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Couple Says They Were Poisoned At Dominican Resort Where Three Americans Died; Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) Discusses Near-Collision Between U.S. And Russian Warships And House Impeachment Inquiry; Police Search For Connecticut Mother Who Vanished Two Weeks Ago. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 7, 2019 - 07:30   ET



[07:32:44] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, as Dominican authorities investigate what killed three Americans in five days at the same resort, a Colorado couple tells CNN they became violently ill during their stay at the same place.

CNN's Drew Griffin is live in Denver with the very latest on this. Drew, what have you learned?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Alisyn, this was really a dream vacation turned nightmare, but a year later this nightmare just isn't ending.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Kaylynn Knull reached out to CNN almost immediately after learning three Americans just died at the same resort in the Dominican Republic where she believes she was poisoned, along with her boyfriend.

GRIFFIN (on camera): What is your reaction?

KAYLYNN KNULL, AMERICAN TOURIST WHO FILED LAWSUIT AGAINST DOMINICAN REPUBLIC RESORT: Blood-boiling. It's too coincidental with the symptoms that we had for me to even begin to stay quiet about it.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): One year ago this month, the Colorado couple traveled to the all-inclusive Grand Bahia Principe Resort La Romana, and for the first few days, it seemed a vacation of a lifetime. But on the sixth day, Knull became ill.

KNULL: I woke up with a headache one morning. We had gone to breakfast to see if I could get some water, get some juice, try some food, feel better. And then, when we came back to the room it actually hit us a lot stronger and we smelled the smell of chemicals.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): She got progressively worse. Then, her boyfriend, Tom Schwander, started feeling it, too.

They say they were sweating, drooling, dizzy, nauseous. It wouldn't go away. Neither would the smell in their hotel room.

KNULL: We saw a housekeeper outside and, like, called her in to see if she could come in. She walked maybe five-six feet into the room and turned around and said, "I'm not doing that." And then, got on her walkie-talkie to the front desk and said, "Something's going on with this room." She refused to come in and clean it.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Kaylynn and Tom had seen someone spraying plants near the air conditioner outside their room. They assumed it was pesticide but the hotel wouldn't say what it was.

They switched rooms twice. It didn't help.

TOM SCHWANDER, AMERICAN TOURIST WHO FILED LAWSUIT AGAINST DOMINICAN REPUBLIC RESORT: It progressed over the rest of our trip and then over the course of a couple of weeks after.

GRIFFIN (on camera): A couple of weeks?

SCHWANDER: Yes. The abdominal -- the abdominal cramping and the G.I. upset lasted for a couple -- a few weeks.

[07:35:00] GRIFFIN (on camera): And you said drooling --

SCHWANDER: Yes, drooling.

GRIFFIN (on camera): -- sweat.

SCHWANDER: Bad sweat, tearing.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Dizzy?

SCHWANDER: Dizzy, nauseous, yes. And the abdominal cramping was the worst. That was the hardest symptom to deal with. There was just so much pain.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Back in Colorado, Knull's physician diagnosed her with organophosphate poisoning. Schwander's doctors suspect the same thing.

Heavily-regulated and, in some cases, banned in the U.S., organophosphates are man-made chemicals found in insecticides. Exposure can cause increased saliva, tear production, diarrhea, nausea, sweating, confusion, and death.

The couple says they still have occasional symptoms and they are most concerned about their future health. Even after filing a lawsuit, they still do not know what exactly poisoned them.

KNULL: Honestly, all I wanted was the chemical name. That is all I ever wanted. I could care less about the money if I can save my own life later.

And him, too. It's what happened to him, what happened to me. What is it that we can do with at this point?


GRIFFIN: John, because of this couple's legal case, Bahia Resort says they couldn't answer any of our questions about the couple.

They couldn't answer any of our questions about anything and then told us in a statement that we shouldn't even be speculating about the current deaths at their resort while those investigations into those deaths continue -- John.

BERMAN: Wow, Drew -- wow. It raises so many questions. Thank you so much for that report. Please stay on it for us.

All right, I regret to report the St. Louis Blues are now just one win away from claiming their first-ever Stanley Cup. Why? Because with the help of the officials, they beat the Bruins in game five.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: No editorializing here, Andy.


Yes, Boston fans, just like you, not happy with the officials after this game. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said afterward, the missed call that led to the Blues' second goal was, quote, "egregious."

And the play that got Boston fans, like you, John, all up in arms was right here when Tyler Bozak blatantly tripped Noel Acciari and the refs didn't call anything and the Blues end up scoring on the play.

Bruins' president Cam Neely was so mad at the no-call he got up from his seat and threw his water bottle across the room.

Blues would win the game 2-1 and take a 3-2 lead in that series.

The NBA, meanwhile, announcing that it has banned Warriors minority investor Mark Stevens for one year and fined him a half-million dollars for shoving and cursing at Kyle Lowry when he went into the stands after that loose ball during game three of the finals.

Stevens released a statement apologizing for what he did.

Game four of the finals is tonight in Oakland.

All right, the Women's World Cup kicks off in France in just a few hours. One game today -- host France is going to play South Korea at 3:00 Eastern.

Team USA going to look to defend its title. They'll get going against Thailand on Tuesday.

And finally, the Patriots getting their Super Bowl rings at a party at owner Robert Kraft's house last night. Tom Brady's now got more rings than he has fingers.

And he was getting in on the beer-chugging challenge going around the NFL right now. Look at him beating center David Andrews. Three hundred pounds and he still couldn't beat Tom Brady in a beer-chugging contest, John.

Is there anything Tom Brady is not the best at?

BERMAN: It's impossible for him to lose at anything, Andy -- even beer-chugging.

I have to say it was one smile after another at the Women's World Cup. Go USA. So excited for that.

Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: It should be an awesome summer.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Andy.

All right, CNN has just obtained this just-declassified image. Look at your screen. This is a near-collision between a Russian and U.S. Navy warship in the Pacific.

Breaking details of this dangerous encounter, next.


[07:43:11] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: All right, breaking news this morning. CNN has just obtained this image -- look at this. This is a near-collision between U.S. and Navy warships in the Pacific.

The ships came so close together that the U.S. Navy says they were forced to throw its cruiser into reverse and hit the gas to avoid the crash. It's the Russian vessel on the left. You can see by the wake apparently coming in at an angle.

The United States very upset about this and there are questions about whether or not this was some kind of provocation.

Joining us now is Sen. Mazie Hirono. She serves on the Armed Services Committee. Senator, thank you so much for being with us.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): Good morning.

BERMAN: Obviously, Hawaii is such an important military state.

I don't know if you had a chance to look at the image, so let me put it back up here on the screen. You might be seeing it for the first time, along with the rest of us this morning.

When you see this, what are your concerns?

HIRONO: Well, my concern is that that was a -- practically a near miss, and so something like that should not -- should not happen at all. And, yes, we do need to investigate whether or not there was some kind of a provocation going on there because one would think that there are enough sensors or whatever equipment on both these ships to avoid this kind of near miss.

BERMAN: Yes, and again, that is very close for two vessels at sea.

As you look at the world-- and again, I should note that President Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, is meeting with Xi Jinping --


BERMAN: -- in Saint Petersburg this morning -- what's your sense of what Russia is trying to do globally?

HIRONO: It is trying to reassert itself as a -- as a country, even as its economy is basically on a downward turn.

And you've got China just probably smacking her lips at the prospect of getting into Russia. And this is China's Belt and Road plan that they want to become, in my view and other views -- that they want to become the most economically-strong power as well as militarily-strong power in the world. That's what I think.

[07:45:14] And so, they've been very busy all over the world -- in Africa, in the Pacific -- to get to that point.

BERMAN: You are, of course, on the Senate Judiciary Committee. I want to ask you what's going on in the House because CNN learned overnight that the House Judiciary chair, Jerry Nadler, has been pressuring Nancy Pelosi to open an official impeachment inquiry.

And some of the new logic he's presented is that it would allow them to consolidate the investigations. It might also allow them to be more open about some of the things they could say on the House floor.

Again, as you watch from the Senate, do you think it's time now to open the official inquiry on the House side?

HIRONO: Yes, I've said so myself.

And this was right after Mueller had his press conference wherein he very much focused on the fact that the Russians had very, very intently and heavily interfered with our elections to support President Trump and the president's efforts to stymie the investigation and obstruct justice. He made those points very clearly.

At this point, I think that we need to focus our entire country on what happened and that is through an impeachment inquiry.

BERMAN: Does it matter to you that it's almost impossible to imagine the president ever being convicted in the Senate if the House ever did go through with impeachment?

HIRONO: There comes a time when we need to do the appropriate and right thing, and I think this is that time because even now, the president is continuing to try to obstruct whatever the House is doing to shed light on what happened during the 2016 elections and thereafter. And so, his obstructive activities are continuing apace.

BERMAN: One of the things that Nancy Pelosi has reportedly argued -- and she is against opening the official impeachment inquiry as of now. One of the things she said, reportedly, yesterday -- and this was "Politico" -- she said, "I don't want to see Trump impeached. I want to see him in prison."

What do you think she meant by that?

HIRONO: I think that once he loses his presidency that he becomes a private citizen and all of the information that Mueller put into his two reports -- the two chapters will be -- will be used or can be used to indict the president.

And it's very clear to me that but for that fact that he's the president and but for the fact that the Office of Legal Counsel said you cannot indict or charge a sitting president, he would have been indicted, as did some 800 or so former prosecutors who said the same thing.

BERMAN: What about the appropriateness, though, of talking about imprisoning your political opponents?

President Trump, then-candidate Trump, came under criticism for this for the "lock her up" chants and in one of the debates --


BERMAN: -- he said he was going to put Hillary Clinton in jail.

Why doesn't the same -- why don't the same rules apply to Nancy Pelosi?

HIRONO: Because of the fact that the president did -- there was -- there may not have been enough evidence to charge him with conspiracy, but that doesn't mean there were not factors leading to that or that there were not enough evidence relating to --

BERMAN: But shouldn't you say -- but shouldn't you say -- saying you want to put the president in jail -- you do agree that saying you want to put the president in jail is a big deal, correct?


BERMAN: And it does come with risks, correct?

HIRONO: Yes, I would say so. But, you know, this is why I think that we should open an impeachment inquiry so that we can get on with telling the public what really happened because the public is not going to read a 400-page report, as so many people have said. They need to watch the movie because they're not going to read the book.

I think we are doing -- we would do a service to our country if we talked about and shine a light and educate the public -- Americans -- on what's in that report as far -- particularly, as far as his efforts to obstruct justice, which I think it's pretty clear.

But then, John, we're not in normal times. Everything anybody says that is contrary to where the president is, he just goes on a massive attack, and that's what he does. That is his modus operandus.

BERMAN: Senator Mazie Hirono from Hawaii, thank you for being with us this morning.

HIRONO: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, John. Now to this story that we've been covering.

A missing mother of five gone for two weeks now. Her estranged husband arrested. So what happened in the days before she disappeared? That story, next.


[07:53:35] CAMEROTA: Thousands of people gathering last night in Virginia Beach to honor the lives of the 12 people killed in a mass shooting one week ago today at a city municipal building.

CNN's Natasha Chen is live in Virginia Beach with more -- Natasha.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, it's like Gov. Ralph Northam said last night -- grief is not an event, it's a process.

And we saw that process play out in this very emotional ceremony, not just for the first few rows -- those families of the 12 victims who were escorted into the service at the beginning -- but we saw it all the way to back of the room -- thousands of people. Law enforcement standing against the wall unable to hold back their tears.

Now, what was special about this service is that it included many members of different faith organizations throughout the community.

And, of course, included Gov. Northam, who earlier this week had suggested a special session to address gun legislation. But last night he stayed far away from politics.


GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA: We grieve with this community. We grieve with the coworkers who hid in offices fearing for their lives, and who must go back to work to see empty desks.

JIM WOOD, VICE MAYOR, VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA: We will prevail as a stronger, more united, and better community. This has changed us. We will not let this define us because we are Virginia Beach.


[07:55:06] CHEN: And to that end, another speaker mentioned building two -- this municipal building right behind us that is still blocked off behind police lines here.

He said this is where city engineers work. They do permit processing here. And just to make a point, he said he didn't like the process of applying for permits.

But once this tape comes down, he said he's coming back in this building to show that this shooting would not stop or change the way that Virginia Beach lives -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Natasha Chen. Thank you very much for that reporting.

And we want to pause for a moment to remember each of the victims.

TEXT: Laquita C. Brown, Tara Welch Gallagher; Mary Louise Gayle, Alexander Mikhail Gusev; Katherine A. Nixon, Richard H. Nettleton, Christopher Kelly Rapp, Ryan Keith Cox, Joshua O. Hardy, Michelle "Missy" Langer, Robert "Bobby" Williams, Herbert "Bert" Snelling.

BERMAN: And our hearts are with their families and all of Virginia Beach.

It has been two weeks since a Connecticut mother of five vanished. Her estranged husband and his girlfriend have been arrested. And this comes as CNN has learned more about the disturbing case through court documents.

CNN's Jean Casarez is live in New Canaan, Connecticut with the very latest -- Jean.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, residents of this tight- knit community are waking up again this morning with many more questions than answers. What has happened to this mother of five young children, Jennifer Dulos?


CASAREZ (voice-over): As law enforcement continue their investigation into the disappearance of 50-year-old Jennifer Dulos, legal documents say something police won't say at this point. Jennifer Dulos was the victim of a crime.

After last being seen on the morning of May 24th, dropping her children off at school. Hours later, a missing persons report was filed.

During a search of her home, police discovered multiple stains of blood on the floor, multiple areas of suspected blood spatter, and attempts to clean up the scene. They concluded Dulos was the suspected victim of a serious physical assault.

REV. PETER WALSH, ST. MARK'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, NEW CANAAN, CONNECTICUT: The truth of it is that people are all dealing with something that doesn't even seem real. And yet, it clearly is real.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Rev. Peter Walsh led community members at a prayer vigil after the mother of five went missing, while police focused on their investigation, calling residents of New Canaan to ask for help.

NEW CANAAN POLICE DEPARTMENT AUDIO: As part of the time line, we seek video surveillance from homes or businesses that have cameras, which capture vehicular activity on roadways.

CASAREZ (voice-over): That time line had law enforcement searching a busy street in Hartford after city surveillance video showed what appeared to be her estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, depositing trash bags into garbage receptacles -- more than 30 stops in all -- hours after Jennifer Dulos went missing. A woman matching his girlfriend Michelle Troconis's description is seen with him.

Clothes and a sponge from the recovered bags were confirmed to have Jennifer's blood on them. That led police to arrest Fotis Dulos and Troconis, charging them with tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution.

After an initial court appearance, Troconis posted the $500,000 bond. Dulos did not and remains in jail.

Jennifer Dulos and her husband of 12 years have been embroiled in a divorce battle for the last two years.

In her original divorce filing, Jennifer told the court, quote, "I am afraid of my husband. I know he will retaliate by trying to harm me in some way." And claimed that he threatened to kidnap their children. Fotis Dulos denied it all to the court.

While police continue to conduct searches at properties he owns, they are also combing through mountains of trash for any evidence that can determine what really happened to Jennifer Dulos.


CASAREZ: Our affiliate, WCBS, is reporting this morning that the girlfriend of Jennifer's husband involved in that divorce battle actually met with Connecticut State Police and Connecticut State Attorney yesterday for over three hours at her attorney's office. Now, we do not know what transpired during that time, but investigators.