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More School Districts Switch To Virtual Learning As COVID Spikes; U.S. Tops 2,000 Flight Cancellations For Second Straight Day; Winter Storms Cause Travel Delays Across The U.S.; Expert Says January 6th Riot Aimed To Recruit Radicalized People; NYPD Cracks Decades-Old Cold Case With DNA Technology; Biden Talks To Ukraine's President As Russian Troops Gather At The Border; Woman Quarantines $In Airplane Bathroom. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired January 02, 2022 - 18:00   ET




PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST (voice-over): Nearly one year since the violent January 6th attack on the Capitol.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): The committee has firsthand testimony now that he was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office watching the attack on television.

BROWN: The investigating committee revealing what former President Trump's inner circle says he was doing as the riot played out.

CHENEY: His daughter Ivanka went in at least twice to ask him to please stop this violence. He could have told them to go home, and he failed to do so. It's hard to imagine a more significant, a more serious dereliction of duty.

BROWN: Meanwhile, the Omicron surge shattering records. Over 400,000 cases a day.

DR. ANAND SWAMINATHAN, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: It's really one of these perfect storms with all of these cases coming in.

BROWN: More and more schools bracing for a shift to virtual learning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is absolutely no way to keep Omicron out of the schools.

BROWN: The surge still wreaking havoc on holiday travelers.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the last 10 days, 14,000- plus flights have been canceled.

BROWN: Experts say relief could be weeks away.

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: By the end of February, we will be through this.


BROWN: A very Happy New Year to you. I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. It's great to be back with you. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

A new year arrives and a new week awaits, and the troubling surge in COVID infections looms over the post-holiday return to work and school. Sick airline personnel combined with winter weather have led to more than 2500 flight cancellations so far today. That is a nightmare for people scrambling to get home. It's now the seventh day in a row of at least 1,000 flights cancelled.

The U.S. is in the grip of a record-shattering spike of new COVID infections. The seven-day average of cases has soared. Experts warn it will only get worse. But the good news is, we want to be sure to emphasize this, hospitalizations are well below their previous peaks.

Now the White House is urging people not to take the Omicron variant lightly, though. The vast majority of the country seen in dark red is struggling with the surge of 50 percent or more in new infections.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: So it's kind of like a very interesting, somewhat complicated issue where you have a virus that might actually be less severe in its pathogenicity, but so many people are getting infected that the net amount, the total amount of people that would require hospitalization might be up.

So we can't be complacent in these reports which are likely accurate that it is ultimately in the big picture less severe. We're still going to get a lot of hospitalizations.


BROWN: Some school districts facing a spike of child COVID cases have announced at least a partial transition to online learning.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is in New York for us and it has seen a record number of cases just over this past week.

So, Polo, how prepared are schools for students to return?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they're doing everything they can, Pamela, to make sure that those students and staff are safe. And really what we're seeing at campuses across the country is they're adapting to this COVID era time of teaching, and not necessarily just COVID era, but also specifically right now with the spread that we're seeing with the Omicron variant.

There are some that are obviously taking a very aggressive approach, including in the Atlanta area. There's multiple school systems that are deciding to just start with remote learning altogether. In Washington where you are, parents, and, rather, students and staff have to have a negative test before returning to class. And in the nation's largest school system here in New York City, they're taking a different direction than what we saw last year.

For example, instead of sending an entire classroom home, if somebody has been exposed to COVID, they will then instead send rapid tests home with students and staff. Those that are asymptomatic and test negative can return to class. Those kids with symptoms may not attend school until they have a negative test that's about a day apart. Now as for kids who test positive, they will have to isolate for 10 days.

So basically the big goal here in New York City when it comes to their return to school is to try to return to some normalcy here and to try to limit disruptions. As we heard earlier this morning from the former commissioner of the FDA, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, he's basically urging many schools to continue with their in-person teaching with the right measures.


GOTTLIEB: I think certainly the February time frame is appropriate in terms of when we're going to pass through this Omicron wave across the United States. Now, this is a big country, this will affect different parts of the country at different points in time.


But if the U.K. is any guide, London is already peaking. If South Africa is any guide, this is about a two-month epidemic wave from start to finish. And so parts of the country that were affected earlier like New York are probably going to start to peak in the next two weeks, other parts within the next four weeks. So I think certainly by the end of February, we will be through this if businesses need a guide of when prevalence is going to start to decline.


SANDOVAL: Gottlieb there not only just providing more or less providing a time frame of what we can expect in the coming months. But he also before he said that, said that it was imperative that schools actually do welcome back students in person.

That he felt that perhaps by starting with remote learning, that that sends the message that they cannot control an outbreak, when we have seen in the last several months, Pamela, that with the eight measures in place, then some of those outbreaks are able to at least be fairly controlled, but of course many school districts still taking those aggressive steps as well.

BROWN: All right, Polo Sandoval, thanks so much.

And now I want to bring in Dr. Peter Hotez from the Baylor College of Medicine.

Hi, Dr. Hotez. Nice to see you. So let's begin with this week's return to the classroom. I can just tell you just from my personal experience as a mom, we had a whole text chain with other parents today saying, what is this upcoming week going to look like? You know, a lot of parents aren't sure what to think about sending their kids to school this week. What advice do you have?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Well, Pamela, you know, the parents aren't the only ones, same with the medical and health professionals. And here's why. We haven't had to deal with Omicron variants in the schools yet. As bad as Delta was, it's still nothing quite like Omicron which has the same transmissibility or almost as high as measles. And that, couple with the fact that too few kids are vaccinated.

So it's a big unknown. I think it's, you know, what I've been saying is, there's no good decision here. If you decide to go to virtual, as Dr. Gottlieb points out, that has drawbacks especially with the surgeon general's report recently about the mental health aspects of not having kids in school and many other -- and the fact that they want to have access to mental counselling, in some cases even meals.

So that's a big downside. On the other hand, with something this screaming level of transmission, it's going to be really, really tough, not only for the students but remember the teachers, the staff, the bus drivers, a lot of them are going to have to call out sick because of breakthrough COVID. So I think it's going to be really challenging to get through the school year. I can't fault school administrators either way, because also they're not getting a lot of advice from state and local health agencies that have been so depleted.

In fact, what you're seeing is the schools are being asked to compensate for the lack of public health infrastructure. We're asking school nurses and teachers to create testing centers, to create triage, to create contact tracing, which is so unfair. So a lot of unknowns. And I think what will happen is, you know, it's starting up in New York and Washington, and that's where it's the worst right now.

Eventually it will subside over the coming weeks. It's picking up here in the south now in Georgia, in Louisiana and Mississippi, that's where it will go next, then it's going to head out West. And we're going to see this big rolling wave going across the country.

BROWN: Yes. We've seen that before. So is it clear whether the Omicron variant is actually causing children to be sicker than the previous variants? Because we're seeing this uptick in pediatric hospitalizations.

HOTEZ: Yes, I think we're seeing that in two forms. First of all, again, this is so highly transmissible that I do not think it's selectively targeting the kids. It was a little bit like Delta only more so, that it's just creating this fire storm or virus blizzard that's landing a lot of kids in the hospital along with everybody else. A number of those kids are actually not admitted because of COVID. They're found to be infected once they're admitted for other reasons.

Others are actually being admitted for bona fide reasons. And again, this is a reminder how terribly we've underperformed in vaccinating our kids. Despite the availability of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for 5 and up, only 15 percent, 20 percent of kids nationally are doing this, are getting vaccinated, you know, with that vaccine. So that's really missing an opportunity, even among the adolescents.

Here in the south the rates of vaccinations for 12 to 17-year-olds are only half what it is in the northeast. So we are squandering opportunities to get kids safely through this beginning part of the school year.

BROWN: I want to talk about young children, because this morning former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that Omicron may be a bigger threat to toddlers because of the way it binds to the airway cells. Based on what you've seen, do you agree that younger children may be at greater risk?

HOTEZ: We have seen younger kids get admitted to the hospital, and in the sense that may make sense because when you think about viruses like respiratory syncytial virus, RSV or some of the parent influenzas, they do disproportionately affect upper airways.


And kids get, little kids get something called bronchiolitis which is pneumonia but it does cause instability in the airway and requires respiratory assistance. Sometimes there are certainly different therapeutic interventions. So, yes, that could be an issue, so watch out if your toddler has wheezing or shortness of breath. That's going to be a sign you want to bring your child to the hospital.

BROWN: That is frightening as a parent of two toddlers, but I will be keeping an eye out for that for sure. So I want to also, before we let you go, pass along this congratulations for your latest achievement. You and your colleague Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi secured Emergency Use Authorization for your affordable vaccine in India dubbed the world's vaccine. The goal is to make it widely access to inoculate the global population.

So look, this is not only a game changer for developing nations but for the world since we know that no country is safe until every country is safe, right?

HOTEZ: Well, remember -- thanks for bringing this up, Pam. Remember, the Delta variant arose out of an unvaccinated population in India. The Omicron variant arose out of an unvaccinated population in Southern Africa. So Mother Nature is telling us what she has in store for us. If we fail, if we refuse to vaccinate the African continent, South Asia and Latin America, she's going to continue to deal new variants heading our ways.

So not only is it the humanitarian right thing to do but it's also in our self-interests to halt these future variants and we've underperformed terribly in terms of vaccinating the global south and the southern hemisphere. So we are hoping our vaccine will make a difference.

It's done in collaboration with Biological E, one of the big vaccine producers in India. They have 150 million doses ready to go, 300 million by next month, and a billion over the year, and we'll actually have met or exceeded the global health commitment of the U.S. government just with our research and student collaboration with Biological E, so we're really excited to make that difference.

BROWN: Incredible work, Dr. Hotez. Congratulations to you and your colleague. Thanks so much for joining us.

HOTEZ: Thanks. Thanks so much, Pam.

BROWN: Well, as people try to return home from the holidays, a spike in COVID infections and a winter storm are delaying or cancelling airline flights at an unprecedented rate.

CNN's Ryan Young is at the Atlanta airport. So, Ryan, what are travelers dealing with right now?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As I said it before, they're dealing with so much, you think about COVID, you think about air travel, you also think about whether that's hitting the northeast. You put all that together and it's a really bad soup when it comes to what travelers are having to deal with.

Look, when you come here during the holidays, anyway, people are always sort of on edge. When you add all the things they're dealing with this year, and you can see the edge starting to fray in so many different places.

Take a look on the inside of the airport. We shot this video earlier, and the lines have stayed consistent all the way through in terms of the long line especially with travelers trying to rebook their flights in cities where they've had cancellations. And when you add on top of that the fact that this weather is starting to have an impact, we look at the board and just going to D.C., all flights across four different airlines were canceled just today.

Talking to a family of seven who have been stuck here at the airport since yesterday, and you understand their frustration in terms of not being able to get home, especially when it comes to maybe missing work on Monday. And add in the fact that COVID is starting to have -- some of these airlines have to cancel flights because of a shortage of staff. Take a listen to this one family who had trouble getting home the last three or four days.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We tried to leave on Thursday, and then they canceled it. And then we tried to reschedule for Saturday night and they rescheduled it again or canceled it. And then today they canceled it on the way to the airport, and then now we're rescheduled for tonight.

YOUNG: Have they given you guys any kind of lodging or anything at all?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, not yet. So, yes.

YOUNG: That's got to be frustrating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is, but as long as we can get back, we'll be good.


YOUNG: Yes, Pam, I talked to a family that was trying to get to Orlando, which is not that far away from Atlanta. And they still haven't been able to get a flight that direction.

2500 flights, more than 2500 flights have been canceled so far. You think about yesterday 2700 flights had been canceled, and over the last few days, the flight totals keep just doubling and when it comes to cancellations. And you think about all this in terms of the impact it will have especially with Monday morning travel, and the idea that we are dealing with an epidemic here, so one of the things that we noticed is a lot of people on the inside are dealing with this with the masks covering their faces.

But on top of that, when they try to get some food and get some relief, it's been hard for them to find some of those concessions to be open because some of those places are being hit by staffing shortages as well. So when you add all that in, a holiday mix plus COVID plus the weather, man, this has been a really weird day when it comes to travel in 2022.


BROWN: Weird is right. Not a good start to new year for those folks traveling right now.


BROWN: All right, Ryan Young, thanks so much.

Well, right now more than 14 million people from Alabama to New Jersey are under a winter storm warning. So let's go to CNN meteorologist Tyler Mauldin. He has a look at who could get hit the hardest.

So how's it looking, Tyler?

TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Pamela. It's been three years since Washington, D.C. has picked up more than 2 1/2 inches of snow. That may soon change. As you mentioned, millions are under winter weather alerts from Alabama all the way up into southern New Jersey. Up the spine of the Appalachian on into Washington, D.C., Maryland, and into New Jersey. Delaware, we are looking at a winter storm warning because a dynamic system is coming together.

You remember, the record-breaking temperatures we've had down here across the southeast. Meanwhile the frigid air across the north. Where the two are butting heads, we're getting a mixed bag of weather. In fact, we're getting more in the way of strong to severe thunderstorms across the panhandle of Florida, on up into the Carolinas. That's on the warm side.

On the cold side of the system, we are looking at snowfall. We've seen moderate snowfall across Memphis. Memphis yesterday had a high of nearly 80 degrees. With that kind of weather moving east, we're going to see all the impacts push up the East Coast. So more in the ways of your weather possible from the panhandle of Florida on into the Mid- Atlantic as we get into tomorrow.

The snowfall is going to spread as we push to the north. And notice this, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, maybe even New York City, Pamela, seeing some snowfall. The heaviest snowfall will be here across Washington, D.C. and areas to the East on into Jersey. That is where we could see four to seven inches of snowfall, Pamela.

I want to remind everyone that these snowfall totals could change if the track of the system deviates a little west or east.

BROWN: All right, good to know. A lot of schools I know in this area are already being canceled for tomorrow in anticipation of all of this.

Tyler Mauldin, thanks so much.

And new tonight on this Sunday, the committee investigating the insurrection reveals it has critical firsthand testimony about Donald Trump's words and actions as chaos engulfed the Capitol. Plus brand- new details on Ivanka Trump's pleas to her father during the violent rampage.

Also tonight, the tragic murder of a 13-year-old unsolved until now. CNN gets exclusive access as the NYPD cracks a 22-year-old cold case.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.



BROWN: Well, as the one-year anniversary of the deadly Capitol riot approaches, the House Select Committee is revealing disturbing facts about that fateful day.


CHENEY: The committee has firsthand testimony that President Trump was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office watching on television as the Capitol was assaulted, as the violence occurred. We know that that is clearly a supreme dereliction of duty. One of the things that the committee is looking at from the perspective our legislative purpose is whether we need enhanced penalties for that kind of dereliction of duty, but we've certainly never seen anything like that as a nation before.


BROWN: Congresswoman Liz Cheney is one of only two Republicans on that committee. And she also reports that they've gotten firsthand testimony that Ivanka Trump visited her father at least twice during the siege, begging him to put a stop to the violence.

Meanwhile, federal officials are warning that Thursday's anniversary may be exploited by threat actors but they are not naming specific or credible threats. One year later public answers about how the sustained attack unfolded have been slow in coming. We do know that the violent mob not only contained Trump partisans and QAnon conspiracy theorists but also members of the organized white power movement.

In a recent article for the "Atlantic" titled "Trump's Next Coup Has Already Begun," writer Barton Gelman notes that Trump and some of his most vocal allies, Tucker Carlson of FOX News notably among them, have taught supporters to fear that black and brown people were coming to replace them. According to the latest Census projections, white Americans will become a minority nationally in 2045.

Joining me now with more on this aspect of January 6th is Kathleen Belew, author of "Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America."

Welcome, Kathleen.

KATHLEEN BELEW, AUTHOR, "BRING THE WAR HOME": Thank you for having me.

BROWN: So you are certain that members of this movement took part in the insurrection. What are we underestimating about the size and ultimate goals of this movement?

BELEW: One of the important things to remember as we ask these very important questions about the complicity and even leadership roles that some of our legislators and even the president may have played that day is that we also have to pay attention to the threat to civilian life posed by these groups in the near future.

January 6th was not designed as a mass casualty attack, but this is a movement that has used mass casualty attacks over and over and over, and has used events like this one, big pieces of performative activism, to recruit and radicalize people for those other actions. So although white power and militant right activist comprise a smaller number of the total crowd on January 6th, they're the ones that we saw that day wearing tactical gear with an organizational plan, with group ties between people.

They're the first to breach the building and sort of the instigators of the push. It's going to be very important to watch these groups, not only this week around the anniversary but in the months and years to come.

BROWN: I want to dissect what you said a little bit. You say January 6th wasn't designed as a mass casualty attack. You say it was rather a recruitment action for radicalized Trump supporters. What exactly do you mean by that? Could you just expand on that a little bit more?


BELEW: Absolutely. So January 6th as an event follows a playbook laid out in a novel from the 1970s called "The Turner Diaries," which is a cultural central point of this kind of activism. It lays out a number of different sorts of attacks that a white guerrilla movement might take to unseat what they see as a corrupt state and bring about a race war. One of the events in the book is an attack in the Capitol.

In "The Turner Diaries," it's a mortar attack, but it's very similar to the action on January 6th in that it's not envisioned as a large death toll but rather as a selective strike at the heart of power. And in the book they talk about how they can use an attack like that not to kill large numbers of people, but instead to show other white people that this cause can work and to bring people into the fold.

We know that January 6th, the organizers were using "The Turner Diaries" in this way based on the presence of some of the symbols that we saw on that day, like the noose erected outside of the building, like references to the "Turner Diaries" by members of the militant right groups. We also know that these militant right and white power groups reached into those other streams of activism that you mentioned, the Trump-based QAnon groups, immediately after the insurgent events in order to recruit and radicalize people.

We see in survey data that these groups are swelling in number and that there seems to be a growing acceptance of some of this violence by parts of the American population at large.

BROWN: How successful then was this, as we're looking at the video here from January 6th, in the eyes of the white supremacist movement? Did it help them recruit more people to their cause, you said more people joining the ranks?

BELEW: I think it was an enormously successful piece of activism, not least because of -- you know, if we think of January 6th at the collision of these three different streams of people, sort of the Trump base, which ranged on that day from ordinary people out there to protest what they saw as a fraudulent election all the way to extremism even within that group, and then QAnon, which is very new and very supercharged in ways that we don't understand yet, and then the third group is the smaller but highly organized white power militant right movement that brings with it years, even decades, of planning, weapons, paramilitary training camps, sophisticated communication, ideology.

Those groups are coming together partly because of the shared experience of January 6th. It's an incredibly volatile mix and we have to be very cautious about how far it moves forward. So when we think about the efficacy of the January 6th Commission, what we need to look for is both the accountability that they need to bring for elected officials within the administration and beyond, and what they're going to do about the extremists that were involved on that day and future plans for violence among those groups.

BROWN: And what do we expect to see from white power groups as we get closer to the midterms and then, of course, the 2024 election?

BELEW: I don't know, but I think that the big open question is whether or not mainstream politics presents them with a course forward. In the time that I study -- I'm a historian and I studied these groups in the 1980s and '90s, and they spoke quite a lot about how they thought that political activism could never deliver the kinds of extremist changes they wanted. And so they said things like, the time for the ballot has passed and now it's time for the bullet.

But that door to mainstream political action, that's not closed now the way that it was in the '80s. The bounds of acceptable discourse in our politics and media have shifted very dramatically to include a lot more of these ideas, as you mentioned, and some of them are finding mainstream routes to power. There was a story going around about 28 elected officials who have ties or memberships in the Oath Keepers which is a private army, militia style group.

There are others who were elected directly to public office out of their sort of events of January 6th. So these two paths are both open. One is something that presents a threat of authoritarian rule, and the other presents a threat of civil war and attacks on civilians. Both of these threats have to be confronted because both are inherently at odds with democracy.

BROWN: Kathleen Belew, scary stuff there. Thank you so much.

BELEW: Thank you.

BROWN: A 13-year-old girl goes missing while walking home from school. Her body is found days later. And the case goes cold for more than two decades until finally justice. An exclusive look at what cracked the mystery, up next.



BROWN: A breakthrough in a murder mystery that haunted top NYPD detectives more than two decades. CNN was granted exclusive access as they reopen the cold case of 13-year-old Minerliz Soriano, now 20 years after her murder a history-making arrest.

CNN's Brynn Gingras shows us how they did it, and we must warn you, some details in this report may be disturbing.


MALCOLM REIMAN, HOMICIDE DETECTIVE, NYPD: I joined the police department because I think that there was some adventure and some excitement, but also, to do something that really matters.


I want to catch bad guys, people that are preying upon people.

I'm from Bronx Homicide. I got a referral of an old case from 1999.

God forbid, you're on your deathbed tomorrow and you're looking back in your life. And if you did something that mattered, I think that's the most important thing.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In February, 2018, CNN gained rare access into the NYPD's Bronx Homicide Unit to follow detectives as they work a decades-old cold case. REIMAN: Minerliz Soriano was 13 years old. She was still several years

away from her prom. She never got to go.

GINGRAS: Minerliz Soriano, a seventh grader from the Bronx, was brutally killed, February 24th, 1999.

KIMBERLY ORTIZ, CHILDHOOD FRIEND OF MINERLIZ: My name is Kimberly Ortiz. And went to Middle School 135 with Minerliz. She was just so bubbly, so kind. She always had this book with her where she always wrote about poetry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you remember about February 24th, 1999.

ORTIZ: Gosh, that date. I remember that date like yesterday. I was the last person who probably saw her alive, other than her killer.

GINGRAS: Minerliz left school and vanished. And after a grueling city- wide search, her body was found four days later in a dumpster, two miles from her home. She'd been strangled.

ORTIZ: It was like, you know, Minerliz is dead and they don't know who it was. This killer is still out there. And this person's probably preying on kids our age. Yes, we were all on edge.

BARBARA SAMPSON, CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER, NEW YORK CITY: The hardest cases that we deal with as medical examiners are those involving children. What was done with her has something that has been haunting me for the nearly 20 years since that date. There was no really good leads as to who did it.

GINGRAS: When we met up with Malcolm Reiman, he was rounding the corner on 31 years of service.

REIMAN: I could have retired 11 and a half years ago when I was eligible to retire. And I stayed. I feel this is important work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dave, are you remorseful at all?

GINGRAS: During his career, Reiman created a niche for himself, solving some of the hardest cases in the NYPD's history, serial killers, rapists, and even homicides where bodies were never found. The department hoped fresh eyes would help find Minerliz's killer. It seemed all leads have been exhausted and the case continued to loom over the Bronx community.

ORTIZ: We can't bring her back. We all want to know what happened to her.

REIMAN: It's important. Well, we want to look at her, humanized her, remember who we're working for. It's better to have a mountain of material than to start with nothing. As daunting as it is, it's also pure gold in here. It actually displays just how difficult this case is going to be to solve.

This is interesting. This is some of the stuff that went to the FBI lab. Here's some of the poetry that he wrote. GINGRAS: Minerliz's diaries were filled with a mix of schoolwork, love

notes, even a list of astronomy Web sites she liked to visit.

MICHAEL LAGIOVANE, FORMER DETECTIVE, NYPD: It just stays with you, and this was one of them. This was one of them. Minerliz Soriano.

GINGRAS: Over the years, dozens of detectives worked this case and Reiman reached out to many of them and retraced the steps they took 20 years before.

REIMAN: Hey, Barney, it's Malcolm Reiman, from Bronx Homicide.

BARNEY RYAN, FORMER DETECTIVE, NYPD: It was a Sunday morning. I was at church. I got a beep. We still had beepers then. They found a dead body in a dumpster over in Co-op City. There was a guy who was kind of a scrounger. So he found a heavy bag. He ripped it open and there was Minerliz. He saw her face and her head and stuff.

So we have her leaving school, getting on the bus, getting off the bus, looking like she was entering her building. Next thing we know, she's found in this dumpster.

LAGIOVANE: I've seen rape homicides before. They're usually messy. But this was all wrapped up in a bundle like somebody cared that she was dead.

REIMAN: We're going to go to the location where her body was recovered. And we're going to take a look at these areas. And we're just going to get a feel for the area, see what's around, get a feel for what it looks like.

This would have been all that dark lot. If it's really late at night, there's not a whole lot going on back then here.

MATT MCCROSSON, HOMICIDE DETECTIVE NYPD: None of those lights would have been there. It's daytime when she's found. Assuming maybe that the crime occurs at her residence, the way the highways are set up, this is a really no-brainer in terms of finding a remote location where you could come.


GRINGAS: When detectives found Minerliz's body, she was fully clothed. A crucial clue, though, was discovered on her sweatshirt, traces of semen.

REIMAN: Apparently the victim used to go around (INAUDIBLE) in her building doing door-to-door candy sales. Perhaps somebody took an interest in her, an unhealthy interest.

GINGRAS: Reiman learned that after reviewing hundreds of old detective notes. The paperwork showed investigators chased hundreds of leads, spoke to numerous witnesses, even took DNA samples from more than a dozen potential suspects. Nothing pointed to who did it. Their work led Reiman to re-examine an original theory, that Minerliz may not have been a stranger to her killer. REIMAN: It seems as if she would have had an unusually high exposure

to other residents in that building.

GINGRAS: So detectives revisited Minerliz's apartment building.

REIMAN: We knocked on every door of the building. We also have a good idea of who was in the building back then, what men were able to be in a sexually active mode in 1999 that were of age to have sex, who could be a possible suspect, and we're getting an idea of who they are, where they are.

GINGRAS: So Reiman made a list of former tenants who he didn't get to speak to that day. And then his investigative focus shifted to a newly available DNA technology. Reiman and his lieutenant, who also worked on the case in 1999, wanted to request familial DNA testing.

LT. SEAN O'TOOLE, COMMANDING OFFICER, NYPD BROX HOMICIDE SQUAD: This was a case we did a lot of work. We had just heard about the familial DNA at one of the training sessions.

GINGRAS: New York approved the use of familial DNA testing in 2017. It allows police to identify possible suspects in a case by their connection with male relatives who were convicted of a crime and in the state's DNA database. To date, the state has only OK'd its use for 35 cases. It would take time, possibly years, and a lot of work for the state to even consider using it in Minerliz's case.

For Reiman, time was the issue. After 31 years, the decorated detective was ready to retire.

REIMAN: I'm going to have to let it go and pass it on, pass the torch. Tough to do. Tough to do.


BROWN: And there is more to this story. Coming up next hour, we'll share the moment the NYPD forensics team realized they were about to solve the case.

Well, as tensions mount on Russia's border with Ukraine, President Biden has a high stakes call with his Ukrainian counterpart. The details on what was said when we come back.



BROWN: Well, President Biden spoke a short time ago by phone with the president of Ukraine pledging that the U.S. would, quote, "respond decisively if Russia takes further steps to invade Ukraine." This evening's call just days after Mr. Biden spoke with Russian president Vladimir Putin warning him that the U.S. could impose new sanctions if Moscow doesn't back off from Ukraine.

Eva McKend joins us now from the White House. So, Eva, what more can you tell us about this call with the president of Ukraine? EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam, it sounds

as if this call went as intended for the White House. As these tense conversations continue with Russia, they want to make sure that Ukraine is kept informed of where America stands.

Now the White House sending out a statement that read in part, "President Biden made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine. President Biden underscored the commitment of the United States and its allies and partners to the principle of nothing about you without you."

Now, the big question in the days ahead is, what exactly does President Biden mean by respond decisively? This is a president that has certainly illustrated he has no appetite for increased military intervention, so he is likely alluding to further economic sanctions on Russia.

BROWN: That is certainly what people think when they hear act decisively. And earlier today House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said the time has come for the White House to take dramatic steps to keep Russia from invading Ukraine. Let's listen to what he said.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I fear that Putin is very likely to invade. I still, frankly, don't understand the full motivation for why now he's doing this. But he certainly appears intent on it, unless we can persuade him otherwise. And I think nothing other than a level of sanctions that Russia has never seen will deter him, and that's exactly what we need to do with our allies.


BROWN: So what are the chances President Biden will take that action, not just sanctions but dramatic level of sanctions, as Adam Schiff says there?

MCKEND: Well, Pam, I think that it is entirely likely. This is certainly what President Biden has indicated. Now, the sanctions that Russia could face will be crushing, but is this threat alone enough to deter a very strong-willed Putin? It's unclear. The world waits and watches -- Pam.

BROWN: Sure does. Eva McKend, from the White House for us on this Sunday night. Thanks so much.

Well, a woman who tested positive for COVID in the middle of Transatlantic flight spent hours isolating in the plane's lavatory. Have you heard about this? Her story next.



BROWN: A midair emergency on a flight from the U.S. to Europe, not because of turbulence but due to a COVID scare on board.

CNN's Lynda Kinkade.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): COVID-19 flushed one woman's holiday plans down the loo. This is Marisa Fotieo, with the most unusual seat on a trip from the U.S. to Switzerland via Iceland. Fotieo spends around three hours quarantining in the plane's bathroom after she took a COVID test midflight.

MARISA FOTIEO, TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID DURING FLIGHT: We boarded our flight and then probably an hour to an hour and a half in, I started, like just all of a sudden this severe sore throat came on. I thought OK, I'm just going to take a test, it's going to make me feel better, and immediately it came back, it's positive.

KINKADE: Fotieo, who is vaccinated and boosted, and traveling with family, says she immediately told a flight attendant who tried to find a place where she would be at least risk of spreading the infection and eventually they found one.

FOTIEO: It was a full flight so she was going to look for ways to move people around so I could have a designated area just to quarantine by myself during the remainder of the flight and after a while, she couldn't find, she couldn't move people. There were too many people on the plane. It was, you know, they had to get the meals out, they have to get the drinks out, so she asked if I would be OK staying in the bathroom and I opted to stay in the bathroom.

I'm sure if I had said no, can I please go back to my seat, she would have said yes but I was too nervous and, you know, there were so many people on the flight. My dad is 70 and he was on the flight.

KINKADE: Fotieo made good use of the time alone making a TikTok video of her experience which has been viewed more than four million times. When she landed in Iceland, she quarantined for 10 days in a hotel room. This time, the same flight attendant who helped her on the flight sent her some Christmas gifts to pass the time.

Fotieo was released from quarantine on Thursday and says she hopes to spend the remaining few days of her holiday with her family.

Lynda Kinkade, CNN.


BROWN: I love that the flight attendant sent her Christmas gifts. Wow, what a story that is.

Well, nearly one year after the Capitol insurrection, lawmakers say they now have firsthand testimony about what then-President Trump was doing, as his supporters smashed into the heart of America's democracy. Full details and more just ahead.


BROWN: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington, and on the show tonight, nearly a year since the January 6th attack, investigators are revealing they have critical firsthand testimony about Donald Trump's words and actions during the riot. Plus new details on Ivanka Trump's pleas to her father as the violence erupted.

Also tonight, Prince Andrew facing a potentially damning week after his bid to block a sexual assault lawsuit fails in federal court.