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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Sweat Lodge Homicide Investigation; Louisiana Justice Denies Interracial Marriage; Balloon Boy Hoax?

Aired October 16, 2009 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: It is hard to believe this can still happen in America. An interracial couple tries to get married, but the justice of the peace says no. He says he's not racist, but what do you call it when he also says he refuses to marry any interracial couples? America's ugly past still alive.

Also tonight, now it's a homicide investigation, two deaths in a New Age sweat lodge and growing heat on the guru behind it -- "Crime & Punishment" tonight.

Plus, "Digging Deeper": new information coming to light in that balloon boy saga. Why did his parents call 911 third, not first, when they thought he had floated away? We have got new video that, frankly, raises more questions about whether this whole thing was a real horror story with a happy ending, or just a bid to get on TV from beginning to end.

First up tonight, major new developments in the story of Beth and Terence McKay, an interracial couple who just wanted to get married, and the justice of the peace in southeastern Louisiana who refused to perform the ceremony. He refused because merely Beth is white, and Terence, her former fiance, now her husband, is African-American.

And it turns out this is not the first time this justice of the peace has refused to marry an interracial couple. He admits it, straight up, and civil rights groups are now calling for his resignation.

Both Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu want him fired. We will talk to Beth McKay first.

First, Sean Callebs "Uncovering America."




CALLEBS (voice-over): Hurtful because she never could have expected what she heard from Tangipahoa Parish Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell when she called Bardwell's office a week ago to handle her marriage ceremony.

B. MCKAY: He was the first one that I called, Keith Bardwell. And when I called, we were setting up a time for us to come over. And, at the end of the conversation, she said that she had to ask me a question. And she asked if this was an interracial marriage.

CALLEBS: The answer is yes. She is white. Her then fiance, Terence, is black.

B. MCKAY: She said, well, we don't do interracial weddings or marriages.

CALLEBS: Beth said, her jaw hit the floor.

(on camera): Is this something you feel was or is overt racism, or was it -- was there any other reason behind this?

B. MCKAY: It's -- it's overt racism. And we are used to the closet racism. But we're not -- we're...


B. MCKAY: We're not going to tolerate that over racism from an elected official.

CALLEBS: Well, we found Keith Bardwell, the justice of the peace, tucked away in a rural part of this parish. Now, he has been a public official, a justice of the peace, more than 30 years. We want to hear what he has to say about this entire controversy.

(voice-over): So, about a mile down Bardwell Road, we found the Bardwell house that doubles as his office. This woman identified herself as Keith Bardwell's wife. She said he wouldn't talk, and she demanded we not take any pictures.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have nothing to say to anybody. (INAUDIBLE) twisted and turned.

CALLEBS: We asked, but never got an answer, about what exactly she meant. So, we left.

(on camera): But he's done this before. You said that he has referred people to you before.

TERRI CROSBY, TANGIPAHOA PARISH JUSTICE OF THE PEACE: He has referred people, interracial couples, to me on one or two occasions. And then, of course, I have married interracial couples on my own.

CALLEBS: Turned away by Bardwell, the couple turned to Terri Crosby, also a justice of the peace. Last week, she married Beth and Terence under this archway. She calls them a wonderful couple.

It's also personal for Crosby. She has a granddaughter who is from a mixed marriage.

(on camera): Is this a racist area? What -- what would you say?

CROSBY: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I could never believe that this area is racist, no. I think that this is the most fair, loving people.

CALLEBS (voice-over): Beth works in marketing and wants to go back to college. Terence is a welder, and it took four months for him to find work here. To them, this parish that's about 70 percent white sometimes feels like it's the 19th century.

TERENCE MCKAY, DENIED MARRIAGE LICENSE ON ACCOUNT OF RACE: It's disheartening, seriously. You know, it's 2009, and we are still dealing with a form of racism.

CALLEBS: Beth says they have received amazing support from friends and family. They see it as an opportunity.

B. MCKAY: I just think that God puts you in the right positions at the right time in order to stand up to people who -- who choose to live their lives with hate.

CALLEBS: Sean Callebs, CNN, Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana.


COOPER: Well, obviously, we wanted to know what Keith Bardwell had to say in his own defense. You saw Sean there trying to track his down -- trying to track him down. He wasn't allowed on his property. He didn't want to talk to Sean Callebs.

We tried to talk to him tonight on this program. He wouldn't talk to us.

The AP, the Associated Press, was reporting that this guy says he doesn't marry interracial couples out of concern for their future children.

A civil rights leaders saying -- quote -- "Perhaps he's worried the kids will grow up to be president."

Joining us now, only on 360, Beth McKay.

Beth, first, congratulations on your marriage. How was the ceremony?

B. MCKAY: It was -- it was excellent. It was great.


B. MCKAY: We're so excited.

COOPER: When -- when you called up this guy, Justice of the Peace Bardwell, and you heard him say, or they said, you know, we don't perform interracial wedding ceremonies, I mean, what did you think?

B. MCKAY: I -- I was shocked. I was beyond shocked. I really was speechless. I had no idea what to say.

(CROSSTALK) COOPER: And what did you say to them?

B. MCKAY: Well, it kind of progressed to that point when she said, you know, is he black or are you black? And when I told her that he was black and I was white, she said, well, we don't do interracial marriages.

And I just was shocked. I just was so shocked, I didn't know what to say. And I asked her if she knew anybody that did. And she said that I would probably have to go outside of the parish.

COOPER: And Louisiana's governor, Bobby Jindal, is calling to have this guy's license revoked. Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu is calling for his dismissal.

Do you feel vindicated? Or, I mean, what's your feeling right now?

B. MCKAY: Kind of -- I'm kind of -- I guess it's kind of numb. We're just kind of hurt, you know? And it -- this doesn't take care of the problem. This doesn't -- he's been in his position for 34 years. So, it doesn't take care of the problems that we have to deal with on a daily basis.

COOPER: Yes. It's incredible to think this guy has been doing this for more than 30 years. And, I mean, how many couples -- I mean, there's no way of knowing. But there must be many couples who he has turned away.

B. MCKAY: I'm sure there has.

And I'm sure that people didn't go to him because they knew that he didn't do it, which -- which is so unfair, because he's projecting to the community that this is something that's not acceptable, that this is inappropriate. And, in turn, that makes people feel that -- that it is, it is inappropriate to date or to marry interracially.

COOPER: Beth, stay with us. We're going to continue this conversation right after the break. We will bring in CNN's Soledad O'Brien.

Let us know what you think at home. Join the live chat under way at

Also ahead tonight, the story behind the flying saucer -- was it all a hoax or an attempt to get on TV? I have got to tell you, folks in the chat rooms have their suspicions. We have got new facts, 911 tapes, and some new video that, I got to say, some pretty fishy stuff on this video that we will debate.



RICHARD HEENE, FATHER: Oh, my God. OK. (INAUDIBLE) tether. You didn't put the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) tether down. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did! I did!



COOPER: We're talking about a Louisiana justice of the peace refusing to marry an interracial country.

And, just a reminder, we're talking about 2009, not 1967, when the Supreme Court struck down laws against interracial marriage in the fittingly named Loving v. Virginia, Richard and Mildred Loving, who married in Washington, D.C., and were arrested back in Virginia in their home with their marriage license framed and hanging on the wall, for the simple fact of being husband and wife.

Since then, anti-race mixing laws have been unconstitutional, and the number of interracial marriages have skyrocketed, nearly quadrupling between 1970 and 2005, the most recent year for which there is census data. As of 2005, nearly 8.5 million Americans are living in so-called mixed marriages.

Back now with the newly married Beth McKay in Hammond, Louisiana.

Let's also bring in Soledad O'Brien, who is a multiethnic, multiracial, and CNN through and through.

Soledad, Justice of the Peace Bardwell told the AP -- and I quote -- "I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way. I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home. I marry them. They use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."

Does it surprise you or should it shock anyone that this attitude, this guy still exists somewhere in America?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: That's the old "I have lots of black friends, but I won't let them marry my white friends" excuse.

No. You know, on one hand, it's not shocking, because I think, certainly, in our reporting, we cover and uncover lots of instances where people have serious issues about race still. What I love is that Beth and her fiancee, now husband, basically, OK, next, and found a justice of the peace who would do what they needed done.

It is a little surprising, but -- but not shocking, I'm sorry to say.

COOPER: Beth, you said that -- that -- during Sean's report, you said that you think God put you in the right position at the right time to stand up to people that live with hate. How have folks in -- in your town reacted to this?

B. MCKAY: Well, all of our friends and family are extremely supportive. Of course, you know, interracial dating is not -- it's not the most popular thing to do. And -- and that's what I meant by hate. You know, by not accepting another culture or race, you're not embracing them. You're definitely not loving them when do you that.

COOPER: It's interesting, Soledad. You know, in the Supreme Court case that overturned the bans on interracial marriage back in '67, poor treatment of interracial kids was introduced as a reason to uphold that ban back then. The decision obviously went the other way. This is the same reason this justice of the peace is giving.

I mean, what do studies show? Do interracial kids have a tougher time in this country?

O'BRIEN: I have seen no studies on that.

What you see are that all kids have challenges, certainly, with their identity. A lot of interracial kids, when they're asked anecdotally, will talk about how they feel unique. Or, you know, you look at the numbers. From the 1970s, you looked at about 500,000 kids who are mixed-race kids. That number is up to seven million now. So, it's actually not all that unusual today.

I don't think there are any studies. I think every kid in this country struggles with some sort of identity thing -- that what it means to be a young person in this country -- but, certainly, biracial children not necessarily any more or any less than anybody else.

COOPER: Beth, Bardwell has said that he would rather resign than perform an interracial marriage. What do you think should happen to him?

B. MCKAY: I think that -- I think that he should lose his position, because he's not -- he's not representing all the people that he is supposed to be representing. He's only representing the people with his same opinions.

COOPER: How did you first hear about him, by the way?

B. MCKAY: Actually, I researched justice of the peaces online to see what my choices or my options were in the area. And he was the first one that I called.

COOPER: Well, Beth McKay, I appreciate you being on. I'm sorry you have had this experience.

B. MCKAY: Thank you.

COOPER: But I appreciate you talking to us about it. We will continue to follow it and see what happens to this justice of the peace.

Soledad O'Brien, thank you, as always.

O'BRIEN: Thank you.


COOPER: Quick reminder: We're less than a week away from Soledad's landmark series of special reports, "Latino in America," a comprehensive look at how Latinos are changing this country, reshaping politics, business, schools, churches, and neighborhoods -- "Latino in America" Wednesday and Thursday nights next week, 8:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

Just ahead tonight: Is the balloon boy story a publicity stunt? I have got to tell you, there is new video out tonight shot by the family, edited, it seems, by the family, raises an awful lot of questions. We're going to show it to you. You can decide what is up for yourself.

Also, why did they call 911 only after calling a local TV station and the FAA? A lot to cover on that.

Also, heat for the New Age guru who got people to pay thousands for spots in his sweat lodge. Two paid with their lives -- their deaths now being treated as possible homicides -- late details, "Crime & Punishment," when we continue.


COOPER: Still ahead: a runaway stroller with a baby inside rolls off a train platform. This video is -- you see the stroller right there -- rolls off the train platform. The mom runs for it. A train hits. The baby is fine. Just wanted to say that right now -- the rest of the story, though, coming up.

First, Erica Hill has a 360 news and business bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That video is my nightmare. I can't even tell you.


HILL: Anderson, mistakes in federal courts are calling into question the government's ability to track just how many jobs are actually being created by the massive $787 billion stimulus package.

The data in Thursday's reports, it turns out, is filled with mistakes, according to watchdog groups. And this is a big issue, because uncovering just how many jobs the stimulus created is critical to the debate about its success.

In Pakistan, the army chief briefed the country's top leaders today on the tenuous security situation as the government combats a new wave of attacks believed to have been orchestrated by Taliban militants. According to a statement released by the prime minister, those who attended the meeting condemned recent attacks and agreed that militants posed a serious threat to the sovereignty and the integrity of the state.

Some pigs in Minnesota may have tested positive for the H1N1 virus. Now, these results are still preliminary. If confirmed, however, it would be the first instance of swine flu in pigs in the United States.

And Khagendra Thapa Magar -- I hope that how I pronounced his name...

COOPER: Nicely done there.

HILL: Thank you -- of Nepal is ready to claim the title of the world's shortest person.

Magar is 22 inches tall, 22 -- not even 2 feet. He says he turned 18 earlier this week. But here's the catch. The Guinness World Records office says, not exactly. They believe his birth certificate shows he's actually just a few days over 17. So, he might have to wait until next year to claim the title. But it's in his sights.

COOPER: All right.

HILL: It's within his grasp.

COOPER: Very close.

All right.

Still ahead: balloon boy, day two. The Heene family released a home video showing the moment their homemade flying contraption broke loose.



RICHARD HEENE, FATHER: Oh, my God. OK. (INAUDIBLE) tether. You didn't put the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) tether down.



COOPER: That video, plus a 911 tape and some other facts only fueling debate over whether this thing was kind of a publicity stunt. We're going to dig deeper.

And, later, new details about the self-help guru who is now the focus of a homicide investigation, James Arthur Ray. He is already back on the circuit selling his motivational message, just a week after two people died in a sweat lodge ceremony he led. Is he cooperating with the police? And, if not, why?


COOPER: New questions tonight about the family at the center of the balloon drama. It captured the world's attention yesterday.

Did they ever really believe 6-year-old Falcon was inside the balloon, or was it all a publicity stunt? So, here's the 911 call made by Falcon's mom after the balloon took off.


DISPATCHER: Ma'am, what's your name?


DISPATCHER: And, so, it was an experimental plane?

M. HEENE: It's a flying saucer.

DISPATCHER: It's a flying saucer?

M. HEENE: Yes.

DISPATCHER: And that's gone, too, right?


DISPATCHER: How long -- is the flying saucer gone as well?

M. HEENE: Yes, by 20 minutes, I think.

DISPATCHER: It's been -- they have both been missing for about 20 minutes?

M. HEENE: Yes.


M. HEENE: Oh, we got -- we have got to get my son.


COOPER: All right. Now, keep in mind, that call was made after Falcon's father, Richard Heene, called the FAA and a local TV station.

Also getting attention tonight is a round of bizarre interviews done by the family in which vomit was involved, and also some videos that have now been released by the family. It seems like they're also edited by the family. And one of them -- some were released publicly to like CNN and others.

And, then, recently, one was just released to "Inside Edition," which leads us to believe that video was paid for.

Erica Hill has all the details in tonight's "360's Follow."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning to you. Thanks for being with us.

HILL (voice-over): Day two dawned with the Heenes where we left them Thursday night, on TV, telling their story, and denying any suggestion the entire episode was a stunt. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TODAY SHOW")

R. HEENE: Now I'm starting to get a little ticked off, because I'm repetitively getting asked this.


HILL: Getting asked repeatedly because of this comment to Wolf Blitzer last night.


FALCON HEENE, 6 YEARS OLD: We did this for a show.


HILL: Falcon's appearance this morning also getting a lot of attention, but for a different reason.


F. HEENE: I feel like I'm going to vomit.

R. HEENE: That's what he was referring to.


HILL: The other hot topic, the family's home video of the balloon taking off.

R. HEENE: Oh, my God. OK. (INAUDIBLE) tether. You didn't put the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) tether down.



HILL: It doesn't appear anyone realizes Falcon is missing or maybe inside the balloon, as was initially thought.

But this extended home video obtained by "Inside Edition" appears to tell a different tale.


F. HEENE: I'm going to sneak inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dad, Falcon is in there.

R. HEENE: Where?


R. HEENE: He -- he was just here.


HILL: The craft came loose around 11:00 a.m. local time. And 11:22, Mayumi Heene called 911.


DISPATCHER: They have both been missing for 20 minutes?

M. HEENE: Yes.


M. HEENE: We got -- we got to get my son.


HILL: Nine-one-one was the third call the family made.

JIM ALDERDEN, LARIMER COUNTY, COLORADO, SHERIFF: His first call was to the FAA and that the second call was made to 9 News, with the belief that they had a helicopter that might be able to assist, and that sometime afterwards, they called 911.

HILL: The FAA has opened an investigation into the incident. And Child Protective Services has been called, though the sheriff today said he's asked them not to speak with the family until authorities have had a chance to interview the Heenes again.

So, why does law enforcement want to talk to them again? That comment to Wolf Blitzer last night.

ALDERDEN: Clearly that has raised everybody's level of skepticism. And we feel it's incumbent upon us as an agency to go back to the family.


HILL: Now, the sheriff went on to say they actually wanted to speak with the family today. But, after watching this round of interviews this morning, it was clear the family was fatigued. The sheriff also pointed out, with Falcon not feeling well, perhaps today was not the best day.

So, Anderson, they said they will try tomorrow, once everybody's had a chance to rest and regroup a little bit.

COOPER: All right. Stay here. I want to bring in also CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom to this discussion.

Lisa, this home video, I honestly had not paid much attention to this story today until these home videos started surfacing, which some of them seem to have been edited by this family selectively.

And then, on "Inside Edition," which I think pays for video, they have this video that apparently shows the balloon mishap. Do you actually believe it? It sound -- to me, it sounded like the kids kind of were acting. But, I mean, I -- maybe I'm just incredibly cynical.


LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you are appropriately cynical.

And "Inside Edition" does sometimes pay for video, but not all the time. I don't understand why anybody would wait 20 minutes to call 911, why you would call first to a TV station. That's very hard to understand.


COOPER: well, the sheriff said that he said that there -- he thought that the TV station would have a helicopter.

BLOOM: Well, law enforcement has access to helicopters. And law enforcement can call higher-ups, as happened here. So, that really doesn't make a lot of sense.

I also question this child's story, even if we take it at face value. Anderson, he was hiding in the rafters silently for five hours because he was afraid of his father's anger? As someone who has represented a lot of children in abuse cases, that raises a lot of red flags for me.

COOPER: Erica, the helicopter -- I mean, it was the helicopter. That's why he said...

HILL: It was. Just to jump in for one second, I actually spoke with 9 news today. And I asked them specifically about that call...

COOPER: Right.

HILL: ... because I wanted to make sure we had the timeline correct, because the father did say he called the FAA first because he thought that they could track the plane.

The FAA told me that they likely would be unable to confirm for me tonight whether or not he called and if he called. The TV station, however, did confirm that he called. They say they can't give me an exact time. It was between 11:00 and 11:30 a.m. local time. And when he called, he asked specifically if they could put the chopper in the air to help look for it.

COOPER: Can we show that "Inside Edition" video again? Do we have that? Can I -- I don't know if we have that racked up? We're going to re-cue it.

Because I -- because, when the little kid comes up to the camera and says, you know, that -- well, we just...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) R. HEENE: Three, two, one.

I told you to tie down...


COOPER: I think we're going to re-cue it.

I mean, I don't know. It just seems -- and then the guy -- the father kicks the thing. It just seems like kind of cartoon stuff, like, you -- you get mad, you kick something.

BLOOM: Well, and, Anderson, this is a family that has their own YouTube station, that has done two reality shows, "Wife Swap," where cameras are in the home for large periods of time filming children.

Apparently, this father has tried to sell other reality shows, unsuccessfully.

COOPER: I mean, does the fact that...


BLOOM: so, you have got to wonder if this is a stunt.

COOPER: The kid comes up to the camera and says, "I'm going to sneak inside." It seems kind of set up for hilarity to ensue.

BLOOM: Staged? Yes.


BLOOM: Except it's not hilarious, given that probably tens of thousands of law enforcement dollars were spent trying to find him.

And I also wonder -- Anderson, you mentioned about this poor child vomiting this morning. He's doing predawn morning show interviews. He does one. He gets sick. The family has him do a second one with a bowl ready. He gets sick again.

I mean, what's going on with these people?

COOPER: OK. This was the most surreal moment this morning.


COOPER: Do we have that tape of them from "The Today Show"? Because no one -- can we take away the things from the bottom of the screen, too, because no one seems to acknowledge that this boy is throwing up on national TV, not even Meredith Vieira.

Let's take a look at this thing.


R. HEENE: That's what he was referring to. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa.

R. HEENE: That's what he was referring to when he made that statement.

MEREDITH VIEIRA, CO-HOST, "THE TODAY SHOW": And I know -- I want to point out that the sheriff's office said last night that they believe your account of what happened. But -- but they do want to question you a little bit more today, Richard, as well. And I'm sure some of the questions will be...



COOPER: I mean, what is going through Meredith Vieira's mind?

HILL: I will say, in her defense, if you watch the full clip, Meredith does then say, "I think you need a little time to regroup."

BLOOM: Right.

HILL: "We're going to take a break."

But if you watch the clip from "Good Morning America," I find it interesting that he says, "I feel like I'm going to vomit." And he's getting -- he's about to get ill. No one really makes a move, until Diane Sawyer says to the mother, "Would you like to go help your son?"

COOPER: Right.

HILL: And that's the first time someone...


HILL: ... to follow him to the bathroom.

COOPER: Thank God for Diane Sawyer.

I want to play this clip from -- from the sheriff, too. He -- the sheriff says they have been hearing a lot from people who think this is a hoax.

And -- and we should just be absolutely clear. At this point, the sheriff has said there is no reason to believe this is a hoax in any way. But I have got to tell you, I -- just, a lot of people, seeing that video, would raise questions, on the live chat, especially now.

Let's take a look what the sheriff said.


ALDERDEN: Certainly, from the e-mails and the phone calls we have been getting, there's a lot of pressure to do something and to charge these people with committing a crime, a false reporting, and to recover restitution.

But, that said, let me say again, you know, as a law enforcement officer, a public safety official, we have to operate on what we can prove as a fact, and not what people want to be done or what people speculate should be done.


COOPER: If -- if there was some sort of a hoax, Lisa, I mean, are -- what is the ramification of that?

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, if the parents were the ones who perpetrated the hoax, they could be charged with filing a false police department; ultimately, be required, if convicted, to pay restitution to the tune of whatever it cost, as I say, probably tens of thousands of dollars, for all that law enforcement search yesterday.

COOPER: Right. Tom Foreman estimated, like, $28,000, I think. That was our estimation last night. We haven't heard of official numbers at all.

I mean, I guess at this point, you've got to give the parents the benefit of the doubt, and certainly, they've been through a lot. And I guess we'll just see what -- what happens down the road.

HILL: It has been an exhausting day. It was interesting. We were glued to our TVs watching Larry King while Wolf was in last night, watching around here. And a lot of us said after that interview, because the father did seem physically agitated, he had a really rough day. We thought this is it. You know, we're not going to -- we're not going to see him anywhere tomorrow morning.

O'REILLY: Well, of course.

HILL: I got the BlackBerry, and the first thing I saw this morning was the family has booked on "American Morning," and then they were on every other TV show.

COOPER: Right. Yes. I mean, clearly, if they're not angling for some sort of reality show, I will...

HILL: Which they say they're not.

COOPER: I don't know what I will do.

HILL: They do say they're not.

COOPER: They say they're not. OK.

HILL: There is nothing to do with this here -- and the sheriff said there there's nothing to indicate.

COOPER: Absolutely. Absolutely. And we'll see. They said the sheriff is going to talk to them tomorrow. We'll see. I hope this is the last time we're going to talk about it. HILL: Good luck.

COOPER: Yes, good luck. Erica Hill and Lisa Bloom. Have a good weekend. Appreciate it.

BLOOM: You, too.

COOPER: The Heene family has a history of science experiments. You go to to read about them if you'd like.

So do you think the balloon boy drama was a publicity stunt? You can join the live chat happening right now at

Coming up, "Crime & Punishment," bizarre story. Police say the deaths of two people during the sweat lodge ceremony -- and that sweat lodge was sort of an impromptu sweat lodge -- was no accident. It's being investigated as a homicide.

And the money-making guru behind it all may be charged with the crime. Gary Tuchman has new details tonight.

Also ahead, the video that everyone is talking about: the stroller, a baby inside rolling off a train platform onto an oncoming train. The baby is OK. A bump on the head. But the mother certainly very upset. We'll have details of what happened.


COOPER: Services will be held this weekend for two people who died a week ago in a sweat lodge during a self-help retreat in Arizona desert. Nineteen others became ill during the ceremony. One woman remains right now in critical condition. Investigators are trying to find out exactly what went on inside that sweat lodge.

And now what began as an accidental death investigation has been elevated to a homicide inquiry, with the focus on James Arthur Ray, the self-help superstar who ran the retreat.

Gary Tuchman joins me with the latest in tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, James Arthur Ray, successful and rich as a motivational guru, faces the possibility of doing his motivating behind bars.

The sheriff of Yavapai County, Arizona, says the two deaths in the sweat lodge were, quote, "not accidental," that a homicide investigation is now under way. And that Ray, who led the ceremony, is their main focus at this point. The sheriff is also saying he is investigating if any other people might be criminally responsible.


SHERIFF STEVE WAUGH, YAVAPAI COUNTY, ARIZONA: I don't know if they knew that people would be killed based upon some information that we have is that people have become very sick in these activities before. And as a result, they should have had some pre-information about preparing for certain kinds of human responses to being in a building with no ventilation and heat.


COOPER: Gary, you went to a sweat lodge this week near where the tragedy occurred. Did you get the feeling it was dangerous?

TUCHMAN: I was invited to a sweat lodge ceremony, Anderson, run by Native Americans just a few miles away. And to Native Americans, the ceremony in the sweat lodge is sacred. The sweat lodge itself is basically equivalent to a church. It's incredibly hot inside, and it's pitch dark for most of the ceremony. The medicine man who runs the sweat lodge kept telling us if we didn't feel good, we'll stop it all and just walk out.

They had a building permit and a fire permit from the county. Now in this tragic situation, the county says Ray did not have a proper permit. And the sheriff says he's still refusing to talk to investigators, Ray is.

He says Ray, though, is talking to his supporters, and indeed Ray acknowledges that. He actually held a conference call with many people who were in the sweat-lodge ceremony that went so terribly wrong.

Now the cousin of one of the people who died tells us he was on the call, too, saying he recorded it. That relative says Ray told the people on the call in part, quote, "Out of every apparent chaos comes a greater state of order, an order than never existed prior to the chaos."

Now to many people, those words are inappropriate to insensitive, especially considering two people are no longer around to have been on that conference call. Ray left the scene of the tragedy, flew to California, and told his supporters, according to the transcript, "I hope you understand it certainly wasn't my wish not to be with you and bring you some kind of closure" -- Anderson.

COOPER: Every time I hear that word "closure," I just want to vomit.

Ray, he's not talking to police. But have you had any luck getting him make some type of comment? I mean, is he talking?

TUCHMAN: Not yet, Anderson. James Arthur Ray is not talking to us. But his spokesman, Howard Bragman, has given us a statement. The statement says, "The sheriff's department is trying this case in the media. Let's show as much zeal with the investigation in getting to the facts as they have in trying to tar my client."

We'll stay on the story, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Gary, thanks. Again, no charges have been filed. Clearly, these deaths are not treated as an accident at this point.

CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins me now.

I mean a case like this, what kind of evidence are investigators looking for?

JEFF TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you have to look at the context. What warnings were given? What kind of safety precautions were taken?

Remember, these people paid an enormous amount of money for this new age gibberish: $9,600 for five days. You spend that kind of money, I think you have an expectation that there are reasonable preparations taking and precautions. We'll see what he did.

COOPER: It also, I don't know, you know, you can't judge it by the way it looks. But I mean, it looks kind of like an impromptu -- it's not as if this is in some sort of fancy spa retreat. It looks like a, you know, pretty desolate area with kind of an impromptu sweat lodge built.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, Sedona is full of these places. It is kind of one of the new age capitals of the world. There are what they call vortexes there. And most of it is harmless.

But if you are going to put people in something that is clearly that hot and that dangerous, that has the potential to be what we would call in other states manslaughter.

COOPER: So even if they went willingly, that doesn't matter?

TOOBIN: Well, that's relevant. But it doesn't -- it doesn't answer the whole question. In Arizona they call it negligent homicide or reckless homicide. It's the same as manslaughter elsewhere. But that's something that's possible.

COOPER: There's a lot of confusion where you hear the term homicide. It makes it sound as if they're saying perhaps this guy intentionally did this.

TOOBIN: No. It's very clearly not intentional homicide.

COOPER: Right.

TOOBIN: But homicide covers -- all homicide means is death by -- at the hands of another. It means not death by natural causes. Not suicide. And it can be unintentional killing, which this is what the investigation...

COOPER: And we don't know a lot of the details of this, and I don't want to go down into rumor and speculation. Had they signed some sort of waiver that said, "Look, we're aware of the risks of going to a sweat lodge in the middle of a desert in the middle of Sedona." Does that absolve them? TOOBIN: It would be one factor to consider. It wouldn't necessarily absolve them. You can't wave away a crime. You can't conceive -- you can't give a waiver that says, "It's OK to kill me."

But that is one factor that the juries will -- that the police and prosecutors will weigh in deciding whether to bring charges.

COOPER: He's also been doing this for a long time. I mean, this is not the first time. So I mea, he has experience, it would seem, in this.

TOOBIN: That's another fact in his favor, potentially, if he has established a procedure that's worked well in the past. But, again, you have to note, did he do the same thing this time? Was there something different? Was there supposed to be a doctor present who wasn't there? All that stuff you have to investigate before you decide whether to bring charges.

COOPER: Very briefly, balloon boy, hoax or not?

TOOBIN: No hoax.

COOPER: Really? You don't...?

TOOBIN: No hoax. I am -- I believe that this is -- I believe in the Heene...

COOPER: Heene.

TOOBIN: Heene family. I think they're -- they're OK.

COOPER: OK. All right.

TOOBIN: You can put me down.

COOPER: All right.

A special program note for Monday. By the end of the year, for the first time in history, more than half of U.S. workers will be women. Think about that and take a look at the numbers from a new poll by "TIME."

Forty percent of women now say they are the primary breadwinner in their household, 40 percent. The number really caught our eye. The story behind it is both fascinating and complex. How do women and men feel about the shift in the workforce and what it means for all of us on the home front. We'll dig deeper Monday on 360.

Next, this woman died and lived to tell about it. Hear what she saw during her near death experience and how she cheated death.

Another incredible survival story. A baby in a stroller falling onto a train track and lives. The baby is OK. The video is hard to look at, but the baby is OK. Details on it tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: This week, we've been bringing you some incredible stories about life after death. People who, by all measures, were clinically dead, sometimes for hours and yet, remarkably, were brought back to life.

Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains how they escaped death in his new book, "Cheating Death: Doctors and Medical Miracles that Are Saving Lives Against All Odds."

We're going to hear from Sanjay in a moment. But first, meet a woman who told Sanjay what it was like to die. What she saw, what she felt, and why she's now convinced there is an afterlife.



DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Laura Geraghty died six months ago. Her vital signs flat.

Dr. Bill O'Callahan.

BILL O'CALLAHAN, NEWTON WELLSLEY HOSPITAL: She had no pulse. She had no blood pressure. She wasn't breathing on her own. I think most laymen would -- WOULD describe that as being dead.

GUPTA: Geraghty is a grandmother. She's also a school bus driver who on that day was heading to Newton South High School in Newton, Massachusetts, when she went into sudden cardiac arrest.

GERAGHTY: The pain went right up my arm and right into my chest. And at that point, "I said, uh-oh, I'm having a heart attack."

GUPTA: The school nurse and CPR instructor rushed over with the defibrillator. The next 30 seconds went fast. Geraghty felt weak. She couldn't catch her breath.

(on camera) And like that, she was unconscious.

GERAGHTY: I floated right out of my body. It just -- it -- my body was here. And I just floated away.

GUPTA: What did you see?

GERAGHTY: What did I see? I seen like light, it is very peaceful.

GUPTA: When you looked at your body, were there people working on you?

GERAGHTY: I seen people, but I kept going. I went, and I seen my -- I seen my mom. I seen my ex-husband. And they both came. And it was very peaceful. It was just so peaceful, and this light, and it was beautiful.

I remember trying to reach out to my ex-husband. And he would not take my hand. And then they floated away. And then I was there. And this massive energy, this powerful, very powerful energy.

And when that was happening, it was a picture of my son and my daughter and my granddaughter. And just every second like they -- they were pictures flashed into my mind. And then I -- then I came back.

GUPTA (voice-over): And she was brought here. This is the emergency room at Newton Wellsley Hospital. Dr. Bill O'Callahan was just finishing up his shift when she was brought in. He shocked her a dozen more times. And still, nothing.

O'CALLAHAN: We got to the point at the nearly hour mark where I actually said out loud, "I'm going to shock her three more times, and we're going to have to stop." And she came back from the very third one, if you can believe that.

GUPTA: Incredibly, after 57 minutes -- 57 minutes -- Laura Geraghty was brought back from the dead. Even more amazing, she has no brain damage.

But what she saw during her near death experience still haunts her. Dr. Kevin Nelson is a neurologist from Louisville who believes a near death experience is what he called a waking dream.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we know that the visual system is robustly activated during dreaming. And this accounts for the light that's commonly seen.

GUPTA (on camera): There is a tunnel that a lot of people describe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tunnel can be in part brought on by the eye.

GUPTA (voice-over): So when the retina doesn't get enough blood, your vision goes dark from the edges toward the center. Looks like a tunnel.

Laura Geraghty insists what she felt was real, not a dream.

GERAGHTY: I know I went someplace else. I know there's a different place than, you know, here.


COOPER: So this woman went almost an hour without blood flow, without oxygen. How is it possible that she survived?

GUPTA: You know, I don't know the answer to that. What I can tell you is that, what I have observed as a medical student, then in training, was that that shouldn't be possible. But it is.

You know, I think about this since I was a medical student. I saw someone close to my age die. And it was a first time I saw someone die. I remember all these people working on him and trying to save him. And then somebody looked at the clock and said, "Time of death, 2:15."

And I remember thinking that's it. It's over? How does that work? There was an even arbitrary nature to it then. And Laura demonstrates that there's still an arbitrary nature it to.

COOPER: Well, arbitrary, the guy publicly announced, "All right, I'm going to do it three more times," and then it just happened on the third time she -- and, you know, came back to life.

GUPTA: That's right. And why would -- and in this particular medical team decided not to give up.

COOPER: Right.

GUPTA: And how -- it's almost a little bit of a luck of the draw.

COOPER: Do you believe that, you know, the idea this tunnel vision that somebody gets and they feel that's a near death experience or after death experience, do you believe that there is just a physical cause for it? That it is the retina and what's happening in the brain?

GUPTA: You know, I do. But I will say this, that I think nowhere else in our society is there as close an intersection between science and spirituality than a near death experience. Some of the things that were described to me simply could not be explained by science.

COOPER: And near death experiences are actually a lot more common than I think we realize.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, some experts take about 800 times a day around the world this happens. You know, they say maybe tens of millions of people have had them in some way, shape or form. But a near death experience in the United States may be very different than one in Eastern Africa. Here, we tend to see deceased relatives, for example, whereas in eastern Africa, they may see glimpses of a life that they wish they had led.

COOPER: If there are cultural differences, that does sort of argue for it being, you know, things that are in your brain which are causing this rather than some actual experience.

GUPTA: Yes. I think a lot of it can be explained physiologically: lack of blood flow and reflecting on that moment on previous life experiences. But I do think that, based on everything I've heard, there is a spiritual component to this that can't be simply explained away by those things.

COOPER: Well, congratulations on the book.

GUPTA: Thanks, Anderson. Appreciate it.

COOPER: Well, in recent years doctors have learned new ways to help people survive cardiac arrest, including one simple technique that anyone can do. You can go to, where Sanjay explains why and how these discoveries can make a difference.

And talk about cheating death: a baby gets hit by a train, survives. Just a minor bump to the head, we're told. You have to see the video to fully believe it.

Also tonight, a lawsuit for a reality star. Who's getting sued? Jon? Kate? One of the eight? We'll tell you who. I hope it's not one of the eight, because they really don't deserve it. We'll be right back.


COOPER: All right. Let's get caught up on some of the other stories we're following. Erica Hill has a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, a Utah judge says a state hospital determined the woman charged with the 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart is mentally competent for trial. A hearing on the decision will be held next month. Wanda Barzee and her estranged husband, Brian David Mitchell, face multiple charges in the case.

Senator John Ensign's sex scandal is hurting his campaign's fundraising. According to Politico, Senator Ensign raised just under $33,000 between July and September. Now that's down nearly $302,000 from the previous quarter.

In June, the Nevada Republican admitted he'd had an affair with a staffer and that his family paid her and her family off. Now there are allegations that Ensign helped the mistress's husband get a lobbying job.

The story Anderson has been waiting for. TLC is suing Jon Gosselin.

COOPER: No! I don't believe it.

HILL: It is true. Here's why. Accusing him of breaking his contract for "Jon & Kate Plus 8." The network says he's been paid to appear on rival programs and has talked publicly about his marital troubles and, despite agreeing not to. His lawyer calls the allegations baseless.

COOPER: Are you telling me the "Insider" is paying him to get yelled at by Nancy Grace? I don't believe it. I don't believe it.

HILL: No, no, no. Allegations.

Let's move on to Australia, which is -- we can't stop talking about this in the studio tonight. A frightening moment, beyond frightening. There are no words to describe this. Caught on tape. You saw the stroller there fall off. In that stroller, a 6-month-old baby.

The train enters the station, as you see. The stroller was dragged for 33 yards. Incredibly, the little boy suffered only a cut to the forehead. COOPER: Unbelievable.

HILL: The mother visibly -- you look at her body language. I can't even imagine what she's going through. I'm happy the boy's all right, but I mean, I'm going to stress out even more than I normally do every time I'm at the subway now with my son.

COOPER: Yes. Well, thank goodness it turned out OK. Unbelievable.

Time now for "Beat 360," our daily challenge for viewers to come up with a caption better from the one -- we haven't played this for so long I forgot how it works.

Come up with a caption better than the one we can up with for a photo that we put on the blog every day.

HILL: You got it.

COOPER: Tonight's photo, a birthday celebration at the White House for first dog Bo and his brother Cappy. He sneaks a treat from a table in the Rose Garden. I didn't know he had a brother named Cappy. That is like a 1940s gangster film.

HILL: Speaking of 1940s...

COOPER: Bo and Cappy.

HILL: Bo and Cappy have missed the music of "Beat 360."

COOPER: Bo and Cappy. I'm the fun loving...

HILL: It's Friday.

COOPER: Right. Cappy will be...

Our winner tonight is Julia. Her caption, "Cappy looks for government handouts at the White House." I guess that's true. That's how that works.

Viewer winner is Nazim from Houston. His caption: "Just to show you, it's not just politicians who get caught with their hands in the cookie jar in Washington." Very good.


COOPER: Congratulations. That rascal, Cappy. Nazim, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way.

HILL: Excellent. And you maybe need a moment to collect yourself. So I'm going to handle tonight's "Shot."

COOPER: I never like it when you take over "The Shot." I know it means I'm going to be mocked.

HILL: Good stuff. Halloween is coming up. COOPER: Yes.

HILL: Which you knew that, because this morning, Anderson Cooper...

COOPER: Yes. I was hoping you would see it.

HILL: ... there you were, making your debut...

COOPER: Hoping you didn't see that one.

HILL: ... as a masked model on "Regis & Kelly." They didn't have a Cappy mask, unfortunately. Politics, pretty big theme this year. Let's relive the magic from this morning, shall we?


COOPER: How you are doing today?



HILL: I love it.

COOPER: That was David Letterman there.

HILL: Nice.


COOPER: Is this David Letterman?

RIPA: What are you?

COOPER: I'm mortified. I am, actually.


COOPER: Yes, quite literally. Mortified.

HILL: Can I tell you the best part about that?

COOPER: I'm still trying to figure out best part.

HILL: I got an e-mail. I got an e-mail from my mom today who said, "Oh, I saw Anderson was going to be on with Kelly this morning. So I set my DVR. Just tell him he was fantastic. It was a great show."

COOPER: Do we have time for "The Today Show"? Just one more? Do we have time for just a little -- little bit of "The Today Show"? Do we have it?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICHARD HEENE, FATHER: That's what he was referring to.


HILL: Poor child.


R. HEENE: That's what he was referring to when...


COOPER: Just keep on going. Ignore the child vomiting. Just keep on going.

HILL: And I know I want to point out that...

COOPER: Yes. Just keep on going. Yes, he'll get over it. He'll stop eventually.

Just incredible. You can not make this stuff up. You know what I mean? Unbelievable.

HILL: Even if you tried.

COOPER: Even if you tried. Something to think about over the weekend.

We'll be right back.