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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Taken: Children Lost and Found; Senator Obama Expected to Set up Exploratory Campaign Committee; Saddam's Final Hours; Words that Changed a Nation;

Aired January 15, 2007 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And Jonathan, people in Missouri seem to have kind of conflicting descriptions of this guy, Michael Devlin. I mean, who is he?
JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's the question, because depending on who you talk to, you get a different take on who this guy is. People where he worked at the pizza parlor, for example, say they've known him for 25 years.

The children of the man who owns the place say that they've known him all their lives. There was never an inkling on their part, they say, that he was in any way connected to a boy, in any way responsible for a boy, certainly not a father in any way. They are absolutely shocked by everything that's gone on.

And then when you step over to the neighborhood where his apartment is, Anderson, people have a different take on it. These were people who would see him and Shawn on a regular basis. They say they would see Shawn out riding his bike and otherwise seeming to do normal things.

So you have these two things colliding together and people asking now how was this man able to lead this double life for so long.

COOPER: Jonathan Freed, appreciate it. No doubt we'll be trying to piece together the pictures to this puzzle in the coming days.

Jonathan mentioned that Michael Devlin was really not the quiet neighbor who kept to himself. In fact, he once nearly brought the cops right to his own doorstep.

We have more on that now from CNN's David Mattingly, also who joins us tonight from Kirkwood -- David.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Anderson. We did talk to some neighbors in the apartment complex where Devlin lived. And we talked to one man who had a verbal altercation with him back in the summer over Devlin's favorite parking space.

The man says he parked in it by accident. They got into a huge argument that later ended when Devlin called the police.

Now, remember, this is when he had one teenage boy living in his apartment. But when police arrived, it didn't arouse any kind of suspicion. His neighbors there describe him as a man who was short-tempered, but tended to stay to himself.

Now -- but he had a different personality, apparently, when he was on the job. He worked at the same pizzeria for 20 years. He had the same boss for 25 years. And his boss says he didn't become suspicious until police put out a description matching Devlin's automobile.


MIKE PROSPERI, OWNER, IMO'S PIZZA: On Thursday, after mulling it over a day, I said, you know what, what's it going to hurt? I'll go over, talk to the captain, let him know what had -- you know, that something a little bit suspicious. And even at that time, I told the captain, I said, I'm 99.9 percent sure that it's -- that this is not Mike.


MATTINGLY: Everyone acquainted with Devlin says that he kept his private life private. The people that he worked with say they had no clue he was keeping a teenage boy at his apartment. And the people who lived in that apartment said they had no clue that the boy had been abducted -- Anderson.

COOPER: David, what's next for him? Has he gotten bail? Is it possible he would get out before trial?

MATTINGLY: A lot of those answers haven't come yet, Anderson. That's because when this news broke late on a Friday, we were followed by a long holiday weekend.

It's conceivable he could show up in court for an early appearance on Tuesday, but no one has said that will happen. We expect to hear a lot more when all the official offices are open and all the officials come back to figure out what they're going to be doing in this case.

COOPER: David Mattingly, appreciate it.

For all that Shawn Hornbeck went through and all that he is going through now, he beat the odds. He survived.

We'll no doubt learn more about how and perhaps who he is. Maybe not. With any luck, he'll get all the privacy and all the time to heal that he wants and probably needs.

Here's CNN's Sean Callebs.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For more than four years, authorities say young Shawn Hornbeck lived here, held captive by 41-year-old Michael Devlin, a hulking 300-pound pizza parlor manager. The living arrangement apparently raised no red flags among neighbors. Many thought perhaps a single father raising an active 15- year-old.

HARRY RICHARD, NEIGHBOR: He just seemed to me just like an average euphoric child, you know, as young kids are, just going back and forth with, you know, their guardian or parent or relative or whoever.

And he didn't seem to display any type of social dysfunctions.

CALLEBS: Experts on abducted children say the same coping mechanism that fooled neighbors could have kept Shawn alive all these years -- the ability to adapt.

JEFFREY LIEBERMAN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: The initial dynamic which really defines the response is one of fear. I have to figure out a way to get through this and survive.

But after that, the captive begins to interact with the captor and see their human qualities.

CALLEBS: And it is that peek through a warped lens that may hold part of the answer to the most pressing question. Shawn wasn't going to school. Neighbors say it appeared he came and went freely. So why didn't he just walk away?


CALLEBS: Shawn stood silently at his only public appearance since his ordeal ended. There will be plenty of time to fill in all the blanks as he begins to put his life back together.

His family, thrilled to be reunited with the shaggy-haired boy and seemingly heartsick he was being held so close to home for so long.

AKERS: It just boggles my mind that someone thinks that they can get away with it. And obviously, they do. I mean, this has been going on for four years and he's been right here under our nose the whole time.

CALLEBS (on camera): Police say finding Shawn and returning him safely to his family was like lifting a dark cloud that had been over this community more than four years.

Investigators say they met with Shawn over the weekend in what they term initial talks, adding, the tough questions and complete debrief are still down the road.

Sean Callebs, CNN, Richwoods, Missouri.


COOPER: A long road it's going to be. Joining me now is Chris Diamond, a close friend of Shawn Hornbeck's family and co-founder of the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation. He's been working very hard to see this day, see the story end the way it has. We're pleased to have him on the program tonight.

Chris, you know, it's the kind of thing, no doubt, you hoped for, you prayed for. Did you ever think Shawn would come back like this?

CHRIS DIAMOND, SHAWN HORNBECK FOUNDATION: I mean, we've always, you know, never -- we've never given up hope. We've always hoped for a day like this. I mean, everything that we've had, you know, we never -- just never gave up hope on him. And we're glad it turned out the way it did.

COOPER: Chris, I know you talked to Shawn's family over the weekend. I don't know if that was the last time you talked to them. How are they doing?

DIAMOND: I had talked with some people down with the family right now. And right now, you know, he's -- Shawn is doing as good as he can. The family is coping with everything and all the media and everything. They're doing as best that they can under the circumstances.

COOPER: Do they have help? I mean, do they have people helping them out, people to talk to?

DIAMOND: Family, friends, members of our foundation that we have in Shawn's name. We've all been working kind of behind the scenes, helping out, getting some of the stress off of them.

COOPER: Well, no doubt, let's hope, you know, it's -- I can't even imagine how stressful it's got to be and such an adjustment.

Tell us about Shawn's disappearance. I mean, he was just 11 when he was taken. How was he taken?

DIAMOND: At this point, we're not even actually sure how he was taken. All we know was he was last seen riding his bike. We believe near the school somewhere. Near his home. And from that point on, just vanished, him and his bike. Even to this day, you know, we've never seen his bike.

COOPER: You must, as a friend of the family's, as friend of Shawn's, you must be worried about his transition back into life. How -- how do you -- what is the plan? Do you know?

DIAMOND: At this point, you know, it's going to be a lot of just time, energy and effort from family, friends. You know, he's going to need probably a lot of counseling and everything to get him through. But with the support network that he's got right now, we hope that the transition should be easy for him.

COOPER: You're co-founder of the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation. What do you do with that work besides keeping the focus on Shawn while he was missing? DIAMOND: With the foundation, we do several things. One, we do a bench program called Sitting with an Angel, where we feature missing children from around the Midwest. That's our main focus right now. Everywhere from Memphis to Chicago. We do host Web sites for missing children and work with the families, you know, being contact persons, just points of reference for them.

COOPER: And will that work continue?

DIAMOND: Oh, it will continue. That was our focus even when we first started the foundation was, even if he was found, that we would continue the work as far as we can.

COOPER: Well, it's remarkable what has happened with Shawn's story. And of course, we wish you well in the future with your work. And give our best to Shawn and his family as well.

Thanks very much, Chris.

DIAMOND: All right. I definitely will. Thank you.

COOPER: The Justice Department lists five different types of missing child scenarios. Here's the raw data on it.

There's the non-family abduction, which includes kidnappings by strangers. The family abduction, usually part of an ongoing custody battle. Next category is runaways and throwaways, where the child is asked to leave the home. There are also missing and voluntary, lost or injured children cases. Lastly, instances where there's a benign explanation for the missing child.

The data on missing children is more than seven years old, but it is worth mentioning that according to the statistics, the number of stranger abductions can be as low as 100 per year.

Up next, more insight on Michael Devlin, accused of kidnapping Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby. We'll talk to a co-worker of his from the pizza shop.

Plus, the question on so many minds.


COOPER (voice-over): Frequently left alone and playing with friends in plain sight. So why did Shawn Hornbeck stay?

JOHN WALSH, HOST, AMERICA'S MOST WANTED: When he kidnapped this boy, he probably broke him down psychologically. And Shawn Hornbeck did what he had to do to survive.


COOPER: Up next, a look at the power kidnappers have over their victims, when "Taken: Children Lost and Found" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Well, it is simply hard to imagine what would possess someone to kidnap a child.

As we mentioned, 41-year-old Michael Devlin is accused of abducting not one, but two boys -- Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby, and holding them captive in his apartment.

Right now, he's only been charged with one crime.

Attorneys Michael Kielty, Ethan Corlija will defend Devlin in court. And tonight in an exclusive interview with "LARRY KING," they talked about how their client is doing.

Here they are, in their own words.


MICHAEL KIELTY, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL DEVLIN: He's doing pretty well. He's scared. But we are anticipating a long legal battle to protect his rights and preserve the integrity of the system.

ETHAN CORLIJA, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL DEVLIN: He's been charged by the Franklin County prosecuting attorney. There has not been a formal finding by a court of probable cause relating to the one count of child abduction, kidnapping, a class A felony in the state of Missouri. But he has been charged in order to obtain the $1 million bond that is currently in place.

You know, it's a little bit premature to discuss legal strategy at this point. Mike and I have discussed various options and avenues that we may proceed with, but there's been no definitive set strategy put forth.

We still have not received any of the evidence, nor are we privileged to receive that evidence under state law at this time. And I think that's -- you know, once we get that evidence and go through the reports and the statements, it will help develop a strategy that will be, you know, befitting to the case.

KIELTY: One of the issues we're going to have is finding a fair venue. I don't know what, if any venue in this state, or for that matter, for the attention of this state, this case has gotten nationwide in the country would really give this guy a fair shake. I think the media has convicted him. The public is looking to convict him. And we're going to do everything that we can to ensure that if we go that route, that he does in fact get a fair trial.

CORLIJA: Mr. Devlin had some preexisting health conditions before he was ever charged with any criminal case. He has a -- he is a type two diabetic. He also has a rare circulatory -- blood circulatory disease. He has had surgery before on his foot due to complications from the diabetic condition.

So that is on the forefront of our mind also. We want to make sure that he receives the medication, the proper medical care and attention that he needs at this time while he's confined. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well now, someone who knows Michael Devlin on a personal level. Rob Hart worked with him at Imo's Pizza, joins us now form Kirkwood, Missouri.

Rob, thanks for being with us. You knew this guy at work. Socially, you knew him for some five years. Did he ever talk about Shawn or having a son?

ROB HART, FRIEND AND CO-WORKER OF MICHAEL DEVLIN: No, not at all. Nothing even close.

COOPER: What was he like?

HART: No one suspected that. He was a real nice guy. He had a real strong personality. Didn't get along with everybody. He could be argumentative. But once you got to know him and we became friends, he was a nice guy in general.

COOPER: You know, Rob, every time -- you know, we've all seen this on TV, somebody's accused of a crime and everybody who knows him says essentially what you said, he was a nice guy, seemed like a quiet guy.

How do you reconcile the guy you knew, the Michael Devlin you knew in the pizza parlor and the man who's now being portrayed and led away in handcuffs?

HART: It's really hard. I've thought about it since I heard the news Friday. And it's -- until I actually saw him in the orange jumpsuit being led into the jail, I still didn't believe it. I thought maybe it was the wrong guy, because there was just no indication at all.

COOPER: It's interesting that he was able to keep this life at home completely away from people he worked with. What would he talk about at work? What was his demeanor at work?

HART: Really, he would just talk about work and, you know, just normal conversation that you'd have with anybody. He didn't really talk about family or a whole lot of personal things. He didn't seem like he was trying to hide anything, but it just never came up.

COOPER: Some of his neighbors have talked about him yelling, hearing arguments. The other neighbor who said he called the police on them over an argument about a parking space. Did you ever see a temper?

HART: Yes, a few times, he would get loud with people at work if -- brewed something up, he had a tendency to go a little bit overboard. But nothing -- I was never afraid of him. I don't think anybody that I knew was ever afraid of him.

COOPER: Michael Devlin's boss at the pizzeria said that if he was asked by the defense to give character testimony in favor of Devlin, he would. Would you also?

HART: I'd have to think about it. You know, I think I may. Like I said, he never showed anything negative or anything relating to this kind of occurrence to me.

COOPER: If you could ask him a question, what would you ask him?

HART: I really doesn't know. I guess, just why, which is the same thing everybody else would want to know. Why and how, I guess.

COOPER: Well, I can't imagine how strange it is for you to know this guy on a personal level and then suddenly see him, you know, in a mug shot, seeing him be led away and hear these horrific stories.

Rob, appreciate you joining us. Thanks. Rob Hart.

Well, incredibly, this is not the first time that two boys, abducted years apart, were rescued together.

Before Ben and Shawn, there were Timmy and Stephen. Do you remember that case? An ordeal that lasted far beyond their kidnapping.

CNN's Ted Rowlands explains.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 25 years ago the nation was shocked and overjoyed to hear that two missing children had been found alive.

One was a 5-year-old, named Timmy White, who had been missing for about two weeks. The other, was Steven Stayner, a 14-year-old boy who had been gone for an incredible seven years.

Like what's happening now in Missouri, there were press conferences and joyous homecomings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're so happy to have him back with us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down deep, I still thought Stevie would be home some day.

ROWLANDS: In this case, Steven Stayner had actually rescued Timmy White, sneaking out of this cabin and bringing him to a police station.

STEVEN STAYNER, KIDNAPPED TEEN: I didn't like what was happening and it happened to me and I just didn't want to see it happen to somebody else.

ROWLANDS: Over the years, through court testimony and even a television movie, Steven Stayner told his heartbreaking story of abuse and twisted manipulation at the hands of his kidnapper, a sexual predator named Kenneth Parnell. Stayner said he didn't try to contact his real family for seven years because Parnell had brainwashed him, making him think his parents didn't want him.

In the beginning, Stayner said Parnell even made fake telephone calls in front of him, pretending to talk to his parents. And Parnell eventually told Stayner that a judge had granted him custody, as seen in this clip from, "I Know my First Name is Steven."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your new name is Dennis. Dennis Gregory Parnell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want a new name. I want to go home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where your family, your parents don't want you anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they do. They love me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know. I know. It's tough to understand.

ROWLANDS: Stayner said he started going by the name Dennis and started calling his kidnapper dad. He said Kenneth Parnell did care for him like a father during the day, but sexually abused him at night.

STEVEN STAYNER, KIDNAPPED: I've been dealing with them memories, you know, ever since I came back.

ROWLANDS: Once he was home, it was difficult for Stayner to readjust, something his mother talked about in an interview years later.

KAY STAYNER, MOTHER: He came back different, very different. And we had a rough time getting used to having him home.

ROWLANDS: Eventually, Stayner married, had two children and said he was finally getting comfortable with his life. But in 1989, he died in a motorcycle accident, a tragic end to a very difficult life.

(On camera): The Stayner case is an example of what the experts say is the incredible power that an adult kidnapper can have over a child victim and the very difficult road to recovery. Something that's just beginning for the boys in Missouri.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.


COOPER: It's hard to imagine what it must be like.

Stories like these are the kind that keep parents up at night worrying.

Just ahead on 360, the agony of unanswered questions. Like Ben Ownby, her daughter got off her school bus, but never made it home. That was 20 years ago. Her story when this special edition of 360, "Taken: Children Lost and Found," continues.


COOPER: Charles Arlin, still missing.

Tonight, Ben Ownby and Shawn Hornbeck are safe at home, back with their families. Both boys, extremely lucky. Some missing children, of course, are never found, leaving their families with unanswered and often unbearable questions.

For Janice McKinney, the nightmare began more than two decades ago.

CNN's Randi Kaye reports.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When news broke that Ben Ownby had been snatched after getting off his school bus in Missouri, tears were shed a thousand miles away in Pennsylvania, by a mother who didn't know the Ownbys, but knew their pain.

Janice McKinney's daughter was just 8 when she hopped off her school bus and vanished.

JANICE MCKINNEY, MOTHER OF MISSING GIRL: Four o'clock, the bus came and we heard it. And she just never came up the driveway.

KAYE: That was February 22nd, 1985.

MCKINNEY: I should have been there when Cherrie got off the school bus, and I wasn't.

KAYE: Cherrie Mahan's mom had always walked her daughter to and from the bus stop. But on this day, she decided to let Cherrie walk home alone.

(On camera): What is that moment of panic like, that first moment when you realize your child has disappeared?

MCKINNEY: I think my guilt started at that point, because up until that day, I was there. And if I would have been there, she wouldn't -- I wouldn't be going through this.

KAYE: It was a day just like this one, snow on the ground, the sun shining. Cherrie got off her school bus right here. She had to go about 200 feet around that bend to get to her driveway, then another 300 feet to her front door. Investigators never found any footprints, which means Cherrie never got very far.

(Voice-over): Children on the school bus described a blue van right behind the bus with a snow capped mountain and a skier painted on its side.

Investigators checked out hundreds of leads. No van, no suspects, no Cherrie. Retired Trooper Glen Hall worked the case from day one.

GLEN HALL, RETIRED TROOPER: I feel that maybe there's something I overlooked at the time, but I followed every lead that I got.

KAYE (voice-over): It was Cherrie who put a face on missing children nationwide. The first child ever on a "Have you Seen Me?" mailer delivered to homes around the country.

MCKINNEY: That was her dog and that was her cat.

KAYE: This year, Cherrie would be 31. And this is what investigators think she might look like.

After 13 years of searching, Cherrie's family asked the state to officially declare her dead. But at the family cemetery plot, there is an angel, not a grave stone.

MCKINNEY: We live in a society where we need to see something. Until I see something or hold something or know something, I can't put it to rest yet.

KAYE: Janice McKinney calls what happened in Missouri a miracle. Twenty-two years later, she's still waiting for hers.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Mars, Pennsylvania.


COOPER: It is hard to imagine what that wait is like.

Janice McKinney's story, sadly isn't unique. Patty Wetterling's son, Jacob, was kidnapped 17 years ago when he was just 11. He would be 28 today.

His mother, Patty, has turned her grief into activism, and she joins me now.

Patty, thanks for being with us. I'm sorry it's under these circumstances.

Tell us about your son, Jacob. He was abducted in 1989. What happened?

PATTY WETTERLING, SON MISSING SINCE 1989: He was biking home from a convenience store with his brother and his best friend, when a man with a gun confronted them about a half a mile from our house. The man let two of the boys go and kept Jacob and they ran home and said, call 911, somebody took Jacob. And it's been the largest manhunt Minnesota has ever known. It still continues.

COOPER: And there have no doubt been ups and downs over these years. What -- how do you get through it?

WETTERLING: You get through it on hope and the belief that if we, as a nation, held hands and combed this nation, we would find more missing children. And I believe that fewer would be taken because of the awareness. This is a great moment to look at the problem of missing children and let's all address it.

COOPER: It does seem like, you know, you hear the details, and we're just starting to get the details from Shawn's case. But you know, there were neighbors who must have seen that Shawn wasn't going to school. I mean, an 11-year-old boy for all these years not enrolled in school. There were people who must have -- you know, there was one mother who even said, oh, you kind of look like that missing child, Shawn. And he sort of laughed it off.

Are there things that -- do people need to sort of open their eyes to the reality of what can happen?

WETTERLING: I do believe that. We -- most missing children come home because an everyday citizen is aware of a situation that doesn't look quite right. Trust your gut instincts. Look at the pictures of missing children and then call the police.

We had a boy found in Florida who looked like Jacob. It was a year later. And they were very uncomfortable. They called the FBI in Minneapolis and described the man. When they described the man, they knew who this couple was talking about. This guy had kidnapped kids before. And it wasn't Jacob, but they caught up with him in Flagstaff, Arizona, and one 12-year-old boy got to come home because somebody was aware of the problem, saw a situation that looked wrong. Something was wrong and they called.

COOPER: You know, a lot of people ask that question and we've been getting a lot of e-mails about this tonight. I'd be interested to hear your response of why doesn't a young child, if they're able to, run away -- and this is not -- I don't think the people that are asking this question are trying to blame the child, but I think there's a curiosity about what happens in a situation like this.

Do you have any understanding of that?

WETTERLING: Oh, I do. I have talked to a couple children who were held hostage. And it's simply a matter of control. If you want to eat, you'll do what I say. If you want to live, you'll do this. If you're really good, I'll let you call your parents. If you aren't really good, I'll -- if you try and escape, I'll get your brother, I'll kill your parents. There's a million things that they could tell children.

And these kids did what they needed to do to survive. They are real heroes in this case.

COOPER: And the search for Jacob continues. When's the last time you've had a lead?

WETTERLING: Oh, gosh, every time a new suspect is arrested in another case, our law enforcement contacts and checks with the other investigating agency to see if there's any trace of Minnesota in this person's history. So it's an active case. We still continue. It's been -- you know, there's a handful of suspects that they can't rule them in, they can't rule them out. And our search continues.

We really believe that one day we will have our answers and find Jacob and know what happened, who did this, where is he.

COOPER: You hold onto hope. You're optimistic?

WETTERLING: I do. I do. I believe. I've been saying this for a very long time. If people are aware and care and keep looking, go to the national center's Web site, look at the pictures, report suspicious situations, I believe -- I do believe we will find Jacob.

We need to know what happened and we need to stop this guy from taking other children.

COOPER: You're the founder of the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, which is obviously named after Jacob. What do you do -- what does the foundation do?

WETTERLING: The Jacob Wetterling Foundation is trying to be on the prevention side and encourage parents to dialogue with their children and to know about suspicious situations, to play what-if games, to do interactive things with their kids so they know who their friends are and where they go and what activities they're involved in and make sure that you also cover the Internet when you're discussing who their friends are, because that's where many, many kids are hanging out these days.

So they're trying to be on the prevention side.

COOPER: Well, Patty, again, I'm sorry you're here under these circumstances, but I appreciate you coming on and talking about Jacob in these cases. Thank you.

WETTERLING: It warms my heart when kids are found. It's good.

COOPER: It certainly does. Patty, thank you very much. Patty Wetterling.

We're following other stories tonight as well. We've got some breaking news, a big name and a big announcement in the works for the 2008 presidential race. That story coming up. We're talking about Barack Obama, of course.

Plus, more hangings today in Iraq and more outrage. New information about the first one. Stay tuned.

Saddam's hanging, new details tonight. Why he thought he would have been spared the death sentence. Was he preparing to help negotiate a peace between insurgents and U.S. troops? The final frantic moments before a dictator's death, when 360 continues.


COOPER: Some breaking news to report on what was already shaping up to an all-star presidential campaign. John McCain, John Edwards, possibly Hillary Clinton and now, perhaps Barack Obama.

We have just learned that sometime this week the Democratic Senator from Illinois is expected to file papers setting up an exploratory campaign committee. That's according to a source close to the Senator. If that happens, well get ready for a media frenzy. Senator Obama has already been drawing rock star crowds in places like New Hampshire. Stay tuned.


COOPER: To Iraq now, where another execution is getting worldwide attention tonight, not only for who was hung, but for how it happened.

Two of Saddam Hussein's aides, including his half-brother, were executed early this morning. Unlike the chaos in the gallows during Saddam's hanging, there were no chants, taunting of the condemned or unauthorized cell phone video that we know about.

But today's executions didn't necessarily go as planned. Saddam's half-brother was decapitated, apparently, during the process. The gruesome twists has angered both Sunnis and Shias, but Iraqi officials are insisting it was an accident and have the videotape to prove it.

Meanwhile, we're learning more about Saddam Hussein's final moments.

CNN's John Roberts has details.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It wasn't so much a rush to judgment as it was a rush to Saddam's final judgment.

It began on Thursday, December 28. Saddam sat with two half- brothers in his jail cell. Though he had been tried and convicted of the murders of 148 Iraqis and then lost a speedy appeal, Saddam seemed to believe he might still have a chance, even though his attorneys say he was bracing for the worst.

Of his hope to beat the hangmen, senior Iraqi government officials tell CNN Saddam seemed to believe Americans might actually need him to help end the bloody insurgency. And in return, his life would be spared.

As Saddam went to sleep that Friday night, American officials were actually working to delay the execution and avoid handing Saddam over to the Iraqis. ZALMAY KHALILZAD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: We were in physical control of him, but the Iraqi government had legal control of him. They had asked us to keep him for them with the understanding that we would turn him over to them when they wanted to.

ROBERTS: The U.S. officials had questions about the legality of the execution and demanded signed documents from the presidency council required under Iraqi law. They also worried that executing Saddam on the eve of a holy Sunni Muslim celebration could trigger more bloodshed.

But the prime minister of Iraq had the final say.

KHALILZAD: At the end of the day decided to exercise the legal authority that he had, and we -- since this was an Iraqi process, we complied.

ROBERTS: But why the rush to execution? Why that day? Even some in the Iraqi government wanted to wait. Many believe the appeal of his sentence was carried out in haste, let alone the execution itself.

BARHAM SALEH, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, Iraq: Obviously, the timing of the execution and the manner of the execution is one that I would take exceptions to.

ROBERTS: But for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a delay was out of the question. Politics in Iraq are fueled by rumor. And there were rumors the Americans would do a deal with Saddam for his help to quell the Sunni insurgency. Rumors of plans by Baathists to break him out of jail. Those rumors only growing.

And, yet, Prime Minister Maliki had vowed Saddam would hang before the new year.

It was nearly midnight Saturday. A flurry of calls from U.S. diplomats and military commanders in Baghdad to State Department officials and to the Pentagon produced a final controversial decision.


COOPER: Well, up next, what happened behind closed doors in the moments before Saddam was handed over to the Iraqis.

Plus, why Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech almost didn't become a reality, when 360 continues.


COOPER: Before the break, we told you about Saddam Hussein's final moments in U.S. custody, when the dictator still held onto hope that his life would be spared.

Now the beginning of the end. What happened after Saddam was handed over to the Iraqis and put on a fast track to what was definitely a chaotic execution? Here again is CNN's John Roberts.


ROBERTS: U.S. officials concluded they had no choice but to hand over Saddam to the Iraqis. The former president was reportedly awakened shortly before 4:00 a.m. and was told to dress.

After more than three years in U.S. confinement, he was told Iraq was taking custody. At that point, he would have had no doubt about what was to come. But he was, by all accounts, stoic.

At 5:05 a.m., Saddam was flown by helicopter 10 minutes from the U.S. facility at Camp Cropper, near the Baghdad airport, to an old prison in the north of Baghdad.

At 5:30 a.m., he was officially handed over to the Iraqis.

MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM CALDWELL, SPOKESMAN, MULTINATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: He was dignified as always. He was courteous as he always had been to his U.S. military police guards. His characterization did change at the prison facility when the Iraqi guards were assuming control of him, but he was still dignified towards us. And then we had absolutely nothing to do with any of the procedures or any of the control mechanisms or anything from that point forward.

ROBERTS: At first, this was what the world saw, the official video. Saddam quietly led to the gallows, the noose placed around his neck. Iraqi officials later declaring it a dignified and organized affair.

MOWAFFAK AL-RUBAIE (on the phone): I am honestly proud of the way it was executed. It was done in a proper way, in all the international standards and the Islamic standards and Iraqi standards. I'm really, really proud of the way it went on.

ROBERTS: But this unauthorized video, shot on a cell phone camera, told a very different story. Saddam was taunted with chants of Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada, by supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Saddam smiles and asks, is this how you show your bravery as men? Straight to hell, a voice shouts back. A sole voice is heard, trying to silence the taunts. He said, please, I am begging you not to. The man is being executed.

And yet the insults continue. The last words Saddam Hussein heard in life. Long live Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr, the founder of the Da'Wa party who was killed by Saddam's regime. It is also Prime Minister Maliki's party.

To many now, those taunts and the rush to execution look not light justice, but instead vengeance.

At 6:05 in the morning, Saddam was hanged. Among other things, it meant the former Iraqi leader would never be tried on other alleged atrocities. For example, Anfal, the genocide campaign Saddam was charged with waging against the Kurds.

BARHAM SALEH, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, IRAQ: I can tell you that I would have liked to have seen the Anfal trial unfold and for him to be tried and sentenced for that crime, too, as well, together with crimes that he has committed against the Sunnis so that the execution would not come out as if it is a revenge by a community or a party as such.

ROBERTS: U.S. officials were stunned at the spectacle.

KHALILZAD: I think it was handled badly. Saddam got a trial and sentence was passed by a court. But I think the way the execution was carried out, mistakes were made in regard to the timing and then the circumstances.

I had engaged the prime minister with regard to those. But at the end of the day, he decided to carry out the execution when he did.

ROBERTS: Next, another unauthorized video. Another indignity. We've chosen not to show it, but this one later reveals a gaping neck wound from the hanging.

U.S. military choppers flew a Sunni governor to Baghdad to collect Saddam's body. But like everything else, even that was politically charged. The Iraqi government feared if Saddam was buried in Tikrit, his hometown, and the center of his power, his grave might become a shrine.

Finally, at 11:00 p.m., nearly 17 hours after his execution, the government released Saddam's body. The U.S. says no American soldiers touched it after his death. He was handled by Iraqis.

But a U.S. military helicopter did provide Saddam Hussein's final trip back to his ancestral home for burial and for his loyal followers, martyrdom.

John Roberts, CNN.


COOPER: Well, they are his most famous words, but he almost never said them. Why "I Have a Dream" almost didn't make it into Martin Luther King's speech at the march on Washington. Coming up next, on 360.


COOPER: Well, people across the country took a moment today to remember Martin Luther King Jr., on what would have been his 78th birthday.

And tonight we're learning more about what are arguably Dr. King's most famous words.

Our report from CNN's Soledad O'Brien, who got an exclusive look at Dr. King's personal papers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a dream...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: I have a dream...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That my four children...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will one day live in a nation...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where they will not be judged by the color of their skin...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech at the march on Washington on August 28, 1963, is one of the most important in human history. (SINGING)

O'BRIEN: But the words "I Have a Dream" almost didn't make it into the speech.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The in circle of Dr. King felt that the "I Have a Dream" portion was hackneyed and trite because he had used it so many times in other cities.

O'BRIEN: Dr. King had been writing about this dream for decades. His inspiration can be traced back to these books from his library now kept in this vault near Morehouse College.

The night before the march, Dr. King's inner circle wants a new message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember very vividly Andy Young and I going up and down the steps of the hotel, taking drafts of what we thought should be a new climax.

O'BRIEN: The next day, Dr. King takes this only known copy of his speech, called "Normalcy - Never Again," with him. Nowhere does it mention his dream.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have the pleasure to present to you Dr. Martin Luther King.

O'BRIEN: With the Lincoln Memorial behind him and facing 250,000 people, Dr. King delivers his speech.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was standing up and to the side.

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING: Now is the time...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And after he went through all this stuff about what we're here today (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and so forth and so forth, he paused. And what I did see him do...

KING: I still have a dream.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He turned the text over. He grabbed the podium. And he leaned back and looked out.

KING: I have a dream.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was out in the crowd somewhere. And when he swung into "I Have a Dream," I said oh, expletive deleted, after all that work that night before up and down the steps, and then he went on then to the "I Have a Dream" section.

KING: I have a dream.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He transformed those marble steps into a modern-day pulpit.

KING: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!


COOPER: Well, for more on the life and works of Dr. King, you can visit CNN will broadcast a special documentary on the writings of Martin Luther King, "MLK: Words that Changed a Nation." That's on February 17 at 8:00 p.m., Eastern.

On the radar tonight, our reporting from New Orleans, especially the story of Herbert Gettridge -- there he is right there, rebuilding his house, pretty much by himself. Nearly finished. He's 83 years old.

On the blog tonight, C. Williams in Las Cruces, New Mexico writes, "The strength of this man, the absolute courage to go about repairing his home for his family amid the ruins of a city that so many have simply given up on, is just incredible."

Faye, in Vaccaville, California, simply says, "I hope I'm as cool and as tough as Herbert Gettridge when I turn 83."

Here, here.

And about the largest story, there's this from Mary Lou in Toronto. This is a huge, ugly stain on the American flag, one which I'm sure you won't abandon. I'm passionate about this country, so keep on doing what you're doing.

Mary Lou, of course, we will. That's a promise.

And if you'd like to have your say, just head to Make your case and we'll try to read it on the air if we can.

Just ahead on 360, an icy storm on a holiday weekend. It is now being blamed for dozens of deaths in six states. Today it moved east. What it left in its wake next. We'll show you that next on 360. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Let's check the day's other headlines with Randi Kaye in a 360 bulletin -- Randi.

KAYE: Hi Anderson.

Big news tonight in the 2008 presidential race. Some time this week, Democratic Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, is expected to file papers setting up an exploratory campaign committee. That is according to a source close to the Senator.

Across six states, 41 deaths in an ice storm that's moved now to the northeast, knocking out power to more than 500,000 homes and businesses, and making roads treacherous. Since Friday, the storm has caused widespread power failures in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Michigan -- many in those states, still without electricity.

In California, three nights of freezing temperatures have destroyed up to three quarters of the state's $1 billion citrus crops. That's according to an estimate released just today. Avocados and strawberries have also suffered damage in the cold snap.

Well, there was heat to spare at tonight's Golden Globe awards, where the red carpet was ablaze with stars. Actress Merrill Streep won her sixth golden globe. This time for her role in "The Devil Wears Prada."

Forest Whitaker won best actor for "The Last King of Scotland;" "Babel," best drama; and "Dream Girls," best musical or comedy.

And finally, Anderson, another tiara is being turned in. Ashley Harder, who was crowned Miss New Jersey U.S.A. in October has resigned because she's pregnant. She told the "Philadelphia Daily News" she voluntarily is stepping down. It's against pageant rules to compete while pregnant. Erin Abrahamson, the 2007 Miss New Jersey runner-up will take Harder's place at the Miss U.S.A. Pageant on March 23 in Los Angeles. It just keeps going.

COOPER: I tell you, I have never heard so much about pageants as I have heard in the last couple of months. What is going on?

KAYE: I don't know. Maybe Donald Trump will figure it out for us.

COOPER: yes. Randi, that's -- thanks very much.

KAYE: Won't touch that.

COOPER: Yes. Let's move on.

A reminder, we want you to help us keep them honest. If there's a wrong that needs to be made right in your community, go online, tell us about it at

"LARRY KING" is next with more on the missing boys, Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby.