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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Entwistle Arraigned; Defending Cheney; Crime Overtime?; Hands- On Policing; Roadside Danger; Billionaire-To-Be; It's a Gas; Runaway Whippet

Aired February 16, 2006 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: From Houston, we being with a British man charged with the execution style murders of his wife and baby daughter.
A day after being brought back to the U.S., Neil Entwistle was arraigned today inside a Massachusetts courtroom. We got our first glimpse of him in that court. His appearance comes as prosecutors reveal new details about the crime and what he allegedly told police.

CNN's Randi Kaye investigates.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the matter of the Commonwealth v. Neil Entwistle.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From person of interest to defendant, Neil Entwistle spent his first moments in a Massachusetts courtroom this morning, pleading not guilty to charges he murdered his wife, Rachel, and their 9-month-old daughter, Lillian.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The defendant will be held without bail.

KAYE: Entwistle returned to the U.S. last night from his native England, after deciding not to fight extradition.

And as prosecutors prepared their case against him, the reasons why they believe he is a killer became clearer.

The judge in the case unsealed police affidavits and search warrants related to the case earlier this week.

In sworn statements, state trooper said, a friend of the Entwistles entered the Hopkinton police station at 8:27 p.m., on Saturday, January 21, saying she was invited to dinner at the Entwistles' home. And when she arrived, she found the lights on, but no one answered the door.

Two Hopkinton police officers around 8:35 p.m. by, quote, "jimmying the lock with a credit card." They did a brief walk through the house, what they call a wellbeing check, and found no one at home. The inside lights on and the table set, quote, "as if the family was getting ready for a meal."

They said they found no signs of a break-in, no car in the garage.

The officer said they spoke with Rachel's mother, Priscilla Matterazzo, who told them she last talked with her daughter the previous Thursday and had been unable to reach her since.

The affidavits also state that Mrs. Matterazzo came to the Hopkinton police station about 5:05 p.m., on Sunday, January 22, to file a formal missing persons report, telling police she entered her daughter's home earlier that day, but again found no one at home.

Police returned to the Entwistle home for another walkthrough, but this time detected a smell, which, quote, "based on their training and experience, suggested a dead body was on the premises."

The report says the officer entered the bedroom, pulled back the comforter on the bed and, quote, "saw the body of a female, lying on her left side in the fetal position, obviously deceased." And "... the body of an infant next to the female's chest lying on its back."

They also say that, quote, "Prior to moving the comforter, no part of the bodies was visible from the bedroom, i.e., they were entirely covered up."

The officers noted that there was no apparent sign of the gunshot wound that killed Lillian until she was moved from her mother's side, and that the deadly wound to Rachel's head was only found at the autopsy.

Police then quickly began looking for Neil Entwistle, investigating both his actions and his words.

Troopers found the family BMW in a Logan Airport garage and said it had been there since at least midnight.

Another trooper said Entwistle had left the country that Saturday, the 21st, the date friends had been invited to dinner, on an 8:15 a.m. British Airways flight to London's Heathrow. He said Entwistle bought a ticket on the 2:38 p.m. flight, but left on the earlier flight instead, saying, quote, "it was a one way ticket...and...Entwistle did not check any luggage."

Then, about 11:30 a.m. on Monday, January 23, a day after police had found the bodies, police say Rachel's stepfather, Joseph Matterazzo, received a phone call from Neil Entwistle's father, who relayed Neil's version of events, saying his son told him, quote, "He had gone out for 20 minutes Friday morning...came back to the house...found his wife and daughter in the bedroom..." Then, he told his father, he called the police. A call police say they never got.

About 1:10 p.m., on the 23rd, the trooper called Neil, himself. They spoke for two hours. Neil told him he left the house about 9:00 o'clock a.m. to run errands. He said he returned not 20 minutes, but two hours later, entered the master bedroom and saw his wife partially covered with the comforter. When he pulled it back, police say he told them he, quote, "saw his wife was pale, saw blood on the baby and that the baby had been shot and they were dead." He then told the officer he went to the kitchen, grabbed a knife and considered killing himself, but put it down because it would, quote, "hurt too much."

The trooper said Neil told him he drove to his in-laws house to tell them what had happened and to get one of his stepfather-in-law's guns to kill himself, but found they weren't home. And he had no way to get into the house. He said he then drove to the airport and walked around for a bit, decided to return home, stopped for gas, then turned around and caught a flight to the UK.

In the documents, police say, are inconsistencies in Neil's statements to explain why their suspicions were aroused. The timing of his trip to the airport, the fact that they say there was no apparent evidence of the mother and baby's injuries until they were moved by crime scene investigators. And, they say, he told them he couldn't enter his in-laws' house, yet they found keys to their home in Neil's BMW.

The documents also reveal what police say were Neil's financial difficulties. He was unemployed, renting an expensive home and car; and they say, Rachel's mother told them her daughter had complained about frozen credit card accounts and her husband's unwillingness to talk about their finances, even though he claimed they had enough money in offshore accounts.

Police say the websites Neil had searched in the days before the murders show he had a dark side.

Affidavits state that on January 16, Neil visited Adult Friend Finder, a website dedicated to, quote, "assisting subscribers in finding sexual partners through internet chatrooms..." And Neil made attempts to contact people on that site.

On January 18, they say he did an internet search for escort services and obtained names and addresses of providers in the Boston and Wooster areas. Sites with names like Eye Candy Entertainment, Exotic Express and Sweet Temptations. And, they say, after he checked Blonde Beauties Escort Service in Wooster, which doesn't list an address, he searched for a Wooster map.

The affidavits say that on January 16 and 17, Entwistle viewed a document which describes, quote, "... how to kill people by various methods... how to kill yourself, suicide, how to kill someone with a knife, and euthanasia."

But the affidavits also point out what could be one weakness in the prosecution's case. The .22 caliber pistol prosecutors say is the murder weapon, a gun that belonged to Joseph Matterazzo. The gun was used by Matterazzo for target practice a day after the murders were committed, possibly tainting precious DNA evidence.

Entwistle's attorney has not responded to our messages seeking comment on the police allegations. But outside the courthouse today, he said his main concern at the moment is that with all the pretrial publicity, his client can never get a fair trial. ELLIOT WEINSTEIN, NEIL ENTWISTLE'S ATTORNEY: I am certain that anybody watching this telecast or reading the reporting of today's arraignment, has already formed an opinion with respect to Mr. Entwistle's guilt, and that opinion is based upon the reporting, and that opinion is based upon absolutely no facts and absolutely no evidence. And that is quite unfortunate.

KAYE: Entwistle will be back in court for another hearing on March 15.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: We turn now to Vice President Cheney's hunting accident. Tonight, both the president of the United States and a county sheriff here in Texas, agree on this -- as far as they're concerned, the case is closed.

Simple, except it's never that simple, especially the political dimension, at least not in Washington, where case closed rarely means end of story.

Two reports tonight. First, new details emerging from the investigation and CNN's Jonathan Freed.


JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Five days after Vice President Cheney shot Harry Whittington at the Armstrong Ranch, the chief deputy who interviewed Mr. Cheney about the incident says that Kennedy County Sheriff's Department is done with the case.

GILBERTO SAN MIGUEL, CHIEF DEPUTY, KENNEDY COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: At this time, through our investigation, is over. There's going to be no criminal charges filed. This was just a mere hunting accident.

FREED: A written report by Sheriff Ramon Salinas has now been made public. The sheriff says he was at home last Saturday, when he received a call around 5:30 p.m., from an officer, Captain Charles Kirk. Kirk said he was headed to the Armstrong Ranch to investigate word of a possible hunting accident there.

About 10 minutes later, the sheriff received a call from a Secret Service agent, officially informing him there had been a hunting accident and it involved the vice president.

(On camera): That's when the sheriff's phone rang again. It was Kirk calling back, saying that he had made contact with a Border Patrol agent at a gate, here at the Armstrong Ranch.

Kirk says the agent told him that he didn't know anything about the accident. The sheriff told Kirk, quote, "it was fine," and that he would contact someone on the ranch. (Voice-over): That someone was a local constable, Ramiro Medallin (ph), an elected peace officer, whose precinct includes the ranch. He also lives on the 50,000 acre property. When Medallin (ph) called the sheriff back, he said he had talked to some eyewitnesses and all of them called it an accident.

The sheriff says yet another eyewitness also told him it was an accident, and that's when the sheriff says he decided to send his chief deputy to interview Mr. Cheney first thing the next morning, on Sunday.

The only mention of alcohol use in a police report is on Monday, when the chief deputy says he spoke to Harry Whittington in the hospital. Whittington says there was no alcohol during the hunt.

When asked by reporters if the vice president was questioned about alcohol, the answer from police was not clear.

RAMON SALINAS, SHERIFF, KENNEDY COUNTY, TEXAS: ... witnesses there. We talked to the witnesses.

FREED: As Sheriff Salinas closed the case, he insisted none of his people were ever denied access to the Armstrong Ranch.

Jonathan Freed, CNN, Sarita, Texas.


COOPER: Now the president, who looked today like a man trying to say only what the moment absolutely demanded of him and not a single syllable more. But even as he defended his vice president and confidante, others in the White House were still talking about a Cheney problem and what to do about it.

More from CNN's Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A day after the vice president broke his silence, the president did too.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought the vice president handled the issue just fine. He went -- and I thought his explanation yesterday was a powerful explanation. He heard a bird flush, and he turned and pulled the trigger and saw his friend get wounded.

BASH: Cheney associates are now trying to deflect intense criticism about why it took nearly a day to reveal news of the incident by playing it as a human drama, about a man traumatized after shooting his friend.

Mr. Bush joined in, by offering this observation about a vice president not known to show emotion.

BUSH: It profoundly affected him. Yesterday, when he was here in the Oval Office, I saw the deep concern he had about a person who he wounded.

BASH: Still, senior administration sources tell CNN not talking early on irritated the president and top aides, who make no secret they believe confusion and stubbornness made a bad situation worse.

And in what appeared to be a telling exchange, the president was asked directly about the timing of Mr. Cheney's explanation, and would not answer. He clearly wanted to move on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But are you satisfied to the timing?

BUSH: I'm satisfied with the explanation he gave.

BUSH: But some Republicans say, not so fast. One interview may not be enough.

TORIE CLARK, FORMER PENTAGON SPOKESWOMAN: Stand up in front of as many cameras as you can find -- and you can find those easily in Washington -- and say what you're going to say and answer all the questions until there aren't anymore.

BASH: A Cheney advisor tells CNN there actually was a plan for the vice president to talk to reporters Sunday at the hospital, but he didn't; primarily because he did not have staff there to deal with it.

Now these sources say there are discussions about changing what some insiders call Cheney World, perhaps having more aides travel with him. But those who know this vice president, doubt more staff would have changed anything, noting he ignored pressure from top presidential aides to talk sooner.

VIN WEBER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Someone like that is not going to be subject to the kind of, frankly, direction that presidents and their staffs are used to giving to vice presidents and their staffs.


BASH (on camera): And what we have seen in the past 24 hours is Trademark Cheney, followed by Trademark Bush. A vice president who ignores political pressure and does things his way; and a president, angry or not, who is determined to minimize the damage and move on -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Dana Bash, thanks.

Here in Houston, the city's feeing the strain of some 150,000 Katrina evacuees. Officials say that crime is up. But what is really behind it? That story in a moment.

But first, Erica Hill, from "HEADINE NEWS," joins us with some of the other stories we're following right now -- Erica.


President Bush, asking Congress today for $72 billion in emergency funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Operations in Iraq now cost an average of $5.9 billion a month. In Afghanistan, it's an average of $900 million.

We've been told al Qaeda is highly organized, but few of us would have ever expected this. The U.S. Military Academy has released documents (INAUDIBLE) after 9/11, that basically amount to an employment contract for al Qaeda recruits. It seems like a business. Monthly salaries are spelled out, so are sick days. There's even an al Qaeda vacation policy. Married members get seven days off every three weeks. Of course, the contract requires total loyalty, secrecy and adherence to Jihad.

In Iran, protests continue over the Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, from angry public protests to the slightly more subtle. For example, danish pastries, which are apparently quite a popular treat in Iran, no longer being called danish pastries. They will now be known as Roses of the Prophet Mohammed. Iranian bakeries have renamed the flaky dessert. Of course, getting rid of the danish from the Danish.

It's kind of like the freedom fries. Remember those days? Ah, the freedom fries.

COOPER: I guess so. Yes, so, yes, all right.

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: Let's just move that one. Erica, thanks.

So here in Houston, the police want help from FEMA, $10 million to help pay overtime. Crime is up, the streets are meaner, and some are blaming Katrina evacuees. We'll tell you why it's, well, why it's a complicated situation.

Also, watch this. The biggest danger police face on the job, simply standing by the side of the road. You'll never believe how many lives are lost. Can anything be done? We'll investigate ahead on 360.


COOPER: When I mentioned on our blog that I'd be in Houston tonight, we heard back from many who live here and are concerned and angry -- very angry about the crime situation.

Sidney from Houston, wrote on the blog, "I have lived in Houston all my life and now I want to move away to a place that is safer. Crime is up 30 percent and shows no signs of decreasing. Local News reports that the ratio of police to citizens is one of the lowest in the country. Houstonians are once again looking over our shoulders. We opened our hearts, homes and wallets to the evacuees and this is how we are repaid."

Before Katrina, Houston was already the fourth largest city in the U.S. Clearly, a lot more people means there could be more crime. We wanted to find out ourselves.

CNN's Ed Lavandera investigates. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice-over): Sgt. Jason Leal is on night patrol in Houston's crime-plagued Fondren division.

SGT. JASON LEAL, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: A suspicious person with a weapon, possibly a Katrina evacuee.

LAVANDERA: Sgt. Leal says the crime rate on his beat is up. He also happens to work an area where the highest concentration of Houston's Katrina evacuees ended up.

LEAL: They're not only the ones committing, they're also being the victims of the crime. So, in one way or another, they're involved, and it's more work for us.

LAVANDERA: Fondren is a stretch of large apartment complexes. So when 150,000 evacuees needed a place to live, many ended up here. But this neighborhood is hardly a melting pot, and more like a boiling one right now.

Just ask Byron Givens.

BYRON GIVENS, NEW ORLEANS EVACUEE: This right here is the perfect example of what I'm talking about.

LAVANDERA: That graffiti is painted on a wall near his apartment. Givens and his wife say they never expected this kind of reception in Houston, and they're not accustomed to the sounds of gunshots and fighting that they now here nightly.

GIVENS: I don't even let my kids come outside. That's not right. Kids should be able to play wherever they are.

LAVANDERA: The tension has been slowly escalating here. Fights have broken out in schools between New Orleans evacuees and Houston students. And now Houston police say Katrina evacuees have been the victims or suspects in about 20 percent of the city's homicides, more than double their percentage in the population.

The Givens family wonders if evacuees have worn out their welcome.

CHARLOTTE SIMMONS, NEW ORLEANS EVACUEE: The hatred, just because you're from Louisiana, you got so much hatred. It's not even about color no more, it's about the state.

LAVANDERA (on camera): The Houston Police Department has just asked FEMA for help. The department wants almost $10 million to help pay for officers' overtime, to increase police presence in these neighborhoods where evacuees and locals are struggling to get along.

(Voice-over): City officials also say another 400 police officers are needed to help patrol the streets. But every city official stops short of blaming evacuees for a recent rise in the crime rate. CHIEF HAROLD HURTT, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: Whether people come from Louisiana or anywhere, when you move in an additional 150,000 people, you're going to have some people with undesirable traits and behavior involved in that group.

LAVANDERA: Back on the streets of Fondren, Sgt. Leal and his officers hope that by walking the streets, they're helping diffuse the anger.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Houston, Texas.


COOPER: As I say, we've been getting a lot of strong opinion on our blog. We'll read out some of the responses we've been getting throughout the day a little later on 360.

In another city, are police officers getting paid to perform sex acts? It is hard to believe, but some police in Virginia are making sex part of their undercover operations -- literally under cover operations. The shocking story, coming up.

Also, tonight, a modern twist on the "Beverly Hillbillies." Find out how residents in Texas are getting rich by leasing what's below their house to gas companies.

From Houston, this is 360.


COOPER: Well, as John McEnroe likes to say, you cannot be serious! And that is certainly the reaction you may have with this story. It is about a Virginia prosecutor and sheriff. Incredibly, both think a good way to fight prostitution is to let undercover officers really go under the covers, and then some.

CNN's Tom Foreman has more on the very hands on policing.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Spotsylvania County, Virginia, is a family place, an hour south of Washington, D.C., 115,000 residents, not much crime. But last month authorities say some police detectives here walked up these stairs to this massage parlor, paid for and received oral sex.

The County Prosecutor William Neely, knows it's true. It was his idea, a way to crack down on prostitution.

WILLIAM NEELY, COMMONWEALTH'S ATTORNEY: The officer obviously can't wear a wire because he's naked. So, you know, the primary way to build evidence is to use marked money and to follow that transaction. That's the only way you can shut a business like this down.

FOREMAN: The program, which relies on only unmarried officers, is raising eyebrows from some locals who imply it is improper at best, immoral at worst.

The sheriff is not talking about it now, but earlier said prostitutes are wise to the law, won't say anything that could put them in jail. So, he says, paying them for sex acts -- and again, receiving what they pay for -- is the best, maybe the only way to prove what these women are up to.

"If I thought we could get the conviction without that, we wouldn't allow it," he said.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it's a very serious problem. It's actually...

FOREMAN (on camera): Still, up in D.C., Katherine Chon is skeptical. She helps women out of prostitution and thinks officers paying for sex favors may doubly victimize some and not do much good anyway. She says nationwide, massage parlors are often full of illegal immigrants, hired for massages, then coerced into more.

KATHERINE CHON, POLARIS PROJECT: But they operate on this national network of transporters, of traffickers, of smugglers, who are always bringing new women in every few weeks, every few months.

FOREMAN: So even if a method like this works in the short term, it's not addressing the bigger problem?

CHON: It's not hitting the root of how these organizations operate. And it's a short-term situation because for the long-term, they're going to continue to operate because they have that support structure.

FOREMAN (voice-over): William Neely, however, says officers paying for sex acts is legal. He's used the technique before and police often buy drugs to nab dealers.

NEELY: This is the exact same type of a police strategy.

FOREMAN: Like it or not, he says, having police pay for a few private moments is the best way to protect and serve the public.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: What do you know?

When it comes to protecting and serving the public, police across America are facing a growing danger, a very serious danger. The latest death threat? It isn't linked to bullets. It's cars. A shocking story about police fatalities on the highways, coming up.

And a man, whose mother is about to make him a billionaire three and a half decades after her death. Imagine that, all of a sudden learning you're about to be a billionaire. When 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Well, being a police officer is one of the toughest jobs there is. No doubt about it, it is dangerous work and there's no surprise in that. But it is surprising to learn that the greatest danger lies not in staring down the barrel of a perpetrator's gun, but in standing by the side of the road.

CNN's Jason Carroll explains why.



JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dashboard cameras in police cruisers dramatically capture the growing danger for officers on patrol.


CARROLL: This officer didn't see the car coming. Neither does this officer, who was about to give a ticket, when...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my God. Ma'am are you OK? Are you OK ma'am?

CARROLL: Safety groups say accidents like this happen more often and are more deadly than most people realize. Police statistics show the number one killer of officers isn't gunfire, it's car accidents. The number two killer is officers being struck outside their cars during routine traffic stops.


CARROLL: The statistics are not surprising to Cincinnati Policeman Jerry Enneking. He says that in his 16 years on the force, he made more traffic stops than he can remember. But some, he will never forget.

JERRY ENNEKING, OFFICER, CINCINNATI POLICE DEPARTMENT: As I put the car in park, I was struck from behind.

CARROLL: Enneking says the driver who hit his cruiser wasn't paying attention. Fortunately, Enneking wasn't badly hurt during the initial crash, so he got out of his patrol car to check the scene. That's when he says another driver, also not paying attention, came out of nowhere.

ENNEKING: And as I got to the front of my cruiser to get away, I was struck from behind. It was a white blur. And the next thing I knew, I was on the ground. I kind of sat there, stunned for a minute, kind of checked to make sure everything was still attached.

CARROLL: Enneking spent a year and a half on light duty because of his injuries. His kneecap was knocked off during the accident.

Then, two years later, on November 15, 2005, Enneking was hit again during a traffic stop. He suffered two lacerated discs in his neck in that accident.

ENNEKING: I did everything that I could, as far as turning on emergency lights to warn people behind me.

CARROLL (on camera): The problem has become a major concern for the International Association of Police Chiefs. So much so, the organization put together its own training video to show officers how to be safer on roadways like this one.

ANNOUNCER: Your patrol vehicle is most likely to be struck while parked at the scene of a traffic stop.

CARROLL (voice-over): The DVD reminds officers to avoid pulling people over in obscure locations. If possible, to try and wear reflective gear when its dark, and to keep an eye out for oncoming traffic.

MARY ANN VIVERETTE, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CHIEFS OF POLICE: There's no routine traffic stop. At any time someone can pull a weapon on us. But then, as this video shows, that it's not just the offender that we're pulling over in traffic that can be a hazard to us, we also have to be very aware of what's going on behind us.

CARROLL: The training video shows even when officers take precautions, it sometimes isn't enough. Listen to this patrolman who advises a woman he pulled over to step away from the roadway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're up here and anybody hits the back of my patrol car, there's a good chance you're going to get caught somewhere in between that car and your car.

Just like that! See. Just like that.


CARROLL: Lara Feinberg is working to make drivers more accountable. Her husband is a North Carolina State Trooper. After two of his partners were killed in separate accidents by passing cars while writing citations, she helped draft the "Move Over" law. It requires drivers to slow down and move away from officers stopped on roadways. Thirty-eight states have adopted it.

FEINBERG: Reducing your speed could be a matter of life and death for them. Whether they get hit at 80 miles an hour vs. 40 miles an hour, the 40 miles an hour might get them a chance to still make it home at the end of the day.

CARROLL: Officers like Jerry Enneking say, drivers need to remember a few simple rules.

ENNEKING: Slow down and just to pay attention. I mean, that's the main thing is to pay attention and to use common sense.

CARROLL: That, he says, is the best way to avoid more scenes like this.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Unbelievable. I had no idea.

Well, coming up, more than 30 years after his mother's death, a man is about to come into quite a tidy inheritance -- a billion dollars. Billion with a B.

And in one town in Texas, almost all the residents, thousands of them, have buried treasure on their property. All they have to do is sit back and let others dig for it.

Also ahead tonight, a 10-pound show dog lost in the big city. Identifying characteristics? Just look for a 25 mile an hour blur. We're on the hunt. When 360 continues.



Billionaires in the world: 691.

Collected net worth: $2.2 trillion.


COOPER: So this is a story with a happy ending -- actually, about a billion happy endings in fact, if you individually count the dollars involved. It's a complicated story as well, however, about a woman who died without a will, but with assets. Assets that grew more and more valuable all through the many years her family and the courts puzzled over what to do with those assets. Well now a decision has been made. And the man you are about to meet, Sam Gross, is soon to become this country's 314th billionaire. We spoke earlier.


COOPER: Sam, this is just an incredible story. Your mom died in 1970 when you were 9 years old, didn't have a will. You didn't find out until you were 29 that she had stocks from her former employer, Texas Instruments. How did you finally find out about the stocks?

SAM GROSS, BIOLLIONAIRE-TO-BE: Well, I went back to the old neighborhood where I was raised and when I asked, one of the ladies was considered like a godmother to my mom, and after she recognized who I was, she hadn't seen me since I was 9, next thing she say, did you ever get the money in trust? I said, no, what money? And that's how I found out.

COOPER: So the problem really was that your mom didn't have a will and that your name wasn't on any documents, so that's why the probate took over and it took so long to get out of probate. Is that basically correct? GROSS: Yes, but I was informed that there were certain documents, like a guardianship trust that was never set up. I did find documents to show that I was the heir, but I don't think they have ever received an affidavit of heirship.

COOPER: And I know you're waiting for a judge to sign the final papers this week. Does it seem real? I mean, that you are on the verge of getting more than a billion dollars?

GROSS: Well, I guess it's the reality of it. I may not fully understand until it happens. I know the reality of it and the long fight and the struggles that I've had to endure. It's going to make a difference in my life.

COOPER: Yes, I would hope a billion dollars would make sort of a difference in your life. If it doesn't, you're living pretty high right now, I got to tell you.

Is there anything you want to do with that money? I mean, is there anything you want to, you know, instantly buy or think about buying? How's it going to change your life?

GROSS: Well, first of all, it gives me a peace of mind to know that I can basically make a difference in other peoples' lives, maybe give back to the community, creating charitable trusts, making a difference in other peoples' lives. And I'm also looking into trying to create something that will keep this from happening to any other American citizen.

COOPER: You have three children. You're about to come into a lot of money. Do you have a will of your own?

GROSS: Well, I have what you call, that I'm setting up, like an (INAUDIBLE) corporation trust, stuff like that, that I've prepared.

COOPER: That's something a billionaire does. I don't even know what any of that means.


COOPER: I'm not sure what -- it sounds good, though.

GROSS: Well, I've made provisions.

COOPER: You're protected.

GROSS: Right. I've made provisions to protect my heirs and my interests and certain ventures. And to keep this from happening to my heirs as what happened to me.

COOPER: Well, I just find it -- you're the calmest about to be a billionaire I've ever heard from and it's great to hear of the things you want to do. You're really basically talking about helping out other people and making sure this doesn't happen to other people. So, good luck to you. I hope you get the money and I hope it doesn't change you and I hope you do a lot of good with it. Thanks so much. GROSS: And thank you, sir.


COOPER: An amazing story.

From one sort of windfall to another now. How would you like to have someone show up at your door one day, checkbook in hand, to offer you a handsome some monthly sum for the right to dig a hole or three -- well maybe a dozen or three on your land? I know that sounds kind of crazy, and it's loud as well.

CNN's Gary Tuchman reports.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The noise is ear- splitting. But to thousands of ordinary residents in the Fort Worth, Texas, area, it sounds like a cash register.

SHARON SCHNITCER, MINERAL OWNER: It's once a month. On the 25th, we get a check.

Too bad the cows aren't out, huh?

TUCHMAN: Sharon Schnitcer is not an executive in the oil and gas business. But her family has something the big energy companies want.

SCHNITCER: We have a letter in the mail that they were interested in leasing our minerals.

TUCHMAN: Leasing your minerals?


TUCHMAN: Did you know what they were even talking about?


TUCHMAN: These are boom times for the big energy companies. And not such bad times for many of their customers, like the Schnitcers, who discovered when they bought their home, they also bought the mineral rights, meaning they own everything for miles underneath it.

And underneath it is part of the Barnett Shale, one of the largest natural gas fields in the United States. Gas that the Schnitcers have agreed to let an energy company tap for a monthly payment of about $120. Over the next decade, they'll get more than $14,000. And that payday could increase dramatically as more wells are drilled and the price of gas goes up.

Have you ever made easier money?

SCHNITCER: No. No. It's petty cool.

LARRY BROGDOM, CHIEF GEOLOGIST, FOUIR SEVENS OIL COMPANY: There are very, very few dry holes drilled. Essentially, every well that we drill makes a natural gas well.

TUCHMAN: More than 4,000 rigs have been set up in the area, with thousands more expected. All of them, burrowing more than a mile into the earth before turning horizontally under places like the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, neighborhood schools, golf courses, parks and homes.

How many people do you think now are benefiting from checks in the Fort Worth area?

BROGDOM: Thousands. Fortunately, in the city of Fort Worth, the majority of people that own their homes, own the mineral rights.

TUCHMAN: But for people who don't?


TUCHMAN: You would still work thousands of feet under their yard with whoever owned the mineral rights?

BROGDOM: That is correct.

TUCHMAN: And that is causing commotion. You may own your home, but somebody else, like the previous homeowner, may own the mineral rights and get the geological jackpot from the drilling under your home.

MARC NILSSON, FORT WORTH RESIDENT: Right behind me, the gas rig has come in and they've taken over.

TUCHMAN: Like many people, Homeowner Marc Nilsson has no idea if he owns mineral rights. He is concerned about the potential environmental impact, but he may have a dilemma. The energy companies are drilling under his property anyway. So if he finds out he does have mineral rights, does he accept a paycheck?

NILSSON: Probably be around $2-$500 a month for the next 30 years to 50 years.

TUCHMAN: That's a lot of money...


TUCHMAN: ... to a lot of people.

NILSSON: It is. But could I live with it?

TUCHMAN: You mean from a principle standpoint?

NILSSON: Exactly.

TUCHMAN: He still doesn't know what he'd do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you can sleep through this?

TUCHMAN: Not surprisingly, most opponents like this group, do not own mineral rights. These people are fighting the drilling they believe is causing dangerous air and water pollution, even though city engineers say there is no evidence of anything harmful.

DON YOUNG, CITIZENS AGAINST NEIGHBORHOOD DRILLING: And so far the city and the gas drilling companies have not told the other half of the story. They just told the good part, the free money part.

TUCHMAN: And that part has admittedly been attractive to many in this metropolitan area. In the Forth Worth suburb of Haslet, almost every family is getting a check.

Kathy Hopper (ph) is a member of the town council.

You're telling me that most of the 1,300 people who live in this city are getting paid for basically doing nothing?

KATHY HOPPER (ph), MEMBER OF TOWN COUNCIL: Correct. You have to tolerate the noise when they are building the -- when they're doing their drilling. But once the wells are drilled and they're in production, it's really pretty quiet.

TUCHMAN (on camera): This is not short-term money. Under the terms of the contracts these people sign, they're told they will be paid as long as the wells keep producing. And in some cases, the wells are expected to produce longer than 100 years.

(voice-over) That's why this sound is music to the ears of the Schnitcer family.

You ever watch the "Beverly Hillbillies?"

SCHNITCER: Oh yes. When we first learned about that, that's what my husband was walking around singing, that Jed Clampett song.

TUCHMAN: Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed.

SCHNITCER: Yes, that was him. He was singing that.

TUCHMAN: All the way to the bank.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Fort Worth, Texas.


COOPER: You'd think they could do something about the noise.

Erica Hill, from "HEADINE NEWS," joins us with some of the business stories we're following -- Erica.

HILL: You don't want to listen to that every day at your house?


HILL: Me either.

All right, Anderson, some are wondering if the housing boom may be coming to an end. The answer here, no. Last month, new home construction figures are the highest in 33 years. The government thinks unusually mild winter weather in much of the country was partially responsible for that.

Also up for the fourth consecutive week now, the 30-year mortgage rate. It now stands at 6.28 percent. That's up from 6.24. Economists believe rates this year will be heavily influenced by what the Federal Reserve does with the short-term interest rate that it controls.

And a good quarter for the world's largest personal computer maker. Dell, saying today, its income rose 52 percent, helped in part by an extra week in its fourth quarter. The company also trimmed its outlook. Shares split, by the way, in late trading.

You may remember the candy, by the way, with the surprise inside. Well now, comes software, with a surprise inside. It seems Apple embedded a poem in the code for its new OSX operating system. A little something for the hackers to discover -- and they have. The verse is making the rounds.


Apple Ode to Hackers

There once was a user that whined his existing OS was so blind he'd do better to pirate an OS that ran great but found his hardware declined.


HILL: How about that?

COOPER: Yes, I don't...

HILL: I mean, I couldn't top it.

COOPER: ... I don't understand what anything they're saying. I don't even know OS is, so that's...

HILL: It's an operating system.

COOPER: ... how computer illiterate I am.

HILL: An operating system -- what all the programs on your computer run on. I used to cover technology, you know.

COOPER: All right. Good to know. Erica, you can give me a tutorial later.

Thanks very much.

It is the big question tonight on the minds of New York's finest. Oh where, oh where has this not so little dog gone? Oh where, oh were can she be? We will go on the hunt. 360 next.


COOPER: Well, fame is fleeting like a scared dog. Just ask Rufus. Two nights ago, the colored bull terrier was on top of the world, having won best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club. But tonight, Rufus is just a side act. The national focus has shifted to another dog that competed at the contest, one that later escaped while being moved at New York's JFK airport.

Police today have called off a formal search for the dog, but say they'll keep looking during routine patrols.

CNN's Jeanne Moos has more on the runaway whippet.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Among the whippets at Westminster, she was a runner up. Now, she's a runaway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want my dog back.

MOOS: Her name is C'est La Vie, that's life. But her co-owners call her Vivi.


MOOS: Vivi somehow got out of her cage at JFK as she was being transported to a Delta plane for the flight home to California. Airport workers chased her in a vehicle. What was she doing?




MOOS: Whippets are known for their speed. Vivi apparently panicked and though one worker got within a few feet of her, she escaped through a fence, headed into the marshland surrounding the airport.

By foot and by chopper, they searched. Co-owner Jill Walton, confessed to fibbing out of desperation about the show dog's worth.

JILL WALTON, VIVI'S CO-OWNER: I said it was worth $150,000 because I needed that helicopter in the air.

MOOS (on camera): She's not really worth that?

WALTON: No, but.

MOOS: I heard $175,000, so it's already going up by the minute.

(Voice-over): The real number is around $20,000. Vivi's co- owners are worried she'll get run over, worried she'll drown in the marsh. They've posted the whippet's picture in neighborhoods next to the nearly 5,000 acre airport. (On camera): You seen this dog?

Gentlemen, have you seen this dog?

(Voice-over): He's wearing a brown sweater coat. Hard to miss, a whippet in a sweater. But her co-owners fear the sweater could weigh her down in the marsh waters.

(On camera): You just call it, you know, here doggie, because it won't bite or anything if you see it.


MOOS (voice-over): Vivi is described as an extra friendly dog.

PAUL LEPIANE, VIVI'S CO-OWNER: She thought Westminster was put on for her enjoyment, you know, and she loves the crowd.

MOOS: Vivi is a dog whose obsessed with squirrels, who can tell left from right, who likes to sleep under the covers.

(On camera): She sleeps in your bed?

WALTON: In my med, between me and my fiance. She's part of my family.

MOOS (voice-over): Driving around, we saw a stray or two.

Here boy!

But folks here are probably more familiar with Whip It, the song, than with whippet the breed.

(On camera): Hi guys. Have you seen Vivi? Vivi.

They haven't seen her.

(Voice-over): If only this show dog would show up, you can bet her owners wouldn't whip it.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


COOPER: All right, people, keep your eyes open.

On the radar tonight, reaction here in Texas to the influx of Katrina evacuees. The blog, especially active today.

Joe in Houston writes, "I am long time resident of Houston and a proud Texan...It is a sad fact that people have been displaced, but to EXPECT the government and other people to still help them out six months after the incident and STILL can't find a place to live and work is just plain ridiculous. What about the citizens of Florida when they have the hurricane season? I don't hear or see them in the media begging for a free handout just because their house got destroyed."

Also here in town, Mike, who writes, "Houston has merely shouldered what was New Orlean's problem to begin with at the expense of law abiding tax paying Houstonians and their safety...In this case the reward for being a good Samaritan is to be "raped" by the very ones we are helping."

And from Joseph, "As someone from San Antonio who visits Houston regularly on business, I can speak first-hand of the wonderful way Houston (and San Antonio) embraced the evacuees; without hesitation, without question, it was just the right thing to do. Are things perfect? No, of course not. But for the most part, these people have been able to stay together, stay safe, stay sheltered and keep some of their dignity."

That's on the blog, on the radar, on your minds. Keep writing. Just go to and click on the blog link and let us know what you think.

More on 360 in a moment. Stay with us.


COOPER: I want to thank everyone here in Houston for being such great hosts to us tonight on 360.

"LARRY KING" is coming up next. His guest, Actor George Clooney.

Good night.