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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Tornadoes Touch Down; FDA Under Fire: Politics Above Science; Boyfriend Charged in Death of Girlfriend's Parents; Man Accused of Bizarre Sexual Assault; Solving Colorado's Biggest Arson Mystery; Ted Koppel Is Leaving 'Nightline'

Aired November 15, 2005 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, thanks for joining us in our second hour of 360. We have the very latest on the tornadoes across the Midwest tonight. But first, here's what's happening at this moment.
A rough night for the White House today. The Republican controlled Senate voted to demand the Bush administration explain its strategy in Iraq. Lawmakers want to know about the mission and its completion; however, Democratic plan to lay out a timetable to withdraw Iraq was defeated.

A violent confrontation in South Korea today. This was the scene in Seoul where hundreds of farmers clashed with police. They don't want to open up the country's rice market to trade. Dozens of people were arrested, scores were reported injured.

And tonight a Georgia woman is under arrest after marrying a 15- year old boy. She's pregnant. The woman is charged with child molestation. Georgia underage youths don't need permission to wed if they can prove the bride is pregnant with their child.

We continue to follow a developing story out of Iowa where two killers -- convicted killers have escaped from prison today. Take a look at their faces: Martin Shane Moon. He's serving a life sentence for murder. And Robert Joseph Legendre. Both are believed to have stolen a 1995 gold Pontiac Bonneville with Iowa plates 776-NOW.

A lot to tell you about tonight. Not the only threat to life and limb tonight, not by a stretch, that is. We've been watching the weather all night long, watching it make a mess of Indiana, Kentucky, western Tennessee. One person is dead. CNN's Rick Sanchez is in Nashville. He's been through a bunch of the storms -- Rick.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They've called out the National Guard tonight, Anderson. And we understand there's been at least one fatality. Kentucky and Tennessee, the area of focus around here. Both are getting hit really hard.

As a matter of fact, we're going to start in Henry County. That's in Tennessee where we're told tonight that anywhere between 12 to 20 -- officials say they haven't been able to pin it down. There've been reports of both. The number of people that have been injured in that area. Three homes, we understand in Henry County have been destroyed. You've been looking at some of the pictures and it's pretty tough to look at because folks there in Henry County, interestingly enough, just a week ago were hit by storms as well.

It's tough for officials to get out there and figure out exactly what the damage is, but the reports we get is that it's pretty bad in Henry County, as well as in Montgomery County in Tennessee, where we're being told by officials that an unknown number of mobile homes have been destroyed in that area. A grocery store was destroyed. They're saying three injuries, as well.

The worst part, though, is in Kentucky. In Kentucky we're being told that at least in one place there was a mobile home that literally was picked up by one of the tornadoes that touched down there. It picked up the mobile home and then the mobile home caught fire. There was at least one person inside who was killed, according to officials, as a result of the fire. Now that was in Marshall County.

Hopkins County, as well, 40 to 50 homes destroyed 40 Nationals Guardsmen there, 20 to 30 National Guardsmen in the other part of Marshall County. In Tennessee we're told three other counties were affected by the tornadoes, although they can't confirm that they were actual touchdowns.

As for this area here, in Nashville, where we are right now, they got quite a scare. And they know about scares and they know about tornadoes. Because back in 1998 around April, they got hit by a massive tornado that tore right through town.

Let me show you something. If you can give them that shot, John, that's the coliseum right across the Cumberland River, Anderson, that's where the NFL's Tennessee Titans play. That building was partially destroyed when that tornado came through here. As a matter of fact, back then they say they had as many as 300 other buildings.

Let me show you what they did too. And this is important because this is something that happened tonight, that we suddenly started hearing. I'll try to show it to you with this light. You see that up there? That's a siren. They mayor said after that tornado, it would never happen again. He'd make sure the people would be warned. That siren right there, with those four speakers, started blasting tonight. And when it did, you could see the people, even in this downtown area startledly start to scurry.

So that's pretty much the situation here. They pretty much dodged the bullet in Nashville itself. But the surrounding area has pretty much been affected and some of them hit real hard. Anderson, back over to you.

COOPER: We'll continue to watch the storms throughout the hour. Rick Sanchez, thanks.

The Food and Drug Administration is under fire again tonight, with lawmakers accusing the FDA of putting politics above science. It's the latest twist in the saga of the morning after pill -- the emergency contraceptive that's become a flashpoint in the abortion debate.

For nearly two years the company that makes the pill has been seeking approval to sell it without a prescription. Conservatives, who consider the pill tantamount to apportion, have lobbied fiercely against that happening.

Now in August, the FDA did something it rarely does. It ignored the advice of its own expert advisers and ruled against allowing over- the-counter sales.

Today, the investigative arm of Congress released its long- awaited report on how that decision was made and it may surprise you. Here's CNN Joe Johns.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what's causing all the controversy: A 35-page report by the non- partisan Government Accountability Office that raises serious questions about how and why the Food and Drug Administration refused to allow over-the-counter sales of the morning after drug Plan B.

The FDA's official reason to reject over-the-counter sales was safety concerns about the use of Plan B in women under 16 without supervision. Even though a government advisory committee said over- the-counter sales would be safe. The GAO said age had never been raised before.

Critics say the decision was pure politics. The administration once again bowing to those on the right who see the morning after pill as just another form of abortion.

It was red meat for congressional Democrats who say the FDA needs to focus on its mission, ensuring that drugs are safe.


SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: That's why science has to rule at the FDA. And with this decision on Plan B, they have now said politics trumps science.


JOHNS: But many conservatives like Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas say age is actually a good reason for limiting easy access.


SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: This is a product that many minors would get access to. And it has a big impact physically.


JOHNS (on camera): Life for young people these days is incredibly busy. It goes at a breakneck pace. There's studying, partying, alcohol, mistakes are made. Accidents happen. That's why some of the people we talked to in this college campus said over-the- counter access to Plan B is a good idea, including one young woman who said she took the prescription version of the drug.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) EMILY BROYLES, GWU STUDENT: A situation that I -- I was not proud of, but I knew that I needed to do that in order to be able to come to such a good university and continue my life the way I had planned it. I could not -- I could not have a child.


JOHNS (voice-over): The issue isn't going away. House Democrats are demanding answers for what they called a preordained decision to reject Plan B and complained that emails and memos that might have explained the decision may have been destroyed. And drug makers say they will continue to push for over-the-counter access.


JOHNS: Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman of California has called for hearings on the FDA's decision. He and other Democrats are renewing their charge that science is being politicized in the Bush administration. The FDA denies that politics played a role in the decision and it has questioned the way the GAO reached its conclusions -- Anderson.

COOPER: A lot of those emails missing there to find out definitively. Joe Johns, thanks. We should make clear that Plan B is basically a high dose of regular birth control pills and can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.

The FDA stands by its decision to keep the drug behind the counter. It says the GAO's report mischaracterizes the facts. But in the letter today, 18 lawmakers ask the FDA's boss, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Levitt, to intervene to ensure the agency's final decision on Plan B isn't based on ideology.

Earlier today I spoke with two women on opposite sides of the debate, Wendy Wright, senior policy analyst for Concerned Women for America; and Karen Pearl, president of Planned Parenthood.


COOPER: Karen, what do you find most unusual about what the FDA decided to do here?

KAREN PEARL, PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: The FDA panels proved that taking Plan B over-the-counter is safe, effective. It's something that absolutely should be available to women of all ages. So what's peculiar is that science was trumped by the politics and had people say no to putting it over the counter.

COOPER: Wendy, why do you think that happened? I mean the GAO is saying this is a very unusual step for the FDA to take.

WENDY WRIGHT, SENIOR POLICY ANALYST, CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA: Well, the panel did not consider evidence that was contrary to what the drug company put forward. In countries that have made this drug easily available, there is no reduction in the number of pregnancies. There's no reduction in abortions. But what there is an increase in is the number of sexually transmitted disease cases.

And so the GAO found that some of the FDA leadership was involved in this decision, and rightfully so.

COOPER: Do you understand why it raises a lot of eyebrows? I mean, that all of a sudden, for some reason, in this decision, you know, one top FDA review official told the GAO investigators that it is very, very rare for top agency officials to get involved in a decision like this. Why, out of all the cases, all the dozens of cases of switching that they've thought about, why suddenly this one do they get involved?

WRIGHT: Well, when you look at the track record of this FDA division, I think it's comforting that the FDA leadership did get involved. This division has been responsible for proving --

COOPER: Well, why do you think they did get involved in this particular one and they don't get involved in others?

WRIGHT: Well, this division has been responsible for approving drugs and devices that have led to the death of numerous women. Just last week the FDA had to add a stronger warning to a previous device --

COOPER: Let me just ask you one more time to try to get an answer. Do you think politics played a role in this?

WRIGHT: I think that the past problems within the FDA has required FDA leadership to get involved --

COOPER: OK, so suddenly you're saying the FDA is standing up based on their past problems. Karen, why shouldn't top officials of the FDA get involved in such a controversial decision?

PEARL: They should get involved if they're getting involved from a scientific point of view. They should not get involved in a political decision and an ideological position of trying to make emergency contraception more difficult for people to get. It stops unintended pregnancy by almost 90 percent. It's something that all Americans stand behind.

COOPER: Wendy, let's just be clear. You were opposed to this also because you believe it's tantamount to abortion, yes?

WRIGHT: No. What we have put forward is it should -- it can be available with a prescription. It needs to have medical oversight. It's when it's available without a prescription that it will put adolescents and women's health at risk.

COOPER: Do you view it as contraception or do you view it as a form of abortion?

WRIGHT: Well, the proponents of the drug say that it operates in three ways. One is delaying ovulation, one is preventing fertilization and one is inhibiting implantation. Well, in order to implant, something must exist, and that's an embryo. Now women should --

COOPER: So, what you're saying -- I just want to be clear about this -- you view this as a form of abortion?

WRIGHT: Women should at least be given full information before they make a decision whether to take this drug or not.

COOPER: OK, I know it's a tough subject, but and maybe you don't want to talk about it. I'll just try one more time. Yes or no, do you think this is a form of abortion?

WRIGHT: As I mentioned, the third way of it operating would be ending a new life and women should at least be given that full information and not given just this false assurance that it won't end a pregnancy.

COOPER: OK, subtlety I'm not used to. I'll take that as a yes. For the smell test on this, it does seem to, you know, if you know that there's a pill out there that you can just take if you get into trouble, if you make a mistake, if you just have unprotected sex, I mean logic does seem to indicate it might lead to people to take more chances.

PEARL: I don't think so. Again, all the studies in the U.S. have shown that it doesn't lead to people taking more chances. What it does lead to is a reduced rate of unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion. And no matter where you stand on the abortion issue, if you want to reduce the numbers of abortions in this country, we should be having emergency contraception available to women of all ages to take when they need it.


COOPER: Two very different points of view.

Coming up next on 360. A young man accused of killing the parents of his 14-year old girlfriend -- he's 18 -- over a curfew dispute. He appeared in court today. There's new pictures of him we saw today. We'll get the latest on the investigation of the case. And we'll speak with one of the suspect's friends. And you're not going to believe what he said. You know, usually people say, oh no, I had no idea he might do this. Well, his friend has a different take.

Plus, he allegedly dresses as firefighter to carry out a bizarre and brutal sexual assault. Tonight, this guy is still on the run. We're going to hear from those who knew this man and follow police on the search.

And this,


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was just no way to fight it. There was just -- it wasn't doing anything, the water -- the fire retardant was evaporating before it even hit the ground.


COOPER: A mysterious fire in Colorado. The question is, was it nature's fury or a criminal act? We'll take you inside the investigation.

Those stories when 360 continues.


COOPER: On his website, a young man blogs of songs and friends, hobbies and sports. But he makes no mention of a girl he was secretly dating -- a girl whose parents he stands now accused of murdering. Tonight, she is safe and he is behind bars, left to answer questions and charges of an unspeakable crime. In an moment, we'll hear from one of his friends who says he is caring and loving, but is convinced he did murder this girls parents.

First, CNN's Allan Chernoff has the latest on the investigation.


ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESONDENT (voice-over): Accused killer David Ludwig, handcuffed and shackled, returning to eastern Pennsylvania. Minutes later, he arrived at Lancaster County Court.

(On camera): Inside, an 18-year who looked like an average kid in an orange and white jumpsuit, politely answered the judge, yes sir, when told the arraignment was not a determination of guilt.

(Voice-over): Then the charges: Two counts of homicide, one count of kidnapping, and one count of reckless endangerment.

Judge Dan Garret (ph) sent Ludwig to prison to await a pretrial hearing next week.


DONALD TATARO, D.A., LANCASTER COUNTY: The district justice established no bail would be set because this is a case that will potentially call for a maximum sentence of life in prison or death.

DAVID BURSTIN, OFFICER, INDIANA STATE: In the limited exposure that I had, David Ludwig, he just seemed very cool, matter of fact, and does not seem to be distressed about anything that's happened thus far.


CHERNOFF (on camera): This is not the David Ludwig friends and neighbors thought they knew. 21-year old Tiffany Bomberger says she's been friends with Ludwig for eight years. They met at activities arranged by the local Christian Home School Association.

TIFFANY BOMBERGER, LUDWIG FRIEND: I was floored. I didn't -- I didn't know he could do something like that because he's a great guy.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): Ludwig friends and neighbors say also met Kara Borden through the home-schooling group.

BOMBERGER: We had a co-ed basketball team that they were both on and soccer team that they were both on. And I knew they were friends. I knew they hung out a lot.

CHERNOFF: And Tiffany says, it was clear a relationship had developed. Friends of both families say the parents, particularly Kara's, did not approve.

It is not clear just how much the parents knew. In an affidavit, detectives report a close friend of Ludwig's described it as a secret intimate relationship of a sexual nature, saying they often communicated flirtatious messages and exchanged inappropriate images of one another via various electronic media, to include their computer systems and cell phones.

On his personal web page, Ludwig has no reference to his 14-year old girlfriend. He sites his areas of expertise: Computers, volleyball, getting in trouble. And there is a link to pictures of Ludwig wielding a sword.

Kara Borden, on her web page sites her interests as Jesus, church, my youth group.


RICHARD GARPIOLI, POLICE CHIEF, WARWICK TOWNSHIP: She's a victim right now and she will stay a victim unless I hear otherwise.


CHERNOFF: Kara Borden returned separately to Pennsylvania. Police say tonight she is with relatives. Allan Chernoff, CNN, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.


COOPER: Well my next guest says the murder suspect was a good person. Zachary Horvath is a friend of David Ludwig. He joined me earlier from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.


COOPER: On his website, he's quoting Christian music and stuff. I mean, was he very religious?

ZACHARY HORVATH, FRIEND OF MURDER SUSPECT: He was. He was very religious. But a lot of me and my friends were starting to think that maybe we didn't see the real side of David in the past couple months, that he was probably just putting on a facade.

COOPER: Why do you think that?

HORVATH: Well, because of what happened. I mean, some of us were expecting it. He was putting on a front. He wasn't -- he wasn't acting like himself. COOPER: Do you think he killed Kara's parents?

HORVATH: Oh, definitely. He definitely did. I'm not going to deny that he killed Kara Borden's parents.

COOPER: Why -- I mean, it's interesting, you're a friend of his, why do you say it so definitely?

HORVATH: Because it's the facts that happens. It's -- it's what happens.

COOPER: Were you aware --

HORVATH: It happens.

COOPER: -- that they were having a relationship or what -- I mean, what was their relationship like?

HORVATH: I heard about it about a month ago and I was like, oh well, David has little girlfriends, like he's had girlfriends before.

COOPER: Were they secretly dating? Was this commonly known? Did you know that his parents or her parents didn't approve?

HORVATH: Her parents didn't approve at all because of the age difference. But they were secretly dating.

COOPER: How were they able to date if the parents didn't approve? I mean, would he sneak into her house?

HORVATH: He would sneak in. He was sneaking around. They were both sneaking around.

COOPER: I've looked at David's website and stuff, and you know, clearly he liked hunting. There's, you know, pictures of him field dressing a deer while hunting and stuff. Did -- I mean, did he have weapons? Did he -- do you know, did he have a gun?

HORVATH: His dad had guns. I don't think David had any directly registered to his name.

COOPER: What was his family life like that you knew?

HORVATH: Well, his dad was never really home. I've only met his dad once or twice. His mom was very loving, very caring. She was -- she wasn't -- at times she would be strict and at times she would be lenient. But, you know, his little sister does have autism and Down's Syndrome, so she spent a lot of time with his sister.

COOPER: Now, I imagine you're coming forward to talk for a particular reason. What do you want people to know about him?

HORVATH: I want people to know that I am not making him out to look like a saint. I just want people to know that he is -- he isn't some piece of meat, psychopath killer. I mean, he was a good kid. And saying was in the complete past tense of the verb. I mean he did what he did and he deserves what he gets. But he was a good kid and he wasn't a bad person that went around doing things and hurting people.

COOPER: What would you want him to know?

HORVATH: I just want him to know that you're still, you're still my friend, Dude. If you see this, you're still my friend. I'm not going to turn my back on you. What you did was definitely wrong. But -- and there's no excuse for what you did. But I am your friend.


COOPER: There you go.

Erica Hill, from "Headline News," joins us with some of the other stories we're following right now. Hi Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Anderson. We start off with some breaking news out of Washington. Funds for the so-called "Bridges to Nowhere" are now out of the spending bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee has removed earmarked designations for the $452 million Alaskan project. And that project, you may remember, would have connected two major Alaskan cities to relatively unpopulated lands. It was a target of critics who said it was an example of wasteful spending.

Golden Colorado, where the "Party Mom" sentenced to 30 years in prison. Not a lot of celebrating there. Authorities say Sylvia Johnson had thrown bashes for eight high school boys. She reportedly gave them alcohol and drugs and had sex with five of them. In July she pleaded guilty to sexual assault and contributing to delinquency of a minor.

And Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry, now threatening to take legal action against the star of the "Ali G" show. The ministry says Comedian Shaca Baron Cohen is quote, "serving someone's political order by making fun of Kazakhstan." If you're not familiar with it, Cohen's show often portrays the people of Kazakhstan as drunk, who do bizarre things, such as enjoying cow punching as a sport.

COOPER: Oh, come on. They clearly don't get the joke. He plays this character, Borat, who's a reporter allegedly for --

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: -- allegedly for Kazakhstan TV.

HILL: I don't think they're getting the joke at all, but, you know.

COOPER: I like that they said that he's serving someone's political interests now.

HILL: Isn't that funny? Like whose? I want to know.

COOPER: I'm not sure, but the enemies of Kazakhstan, he's working a league to them. Erica, thanks very much. Man.

Behind me is a live shot of New York City. Always a dazzling sight. But tonight, beneath all those twinkling lights, somewhere on the streets is a wanted man. A man accused of a bizarre sexual assault involving a firefighter's uniform. The man has been skilled so far at eluding New York police -- if he's even still in this city. CNN's Jason Carroll has the latest on this cat and mouse chase.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was Halloween night in New York. Children were trick-or-treating. The monsters were out. But a monster of a different sort was on the streets too.

Police say a man dressed as a firefighter carried out a brutal and bizarre sexual assault. Their suspect -- Peter Braunstein, former book editor and writer for the fashion magazine, "Women's Wear Daily."


ALBERTO BRAUNSTEIN, SUSPECT'S FATHER: It was just devastating. Devastating. Because reading about it, my first thought was anyone who -- who could commit such a thing must be emotionally disturbed.


CARROLL: Braunstein's father runs an art gallery in New York City. He, like many here, read details of the sadistic attack, not knowing police were looking for his son.


(On camera): Do you believe the allegations?

BRAUNSTEIN: To a certain extent, I have to say that I don't believe everything I read in the paper.


CARROLL (voice-over): Detectives believe Braunstein allegedly bought a firefighter's uniform off the Internet. They suspect he wore it this past Halloween. And once in this street in Chelsea, police allege he set two small fires as a rouse to get inside the apartment of a former colleague, who works at fashion publication, "W Magazine." Police say Braunstein allegedly knocked out his victim with chloroform, bound her with tape, assaulted her for 13 hours and disappeared.


CANDACE DELONG, FORMER FBI PROFILER: This particular type of predator did a number of things in the course of the assault, the planning, the bringing of props, staying for an extended period of time with the victim. It shows a great deal of confidence. He probably is of above average intelligence.


CARROLL: Braunstein says his son has always been bright and confident. He says catching him won't be easy.


BRAUNSTEIN: He's going to try and play cat and mouse with the police to see, but how far can he go?


CARROLL: Braunstein has already been featured on "America's Most Wanted." Police traced him to several locations in New York City. He checked into this midtown hotel the day after the attack. He's been spotted in Times Square and police suspect last week he used his metro card to gain access to this West Villa subway station.

Police raided his mother's apartment in Queens, where he had been living.


PETER BRAUNSTEIN'S MOTHER: (voice-over): Go away. I've had enough of the newspapers.


CARROLL: His mother refused to talk about Braunstein. But details about his past are coming out just the same.

One time he was a featured writer for an explicit website, called "" Writing articles like this, titled, "Commitment to Raunch" and "Wicked Women to Watch." Braunstein later used another website to call a former girlfriend a biohazard. He was charged with stalking her and put on probation.

Photographer Nat Finklestein, who worked with Braunstein isn't surprised about the allegations.


NAT FINKLESTEIN: He hates women. He's abuse, he's nasty. There's at least six women that I do know of, including my own wife, that he's either threatened.


CARROLL: Braunstein's father says his son had a temper, but he never thought him capable of hurting anyone. He doesn't expect to hear from Braunstein. They've been estranged for the past two years. Still, if as police suspect, he is watching media reports, he has this message.


BRAUNSTEIN: I'm pleading with him to turn himself in before something drastic or tragic happens.


CARROLL: He can only hope his son is listening. Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


COOPER: A bizarre story. Coming up next on 360.


TED KOPPEL: I think everybody expects you to do it either with your fingernails digging a hole in the floor as they drag you out by your ankles or waiting for some appropriate occasion with a zero at the end of it.


COOPER: Ted Koppell, talking about leaving "Nightline."

And a massive forest fire -- natural disaster or was it a crime scene? A forensic game of cat and mouse and the charred remains of a forest.

We're around America and the world. This is 360.


COOPER: We're headed west now, where the temperatures are near record highs and the fire season is beginning, to take a close look at a crime scene. The wide open spaces of Colorado, a strange place for such an investigation really. After all, crime scenes tend to be alleyways, maybe a lobby, or a back bedroom.

But this crime scene is 138,000 acres in size. CNN's Thelma Gutierrez takes us back to June of 2002, the exact moment this mystery began.


KIM JONES, SPECIAL AGENT, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: The flame leaping 30, 40 feet into the air.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This was a fast-moving giant of a fire, the largest ever to rip through Colorado.

JONES: We have never seen a fire burn this hot, this fast.

GUTIERREZ: How to slow it, let alone stop it was a massive challenge.


GUTIERREZ: Before it was over 5,000 people fled for their lives, above them, ominously dark and choked skies. JONES: It was a mushroom cloud. What I would imagine, you know, for like a bomb.

GUTIERREZ: The heat was fierce, the walls of flame so massive, exhausted firefighters could not surround this monster.

JONES: There was just no way to fight it. There was just -- it wasn't doing anything, the water, the fire retardant was evaporating before it even hit the ground.

GUTIERREZ: The catastrophic inferno ranged untamed for three weeks; 133 homes burned in an area nearly 10 time the size of Manhattan. A staggering 137,000 acres transformed into a vast and charred dead zone.

Eventually suspicions would tease their way out of the ashes. As it turned out, what really happened here at the Hayman fire was a mystery. And like any good mystery, it had clues, false leads, lies and tantalizing pieces of a forensic puzzle. And then, of course, it had an unlikely hero.

JONES: I'm so new. And yet at the same point in time this is already the biggest fire in Colorado's history.

GUTIERREZ: Special Agent Kim Jones.

JONES: I didn't even think it was a crime. I mean, when I was going there that first day, I was told it was an escaped campfire.

GUTIERREZ: Jones was a rookie Forest Service investigator. But a former police detective. So moments after she arrived, Jones was certain this no ordinary fire, but a crime scene.


COOPER: Well, figuring it was a crime scene was really only the first step. Coming up next on 260, the rookie fire detective painstakingly sifts through the ash looking for any clues that might lead to the person responsible for the massive fire, the largest wildfire in Colorado history.


COOPER: Welcome back to 360. Before the break we were in the West, in the Pike National Forest, 30 miles southwest of Denver, Colorado. Ruggedly beautiful area, full of Ponderosa Pine, conifers, oak and Aspen, much of which came to be engulfed by a wildfire that burned out of control for three weeks in the spring of 2002. Eventually cost almost $40 million to put out. CNN's Thelma Gutierrez continues her investigation on the truth about the so-called Hayman fire.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fire has erupted in the last few hours. GUTIERREZ: Early summer, three years ago, the catastrophic inferno raged untamed for three weeks. And historic drought turned Colorado into a rugged swath of dry kindling, that a mere spark could ignite.

Forest Service worker Terry Barton was on fire lookout in Pike National Forest, when she says she spotted a fire. These first moments of the fire proved so critical that investigators asked Barton to recreate them on tape.

Barton first tried to smother the flames, then realized she needed back up -- fast. The fire erupted and raged out of control.

When investigators arrived they photographed the campfire ring and searched for clues. There initial conclusion, a no-brainer, careless campers started the fire. In fact, a witness did report seeing a van leaving the area, so a fire detective, rookie Kim Jones was called in.

JONES: When I'm going there, I'm thinking why am I going to a campfire?

GUTIERREZ: Jones remembers thinking it was a waste of time, trekking six hours through the smoky haze to find and question a negligent camper?

(on camera): What is it like being back to the scene of the crime?

JONES: It's -- it's a little strange to be back because it doesn't look anything like it did then.

GUTIERREZ (voice over): Now, for the first time, U.S. Forest Service Special Agent Kim Jones shares her story. Unveiling forensic evidence that has been sealed and never before seen publicly. All the clues that helped her solve the mystery of the notorious Hayman fire.

JONES: It was huge. Bigger than anything I had ever saw.

GUTIERREZ: When Jones first arrived here. The very place where the fire began her instincts immediately took over. Remember, there was a drought and high temperatures.

JONES: It was a 90-degree day. And no one is going to build a fire.

GUTIERREZ: She talked to the first investigators.

JONES: As I'm looking at things like, I don't see any evidence of camping. And they're like, well, maybe it was a hotdog that they cooked. I was like, well, where's the trash?

GUTIERREZ: It was common sense, sharpened by years of police work. In the '80s Jones was a cop in Missouri. Then she worked environmental crimes for the EPA. But Jones was new to the U.S. Forest Service and she had only worked a few fires. In fact, Jones had only taken her first forensic fire investigation training a year earlier.

JONES: The fire moved directly underneath this rock and went straight out.

GUTIERREZ: Jones traced the fire to a poorly build campfire ring.

(On camera): What was it about the formation of the rocks that made you think that something was very fishy here.

JONES: There is a large rock with -- it had been propped up by another rock. It looks to me like this fire has been staged to look like a campfire, but that it was an intentional fire.

GUTIERREZ (voice over): Then, Jones took a closer look at the ashes and made an important find.

JONES: It's a paper match. And I can see clearly the head of it and clearly the stem. I wanted to get closer to it, and then I noticed that there was a second match, directly underneath it.

GUTIERREZ: Then, a third match.

JONES: And the three matches were stuck in the middle of this clump of grass.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): But what if the person, you know, starts their fire and they throw their match off to the side?

JONES: They just couldn't have been flung there, because I found three. All within an inch and a half of each other.

GUTIERREZ (voice over): At that moment Jones says she knew she wasn't looking for a careless camper, instead she was looking for evidence to lead her to an arsonist.

(On camera): Did you start to think that maybe you were being a little bit too over zealous?

JONES: I was. I did start to think that.

GUTIERREZ (voice over): Given the magnitude of the devastation, Jones also felt she needed help. And she brought in her fire instructor, Paul Steensland, a senior special agent with the Forest Service.

JONES: We're going to need an expert witness and he's the expert. And with it being the biggest fire in Colorado, there is just -- I -- my skills --

GUTIERREZ (on camera): Do you think you would get picked apart?

JONES: Absolutely.

PAUL STEENSLAND, RETIRED, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: Kim was fairly -- she is a very seasoned investigator, but she was very inexperienced when it came to fire investigation.

GUTIERREZ: Steensland has more than 35 years of experience and is known to be one of the best in the fire investigation business.

STEENSLAND: Questions for me, you guys?

GUTIERREZ: So, good he trains many of the nation's wildfire investigators.

STEENSLAND: Watch how it comes in low and goes out high.

GUTIERREZ: Just hours after Jones called asking for help Steensland flew to Colorado at the same time, the driver of that suspicious van, that was spotted leaving the scene, was found. But he had an alibi and was cleared. Investigators had no other leads. So Steensland and Jones returned to the scene and began a painstaking forensic investigation. Steensland mapped the path of the flames with colored flags.

STEENSLAND: Then we're going to use the physical marks that a fire leaves. And its basically the fire's footprints. Then he meticulously sifted through the ashes in the campfire ring. Jones had already removed the crucial evidence, the three matches. But photos showing their exact position when the fire ignited, was vital.

STEENSLAND: Being able to enhance that photograph and bring that original position of those matches out was fairly critical to our theory.

And there is one, you can see the head and the stem. There is the second one, the head and the stem. And there's the third one, the head and the stem.

GUTIERREZ: They theorized an arsonist struck the matches, purposely lighting the dry grass in the campfire. But who?

Remember the first forest worker to spot the fire? Terry Barton? Steensland thought she might remember key details and lead them to the arsonist.

STEENSLAND: We figured, bring her up there, as a witness and have her re-enact her actions on the day of the fire. Her story was that she had smelled smoke.

JONES: She drove up on the fire and saw it and then had to park her vehicle.

STEENSLAND: And then found the campfire burning at about 20-by- 20 feet.

GUTIERREZ: If you look there, among the trees, you can see Steensland and Jones timing Barton's every step. And in the reconstruction they stumbled across something they couldn't explain.

STEENSLAND: The story just did not make sense within the fire behavior context. GUTIERREZ: Remember, Barton says she was first drawn to the fire by its smell. But the experts on fire behavior said not possible.

JONES: We asked the fire behavior analysts, you know, for one. Could a person have smelled smoke, from a 20-by-20 fire? And at first they were like, no. There is just no way you could have.

GUTIERREZ: At that moment the mystery would shift once again.

STEENSLAND: And the more we talked to her, the clearer it became to us that she moved from a witness to a person of interest.

GUTIERREZ: It changed from a who-done-it to an even more perplexing question, would a forest worker, a mother of two, set off what became the worst fire in Colorado history?


COOPER: Well, in the third and final part, coming up next on 360, fire investigators zero in on their arsonist.


JONES: There is no way, you know, anyone else started this fire. You started the fire. I'm not an arsonist, you know; she's like I'm not an arsonist, I'm a firefighter.


COOPER: What till you hear what happens when investigators confront the woman they think is responsible for Colorado's worst forest fire ever. Her stunning reaction when 360 returns.


COOPER: By the time the Hayman fire was finally under control it had burned nearly 138,000 acres of national forest and it destroyed 133 houses, 466 out buildings and a commercial property and it cost the state of Colorado nearly $40 million. Not on the ledger anywhere the tears the fire caused, the anxious moments, fearful moments, the beads of sweat, and the upheaval. And all because -- well, this is Thelma Gutierrez's story to finish.


GUTIERREZ (voice over): Fire investigator Kim Jones was on the biggest case of her career. Tracking the arsonist who started Colorado's largest fire. New revelations about the case would force her to re-examine the evidence. The matches and the ashes in the campfire ring.

Soon, Agent Jones would zeroing on a fellow Forest worker, on of their own. Terry Barton spent nearly two decades preventing fires in Colorado's national forests. The married mother of two raised her daughters here. This was Barton's backyard. She was the one praised for trying to put the fire out. Now, Jones was closing in on her because her previous statements just didn't make sense. So Jones confronted her.

JONES: We don't know what happened Terry, but there is no way, you know, anyone else started this fire. You started the fire. I'm not an arsonist, you know; she's like I'm not an arsonist, I'm a firefighter.

GUTIERREZ: Barton began to buckle under pressure. What she was about to reveal to Agent Jones during a taped re-enactment ...

STEENSLAND: And, Terry, you have given some previous statements to the agents which...

GUTIERREZ: ... would shock her small mountain community.

STEENSLAND: Were those statements correct statements as far as your kind of what happened?

BARTON: No. They weren't.

GUTIERREZ: Barton said it wasn't arson, but an accident. She was in the middle of a divorce and she says heartache drove her to light the fire.

TERRY BARTON, I was the one who started the fire and -- it was the fear and the fear kept getting bigger when the fire kept getting bigger.

STEENSLAND: She then admits that in fact she was responsible for the Hayman fire by taking a love letter from her about to be ex- husband and in a state of emotional trauma, carrying it out to the campfire ring, and burning it.

BARTON: The matches were already in my hand with the letter. I put the letter down and I lit it. One match, I kind of lit the match down there, too. And I watched it. I sat there and until it burned up.

JONES: This moment is key, because she is saying how she lit the letter and she lit it with one match. I say, are you sure it was with one match? She says no, I'm sure it was one match and I would have just flung it. I found three matches and that to me was a key piece of evidence that disputes what she says is happening here.

BARTON: I just wanted to get rid of the letter. It was an emotional act, and it was a stupid act on my part, and then I tried to cover it up because of fear.

JONES: Now, we had an admission. She was admitting to being responsible for this fire. And that was the goal.

GUTIERREZ: But Jones says the evidence never pointed to any letter.

JONES: I never found any remnants of paper. Never.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): But, to an untrained eye, it would seem plausible that the paper along with the matches would just simply burn in the campfire and that is the end of that?

JONES: Hmm, well, I mean I still had the matches. And they didn't blow away.

STEENSLAND: I was pretty confident that if there had been any paper there, you know, we would have found it.

GUTIERREZ: Jones and her mentor, Senior Special Agent Paul Steensland sent this ash from the campfire to a federal lab so screen for trace evidence of paper.

STEENSLAND: And, of course, they found not a shred of paper material I the coals. We don't believe that there was ever any love letter in this case and that her motivation was to start a small fire, certainly not the biggest fire in Colorado history, but start a small fire, suppress it, and then be recognized as a hero.

GUTIERREZ: And so, whether a heartbroken Terry Barton ever burned a letter remains a mystery. The case never went to court. Barton plead guilty to charges of arson and lying to federal authorities.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): And in the end, what does it say about the evidence that you had against her?

JONES: That it was strong.

GUTIERREZ (voice over): Barton is serving a six-year sentence. She declined CNN request for an interview. Agent Jones says in a strange way she feels sorry for Terry Barton and her daughters.

JONES: People think that, you know, they burn something and it's gone. You know? But there is evidence there. And it speaks very loudly and it was key in this case.

GUTIERREZ: Also key, this rookie fire investigator's instincts that resurrected clues and solved a mystery out of ashes.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Lake George, Colorado.


COOPER: It is amazing how much they can find in a fire.

Coming up next on 360, Ted Koppel, "Nightline" first and only anchor for a quarter century, on the news day and his plans for tomorrow. You're watching 360.


COOPER: I grew up watching Ted Koppel. He' probably make fun of me for harping on it. Worse, he'd make fun of me gracefully and graciously and somehow leave me feeling better for it. But I did grow up watching him, first as a viewer then as a colleague. He'd also make fun of me for turning this into a obit, it's not. This Friday, after 25 years, he's leaving "Nightline" and ABC. Not broadcasting or the news, of course, for the moment though, he is leaving a void. We spoke the other day.


COOPER (on camera): Number one, why are you leaving?


COOPER: Well, well -- do you feel it is time? Something changed?

KOPPEL: You know, I think everybody -- I think everybody expects you to do it either with your fingernails dinging a hole in the floor as they drag you out by your ankles, or waiting for some appropriate occasion with a zero at the end of it.

I've been here 42 years. I've been doing "Nightline" for almost 26, if you count "America Held Hostage", it's been 26. It's time. It's time to go on and try something new.

COOPER: I was watching some of the reporting you've done from Vietnam. And what is different now about war reporting? About being in Iraq? I mean, it seems such a completely different environment. It's not possible to -- I mean, to travel the way reporters did in those days?

KOPPEL: Well, it's possible, Anderson, what's different, of course, is that back in those days when I was out in the field and covered a story. You know, we were shooting it on film, by the time we got the film back to the United States and on the air, two and a half to three days had elapsed.

These days, you've got, you know, literally two seconds. You're doing a lot of your reporting live from the scene. That's a gigantic difference. You write differently when you know that your piece isn't going to be seen for at least another two and half days. You think differently. You approach the whole business of covering the news differently.

COOPER: Do you think that -- and we have more news in a sense now -- do we have better news?

KOPPEL: No. Not for the most part. And, I mean, you know, with some notable exceptions, and you've done some awfully fine reporting over these last few months in particular, but by and large, I still think that a lot of you and your colleagues on cable television, and to a lesser extent, some of that is also making its way into broadcast television news, there is this obsession with being first with the obvious.

There is an obsession with telling people about what's happened in the last five minutes. Rather than worrying about what's most important. And very often what's most important happened a week ago, a month ago, maybe even a year ago.

Nobody on television likes to talk about anything older than 15 minutes these days. COOPER: I was watching some tapes of "Nightline" over the years and I mean, some of the interviews that you've done have been always respectful, but some of them very confrontational and sort of remarkably so. You kind of like that, I mean, you like that give and take?

KOPPEL: Oh, yeah?

COOPER: Yeah, I do. Do you?

KOPPEL: Yes, I enjoy the give and take. Look, I think that what gives a television interviewer the right to be a little bit confrontational is not that there is anything special about us, but that, you know, each of us represents hundreds of thousands, or even millions of viewers at home, who have a right to a representative who is going to say, you know, I've heard your answer. But, frankly, I don't think you were A, responsive to the question; B, I think you are weaseling; and C, for some reason or another, I've been trying to get an answer out of you for 20 minutes now and you haven't come up with an answer.

I think the audience at home has a right to a representative sitting in my chair, or your chair, who pushes. You know, not some poor soul who has never been on television before, but the kind of people that you and I interview most of the time, who are all too experienced in weaseling and dodging questions and answers.

COOPER: Do you think politicians are better weaselers now than they've ever been?

KOPPEL: Oh, much better, because they're trained. I mean, you know, there are a lot of folks who get eased out of your network or mine, looking for a job, who end up becoming consultants. And they teach politicians, you know, how to handle folks like you and me.

COOPER: Please tell me you're not going to become a consultant.

KOPPEL: I hope not.

COOPER: Ted Koppel, it is great to talk to you as always. Thank you.

KOPPEL: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: Coming up next on 360, in a moment, stay with us, more.


COOPER: So what do people who live past 100 have in common? Well, we'll look at that tomorrow in a special on longevity. That's tomorrow on 360. Larry King is next.