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Michigan Voters Head to the Polls; Wanted Marine's Vehicle Located

Aired January 15, 2008 - 15:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. It could be a major break in a story that we have been talking about for days now, that all-out manhunt to try and find Cesar Laurean, the man accused of killing the young Marine.
Betty Nguyen is getting the details right now in the newsroom, as we're getting word they found a vehicle belonging to him somewhere in North Carolina?

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's what we understand.

We're going to show you some live pictures right now from our affiliate WTVD.

This is Morrisville, North Carolina. And we don't know which vehicle in particular, but we know that several of them have been taped off here. And what authorities are telling the local affiliate is that a vehicle belonging to the suspect was found here outside what is reported as being a hotel.

I can't really tell you because the shot is a little tight right now. As it widens out, we might get a better description of the building next to it. But on the left of the screen, you can see a picture of Marine Corporal Cesar Armando Laurean.

And there was news over the weekend that not only was he spotted, but they knew that he had dropped his vehicle off somewhere and perhaps caught a bus and was making his way to Shreveport, Louisiana, where someone apparently had spotted him. That was the last in the leads of his whereabouts.

A $25,000 reward is being offered to anyone who can help find Corporal Laurean. But at this hour, it looks like authorities are zeroing in on a vehicle belonging to him. And you can see several of them in that little taped-off zone. We don't know exactly which vehicle it is in particular. But, apparently, this vehicle is parked outside of a hotel, and it's leading authorities on what is going to be a very large puzzle as to not only what happened, but where he is at this hour.

What we know so far, though, Maria Lauterbach was killed and buried in Laurean's backyard. The question as to exactly how it all went down, well, that's still to be decided and discovered. But this is the latest in the search right now, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, and I'm being told we're getting this information from our various affiliates there in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area.

Betty, is that right? Is that where...

NGUYEN: Yes, exactly.

If you look at the screen there where we're getting this live picture, it's our affiliate WTVD, they are reporting this. Our other affiliate, WRAL, as well reporting similar information, that a vehicle belonging to Laurean, the prime suspect in this murder case, has been spotted in Morrisville, North Carolina.

This appears to be the site of where that vehicle is parked. I can't tell you exactly which one is his. But obviously authorities are locked on to this position and they are going to be investigating further.

PHILLIPS: You are saying that somebody saw him or they just found the car?

NGUYEN: Just the vehicle.


NGUYEN: They have only tracked down the vehicle belonging to him.

As I mentioned a little bit earlier, we had learned over the weekend according to authorities that it was believed that he may have caught a bus and was headed to Shreveport, where a witness had reported spotting him, as the sheriffs reported, in transit, whatever that means.

But so he is still on the run and he's not believed to be where this vehicle is, but it is one of the last traces of his steps.

PHILLIPS: And one step closer to trying to find him. All right, we will continue of course to follow all the latest developments and, of course, the search for Cesar Laurean, the man accused of murdering Maria Lauterbach, the young Marine at Camp Lejeune.

If you have been following that story, you will remember her charred remains and the charred remains of her baby found in the backyard of Cesar Laurean, a man that she accused of rape.

A lot of questions about how the Marine handled that -- or the Marine Corps handled this case and also handled corporal Cesar Laurean. We will follow all these latest details and, of course, the search for him going on moment by moment, each day, until he will be caught.

Thanks, Betty.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Six hours to go until the last polls close on primary day in Michigan. It's all about the economy and it's all about the Republicans. John McCain's banking on independent voters to boost him in a second straight primary victory, but Mitt Romney, well, he's counting on his native state to turn his campaign around. Less at stake for Democrats, though. The state is being punished for moving its primary up, so no Democratic delegates are up for grabs here. Hillary Clinton is the only major candidate on the Democratic ballot.

Thirty delegates and a load of momentum are at stake for the GOP in Michigan. Mitt Romney could really use both.

Let's go straight to CNN's Dana Bash. She's just outside Detroit in Southfield.

Hello, Dana. What's going on where you are?


As you can probably see behind me is that people are setting up for what Mitt Romney's campaign are already calling his victory party here in Southfield, Michigan. Obviously, you know, some people might look at that and say he's putting the cart before the horse. Others might look at it and say he's hoping that he gets very much what he needs.

And you talked about it just a moment ago, Don, and that is a victory, his very first win in the presidential contest state. And he's hoping for it here in his home state of Michigan. And that has really been part of his pitch as he had been barnstorming the state for the past several days. He's made the pitch that he's somebody who gets Michigan because he has it in his blood.

He's also making the pitch that he is -- because of his experience as a CEO in the business community, that he can help the economic -- economically troubled state of Michigan, of course, troubled because of the auto industry and its problems.

And so he is essentially trying to tell people that he gets it and that he is somebody who is outside of -- outside Washington and can have that kind of approach to fix Michigan's problems.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, I'm not willing to stand by with an attitude of pessimism and watch jobs leave -- leave Michigan. I'm not willing to sit by with an attitude of pessimism and see home values go down and down and down as homes are being foreclosed on, as people are moving away.

I'm going to take action. I can't promise I can solve every problem. But I can promise I will -- promise I will fight to try and solve every problem. And I said I'm going to increase our funding for research and technology as it relates to energy and fuel and material sites and automotive technology. I'm going to fight to help Michigan, and I will not rest until it's come back.


BASH: Now, Mitt Romney has spent millions and millions of dollars here in the state of Michigan, and even his advisers and supporters here in Michigan admit that getting anything short of a win, of a first-place finish, could make it hard for him to continue. It could fatally wound his candidacy, despite the fact that he insists is he is going to go on and continue at least through the big February 5 Super Tuesday primary date.

Meanwhile, you have his chief rival, John McCain. Interesting, Don, he's not actually here tonight in the state of Michigan. He's already moving on to the next state of South Carolina. That's where he's going to have his party, tonight, if you will, in part because he's a very superstitious man, and that's where he was when he won the state of Michigan in the year 2000.

And it's also because, for John McCain, a couple of things could happen. One is he could win Michigan, and that would put him in command of the Republican field, because he also won New Hampshire. But also it could be that he does win Michigan and comes in number two, and in that case everything will be riding on what happens in South Carolina.

Meanwhile, he also spent a lot of time here in Michigan, making clear that, although he is a creature of Washington, he's a senator, he understands the problems here in Michigan.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We know how tough this has been on this state. I have been here enough times over the years to see what's happened, how we have had so many great, great people and wonderful workers lose their jobs at too early a time, through causes that had nothing to do with their productivity or their efficiency or their loyalty to their company.

And it's sad. And it's tough. And, my friends, we are a you Judeo-Christian-valued nation. We cannot leave these people behind.


BASH: Now, there you hear John McCain talking about a Judeo- Christian-valued nation, not the kind of terms John McCain usually or historically talks in.

But he's also not just competing against Mitt Romney in this state. He's competing against a former preacher, and that is Mike Huckabee. Mike Huckabee is probably going to come in third here. But he has been -- he's a wild card. He's been appealing to evangelicals in this state and he's been preaching populism, which is a big selling point in a state that, again, has the biggest unemployment rate in the country -- Don.

LEMON: All right, Dana Bash, thank you very much for that.

And what would you ask the presidential candidates if you could ask them a question? Well, here is your chance. Send your questions to

They might be used Monday night in a South Carolina Democratic debate, co-sponsored by CNN. Plus, keep track of all the races at

And for more on the presidential candidates and their next stops, go to It is your one-stop shop for all things political.

PHILLIPS: All right, if you have just been tuning in to CNN, a major break in that manhunt for Cesar Laurean, the Marine accused of killing a fellow Marine at Camp Lejeune and also her unborn baby.

Betty Nguyen has been working details in this developing story, apparently, authorities finding a vehicle that belongs to him.

NGUYEN: Yes, we're getting some more clarification on that vehicle.

Want to show you a live picture, if we could, of the scene. This is coming from our affiliate WTVD. And we're also learning from affiliate information that -- you see the black pickup truck in the middle of the screen? That is the vehicle that authorities are centering on at this hour.

It is not only just a black pickup truck that we have been told that Laurean was driving, but, indeed, the license plate on it matches the black Dodge pickup truck that police were saying Laurean was driving at the time when they were searching for him. It's been several days into this search so far and he has not been found.

But this is one small clue that could possibly help lead to his whereabouts at this hour. As you mentioned, Kyra, that Marine Corporal Cesar Armando Laurean is the prime suspect in the murder of Maria Lauterbach, a fellow Marine, a pregnant Marine, a woman who was just 20 years old who had accused Laurean of raping her.

And, by many accounts, he could possibly be the father of her child, a child which is no longer alive, both of them dead, found in the back of Laurean's house, dug -- in a hole that was dug in the ground. And so that was discovered over the weekend. And, today, we're learning more about possibly leads that could find him as his vehicle has been discovered in Morrisville, North Carolina.

So, as soon as we get more information on the search, we will bring it to you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Yes, we will definitely be tracking it with you. Thanks, Betty.

LEMON: Blowing snow, freezing temperatures, well, it hasn't been easy for rescuers on Mount Hood, but they just reached two stranded climbers and they are leading them out right now. The climbers say they got lost in whiteout conditions as they were coming down the mountain yesterday, so they huddled in a snow cave. Well, this morning, they were able to make a call, a cell phone call, to a girlfriend, and rescuers pinpointed their whereabouts -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, six months after the deadly I-35 bridge collapse in Minnesota, we're learning more about the cause. The National Transportation Safety Board is pointing to the failure of gusset plates that were supposed to hold the steel beams together.

The exact cause still hasn't been determined.


MARK ROSENKER, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: We do not today know what caused the I-35 bridge collapse. Nor do we have indications that other similar bridges in this nation have the kind of flaw that we saw in this one. But we think that, in the future, before major work is performed on fracture-critical bridges, all structure elements should undergo load-capacity calculations.


PHILLIPS: That collapse killed 13 people. The NTSB investigation is expected to take up to 18 months to complete.

LEMON: We're continuing to follow developing news here. This just in to the CNN NEWSROOM. Our Betty Nguyen just reported just moments ago the suspect in the killing of that Marine and her baby, unborn child, the vehicle has been spotted.

According to our affiliates here, it's been spotted at a Microtel on Airport Road in Morrisville, North Carolina. We are going to continue to follow the very latest on this, bring you these live pictures and updates as we get them here in the NEWSROOM.


LEMON: Breaking news coming to us from North Carolina. You can see it there.

Remember, Kyra, we had the sheriff on from North Carolina? He was talking about this twin-cab truck, late-model twin-cab truck, that Cesar Laurean may have been driving, and that's what they were looking for; they sent out a release?

Well, it appears they found a truck matching that description. And according to our affiliates WTVD and also WRAL in North Carolina, that the authorities there have spotted a truck. They say it's on Airport Road at a Microtel there, a truck that matches the description of corporal Cesar A. Laurean.

Of course, we know the background here. He's accused of killing Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach, and then disposing of her body in his backyard, as a matter of fact, a gruesome way that he is accused of killing her, by somehow trying to char or burn her body. And, of course, she was pregnant. Again, he was accused -- had accused her -- or she had accused him of raping her and she was supposed to testify in an investigation against him.

But we're following this developing story, live pictures now from both of our affiliates. And we certainly appreciate that -- a truck believed to be matching the description of Corporal Cesar Armando Laurean found at this facility, at this Microtel inn, in the parking lot there -- new developments as they come.

PHILLIPS: Three seventeen Eastern right -- or 3:17 Eastern time right now, here are some of the stories that we're working on in the CNN NEWSROOM.

A U.S. Embassy vehicle mangled by an explosion just north of Beirut, Lebanon -- at least three civilian bystanders were killed. No confirmation whether the vehicle was the actual target of that blast, but there have been a string of pro-Western attacks in Lebanon lately.

And fix the problem, or else, that's the message today from lawmakers at a House committee hearing into steroids in baseball. Virginia Congressman Tom Davis warns that -- the sport to get rid of drugs or -- quote -- "Congress will do it for you."

And CNN has learned that Gwyneth Paltrow was hospitalized in New York. Her spokesperson says at "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" the actress is back home now and she's fine, but she won't say why she was in the hospital.


PHILLIPS: All right, and, once again, a major breakthrough in the manhunt for Cesar Laurean, the Marine accused of murdering a fellow Marine who was eight months pregnant with his child. She had come forward, said that he had raped her. She was about to testify. She went missing, and now he is wanted for murder -- his truck found here in Morrisville, North Carolina.

Our Rusty Dornin is working the story for us. She's straight ahead in the NEWSROOM with more details.



PHILLIPS: Two climbers stranded on Mount Hood, getting to them wasn't easy, but we will have an update in the CNN NEWSROOM. It's good news.

LEMON: Counting votes in Michigan's vast Arab-American community, we will tell you the concerns of a powerful voting bloc.


PHILLIPS: It's a possible break in the manhunt for Marine murder suspect Cesar Laurean. For the latest now, let's go to CNN's Rusty, Dornin. She's in Jacksonville, North Carolina, working her way closer and closer to the scene there.

Rusty, this could be good news for investigators.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, you're seeing those pictures of the investigators around the truck they believe to be Cesar Laurean's. The interesting thing is apparently that tip on the location of that truck came from somewhere here in Onslow County the sheriff told me the tip was generated from here. They called the folks near Morrisville and asked them to go check out and see if the truck is actually Cesar Laurean's.

As I said, he will not say where that tip did come from. Now, as you remember, the ATM card belonging to Maria Lauterbach, the victim, was dropped at a bus station in Durham. That's about two, two-and-a- half hours from Morrisville. Also, some folks had spotted the truck there.

Now the fact that they have possibly -- they won't confirm it absolutely here at the sheriff's department, but obviously that should be coming very soon -- that it is actually Laurean's truck. But they're not saying for sure whether they think they're getting that much closer, because the fact is, because the truck was spotted last week, who knows how long it may have been sitting here?

And the sheriff's department has said before there is that possibility that Laurean is already in hiding. The sheriff also did tell me that he thinks there may have been some planning. There is some evidence in this case that this whole thing was planned, including the getaway. So they are not overly optimistic that they are going to be apprehending him immediately following the location of this truck -- Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Rusty, do we -- I'm looking at the video. It's actually -- I'm not sure if this is tape or live pictures. OK, it is live pictures. And you can actually see authorities circling around the truck, looking inside the truck. And I'm just wondering -- I don't know if you have heard, have they gone into the truck yet and been able to see what's inside?

Because at this point, they're just sort of doing an overhaul around the truck with gloves and a flashlight and they haven't opened up the doors yet. Do you know if they've gotten inside?

DORNIN: I think they're trying to confirm with the sheriff's department here. I mean this is a case where, you know, they're probably getting pictures -- the sheriff's department here may even be looking at the pictures that we're showing right now, of course. And they want to get confirmation, of course, before they get inside the truck, that that actually is Laurean's truck.

One of the other things, of course, that came out today, Kyra, as well, is one line was released from the autopsy report saying that Maria Lauterbach was killed by blunt force trauma to the head. That goes in direct contradiction to, of course, the suspect, Cesar Laurean, who left behind a note claiming that Lauterbach had committed suicide and that he buried her.

So a lot of things coming out today. We don't -- we aren't going to be getting the details of that autopsy report perhaps even for another couple of weeks -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, we'll be following up on the latest development with you here. Rusty, as you get more information, you let us know.

LEMON: It is all about the economy, it's all about the Republicans. It is primary day in Michigan and voters are at the polls. They're there right now. Polls show John McCain and Mitt Romney -- well, they're in a tight GOP race, in a vote where the state's ravaged economy is front and center.

Michigan was punished for moving its primary, so no Democratic delegates are up for grabs there. Democratic hopefuls are focusing on their next major contest. That's Saturday's Nevada caucuses. The vote in Michigan is the first so far among a large and diverse population. Arab-Americans make up a large part of that diversity.

And CNN's Keith Oppenheim reports many feel alienated by what they've heard from many of the candidates.


KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dearborn, Michigan, where every day, women in traditional black coverings buy bread on Warren Avenue. This is the heart of Michigan's Arab-American community -- some 350,000 strong -- one of the largest concentrations outside the Middle East. It's a socially conservative group that largely supported George W. Bush for president eight years ago. That changed dramatically in 2004 after 9/11. And some here say the shift away from Republicans may go even further this time.

OSAMA SIBLANI, "ARAB-AMERICAN NEWS": You -- if you want Arab- Americans and Muslims to vote for a Republican, you'll have to put a gun to their head and take them to the voting booth and tell them to vote for a Republican.

OPPENHEIM: Osama Siblani is a publisher of the "Arab-American News" in Dearborn. He says the turnoff is partly a result of recent Republican ads that he argues link Muslims with terrorism.

From John McCain...

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That transcend an issue of the 21st century is the struggle against radical Islamic extremism.

OPPENHEIM: From Rudy Giuliani...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A people perverted, a religion betrayed.

SIBLANI: It's disgusting the community because they are beating on them in order to get the vote.

OPPENHEIM: Sublani's paper is endorsing Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, arguing they have reached out to Arab-Americans. Fatme Nemir says she's picking Kucinich.

FATME NEMIR, VOTER: He's been here in the community. He's been very up close and personal with the people.

OPPENHEIM: For some of these voters, the key issue is the war in Iraq -- that it's gone on for too long. But not for everyone. Alex Al Shawaly is a construction worker unemployed on and off for two years. He voted for George Bush in the last two elections, but now says he'll vote for Hillary Clinton. For him, it's all about the economy.

ALEX AL SHAWALY, VOTER: Excuse me, I'm sorry. I mean excuse my language, but we've been living like hell the last eight years ago. Nothing changed.

OPPENHEIM (on camera): And you want to get the Clinton years back?

AL SHAWALY: Yes, sir.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): Keep in mind, Arab-Americans here are a mix of Muslims and Christians. And many still feel more comfortable with Republican candidates, who share their conservative values on issues like abortion and gay marriage. Ali Jawad says he's voting for Romney -- at least for now.

ALI JAWAD, VOTER: Right now, in the primary I will vote Republican. But if you come back and ask me in the general election, I don't know which way I'm going to vote.

OPPENHEIM (on camera): This primary, by the way, is not exactly normal. Because of a dispute over the date of this election, candidates like Barack Obama and John Edwards are not even on the ballot. As a result, Arab-American leaders here say their community is unenthusiastic about the choices in this primary.

Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Dearborn, Michigan.


LEMON: Are the candidates really speaking to the issues you care about?

Our Lou Dobbs wants to know and he's going to find out on a prime time special tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Don't miss "Independents Day: An Awakening of the American Spirit," only here on CNN.

PHILLIPS: The paycheck was big, the perks were many. But it wasn't enough. Find out why a former Microsoft executive gave it all up to help some of the world's poorest children. Asieh Namdar has his story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: All right, we want to get you back now -- that's his picture right there, the Laurean Marine -- Corporal Cesar Armando Laurean. That's who investigators are looking for in the death of Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach, 20-years-old, eight and a half months pregnant. They found her body -- what is believed to be her body in his yard. That's according to investigators.

Now let's take a look at this. This is what investigators are centering on now. This area in Morrisville, North Carolina -- an airport just across the way from this Microtel, where the truck believed to be matching that of the truck belonging to Cesar Armando Laurean -- found at this Microtel just a short time ago. Investigators there on the scene.

According to our affiliates, from the video, they say that the license plate of this black Dodge twin cab pickup truck matches that of Laurean. And so investigators are on the scene now trying to figure out exactly why the truck is there and where he is. But there is still a nationwide manhunt for this corporal that you're looking at.

PHILLIPS: Well, he climbed the corporate ladder then took a leap of faith. Former Microsoft executive John Wood traded his life of luxury for something that he loved -- helping kids around the world learn to read.

His story now from CNN's as Asieh Namdar.


JOHN WOOD, FORMER MICROSOFT EXECUTIVE: You see Franklin the turtle? Turtle, yes. Franklin could slide down a river bank all by himself.

ASIEH NAMDAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Wood is not a teacher or an aid worker -- he's a former executive at Microsoft. At the height of his career, he walked away from a six figure salary to change the world one book at a time. His quest started eight years ago during a vacation to a small Himalayan village and a visit to a remote school.

WOOD: Four hundred and fifty students with no books. And this is a problem you see throughout the developing world. And to me, it just seemed cruel. How can we live in a world with so much abundance and have something as lacking as books in children's lives? This village's school has about 135 students in grades one through five. As you can tell, it's not a very good environment for learning.

NAMDAR: A year later, Wood quit his job and went back to the same village -- this time with donkeys and yaks loaded with 3,000 books.

WOOD: The kids just got these excited looks on their faces. And I thought this is a great moment and why can't I do this hundreds, if not thousands of times, across the poorest parts of the world?

NAMDAR: So he sent a simple e-mail to friends asking for books. His efforts turned into Room To Read -- a global organization that has built thousands of libraries and schools in Africa and Asia.

WOOD: And I just thought it would be a crisis to not follow my passion.

NAMDAR (on-camera): Do you miss your old life and your old job?

WOOD: You know what I really miss? I miss having that credit card where the bill went every month to Bill Gates and I didn't have to pay it.

NAMDAR (voice-over): Still, Wood has never looked back.

WOOD: Maybe I would rather do that than spend the rest of my life selling software.


PHILLIPS: Asieh joins me now live. What a great guy.

NAMDAR: A great guy.

PHILLIPS: He just gives you such a great feeling.

NAMDAR: You know, all of us, Kyra, think about doing something like that. I mean, you and I have had countless conversations.

PHILLIPS: That's true.

NAMDAR: We wish we could do this. But so few people actually do it. And he's someone who actually did something about it.

PHILLIPS: Well, how did people react when he said well, I'm leaving my zillion dollar job and I'm going to go open up libraries and teach kids how to read?

NAMDAR: You know, he said people thought he was going through a mid-life crisis. I mean they kind of laughed at him and he said it was kind of awkward at parties and social situations, because he went from saying yes, I'm vice president of marketing at Microsoft to yes, I'm delivering books on donkeys and yaks to, you know, a developing country.


NAMDAR: So it took people a while, but he said to me at the end that people were very, very open and receptive to the idea once they realized what it was all about.

PHILLIPS: What country is he focusing on now?

NAMDAR: Well, their next target is Zambia. And the last conversation I had with him, which was a couple of days ago, he said they should be set and ready to go by the end of this year. So, Zambia, Asia, Africa and then from there on it all depends on the capital.

PHILLIPS: Wow! Well, I don't think he'll have an issue, you know, with raising the capital.

NAMDAR: And if I could also update some numbers, Kyra, if you don't mind...


NAMDAR: ...since we talked. He said 5,600 schools and libraries up until this point reaching 1.7 million kids around the world.

PHILLIPS: Oh, my gosh.

NAMDAR: It's pretty amazing.

PHILLIPS: So how can people get involved, donate, participate? Is there a Web site?

NAMDAR: There is a Web site.


NAMDAR: And if we could put it on the screen, it's called Room To Read --, actually. So, of course, if you click on there, there's all kinds of information. And, you know, education is such a big core of everything. If you have education, you have understanding. If you have understanding, you have more empathy, less hatred and less chances of the horrible attacks (ph).

PHILLIPS: And here's somebody who could have lived -- I mean or -- and, in many ways, he probably does, because he's so rich in spirit and character. But, you know, so much money, he could do whatever he wanted and he's doing this type of charitable work.

NAMDAR: He had the passion and he also was willing to take the risk. I think a lot of people have the passion, but they're just afraid to take that step...


NAMDAR: ...because we have husbands, we have children. In his case, he didn't have a wife. He didn't have kids.


NAMDAR: So it was a lot easier for him to take the step.

PHILLIPS: Every single woman around the country is going to want to meet John Wood now.


PHILLIPS: All right, Asieh, what a great story. Thanks so much.

NAMDAR: Thanks, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right.

LEMON: Boiling mad...


MICHAEL KEENE, SON WAS PUNISHED: Obviously, on my first response, my son was mistreated. My first response is I wanted to crack the man in two. I mean honestly, right?


LEMON: A dad's outrage at his son's punishment in school. You'll have to hear to it believe it.


LEMON: A picture of Cesar Laurean there on the left. That truck there on the right, that Dodge pickup truck, CNN has confirmed that this truck does belong to Corporal Cesar Laurean. He is the 20-year- old man accused -- a 21-year-old man accused of killing Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach -- eight and a half months pregnant -- disposing of her body in his backyard. CNN is following this developing story. But we have confirmed that this is his truck. Details to come on CNN.

PHILLIPS: And one of our top stories we're following was that hunt for those missing hikers on Mt. Hood in Oregon. Tough weather conditions made it tough for rescuers to get in there and try and get to them. And then a cell phone ping was traced and the hikers were located.

Just a short time ago, Pat Doris, with our affiliate KGW, put this report together for us.


PAT DORIS, KGW CORRESPONDENT: While it's a beautiful morning right now on Mt. Hood, it was certainly much different last night and early this morning.

Let's take a look at the video of Justin Votos and Matthew Pitts, both from Portland, as they came out. They're behind the woman in the gray coat there. But they actually said they thought their cell phones were dead until they got a call from the sheriff's office this morning. They'd been warming the phones overnight in a snow cave.

And they did not have a GPS with them but, incredibly, they had stopped and built a snow cave down low, about 3,200 feet, right by a geocache, which is something people use GPSs for to find -- mostly in the summer up here. But they were able to open it and find out their exact location.

Let's go to early morning video now and we'll show you what the conditions were like. This was before dawn as search teams reported on that rescue and American Medical Response went up the mountain to try and find them, because these guys had summited -- or tried to summit on the west side of the mountain and were supposed to be back at about 4:00 yesterday. When they didn't return, of course, their loved ones started calling in help.

Inside of the command center late this morning, they got word that a cell phone call had gotten through. And they started figuring out exactly where these folks were. Then it was pretty simple, especially with that geocache that gave them the lat and long, to go in and find them. We talked with one of the climbers just a moment or two ago. Matthew Pitts, who is a waiter from the Portland area, talked about their plan. Here's what he had to say.

MATTHEW PITTS: (INAUDIBLE) out of there about 10,000 feet up, we just caught some really nasty weather and decided to bail. The weather got even worse -- whiteout conditions. We tried to go back down the same way we went up, but just kind of lost our way and ended up a little bit further west, I guess, than we thought than we thought we were going to be.

DORIS: They said if they had to do it again, they would definitely bring a GPS. And they thought it was pretty incredible that they ended up camping out right by that geocache that gave all the information rescuers needed.

Back to you.


PHILLIPS: Once again, that was from Pat Doris from our affiliate, KGW, out of Oregon there.

Now here's a quick look at the big hits on The top video comes from Australia. A teen bloke threw out a heck of a party at his parents' house. A nice picture there. Hundreds teens actually showed up. I wonder if they were all naked like that.


PHILLIPS: The cops, their helicopter, canines, reinforcements -- they all showed up. Things got pretty wild and now officials want to stick the 16-year-old party animal with the bill -- 20 grand.

A listing cargo ship in the English Channel a popular choice for a second day. Compelling pictures there.

And no one can resist helping this moose get loose.

Just check out the stories at

LEMON: There he is. That's a great picture, actually. I can see why it's so popular there.

A Texas band teacher is facing the music after a punishing -- after punishing a young student for forgetting his instrument.

Stephanie Guadian, with our affiliate station KTRK, reports the story that has parents spitting mad.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) M. KEENE: I mean my blood was boiling. I was mad. I was angry.

STEPHANIE GUADIAN, KTRK CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's crystal clear how Michael Keene feels about the punishment his 11-year-old son was given for forgetting to bring his trumpet to band class at New Caney's sixth grade campus.

M. KEENE: Obviously, the first response -- my son was mistreated. My first response was I wanted to crack the man in two. I mean, honestly, right?

GUADIAN: The New Caney Independent School District confirms the band teacher did punish the student by having other students empty their spit valves into the boy's hand -- news that did not sit well with other New Caney parents.

JIMMIE MIKEL, PARENT: With the diseases going around nowadays, that's very unsanitary, for one thing. And there are ways to correct a child without being -- going to that extreme.

MARY SARGENT, PARENT: That's just totally wrong. That's just -- the teacher needs to be punished for that, because, I mean, the kid's got to live with that embarrassment for the rest of his life now. And that just ain't right.

GUADIAN: Keene says he came aware of the January 4th incident after his son went to a school counselor, asking to be transferred out of band class. The school district has since placed the band teacher on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

M. KEENE: For the most part, they've fixed the problem. I mean they've -- they've resolved with ensuring that students don't have to go through this again and -- which is the most important thing.

GUADIAN: Keene's son is back at school, but no longer in band class. And while the father is pleased with the school district's responsiveness, it's still hard for him to stomach what his son went through at such a young age.

M. KEENE: That's disgusting -- 21 kids blowing spit into your son's hand? Yes, it's disgusting. And it makes me angry.


PHILLIPS: It's disgusting.

LEMON: It's gross, isn't it?


LEMON: School officials are withholding the name of that teacher, Kyra, who issued the unorthodox punishment, to say the least. But they're expected to meet with the teacher next week. He's got some explaining to do, don't you think?

PHILLIPS: Yes, he does. LEMON: Time now to check in with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

PHILLIPS: He's standing by in "THE SITUATION ROOM" to tell us what's coming up at the top of the hour.

Hey, Wolf.

BLITZER: That's terrible. I was in the high school band. I can relate. But nobody ever did that. I don't know what that teacher was thinking.

LEMON: Isn't that gross?

PHILLIPS: Wolf Blitzer would never on anybody.

BLITZER: Oh my God. That was awful -- that spit (INAUDIBLE). Terrible, disgusting.


BLITZER: All right, guys, coming up at the top of the hour, I'll be speaking about the presidential contest with the highest ranking African-American in Congress. You're going to want to hear what Congressman James Clyburn from South Carolina has to say about the disturbing gender and racial comments we've been hearing so much about in the Democratic campaign. That's coming up.

In Saudi Arabia, President Bush has a message for the oil producing countries -- words he hopes will help you at the gas pump.

And we'll also be getting our first look at the exit polls from today's Michigan primary. You're going to find out what's on the minds of the voters. All that and a lot more coming up, guys, right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

PHILLIPS: Wolf, what instrument did you play?

BLITZER: Saxophone, baritone saxophone.


BLITZER: At Kenmore West Senior High School outside of Buffalo.

PHILLIPS: And what was your favorite tune?


BLITZER: I was really bad at it.

PHILLIPS: You were really bad...


PHILLIPS: You don't have a favorite tune?

BLITZER: But I was in the band, in the marching band. I did the whole nine yards.

LEMON: Oh, gosh.


BLITZER: But -- because I liked it, but I was not very good at it.

PHILLIPS: Oh, poor Wolf.


PHILLIPS: Well, look at you now, Wolf Blitzer. You're the man.

BLITZER: It goes to show you.

LEMON: Shows to go you.

BLITZER: Is this a great country or what?

PHILLIPS: Yes, it is.


LEMON: All right, I'm getting -- we've got to go. We've got to go.

Thanks, Wolf. We'll see you at the top of the hour.

The closing bell and a wrap of all the action on Wall Street straight ahead.


PHILLIPS: All right, the closing bell about to ring on Wall Street.

LEMON: Susan Lisovicz is standing by with a final look at the trading day.

I bet you wish you were saying TGIF, but it's only Tuesday.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's only Tuesday. I asked one trader -- I asked one trader today, I said what's the good word? He said the market closes at 4:00.