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PRIMETIME JUSTICE WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Missing Realtor Mom; Hurricane Controversy; Caught on Camera; CNN Heroes. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired September 7, 2017 - 20:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, HOST (voice-over): New clues emerging from the murky Texas floodwaters. Did someone abandon Crystal McDowell`s car hoping
looters would steal it? Nearly two weeks since she vanished. This is Crystal in full color.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How fast are we falling on the way now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 120 miles per hour?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You ever drive that fast?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe. Well, don`t show this video to any cops, all right?
BANFIELD: The voice and the life force of this mysterious missing woman.
A monster hurricane churning towards Florida, the entire state in its sights.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s the roof. The roof is about to go. Yes, there it is.
BANFIELD: But for some evacuees, Irma is not their biggest problem. It`s Sheriff Grady Judd (ph). He says if you`re one of their most wanted,
they`ve got a different shelter for you.
Bobbing and weaving on a busy road.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!
BANFIELD: Three women risk their lives to top a suspected DUI.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ll follow him as long as we can (INAUDIBLE)
BANFIELD: Hitting the shoulder.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God!
BANFIELD: The brass (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do not stop. Get in front of him. Get in front of him and hit the brakes.
BANFIELD: And heading for the interstate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God! Oh!
BANFIELD: Good evening, everyone. I`m Ashleigh Banfield. This is PRIMETIME JUSTICE.
There are many ways to make someone disappear, but leaving careless clues behind is what usually trips up the bad guys. So if somebody made Crystal
McDowell disappear just before that hurricane battered Houston, he or she should know that the sheriff may be closing in on you.
There is a lot more that we know today that we did not know yesterday. And I`m going to guarantee you this. What I know pales in comparison to what
the police know as they question people of interest.
And for many of us, Crystal McDowell has really existed just like this, in photographs, just like so many other missing people before her. That is
until we found a video of her 33rd birthday. Her husband took her to a place called Sky Dive Spaceland. And for the first time, we are hearing
Crystal`s voice and we are really seeing Crystal`s spirit. And we`re also getting to know the woman that so many people are right now trying to find.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Crystal, how are you doing?
CRYSTAL MCDOWELL, MISSING TEXAS WOMAN: Great. How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m doing fantastic. What are you doing today?
MCDOWELL: About to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jumping out of a plane, making your first sky-dive. Whose idea was this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if she gets hurt, I`m blaming you, all right, Buddy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, cool, perfect. Are you covered on that policy?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sweet. OK, so tell me about your jump. How high are we going?
MCDOWELL: We`re going to 14,000 feet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it`s a little over two-and-a-half miles above where we`re standing right now. How fast are we falling on the way down?
MCDOWELL: 120 miles per hour.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You ever drive that fast?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe? Well, don`t show this video to any cops, all right? So you`re going to open the parachute today, aren`t you? So what
altitude does that happen?
MCDOWELL: 6,000 feet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So how do you know when we`re at 6,000 feet? How can you tell?
MCDOWELL: Going to look at my altimeter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Altimeter! You got it, boom! All right, well, it sounds like you got this all figured out. I there anything you want to say
before we get on the airplane?
MCDOWELL: I`m ready to do this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Have fun. I`ll meet you on the plane.
MCDOWELL: All right. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) a little shaky there. You feeling OK?
MCDOWELL: Think so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Think so? Uh-oh. I think you broke the harness. So how high are we right now?
MCDOWELL: We`re going to 14,000 feet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, but how high are we right now? What does that say?
MCDOWELL: Oh, 6,000 feet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 6,000 feet. So let`s pretend like we`re in freefall. What are you supposed to do at 6,000 feet?
MCDOWELL: Pull the cord.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) honestly, you`re not very good at this, so that`s why we make sure you go with them and make sure (INAUDIBLE) OK.
MCDOWELL: I got your back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Awesome. So how`s the view?
MCDOWELL: It`s beautiful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re kind of getting up there. Is there anything else you want to say before we chuck you out of this plane?
MCDOWELL: No. I think I can do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
MCDOWELL: (INAUDIBLE) to push me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Matthew can handle that. Good luck. I`ll meet you outside, all right? (SINGING) Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to
you, happy birthday dear Crystal, happy birthday to you!
MCDOWELL: I totally did it!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How was sky-diving?
MCDOWELL: I didn`t punk out like a sissy girl.
[20:05:00]UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She`s got eyes like a man.
MCDOWELL: I did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s great.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what was the best part?
MCDOWELL: The whole thing was the best part.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole thing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Matthew (INAUDIBLE) the greatest instructor that the world has ever known! Nice work. So how was your parachute ride?
MCDOWELL: It was really a lot of fun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes? A little more relaxing side to sky-diving? And look, your husband lived, too. What a bonus!
MCDOWELL: (INAUDIBLE) fun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So to all your friends and family that just saw your video, what do you want to tell them about sky-diving?
MCDOWELL: They totally have to do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They got to try it, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: So there you have her. That is the real Crystal McDowell. That is the daughter and the ex-wife and the girlfriend and the mom that
everyone`s been talking about. That`s the girl in the picture. But that`s the girl we can`t seem to find. I want to just thank Sky Dive Spaceland
for being able to really produce the personality behind this missing woman.
And speaking of being missing, when I said there are a lot of people looking, Tim Miller is one of them. He`s the founder and director of Texas
Equusearch. He`s been out searching for Crystal McDowell, and he joins me from Baytown, Texas.
You know, Tim, I have been interviewing you -- I have now done the math on it -- for probably about, gosh, 15 years. And every time I talk to you,
it`s never in a good circumstance. That said, sometimes it yields good things.
And I just wanted to get your sense of where the investigation is right now and how the search is going.
TIM MILLER, TEXAS EQUUSEARCH (via telephone): Well, you know, like you said earlier, I think that the investigation certainly is moving forward.
You know, the search is moving forward. We know where she`s not, unfortunately. And so we`re going to pick it up tomorrow.
(INAUDIBLE) she was talking about her friends and you know, she`s a flight -- she was a flight attendant, also into real estate, very ambitious, you
know, doing her best to be successful, and of course, a gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous woman. And you know, many of the flight attendants have been out
there searching. Many of the real estate people have been out there searching. And you know, everybody`s heartbroken.
And you know, the big challenge in this is kind of, like you said earlier, too, somebody disappeared before the storm. And one of you know, our
biggest fears is that if she was put anywhere close to the water -- I mean, we was in the water all day today. And I mean, that water went up to 8, 10
feet, some areas 12 feet (INAUDIBLE) water. We can still see debris in the trees and stuff and...
BANFIELD: Actually, Tim, we`re looking at your video, there you are, right there on the left with the blue ballcap in your -- in your -- I`m not sure
if it`s a boat or if it`s -- if it`s one of those windjammers. I`m not sure what you`re using.
But I can say this. I listened to you as you were talking to your pal there on the water while you were looking. And you mentioned something
exactly about the water levels. Let me play that up full so our audience can hear you while you`re out on the water searching.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MILLER: One of the things that if she`s ended up in this water -- this water was eight foot higher right here. It`s going to be impossible to
ground search that kind of stuff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: So water was eight feet higher, Tim. That was a semi I think that just came into frame of one of your videos there -- I mean, on its
side, washed right in. I don`t even know where it came from. But is that pretty much evidence of what you saw all during your search in that bayou?
MILLER: It was evidence of what we saw. And again, we`re just praying that she didn`t end up in the water somehow. And even if she was on the
land, as high as that water was, you know, what our concerns are then, you know, she floated up and she`s in some of them isolated areas that it`ll be
nearly impossible to get to.
We`ve had drones out there. Tomorrow, I`m going to have a helicopter out there which we`re going to do very, very slow, very low flying in these
areas. And you know, we`re doing just everything, bringing in every resource, we know what to bring in at this time. And you know, in the
beginning, you always hold onto that small sliver of hope. But right now, I think the most that we can hope for is to get her located and go to a
funeral some day soon.
BANFIELD: I was hoping that...
BANFIELD: No, I was hoping that wouldn`t come up, you know? And I`ll tell you why. I first came across you and your organization, Texas Equusearch,
during the search for Elizabeth Smart. I know you were involved in the case, not necessarily the search efforts. But that yielded a person. Nine
months later, that yielded a real person and there was no funeral.
[20:10:00]And so I think for a lot of people watching, we`re hoping that we get to see her in a brand-new video and not her 33rd birthday video. But
do you just not get that sense?
MILLER: Well, you know, I gave up on Elizabeth Smart, too. And I`ve been wrong many times, and I certainly hope I`m wrong this time. But I think
what, you know, information that we`re getting on the investigative end of it, you know, it just doesn`t look like that`s going to be the case.
And again, my very biggest fear is this is going to be one of them that`s never found. And I hate to say that right now. We`re in this for the long
haul. I can tell you that much. We`re in it for the long haul. Let`s hope there`s not a long haul.
You know, it`s a heartbreaking case. It`s -- you know, and we just went through that flood. So many of our members are kind of halfway homeless or
putting their homes back together. In fact, I had three feet of water in my house. And you know, we know what these floods can do.
And again, it`s -- there`s not many areas she could have possibly been in that did not have water in it. And again, this is my big fear, that she
ended up out there in a very isolated area that`s going to be difficult to get to. But you know what? We`ve got some other resources I`ve called on
and everything. And I think we will get to them areas. So you know, we`re not done by a long shot.
BANFIELD: You just struck a chord with me when you said you have three feet of water in your home, and you`re out there doing this. And I`m sure
a lot of those people are in a similar situation or maybe even worse. So I get it. I don`t know that I`ve ever covered the aftermath of a natural
disaster where a crime is involved like this. These are usually separate massive stories. They don`t usually collide like this. And it makes it
all the more tragic and all the more difficult.
Can I just ask you this, Tim? Why are you there? Why are you at the Cedar Port (ph) industrial park area, Cedar Bayou, why are you searching there?
MILLER: These are some areas that the investigators came up with that they felt as though that we need to start our search there. And you know, I
don`t really get into the investigation that much. If there`s anything sensitive that leaks, it`s certainly not going to come from us. You know,
we know the investigators are doing a tremendous job working around the clock. We`ve got detectives that`s actually out there with us also.
You know, they don`t have the resources, the manpower to be out there doing the search. And you know, Equusearch has been blessed with so many
resources that we`ve gained over the years that, you know, we`re working hand in hand with the sheriff`s department. Texas Rangers are in on the
And I mean -- and again, I mean, the whole world knows I was there at one time when my own daughter disappeared, and we didn`t have all that stuff.
And I made that promise to God (INAUDIBLE) I`d never leave a family alone. And my word is out there. We`re not going to leave Crystal alone out
there. If there`s any possible way that we can find her, be an asset to the search effort, we`re going to be there.
BANFIELD: Tim, thank you. I`m going to let you get back to the work you`ve been doing. And I hope you`ll come back on the program as you
progress, and I hope you`re going to come back with some good news. Tim Miller, thank you for that, founder and director of Texas Equusearch.
I want to bring in Carla Edwards. Carla`s a private investigator. Carla`s been hired by Crystal McDowell`s family. She joins me from Liberty, Texas.
Carla, thanks so much for being here.
What more do you know today that you didn`t know yesterday?
CARLA EDWARDS, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR ON THE CASE (via telephone): Well, some of the things that we`re working on today is we`re just really
focusing on additional leads that has come into the case, that has came into concern in the case. And right now, we`re just...
BANFIELD: Like what?
EDWARDS: ... focused on -- well, I can`t discuss that because we just got them in. But I will say that we are right now (INAUDIBLE) all of our focus
towards the motel, and we really need anyone to come forward that has any information and knows anything. Please feel free to call me (INAUDIBLE)
BANFIELD: I`m glad you mentioned that. You know what? I`m glad you mentioned that because there is this reporting today about the Motel 6, up
on the left-hand side, top left-hand side of the map where Crystal`s Mercedes was found half submerged. As we`re learning, you actually have
encountered a witness, and this witness believes that there may be two other people who witnessed something at that Motel 6 parking lot. Do I
have those facts correct?
EDWARDS: I can say that we are right now working on the information that has came in to us, and I`m not going to elaborate on anything because I`m
not going to do anything (INAUDIBLE)
[20:15:04]BANFIELD: But that`s out there. Carla -- Carla, that`s out there. That`s been reported. And it`s being attributed to you. So I just
want to get it from the horse`s mouth.
EDWARDS: Well, I appreciate it, but you know, again, this is all, to me, about bringing Crystal home.
BANFIELD: I agree. And I think that, you know, for whatever reason, whether it is the tragedy that Houston has suffered and just to compound it
with something so unfair as this mysterious disappearance before that tragedy -- perhaps that`s the reason that so many people have become so
intrigued with Crystal`s story.
But she`s got a lot of followers. She`s got a lot of people out there across the country who are rooting for her. Real quickly, I need to ask
you -- you found some video, some surveillance video, and you`ve turned that video over to the sheriff`s office. Where is it from, and what does
EDWARDS: OK. We have obtained some videos that -- yes, the Chambers County sheriff`s office, and the sheriff himself, Brian Hawthorne, and I
have been working hand in glove with my team of investigators.
I`m telling you these guys have been remarkable to work with, as well as the family. Crystal has got such an amazing family who loves her so
dearly. I mean, we just need Crystal to come home. So does her family and her children.
We have spent literally hours and hours, you know, on this case. I have one of my investigators who actually has lost her home. She`s lost both of
her vehicles and her dog to the tragedy of the storm.
BANFIELD: Oh, Carla, I`m so sorry!
EDWARDS: And she has not missed a day out here.
BANFIELD: I am so sorry. Listen, I hope -- I wish you the best as you continue in your efforts, and I hope you`ll come back and join us, and
hopefully, be able to give us a little more information. But Carla Edwards, thank you. Appreciate your time tonight.
So Carla mentioned that Motel 6 and Carla mentioned that car. And there`s something about that car that`s different. The police think that car may
have been put there by someone else, doors unlocked, keys on the console. Is it possible they wanted someone to make off with that evidence? Sheriff
joins me after this.
[20:21:46]BANFIELD: Welcome back, everyone. I want to show you something that we`ve been able to sort of cobble together in the story of when
Crystal McDowell went missing because there are a lot of moving parts and a lot of locations.
But on this map, let`s start at the boyfriend`s home, sort of in the middle on the left. She was meant to drive about 6.6 miles up and take a right-
hand turn and end up at her ex-husband`s home. So all told, about nine- and-a-half miles away.
In the middle, where you see that car found Motel 6, about halfway point- ish -- she didn`t make it at least past there. Did she even make it there? Still curious. Car was there, and there`s a curious clue about it. I`ll
be there in a minute.
Now go way down, OK? You`ll see the ex-husband`s workplace down on the bottom of the map, but only two miles away is the actual search area near
the bayou that we were just talking with Tim Miller about. It is coincidence that the search area is close to the ex-husband`s workplace?
Why are they there? Hard to get those answers, but maybe tonight, we`ll get a little further.
Sheriff Brian Hawthorne is with the Chambers County sheriff`s office. He joins me from Anhoc (ph), Texas. Sheriff, thanks for coming back with us.
I appreciate this. You know I do. I know you`re overwhelmed with the amount of work you`ve got to do post-storm and then also with this mystery
on your hands. I know all hands on deck.
Let me start with the location. It stuck out when I saw it. I know you said that her ex-husband has been cooperative and I know he`s taken a poly.
I know you said that her boyfriend has been cooperative and that he`s taken a poly.
But why is the search area so close to his workplace?
BRIAN HAWTHORNE, CHAMBERS COUNTY SHERIFF (via telephone): You know, this is an investigation that`s obviously very complex, and you realize how many
friends and relatives and people that we have in regards to persons of interest. So everybody that is a person of interest that surrounds her,
which there are (INAUDIBLE) we may be in a -- I`m going be asking Tim to redirect the search in another area tomorrow.
BANFIELD: Where to?
HAWTHORNE: Well, it`s another location that`s going to be north of there. And with that being said, it may be related to some other person of
interest. So what we`re doing is, I told you last night we`re trying to sit down and evaluate and make sure we have educated searches, not searches
that are just blind. And so it`s not just me making these decisions. We`re sitting down as a team of investigators and looking at difficult
places that we think it`s in our best interests for Tim and his experts to look.
BANFIELD: Is the Cedar Bayou done? Is it -- is it exhausted, and did it yield anything?
HAWTHORNE: Well, it has not turned anything up yet. I don`t know as it`s done. I`ll know tomorrow. Tim`s group -- like I say, they`re
professionals, and they`ll be giving us maps tomorrow of every place that they`ve covered. And then we`ll see if there`s any holes that we need to
go back and look at. And then we`ve got some new search area with -- we are excited for them to go look at. In this game, it`s about ruling things
out at this point...
HAWTHORNE: ... as we continue to have investigators that continue to go seek additional leads.
BANFIELD: Can I ask you -- the new search area, is it remote? Is it -- does it involve water? Is it rich with buildings, homes? Can you
characterize the new area at all?
HAWTHORNE: Well, I will tell you that this is an urban side of a rural county, but it`s still very rural. And almost everything at this point has
water on it at some point. Now, a lot of the higher ground has drained, but so much of the ground that we`ve asked Tim to look at has a lot of
standing water. It`s very difficult country to do -- it`s all about rubber boots and airboats, quite honestly, at this point.
BANFIELD: So of course, I`m trying to find the nexus to it. I get why you have to be guarded. But I also know, Sheriff, that you`ve brought in
forensics experts into this, like just a phalanx of expertise into this investigation, including forensics experts, including IT specialists,
including interrogation specialists, which I`ve only heard of in wartime, really, I`ll be honest with you.
Did any of those experts yield the information that has led you in this new direction to a new search area?
HAWTHORNE: That`s something I really can`t comment. And probably the best term at this point for -- I would like to call them experts in interview
techniques, probably the best term to use. But we definitely have the best of the best in this case. And I`m very excited that Austin, Texas, has
lent me some of the best and top professionals in the state of Texas and across the nation to help us with this search.
BANFIELD: I`m glad you`re getting the manpower. I think you need it, especially in the, you know, post -- in the hurricane aftermath, you
definitely need the extra help.
Let me go to the car at the Motel 6, if I can. The reporting today is you think someone may have actually left it there with the intent that it might
be stolen. It`s a Mercedes. It`s beautiful. It`s left with the doors unlocked and the keys on the console.
Are those facts correct? And do you believe that whoever left it there may not have been Crystal, but may have been someone who wanted it to be
HAWTHORNE: Well, it`s just my opinion, but yes, those are facts. And like I say, if other people had seen the car, thank goodness, they called 911,
and we were able to respond to it. And that is our belief. We do believe it was staged (ph).
BANFIELD: Let me ask you this. The Motel 6 -- I understand that the surveillance video from the Motel 6 has been underwhelming, perhaps
unhelpful. Let me know if that`s not the proper characterization. I am curious to know if it`s -- if you have determined whether Crystal was
present inside that hotel anywhere, the lobby, any rooms, outside? Is there any evidence that has put her at that hotel?
HAWTHORNE: So Ashleigh, I think it`s important for me to say this. We did -- at first -- and I did tell you that we were not satisfied with the video
from the Motel 6. Motel 6 has reached out to us. They have been absolutely 100 percent cooperative. We now have additional video from
Motel 6 that they have provided for us. And it is being forensically evaluated right now, and we`ll just have to see what it yields to us.
BANFIELD: Do you know if it -- do you know at this point if it`s better?
HAWTHORNE: At this point, we do not. We`ve turned it over to some expertise in Austin, and so hopefully, we`ll have some results pretty soon.
BANFIELD: OK. I hope you can let us know if it`s better than the last batch of video.
The private investigator working on the case, Carla Edwards -- we just spoke with her. I asked her about this report that she herself has spoken
with a witness who believes that there may be two other witnesses who can actually discuss the goings on at that hotel, at that Motel 6. Do you know
about this? Do you know about them?
HAWTHORNE: Yes, we do. I mean, and she is correct. We are working hand in glove. She has turned over all the different leads. She`s got some
really good leads that she has produced, and we`re pursuing those. And that particular lead, we are following up with it, and we think...
BANFIELD: Did you find those people?
HAWTHORNE: We think we may have already interviewed them, but they`re pursuing that now, making sure that the ones that we interviewed the day of
are the same ones that they`re speaking of. But obviously, it`s all about checking and rechecking and verifying.
BANFIELD: Can I ask you about plate readers in so many modern metroplexes today? You can do an investigation and virtually track a car from point A
to point B through videos and plate readers. Do you have any plate readers that tracked the car that Crystal was driving, that Mercedes.
HAWTHORNE: That`s a really good question, but I`m afraid it`s one that I can`t answer.
BANFIELD: So that might be on the list of a next direction?
HAWTHORNE (via telephone): Well, it`s something we`ve already acquired, and I just don`t think it`s in the best interest to discuss that at this time.
BANFIELD: Understand. Let me ask you this. I`m in the line of work not totally unlike yours where some of the details are grisly and distressing,
so when I ask this next question, I don`t mean it to upset her family, but have you connected or reached out to the landfills in your area to see if
there`s any possibility for some searching to go on there?
HAWTHORNE (via telephone): Once again, that`s probably one of those things that`s not in my best interest to discuss, but we`re looking at all avenues
and we are continuing to reach out to other people and other experts.
BANFIELD: Have you gone the route of tracking the local sex offenders in the area? That`s sort of a standard op. You go and you interview everybody
within a radius who has that kind of past. Is that something you`ve done or did the hurricane sort of throw all that into disarray?
HAWTHORNE (via telephone): One of our detectives that handles and manages our sex offender registration is very heavy into the investigation.
BANFIELD: OK. And then there`s just one other curious detail I wanted to clear up. It is just -- I can only imagine a copious volume of video that
you`re going through from the surveillance cameras. As you have mentioned, several businesses will have several different angles.
They all have to be watched slowly over and over again for minute details in real time, which is exhausting. But you said something about three days
worth of searching. You know, in the facts that I know, which pale in comparison to yours, she went missing some time after 7:00 a.m. before she
was supposed to get to her ex-husband`s house at 8:00 a.m. Where does the three-day window come in?
HAWTHORNE (via telephone): From our perspective, we begin our investigation with the last person that we can prove saw her and was with her alive, and
then from that point there, it goes all the way to the point where we found the vehicle. So --
BANFIELD: That`s the three days.
HAWTHORNE (via telephone): Correct.
BANFIELD: Makes perfect sense. Anything I am missing? Is there anything I should have asked that I did not ask, that I do not know that you can
HAWTHORNE (via telephone): Ashleigh, I would love to reveal a lot to you, but I have to be very sincere. The Texas rangers and the attorney general`s
office have been fantastic with lending me a lot of resources.
And I feel like I need to keep things very close, so that if this does turn out to be foul play, which you know I suspect that it is, that we are
capable of handling and managing and prosecuting this case properly.
BANFIELD: Sir, I respect that, and I really appreciate you once again taking the time to help us, you know, navigate through this. Best of luck
as you continue forward, sir.
HAWTHORNE (via telephone): Thank you very much.
BANFIELD: Sheriff Brian Hawthorne with the Chambers County Sheriff`s Office live with us again tonight, while the rest of his men and women are out
there trying to deal with the aftermath of that hurricane.
Since we`re talking about the hurricane, yes, there is that other one. And as Florida is now preparing for this monstrous beast named Irma, one
Florida sheriff has a strong message for some of the evacuees.
If you have yourself an outstanding warrant or if you are a registered sex offender, do not bother showing up at any of the emergency shelters unless
you want to ride out the storm in jail.
[20:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BANFIELD: Moving is hard. Moving six million people is impossible, but that is how many people in south Florida are directly in the path of the
biggest, most powerful hurricane ever seen in the Caribbean. Irma is as strong as they come, category five, just like the killers, Andrew, Katrina,
and Sandy before her.
When it hit Antigua and Barbuda, it virtually scoured those islands clean, because the winds were near 180 miles an hour, or maybe they were more. And
the reason I don`t know is because the anemometers actually broke, yes. The wind deal, the thing that measures it, broke.
By the tens of thousands, people have joined the long slow exodus to move away from this beast, but many are choosing to stay behind and ride out the
storm in a shelter. And the Polk County Sheriff, Grady Judd, has a warning for any bad guys out there with a warrant.
His tweet, if you go to a shelter for hashtag Irma, be advised: sworn law enforcement officers will be at every shelter, checking IDs. Sex offenders,
predators will not be allowed. And then this. If you go to a shelter for hashtag Irma and you have a warrant, we`ll gladly escort you to the safe
and secure shelter called the Polk County Jail.
So as you can imagine, some people were upset with Sheriff Judd`s comments, including the ACLU. The ACLU tweeted right back. Sheriff Judd
[20:40:00] should be working to prepare his community, not burnishing his Joe Arpaio-style tough cop credentials with a series of irresponsible
tweets. For his part, sheriff told local TV reporters he was surprised that the policy was drawing such criticism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRADY JUDD, SHERIFF, POLK COUNTY SHERIFF`S OFFICE: Never before did I think that we`d be beat up for giving people a warning and keeping people safe.
But that`s OK, if you`re a sexual predator and a sexual offender, we`re not going to let you sleep next to any 5 or 6 or 7-year-old babies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Sheriff Richard Jones is with the Butler County Sheriff`s Office. He joins me from Hamilton, Ohio. And Sheriff Jones, as I read it, you are
in a lockstep with Sheriff Grady Judd on this, aren`t you?
RICHARD JONES, SHERIFF, BUTLER COUNTY SHERIFF`S OFFICE: That`s absolutely correct.
BANFIELD: So tell me, because I can see both sides. I honestly can. I don`t want a sex offender sleeping next to me if I`m in a shelter or my kids, but
sex offenders are people, too, and they deserve to live and not be battered by a storm. So how do you marry those two problems?
JONES: You don`t. He`s gave them five days to get out of town, and he`s gave them to find a place of shelter with family members. Here in Ohio, we
don`t allow in our homeless shelters, if you`re a sexual predator, you can`t come to a homeless shelter. If the weather is good, you can`t come to
the homeless shelter, let alone if the weather is bad.
And if you have any violence in your history, you can`t come either. He`s doing exactly what he`s supposed to do. He`s a very popular sheriff. If the
ACLU doesn`t like it, it`s too bad. I think he was absolutely correct. When you say that the ACLU has an issue with that, they can go ahead and take
them home with them. We don`t want them in our shelters, and he doesn`t want them in there.
BANFIELD: And I can see where the passions flare. I do have this question, though. You know, a lot of times -- and I`ve never had an outstanding
warrant, so I`m happy about that, but a lot of times, as I understand it, it`s not clear what you`re warrant is for.
So, the guy beside me might be a sex offender and then the other guy beside me may have two outstanding traffic tickets, and he`s the guy who is maybe
too afraid to the come to the shelter with his family because he might end up being pulled away from them at his families` greatest need, the time in
need. Does that make sense to you? Do you understand where that sort of throws a wrench into all of this?
JONES: I understand it. No jail in country will put you in jail for a traffic ticket, believe me. But it`s that sheriff`s responsibility to make
sure that he is responsible for those families that are coming there. It`s his responsibility to make sure it`s safe. And when you bring these people
in, that`s his responsibility, and he`s doing nothing any different than what we do here in Ohio --
BANFIELD: I get it. And again, I respect that. But I guess what I`m trying to figure out is this is sort of chaos. And they can`t delineate between
the bad guy, the dangerous, violent offender and the guy with the tickets right there at the shelter, so they all got to go. So you see what I mean?
BANFIELD: They`re all going to get swept in together into the jail and the dad is going to have to leave his two kids and his wife at a time when he`s
terrified for them and they`re terrified to lose him.
JONES: But the jail can determine which ones, which ones, what crime they have, what are the warrants for. The sheriff --
BANFIELD: The jail can, but the shelter can`t. And at this point -- we`re going back and forth, you know?
JONES: He`s still responsible for everybody else in that shelter. If you look at the history when they`ve had these things before, these people are
attracted to these areas. You can`t do it. It`s the safety of the majority. It`s no different than having a life boat with only room for 10 people in
it. You can`t put 20 people in the lifeboat.
BANFIELD: Yes. Let me bring in Derek Logue if I can. He is a convicted sex offender, admittedly so. He is also the founder of oncefallen.com. He joins
me from Cincinnati tonight. Thanks for being here, Derek. I can only imagine you have a pretty strong opinion about this. If a hurricane were
headed towards Cincinnati, you`d be one of those people, told you`re not welcome in that shelter.
DEREK LOGUE, CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER: Well, I would like to think that the city of Cincinnati would treat their citizens a little better than
Hamilton, Ohio does or Polk County for that matter. Not every sheriff in America behaves like them. They should be ashamed of their opinions and
their behavior. That`s just the way I feel about it.
I`ve been working with people across the country for many years now. This is an issue that came up. I talked with people from Louisiana and Florida.
A lot of times, they`ve been given the choice between going to jail and riding out the storm, and a lot of people have chosen riding out the storm.
I think if I were in their shoes, I will do the same thing.
BANFIELD: Can I ask you something? I`ve interviewed
[20:45:00] loads of sex offenders before. Almost all of them, many of them say that it is an illness, that it is not something that you can cure. You
have to fight like alcoholism. So if I have my children beside me, is the sheriff not protecting my children and me by saying that a sex offender
could be dangerous, in fact, was dangerous --
LOGUE: First of all --
BANFIELD: -- at the super dome. There were dozens of rapes reported at the super dome after hurricane Katrina.
BANFIELD: Am I not being protected more than --
LOGUE: None of those reports have been -- none of those have been confirmed. Those are all bunch of rumors, just like the rumors of roving
gangs of thugs after Katrina. You know, most of it --
BANFIELD: There were shootings, there were lootings.
LOGUE: -- most of it was just paranoid --
BANFIELD: Well, that`s not true. I`m not going to take issue with you on that because --
LOGUE: There was no --
BANFIELD: -- hold on. There were dozens of rapes reported in the aftermath of Katrina.
LOGUE: Well, I will take issue with the fact --
BANFIELD: You got to let me --
LOGUE: You`re not going to let me tell you where you`re wrong.
BANFIELD: You just said there were no rapes. They were unfounded. And I`m going to tell you where they`re founded.
LOGUE: You said, yes, they are unfounded. Yes, they are unfounded.
BANFIELD: One-third of the rapes happened at evacuation shelters after Rita and Katrina, according to National Sexual Violence Resource Center, which
is government agency --
LOGUE: You`re completely wrong on that.
BANFIELD: It is not only vetted by the government, it is funded by the government.
LOGUE: You`re very wrong on that.
BANFIELD: The government`s just lying about those rapes that happened.
LOGUE: Once again, yes, you`re completely lying about how everybody on the registry is incurable and that they can`t control themselves. Very few
BANFIELD: I said I have been told that by people like you. I`m not making a judgment. I`m not in your head. I`m just -- listen, I`m telling you, I`ve
had interviews with sex offenders.
LOGUE: You are going to sit here and try to tell people that everybody that is on the registry is an incurable monster and that when they go to a
shelter, they are not going to be able to control themselves.
BANFIELD: You can put your language the way you want it. Sheriff Jones, jump on in.
JONES: Yes. Yes, basically what you`ve got here is he`s not telling the truth. Basically what you have is 76 percent of --
LOGUE: Give me a break.
JONES: -- sexual predators (INAUDIBLE), which means they come back to the system. There is --
LOGUE: What a load of hogwash. Where do you get your numbers from? Where do you get your numbers from? That`s what I would like to know. Every time I
come on this show, you guys say the same things. And every time I try to say something about it, you try --
BANFIELD: You know, Derek, you walk all over everybody when they try to answer your question. That`s the problem. You ask where we get the numbers
from, and when we begin to tell you, you walk over and you call it hogwash.
LOGUE: You bring me on the show and you try to bully me. I come on the show.
BANFIELD: Oh, for God`s god`s sake, it`s not bullying.
LOGUE: It is not true. It is completely bogus.
BANFIELD: No, you can`t go on a show and preach.
LOGUE: It`s completely bogus.
JONES: He`s not going to any shelters in Polk County and you won`t go to any one in Butler County.
LOGUE: You don`t want to hear the truth. Simple as that.
BANFIELD: Here`s the problem. Derek, there`s only one audio line out. And not all three voices can be on it. I`m flat out of time. I appreciate both
of you and both of your opinions count. They matter. I appreciate the discussion.
JONES: Yes, ma`am.
BANFIELD: Derek, look forward to having you again. Sheriff, look forward to having you again, too, sir. Thank you.
JONES: Thank you, ma`am.
BANFIELD: There is really nothing more frightening if you`re driving behind someone that you think is under the influence and they`re all over the
place, but rather than hanging back to protect yourself, see what will happen, three everyday heroes in Florida decided to take the matter into
their own hands.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): What is he doing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Do not stop. Get in front of him. Get in front of him and hit the brake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BANFIELD: We`ve all been there driving behind someone who was scaring the be Jesus out of us. But would you have ever had the guts to try to stop a
suspected drunk driver?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Whoa, whoa, whoa.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): He almost hit us head-on when we were in the turning lane, so we have been following him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): We`ll follow him as long as we can until we see a deputy, but he`s going to kill somebody, I swear.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): This guy is all over.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): And he`s going to hit a curb.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): He`s gone, he`s gone. What is he doing? He`s getting on 75.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Stop him. Do not stop. Get in front of him. Get in front of him and hit the brake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Yes, that whole I-75 thing was exactly when the ladies went from being concerned citizens, everyday heroes, concerned citizens too, everyday
heroes, who ended up really putting themselves at risk to stop that driver no matter what it took. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Oh, my God!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): The truck is stopped and the truck is right beside him. You stay on the side of him. Hit the brakes and stop him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Oh, my God!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: So they did. And this is what it yielded. It wasn`t a he. It was a 25-year-old Brittany Sharp who was arrested for DUI and a laundry list of
other charges. Caroline Polisi, as a defense attorney facing down video, basically did a play by play on that, she`s probably got an uphill road to
hoe. But what do you make of these three ladies who did something so heroic but dangerous?
CAROLINE POLISI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right. I have to say, I totally applaud the impulse here, absolutely inspiring and courageous. However, never a
good idea to take law enforcement into your own hands. They put themselves at serious risk. And it could have gone really, really wrong. So, again,
this is a great story. It`s inspiring, but don`t try this at home.
BANFIELD: Don`t try it at home. Critical and wrong for them. Critical and wrong for other people too, other people out on the road who have nothing
to do with it.
[20:55:00] Good thoughts. Keep them coming. In the meantime, you have to hear about this. In South Africa, more than a million and a half children
are AIDS orphans. And this week`s CNN hero has opened her heart, and she has opened her home to help care for those orphaned, abandoned, and sick
kids in her community. I want you to meet the woman known as Mama Rosie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSIE MASHALE, CNN HERO: I`ve got a big heart for children and for people in this community. Our center now has become a sentinel of hope. All the
children who are placed here, they say that, I`ve got my house, I`ve got my home, there`s a mother waiting for me. The basic thing that we`re giving
them is the love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[21:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BANFIELD: Thanks to Caroline Polisi. Thank you to you, everyone, for watching. I`m Ashleigh Banfield. "Forensic Files" starts right now.