here's Kyung Lah.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You are watching the rescue of a dying baby sea lion at Laguna Beach, California.
DEAN GOMERSALL, PACIFIC MARINE MAMMAL CENTER: A little California sea lion about eight months old, very thin, emaciated.
LAH (on camera): Is this typical? I mean, what are you seeing?
GOMERSALL: We're seeing a lot of pups that are very underweight, a lot smaller than they would normally be. This thing would easily be 60 to 80 pounds by now. That is 29 pounds.
LAH (voice-over): Weighed and measured, the sick animal joins more than 100 just like her.
KEITH MATASSA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PACIFIC MARINE MAMMAL CENTER: You're standing in our ICU Units. We have four ICU units. This is where the worst of the animals come. He's a walking skeleton. You can see his pelvis. He just turned. You can see his backbone. You can see the bumps of his vertebrae. You can see his ribs.
LAH: This is what they should look like.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These animals are almost ready to go back to the ocean. This is what we should be seeing out in the ocean. Not what's going into the center.
LAH: What's coming in, all starving, all about six to eight months old. This is an unprecedented crisis for the species in the states at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.
(on camera): You have 113 in house right now. How many do you normally have?
MATASSA: This time last year we had 10.
MATASSA: Ten. So we are seeing exponentially higher numbers. We're about 10 or 11 times higher than last year.
LAH: It's just a heartbreaking sight seeing so many of these baby sea lions stranding themselves on these populated beaches in Southern California. Scientists now are trying to figure out why. So when you say off the charts, this is what you're talking about.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what I'm talking about, the fact that these rates for this year are so elevated. The main theory currently is environmental factors. LAH: NOAA believes it's a lack of food forcing sea lion mothers to wean early but they don't know why the food is disappearing.
SARAH WILKIN, NOAA: A lot of times they also do lead us back to things that are happening in the ocean that maybe we aren't seeing or we aren't looking at. So they can really kind of be the tip of the iceberg to tell us what's actually going on in the water.
LAH: Rescuers on a race to answer this mystery before more sea lions end up like this.
COOPER: Kyung, you talked about the elevated number of sea lion pups being rescued. Just how many more are we talking about?
LAH: We are talking about exponentially high. If you think about this as a hospital, this is like the intensive care unit of this particular hospital. Normally, they only have ten in the entire building, but take a look inside here.
There are 25 baby sea lions, all of these sea lions, they are all sick. They should be up, they should be playing, they should be making a lot of noise. The reason they're laying there is because they are sick.
They pulled off the beach, half the weight that they should be and this to the people who are trying to rescue them, this is incredibly sad. They say they are seeing ten times the numbers that they normally see here -- Anderson.
COOPER: That is so sad. Kyung Lah, thanks very much.
LAH: You bet.
COOPER: That's terrible to see them like that.
Coming up, Nancy Grace's handcuff necklace is missing, vanished, I tell you. Yet some people are pointing the blame at me. The "Ridiculist" is next.
COOPER: Time now for the "Ridiculist." Tonight it is a full-on "Ridiculist" mystery. A cold case that is near and dear to Nancy Grace's heart, literally as in her necklace is missing. We'll hear from Nancy in just a moment if she's not too emotional.
But first, a little background, Nancy's necklace first caught my eye, it was a few weeks ago when we had her on the program to talk about the Jodi Arias trial. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Nancy, are you wearing handcuffs as a necklace?
NANCY GRACE: Yes, I am. Would you like a pair? I did it for you, Anderson.
COOPER: I saw something shiny and the more I looked, I was thinking are those handcuffs? They really are?
GRACE: Yes, they are and they work. In case you need to arrest somebody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now it seems that Nancy will have to use her bare hands if she has to arrest somebody, because ladies and gentlemen, the handcuff necklace is missing, I repeat, the necklace is M.I.A. Sometime yesterday Nancy lost the necklace.
I spoke to her just a short time ago about this trying time in her life.
COOPER: Nancy Grace, first of all, I want to express my condolences. What happened to your necklace?
GRACE: Well, Anderson, the last time my handcuff necklace was admired on the air, I'd like to point out that you were present.
COOPER: I was transfixed by it.
GRACE: You and Mark Geragos. You were the last ones to admire it on air. You clearly wanted the necklace. You asked about the necklace. You showed a very unusual interest in my handcuff necklace or Anderson, was it just these? It doesn't work, Anderson. So ask your little friend, Geragos, what he did with my necklace.
COOPER: Now, Nancy, first of all, I like that you pulled a larger set of handcuffs from the twins, and --
GRACE: These are real, Anderson.
COOPER: I'm sure they are. Are you sure -- I don't want to accuse your children. Are you sure the twins didn't steal this necklace?
GRACE: No. The twins have never seen the necklace. The necklace stays at work in a vault hermetically sealed. They have never even seen the handcuffs.
COOPER: So when was the last time you remember, have you retraced your steps?
GRACE: Yes, I retraced my steps, Anderson, and I have even put up a flyer all around headline news and CNN asking for tips and there is a reward for the necklace.
COOPER: Now on Twitter today, as I said, you did accuse me of the theft, and while I do find --
GRACE: I didn't accuse you. I just made a suggestion.
COOPER: You suggested it.
GRACE: I just threw the bread upon the water to see what would bite. You're turning red.
COOPER: No, no, for the record, I find it very fetching. I did not take it. Do you have any other suspects?
GRACE: Don't try to throw me off the scent. Don't try to throw me off you, Anderson. I have already told you, Geragos and Toobin, Toobin is too much of a straight guy to wear a pair of handcuff necklaces. He would never think to steal like you. Now, what about Geragos? Out of the three of you, I would say that he would be the type to actually steal the necklace.
COOPER: I knew you were going to accuse him.
GRACE: Although you're pretty daring. Look at his face -- if that doesn't scream guilt.
COOPER: Where do you get a handcuff necklace, at a regular jewelry store or an S & M dungeon?
GRACE: What is that? What's an S & M dungeon?
COOPER: What will you do if you find the perpetrator of this heinous crime?
GRACE: If I find the thief, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and I plan to personally put these on him.
COOPER: I got to ask this question. What has more sentimental value, your handcuff necklace or your barrette?
GRACE: Well, the barrette's Lucy's, my daughter.
COOPER: That's nice. So the barrette --
COOPER: I would have to go with the barrette. Don't ask me anything else about what I wear, because next thing I know I'm going to turn around and Lucey's barrette's going to be gone, Anderson. Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: We're going to stay on it, Nancy Grace. Thank you. Good luck to you.
GRACE: Anderson, thank you, friend.
COOPER: Thank you, friend.
COOPER: Let me just say on the record that I promise CNN and AC 360 will devote all of its many resources to this search and I personally, I will stay on this story until the handcuffs are returned to their rightful owner or at least until tomorrow's "Ridiculist."
That does it for us. We'll be back one hour from now, another edition of 360 at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.