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Wild Fire Burns North Of Los Angeles; Arizona Mom Freed From Mexican Jail; How Drug Cartels Framed Man; "Boston Strong" Rocks Beantown; Police: Teacher Weaved Tall Tale; Staged Kidnapping Turns Deadly; Americans Take Fewer Vacations

Aired May 31, 2013 - 14:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we want to begin here with some live pictures. Massive plumes of smoke and burning, courtesy of KABC, aerial pictures here. This is a wildfire. And I'm just glancing down. This is north of Los Angeles. This is the information we have. If you know this, this is the San Francisquito Canyon west of Palm Dale, again north of L.A. Six hundred total fire personnel working this. this is 1,500 acres, 15 percent contained, huge flames.

This is a season where we have been seeing other wildfires popping up in Southern California and here is another one called the powerhouse fire. And now this --

From desperation to jubilation, an Arizona mother of seven is now a free woman after a week in a Mexican jail. Look at that. I wouldn't want to let go either. Cries and hugs from Maldonado, Yanira Maldonado, as she walked into the long awaited embrace of her husband, Gary.

She was freed after a Mexican judge saw the video of the couple last week boarding that bus, carrying just some blankets, bottles of water and her purse. That was enough for him to drop the drug smuggling charges against Yanira Maldonado, a U.S. citizen born in Mexico. Soldiers, Mexican soldiers accused her of sneaking 12 pounds of marijuana under her bus seat as she took this trip returning from a funeral back into the states.


YANIRA MALDONADO, RELEASED FROM MEXICAN JAIL: I'm free. I yelled like I'm free, I'm free. I was innocent. So I was very, very happy to be out.


BALDWIN: Maldonado's family believes the soldiers were seeking some sort of bribe. Even a Mexican official who didn't want his name agreed saying it looked like she was indeed framed. And if you want proof that this can happen in Mexico, you have to hear my next guest. He is the attorney for a Mexican man who was convicted in the U.S. of drug smuggling last year, actually, didn't have a clue who was doing it as he traveled back and forth daily through a checkpoint in El Paso, Texas, where he was going to school.

The cartels had managed to get a key to his car, and regularly were putting drugs inside this car, all the while this guy had no idea this was happening. So this is his attorney. This is Louis Lopez. This attorney for this framed man.

So Louis, I want to welcome you. And first, just on your client's story, specifically before we broaden this out and let me say we're keeping your client anonymous. He was targeted by the cartels because he had a certain kind of pass. What was that?

LOUIS LOPEZ, ATTORNEY FOR MAN FRAMED BY CARTELS: Well, hello, Brooke. My client was targeted because he regularly came to the United States on a daily basis to attend school and he had a study pass, which is a pass that allows drivers to come from Mexico to the United States without having to wait in the normal lines that people have to wait in.

So it saves people about two hours, but they have to go through a special screening in order to get this pass. And when they do, all they have to do is drive up to the certain point in the port of entry, show the pass, and then they get in. And they're targeted because they are -- relatively easy to get in with this pass.

BALDWIN: He was a sitting duck. He was easy prey, going back and forth, the cartels hid out. They would plunk drugs in his car and continue on with that. When you look at your client's case, Louis and you look at what we saw with Yanira Maldonado, what are some of the similarities you'd see?

LOPEZ: You know, some of the similarities is that it is a -- people don't realize how beneficial it is for drug cartels to use people who don't know they're smuggling narcotics. Custom agents at the border are trained to look for nervousness. They're trained to look for behavior that is out of the norm. So when you have somebody who is transporting drugs and doesn't know it is in their trunk or under their seat, they have a better chance of getting through and so that's why these people are targeted.

BALDWIN: Let me play some sound. This is Yanira Maldonado. This is what she said about her native country of Mexico after she was freed.


MALDONADO: I love Mexico. My family still is there. So Mexico, it is not Mexico's fault. So it is a few people who, you know, did this to me, and probably to other people, who knows.


BALDWIN: So she's saying, you know, it wasn't Mexico's fault. It was the fault of just some bad people. I want to say I lived and studied in Mexico City. Mexico is absolutely beautiful, but obviously there are some very, very dangerous parts and people with very bad intentions there as well. What would your advice be to any American traveling to Mexico? LOPEZ: You know, it is my -- it is my advice you give anybody traveling anywhere, you know, be aware of your surroundings. Also, you know, make sure that you have information about emergency contacts memorized because when you are arrested or if you're arrested in Mexico, you're going to have all of your items seized.

And as a result, you're going to need to be able to tell the U.S. Consulate numbers, addresses, and people that they can get in contact with. And also it wouldn't hurt to have a credit card with a good sufficient amount of money available to you so that way you can post bond if you are given bond.

BALDWIN: Luis Lopez, thank you.

LOPEZ: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thanks. And now, I just want to switch gears and show you a little something that I took home with me today. Roll this thing. See this? There we go. See this little piece of souvenir if you will that I got. I am fresh off a plane from Boston where I was last night. Thanks, guys. Where I was last night, there were ten -- here you go.

I'll hand that to you live on TV. Ten star-studded bands and artists and special guests rocked the TD Garden stage. It was all a way for the city to come together, show their Boston pride, raise money for the "One Fund." These -- they're just musical ambassadors. Bonded by ties to Boston, the likes of Aerosmith, New Kids On The Block, Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor.

We were inside the sold out arena last night for the encore. It was a little Beatles come together capped off by a song that is quintessential Boston, "Dirty Water." Watch and enjoy.

And let me tell you, there was no one sitting down in their seats for the end of that show. Those guys, everyone came out on stage, Aerosmith, Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor, so many other groups coming up for the encore. There were 15,000 people, that concert sold out in 5 minutes raising a lot of money for Mayor Menino's "One Fund."

Coming up next, a Florida teacher called out sick from work for almost a full year. There's one problem here, she wasn't sick. You won't believe what happened there. We'll have that story for you right after this break.


BALDWIN: I'm sure this wasn't you, but some kids pretend to be sick to get out of taking a test. Remember Ferris Beuller, anyone, Beuller? But this teacher in Florida told quite the whopper. Polk County School officials say she faked a deathly illness, for a year, to get out of work and now they want to fire her. Meanwhile, she is fighting to keep her job. Kenneth Craig with our affiliate WFTV picks up the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KENNETH CRAIG, WFTV REPORTER (voice-over): Polk County School district officials say Ashley Barker told a heart breaking story. The first grade teacher said her father was sick and dying and so was she. And for nearly a year, it appears they took her word for it, letting her leave early, giving her days off and making special accommodations for something that they later found out was a massive lie. It's something that parents of students at Laurel Elementary School can't even make sense of.

RALIE ORTIZ, PARENT: Wow. That is kind of scary. If she lies about that, she can lie about anything.

CRAIG: The district wouldn't say how many days she actually skipped class. But according to this termination letter, over the course of the year, she sent her principal 120 e-mails about her and her father's terminal illnesses. When allegations surfaced about Barker's tale, district investigators say they discovered the teacher's story was entirely made up. Her father wasn't sick and neither was she.

ORTIZ: I don't know what to say about that. I don't know why they didn't notice it before.

CRAIG: When the district confronted Barker, they say she admitted she was just sitting at home the entire time. But when we went by that home tonight, to get her side of the story, she was nowhere to be found.


BALDWIN: That was Kenneth Craig, our affiliate, WFTV reporting. We need to tell you that CNN has reached out to Ashley Barker for comment, but calls have not been returned. The Polk County School District also tells CNN there is no comment at this time.

Coming up, all the best videos of the day, everything from an amazing look at Antarctica to what explorers call Amelia Earhart's long lost plane, skeptical, got it for you right after the break.


BALDWIN: Now some of the best videos of the day. Hit play.


BALDWIN (voice-over): Nightmare in Virginia. A plane crashes in an apartment building, only a few minor injuries, but I want you to listen to how the terrifying moment unfolded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard this noise, like the building shake. Heard some banging on the doors and it was my neighbor. I went over to his apartment and saw a plane inside of the living room.

BALDWIN: Breathtaking images from Antarctica, a team of scientists studying marine life making their way through the ice. This video condensing two months down to 30 seconds. It looks like the sun is setting, but in Antarctica, the sun sticks around for weeks at a time. So what does of half a billion dollars worth of cocaine look like this, the feds intercepting more than 6,000 pounds in a speedboat in the Western Caribbean on its way to the U.S.

Finally, explorers say this image may show Amelia Earhart's plane on the ocean floor. They say it is the right size. It is the right shape, in the right place. But, yes, I'm with you. We're going to need more proof than that. The crew snapped the picture working deep in the South Pacific. Earhart and her navigator were trying to fly around the world when they disappeared back in 1937 and that is today's hit play.


BALDWIN: Coming up, a twisted case with a shocking ending. Police say this man right here kidnapped a teenage girl with a plan to later find her and become a hero. In other words, he staged the whole thing, but this story takes a horrifying turn.


BALDWIN: He wanted to be a hero, so he staged a kidnapping, but instead, he's now charged with murder. I want you to listen to this here because police say a guy apparently set up a Facebook page, luring a teenage girl, and that is where the story takes a horrifying turn.

Jason Carroll joins me now from New York. And Jason, walk me through exactly what happened here.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, the affidavit really explains everything. It provides chilling details of how investigators say Kyle Dubee lured the 14-year-old girl and it describes his motive for doing it. Nicole Cable's mother reported her missing. That was back on May 13th.

Detectives soon learned that Cable had been unknowingly communicating with Dubee who had faked his identity on Facebook. He is 20 years old and police say he had been obsessed with Cable. Basically, according to the affidavit, Dubee communicated with Nicole Cable to meet him down the road.

That he waited in the woods waiting a ski mask, that he had duct tape, that he put Nicole in his father's truck, that when he removed Nicole, she was dead. As for a motive, detectives say Dubee intended to kidnap Nicole and hide her that he would later find her and that he would be the hero. That was his plan.

Dubee faces murder and kidnapping charges. He's not yet entered a plea. His attorney says his client has received threats and is asking for calm in a community located north of Bangor, Maine. Cable's friends who had joined her family in searching for her, for a week before her body was found, was stunned. They say they were stunned and by who was accused of killing her.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What possesses you to do something like that to a 15-year-old girl?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wouldn't want to talk to him. It sickens me to know him.


CARROLL: Cable's friends have set up a Facebook page in support of the 15-year-old, but, Brooke, once again, this is another tragic Facebook story. It's just another reminder, especially for young people, teenagers, to be very careful of who they are sending messages to and receiving messages from on Facebook.

BALDWIN: You're absolutely right. Jason Carroll, thank you.

Coming up, a special CNN investigation, a high school student disappears and suddenly police realize the suspects were under their noses the entire time. They were her best friends. Don't miss this.


BALDWIN: The slow economy is being blamed for fewer Americans taking vacations, but experts say something else may actually be the problem. Many people don't get paid vacations and others are simply too afraid to leave their jobs even just for a couple of days. Tom Foreman has this week's "American Journey."


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As beaches, resorts and theme parks brace for the summer rush, they can count a quarter of all Americans out of the mix. That's how many receive no paid vacation in a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research. And the lower your wages, the less likely time off is in your plans according to John Schmitt.

(on camera): Many Americans get vacations.

JOHN SCHMITT, CENTER FOR ECONOMIC AND POLICY RESEARCH: We do, but we get a lot less than everybody else. The average American gets less than a minimum required vacation in every other country that we looked at.

FOREMAN (voice-over): They looked at places like Japan with ten days, Germany with 24, and France with 30. What's more, a study last year found more than half of Americans who do get vacation time don't use all of it, often for fear of appearing lazy or being laid off.

SCHMITT: I think what it is, is that we have a much higher level of job insecurity in this country than in the rest of the world.

FOREMAN: It is not always been this way. The growth of the car culture in the 1950s fuelled the idea that regular folks, not just the rich, should get away from the grind now and then.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How would you feel if you were me?

FOREMAN: And for several decades, the family vacation was as American as, well, America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A vacation on a farm. Have you ever thought of this?

FOREMAN: Certainly some believe the country's work ethic is precisely what made the economy great, and now would be the worst time for vacation fever to sweep in. But others --

(on camera): So are you going to take a vacation?

SCHMITT: I am going to take a few weeks off in July.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Others suggest rebuilding the economy might need to start with more folks recharging their batteries. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


BALDWIN: Chilling video of the Boston bombing suspects working out before their attack.

Plus -- a 10-year-old girl with weeks to live is being denied a transplant because of her age. Now her urgent fight is going to the president's inner circle.

The bloody crime scene revealed, new pictures of where the blade runner shot his girlfriend.

And --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To find out she murdered her makes me sick.


BALDWIN: A teenager disappears, but then the police realize the suspects were under their noses all along. I'm Brooke Baldwin. The news is now.