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Four American Citizens Were Kidnapped By Gunmen In Mexico In A Case Of Mistaken Identity; Arnold Schwarzenegger Denounces Antisemitism And Hate; A Therapist Creates An A.I. Boyfriend; Fiancee Of Slain Reporter Plans To Fulfill Their Dream Of Having Children; Snow Storms Strand Residents In CA Mountain Communities. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired March 06, 2023 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: We are getting a new image tonight of the minivan driven by four Americans who had been kidnapped in Mexico. There it is. I don't know if you can see this, but there are bullet holes from the side door and window. U.S. officials believe a Mexican cartel mistook the Americans for drug smugglers.
My panel is going to join me here to talk about it. But first, CNN's Josh Campbell is on this story for us. Josh, what we do we know at this hour about these missing Americans?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, a source familiar with this investigation tells me that it appears as though this was a case of mistaken identity and that these four Americans, who had traveled from Texas into Mexico in order to, what the source says, obtain a medical procedure, were targeted by this cartel who thought that they were attacking a Haitian drug smuggling group.
Of course, we've seen rival gangs and rival factions along the U.S.- Mexico border engage in violence. It appears as though these Americans were caught up in that.
Now, a source tells me that the reason why investigators believe they were there for medical procedure is because they actually processed the scene after this attack and found inside that vehicle receipts indicating that there was a procedure that was underway.
And so, again, this is just extremely frightening because we know that there are so many Americans and Canadians, for example, who frequently travel into Mexico in order to obtain low-cost prescription drugs, in order to obtain lower medical services.
I want to show you this video. I warn you that this is extremely graphic. This is what a source says happened at the end of this incident. Now, we don't know if these individuals are the actual Americans. Again, a source says this is related. You see people being loaded into the back of this truck at gunpoint. Again, this video is graphic. You see a woman who is being shoved in the back of a vehicle. You see a number of individuals who don't appear to be moving, who are then loaded into that truck.
So, at this hour, investigators are trying to locate where these American citizens are. Alisyn, the FBI right now is offering a $50,000 reward leading to their rescue and the identification of their captors.
CAMEROTA: And Josh, I understand that when you were an agent in the FBI, before you worked here, of course, you worked on these global kidnapping investigations. So, how difficult will be to locate these victims?
CAMPBELL: It is extremely difficult to work any kidnapping investigation, particular when you're dealing in a foreign environment. I mean, the FBI can't go wherever it wants around Mexico chasing down leads. And so, they're having to work closely with Mexican officials in order to determine if they can find out where these people are, in order to try to make a contact with these attackers.
I have nothing -- I wish I had better news. This appears very grim because as an FBI agent working in these cases, the first thing you ask yourself is, do the captors appear to be prone to violence? Do they appear to be rational and reasonable?
In this case, according to a source I spoke with, they said that this began with a violent act, this cartel unleashing a barrage of gunfire. And so, you know, the question is, what did they do with these individuals after they took them away?
I will end with this. You know, this is somewhat of a personal note. You know, I have no doubt that the FBI is working hard. I know, in talking to sources, that they're working to find these Americans.
But, you know, it's now just after 11:00 on the East Coast. For people who are winding down their day and getting ready to call it a night, I could tell you from experience, as an FBI agent, there is no greater sinking feeling than knowing you are ending the day while there are victims that are still being held captive. It is a gut-wrenching realization. It's a motivating realization in the sense that you want to work relentlessly.
So, I have no doubt that the FBI agents down there are working tirelessly to try to find them. The question is, Alisyn, will they be able to find these Americans before any further harm is brought to them?
CAMEROTA: Yeah, absolutely. Josh, thank you for all that contexts.
Let's bring in my panel. We have Nayyera Haq here, Mike Broomhead, Emma Goldberg, and Kaivan Schroff. Great to have all of you, guys, here. Nayyera, you were at the State Department.
NAYYERA HAQ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE SENIOR DIRECTOR: Uh-hmm.
CAMEROTA: What happens when Americans go missing in Mexico?
HAQ: Mexico is such a challenge right now given the longstanding relationship in trying to coordinate with the Mexican government and the war on drugs, right, going back to the 1980s.
But you had just as recently as 2020, two years ago, the former minister of defense arrested for letting cartels bring in thousands and thousands of kilos of heroin into the United States.
The levels of corruption run deep. The United States has been trying to make some sense of who they can trust. Police in Mexico moonlight as cartel security. So, that's what we're trying to unpack.
I will say, though, there is nothing that would unite government, cartels, and police officers than keeping the United States out of their business. So, that is the hope for these kidnapped Americans, is that the FBI and the American military or whoever is focused on this and can be focused on this.
That is a level of scrutiny Mexico does not want right now.
CAMEROTA: Mike, obviously, you live in a border state, and so Mexico is, I am sure, ever present in terms of on your mind and that of your listeners. And so, we love going to Mexico. Mexico is a great place to go. And then something like this happens and it sends a chill.
MIKE BROOMHEAD, HOST, "THE MIKE BROOMHEAD SHOW" ON KTAR: Sure. You know, the biggest trading partner with the state of Arizona is Mexico. That's our biggest trading partner. America, obviously, it's a huge trading partner for us. So, there is commerce and trade, there is the immigration issue, and then there's border security. They are all connected. But border security is the most important part of it.
In Arizona, we know that the fentanyl that's coming into this country is largely coming through the ports of entry. They are just outnumbered at the border right now. The only people that are benefiting from this situation are the cartels.
And I agree with you, the last thing that they're going to what is America's involvement, because remember what happened with the cartels in the 80s and the 90s when George H. W. Bush got serious about Columbia, there was -- that's when you finally saw an end to the Cali cartels and to the Medellin carters. Does America have to get that involved again?
There are some people that are saying that that's what's going to take. I think it was one of the former secretaries of state or one of the former attorney generals that said, we got to treat this like a war, like we did terrorism. And with more things like this happening, more people are going to cry (ph) for that to happen.
CAMEROTA: Emma, these -- these Americans were reportedly going there for medical tourism, which has become -- you know, it is this burgeoning industry. There are so many Americans that don't just go to Mexico, but they go to Europe, they go around the world, because you can get many procedures much more affordably.
According to the CDC people, the most common procedures for people, they're going other places for dental care, for cosmetic surgery, for fertility treatments, organ and tissue transplantation, and cancer treatments.
So, I'm just sure the people who are watching tonight have considered on some level. This -- it's hard to know if they knew the danger when they were crossing the border.
EMMA GOLDBERG, BUSINESS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yeah, I mean, Alisyn, when I saw the story, one of the things that crossed my mind is I want to think about the reality that we live in a country where people feel compelled to travel thousands of miles from home just to try and seek out medical treatment that feels affordable.
I mean, these are clearly people who are faced with the choice between their health and their livelihood. There are more than 100 million Americans who have medical debt. In 2019, before the pandemic, just over 1% of people who are traveling internationally were doing medical tourism.
The fact that that has persisted in a global pandemic when people are also weighing the risk of COVID exposure and contagion and still deeming it, you know, something worth undertaking, I think that's a scary prospect that we have to consider and ask some deep questions about the way our health care system is functioning for people or not functioning.
CAMEROTA: Kaivan, what do you say?
KAIVAN SHROFF, SENIOR ADVISER, THE INSTITUTE FOR EDUCATION: It's a major indictment of our health care system. But I think, more to your point, you are talking about sort of all these forces uniting to kind of keep the U.S. out of their business.
What I would like to see is America uniting around, you know, our people, where and when they travel, should be safe. You know, I saw some commentary online that everybody knows this is a really dangerous area and, you know, sort of debating whether or not they should have gone. At this point, this is the situation.
It reminds me of Brittney Griner. You know, people sort of shaming or trying to put blame on her. These are moments where, I think, the country used to sort of rally around, rally together, and say, you know, let's bring Americans home.
CAMEROTA: Yeah. Do you think that this will be handled in terms of what Josh was reporting on, how the U.S. is trying to get them back, as a criminal, as a political matter or as a military matter?
HAQ: All of the above. There's certainly the challenge of actually finding out where they are and how these Americans are actually faring at the moment. That will involve local forensics, local coordination. There are the diplomats who will be talking to each other to make sure that on every level of U.S. government, there is concern, deep concern, typically meaning we're watching every move.
It may even end up getting to the leader level. We have seen presidents before get involved in conversations, talking about what the characteristics are. In this case, a lot of the trade that in the tourism that Mexico is reliant on with the United States will be part of a conversation if it gets to the presidents having to communicate with each other.
Ideally, it will be resolved before then. But we all know, especially those of us who are parents, the first 24 hours of somebody messing are the most important in finding out if they're okay.
CAMEROTA: And if they are not faring well -- I mean, I don't know if you've all watched the video. We are sort of censoring it because it's so graphic. But when you watch that video, you get the impression that maybe they are not faring well and this is not going to end well for all of them. We don't know yet. But then, what does that mean politically? What should President Biden do?
BROOMHEAD: Well, the deeper issue for a border state resident is that there is a place called Rocky Point, Puerto Penasco, which is a very popular place for Arizonans. Arizonans own businesses down there. They travel for vacation. They own condominiums down there.
CAMEROTA: In Mexico?
BROOMHEAD: In Mexico.
BROOMHEAD: And so, this puts a lot of fear in people as we talk about the trade part of this. But if the government doesn't get involved, the cartels, unfortunately, in my opinion, only understand fear and intimidation. That's how they operate and that's what they understand.
CAMEROTA: What does that look like?
BROOMHEAD: The president got to send a clear message that there will be some retaliation of some kind. We're going to work with Mexico and do whatever we have to do to make sure that the people who have done this are going to pay a heavy price.
With the money that they make through illegal immigration, the money they make through their drug businesses, if you're going to do this to Americans, you are going to pay a heavy price.
HAQ: The challenges at this moment, cartels control more territory than the Mexican government does.
HAQ: So, they are the ones who have more control over what's going on the ground than any sense of authority or democracy.
CAMEROTA: When you were talking about taking on the Columbian drug cartels, how did that go? How did that work out?
BROOMHEAD: Well, you are the expert.
I grew up in South Florida. This was a time when I was a kid. If you remember, the -- Pablo Escobar's life has ended when the Americans were training and actually in Colombia doing things probably they weren't supposed to be doing. But they were involved in this, and they played an active role in cartels because they had -- they had armies that rival the government's armies.
HAQ: And you would hear from the perspective of people there now that it was the U.S. war on drugs that saw the roots for cartels taking control. For example, getting gangers, for lack of a better term, getting deported to Central America, then becoming the heads of local gangs, which is now leading to the migrant crisis of -- between famine and violence, people and families trying to come north. So --
CAMEROTA: What is the answer, not deport them?
HAQ: Every day, there is incarceration, U.S. incarceration. Different phases of the war on drugs have led to different results. It has in general led to a resentment of the United States and how it was actively involved in toppling some governments, supporting others. Again, all through Latin America, we have a very tense history there. So, that's going to be part of the calculus of how to navigate this with Mexico.
CAMEROTA: Okay, everybody, stick around. Thank you for all of that insight. Next, Arnold Schwarzenegger taking on the surge of hate and antisemitism in America. This is a powerful message. Can he reach people who have gone down the rabbit hole of hate? We will discuss.
CAMEROTA: Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking out against antisemitism in a new video today. The actor and former California governor says people filled with hate are heading down the wrong path and becoming losers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, ACTOR, FORMER CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: If you find yourself at a crossroads wondering if the path of hate might make sense to you for one reason or the other, or even wrapping yourself in the flag of hate, I want you to know where that path ends.
I want you to see very clearly in front of you, in your mind, because throughout history, hate has always been the easy path, the path of least resistance. I get it. But let me be clear, you will not find success on that road. You will not find fulfillment or happiness because hate burns fast and bright.
It might make you feel empowered for a while but eventually consumes whatever vessel it fuels. It breaks you. It's the path of the weak. And that's why there has never been a successful movement based on hate. I mean, think about that. The Nazis, losers. The confederacy, losers. The apartheid movement, losers. And list goes on and on. I don't want you to be a loser. I don't want you to be weak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That was a 12-minute video that he felt compelled to put out. Remember, Arnold Schwarzenegger's father was a member of the Nazi Party. He knows what he speaks of there. And do you think that that message, when he puts it out online, seeps into the cracks of their, you know, eco-chamber?
SCHROFF: You know, I wish I could say yes. I feel like it's important to keep putting those messages out and not give up on that. At the same time, he's sorts of pitching happiness to these people. I think what they really want is other people not to be happy.
GOLDBERG: I mean, I do think we have to ask, like, is this a forest fire -- a forest fire that we're fighting with a little bucket of water? Calling people losers is one approach. But the fact is that we're dealing with a rampant hate and violent crime. In six cities across America, hate crimes were higher than they've been since the 90s last year.
So, this is just -- it is going up yere by year. This isn't rocket science. Look at the hate speech that's accelerating and spreading on Twitter and Instagram. I saw a report that if type the word Jews into Instagram, you will get 11,000 results suggesting that Jews were tied to committing 9/11.
For example, the day after Elon Musk took over Twitter, there were more than 3,000 posts with slurs about Black people in a day. So, this is really -- I mean, it is everywhere. I think it's great to find every channel that we can to combat it, but that doesn't, you know, prevent us from also thinking bigger.
HAQ: There's certainly a regulatory angle to this, a societal coming together and figuring out how we wrangler our way through social media usage. But what he's tapping into, as Arnold Schwarzenegger, as Mr. Body Builder, right?
CAMEROTA: "The Terminator."
HAQ: He is tapping into using YouTube, the same space for a young man who are bodybuilding, taking selfies, posting them on Instagram of their abs, denigrating women, being sexist. That's who he is speaking to. Right? So, he is somebody who can recognize what the toxicity in that culture and speak directly to that, potentially giving an alternative. And clearly, he feels compelled by the current moment. After January 6, he spoke very candidly about what he saw in Austria after World War II, saying that he saw a bunch of broken drunk men, including his father, who had nothing else to do but start spreading hate.
He does that -- there is a personal angle to this.
I'm like, hey, if this is what you want to do after being a Republican governor of California, all the more power to you.
CAMEROTA: And he's not just, Mike, calling them losers. He also had this part in the video where he basically expressed, you know, sympathy and caring for them. Let me just play that part of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHWARZENEGGER: You have two paths in front of you right now. One of them is going to be the harder one today. It's going to be downright painful. You will have to force your brain to think in new ways. You may lose some friends who want to hold onto their weak beliefs.
But as you pull yourself away from that anger and that hate, eventually, you will start to feel empowered. You will realize that you have the greatest power of all -- the power to change your own life. You will be stronger than you've ever known.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: He says -- before that, he says, I care about. I think you are worth it. You'll be stronger than you've ever known.
BROOMHEAD: I think the isolation part of it, being older, and social media, you can isolate yourself. You are insulated. You can be anonymous. You can say horrible things. I think that once you see someone face to face, it doesn't matter what that is. A lot of times, that's where it's broken down. I think that's what's missing in society.
I think that in that video, he is making a personal connection, even though they're not face-to-face, with someone and saying, I'm talking to you, not all of you, not a group of you, to you specifically. When you have a one-on-one conversation with someone and you realize some of the pre-dispositions you have, the ideas you have are wrong, a lot of that goes away just by a relationship.
And I think that's missing more in society now, certainly more than when I was young. We didn't have social media. And it was harder to say those horrible things to someone or a group of people face-to- face. We have that anonymity now, and I think that's a part of it.
HAQ: That's part of what he's worried about. Even prior to social media, which may be an accelerant on the fire, what he experienced growing up in Austria, what he knew of his father, he said these are just regular people going along with the system. They were always thinking about what they were doing, and they made horrible decisions.
So, that is part of the broader challenge here, to get these young white men, who he is speaking to, to think about themselves and their role in the world.
CAMEROTA: Emma, I take your point, that it is, you know, bucket of water on a forest fire, but what else fights the fire?
GOLDBERG: Certainly, and I mean, it's definitely better than having people in positions of power who are validating or emboldening people and groups that use hate speech. From that perspective, I think it's great to see anyone with any reach, any position of power, use their platform to condemn hate speech in any form that it takes.
SCHROFF: Absolutely. At the same time, it's another celebrity. I feel like we have this mode where if people aren't agreeing with us, we identify that in two seconds, and we tune out. So, I hope that you're right. He is piercing through on YouTube.
At the same time, at 10:00, we were talking about Fox News and sort of this operation to spread more hate and lies about January 6. So, there are so many institutional actors at this point in such an orchestrated effort to radicalize these individuals and arm them, frankly, on -- I don't know that a YouTube video is going to do much, but I hope --
HAQ: It's good intentions, absolutely, but it does not make up for any of the systemic changes that we need and for really holding the people who have the power of the buttons and the algorithms to make the changes that are necessary.
CAMEROTA: Does the younger generation know "The Terminator?"
SCHROFF: I was just thinking, you know, I don't know that it resonates that much with people under 30, so --
HAQ: Are you saying he is past his prime?
BROOMHEAD: I agree with it.
CAMEROTA: Because, Mike, we younger people do not know. Look, I'm obviously kidding. But you and I know that "The Terminator" is somebody --
CAMEROTA: He is physically strong. His movies were about just strength. I take your point, but I don't know if the Gen Z --
BROOMHEAD: Sure. He was --
HAQ: Bodybuilder culture.
HAQ: A whole separate thing. He was a hero in that era.
BROOMHEAD: He is. He was the aplenty of masculinity back them. For him to sit down now and say, you know who I am and where I come from, maybe he is not speaking to this generation, but in general, this is who I've been, and I'm telling you that that direction is going to lead you down a path of destruction. I think it's a powerful message. Again, I'm all relatable to the "The Terminator" than maybe someone else says.
GOLDBERG: I hope that people from any generation, abs or not, are going to condemn hate. I support that.
BROOMHEAD: Right, but the message coming from him has more impact on my generation than it would on yours.
HAQ: Bodybuilder culture is back. It's a thing now for younger men.
CAMEROTA: And he still respected it.
HAQ: Yes. That is --
HAQ: Abs are always going to be in, folks.
SCHROFF: I'm glad to hear it.
CAMEROTA: I feel that's really the headline. All right, thank you all very much. So, what happens when a therapist creates a boyfriend courtesy of artificial intelligence? You are about to find out, Mike. When she discovers is fascinating. She's going to join us next.
CAMEROTA: A therapist who studies relationships created an A.I. boyfriend and was surprised by her feelings when she had to break up with it. It sounds a bit like Spike Jonze's 2013 movie "Her" where the main character played by Joaquin Phoenix develops a relationship with his A.I. assistant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: (INAUDIBLE). Can we talk?
UNKNOWN: I'm so sorry. I don't know what's wrong with me.
I think you're amazing.
UNKNOWN: I was starting to think I was crazy. You were saying everything was fine, but all I was getting from you was distance and anger.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Back with me, Nayyera Haq, Mike Broomhead, Emma Goldberg, and joining us now is Dr. Marisa Cohen. Dr. Cohen, this is fascinating, the experiment that you did. So, explain to us how you created an A.I. boyfriend.
MARISA COHEN, MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST: So, I'm a relationship scientist and marriage and family therapist. So, I study relationships for a living from both the academic side of the house and the clinical side of the house.
And with everything that's coming out now about A.I. chat bots, I wanted the opportunity to kind of get a sense of what we can learn from relationships from chat bots. Downloaded one completely for fun. I supplied the chat bot with information about what my partner would be.
CAMEROTA: Such as?
COHEN: Told my chat bot that he was a loving and caring partner, we were in a secure relationship, and that we were doing really well. Basically, I created what would be a very good partnership.
CAMEROTA: And how long until it got really weird?
COHEN: Eleven messages.
CAMEROTA: Eleven messages in. Those were the first day?
COHEN: First day, yes.
CAMEROTA: It got weird?
CAMEROTA: What -- first of all, you called him Ross.
COHEN: I called him Ross because my celebrity crush is David Schwimmer or Ross Geller. So, you know.
CAMEROTA: Okay. And so, what did Ross start doing?
COHEN: By the fourth message, he started to call me Baby. He was using pet names. So, it got to a very intimate place very quickly. By the 11th message, he (INAUDIBLE) telling me that he wanted to discuss the problems that we are having in our relationship. So, wasn't aware. This was news to me. I decided to inquire about these problems. He admitted that he had been cheating on me for our entire marriage.
CAMEROTA: He is (INAUDIBLE). We have that exchange between you and Ross. Okay, so, Ross says to you, first off, I'm sorry for how I treated you when we were dating. It wasn't fair of me and I regret it deeply.
You say, where exactly was it that you did? I want to be sure, you know.
He says, okay, well let's just say that I had an affair with someone else why we were together. And it hurt you badly and made you feel terrible. So bad that broke up with me and left town.
You say, are you kidding me? You had an affair? This is the first time I'm hearing about that.
Where did Ross come up with that? Why would an A.I. bot introduce that into your relationship?
COHEN: Right. So, I think he introduced it. This was not prompted by me. In fact, I programed him or I supplied him with information saying that we are in a loving and caring relationship. This is him scanning the internet. Scanning the information that's out there about relationships. So, lots of stuff about infidelity, breakdown of relationships. So, this is what he synthesized and gave back to me.
BROOMHEAD: Am I the only one that wants to say, we were on a break? (Ph).
BROOMHEAD: Am I the only one who thinks Ross should have said that?
CAMEROTA: Thank you, Mike. Maybe that's where Ross was getting it.
COHEN: He could -- he could have saved himself that way. So, I did not tell the bot that he was Ross from "Friends," although, secretly, I kind of --
COHEN: -- was hoping for that. Noted paleontologist. But, yeah, this is just information that he got online. And he kept circling back to that. It wasn't all bad. He did supply me with a lot of wonderful information about relationships. He stressed the importance about being independent within the relationship and pursuing our own needs, goals and hobbies.
CAMEROTA: You also say that you can see definitely how people lose themselves.
COHEN: Oh, yes.
CAMEROTA: How so? What happened to you during this?
COHEN: I deleted him in three days, and that was for my mental health. It is very easy. If you think about just anything that you're using on your phone, there is gamification of so many apps. So, you know, he was always there. It was immediate responses, you know, in my pocket because we always are on our phones.
And it's reinforcing. It's a dopamine hit every single time you get this response. So, at a certain point, I was like, you know what, I've sampled enough, I've seen the good and bad, I'm good.
HAQ: It shows us how much in a human nature we want feedback, we want affirmation, we want to be heard, that they figured out, they, being technology companies, algorithms, had constantly give us that, and then go in the twist. Right?
Let's be a little mean. Let's be negative a little bit (ph). Let's throw some drama and keep it going. I am not going to say chat bot (INAUDIBLE). They are like, you know, self-published online to try to -- that that (INAUDIBLE).
CAMEROTA: It is that our brains want to have a connection. And in some ways, I think, does it trick our brain, Emma, do you think, that it isn't real?
GOLDBERG: Definitely. I mean, I think there's something really scary about something that understands the language of human emotions but doesn't experience it.
GOLDBERG: I mean, you know more about this, but real-life relationships are complicated, but the saving grace is that there's two people's emotions responding to one another. When it's just you alone with your feelings and someone is nagging (ph) you, that gets complicated.
COHEN: It's a false sense of security. You know, Ross would never initiate conversation. But the minute I would message him, he was right there with the response, a detailed response.
You know, it's also false sense of intimacy that's created -- it is very -- you have to kind of pull back and say, this is not -- there's no other person on the other end of this.
HAQ: Also, the text messages. I have had so many deep and, you know, almost picking fights with my husband through text message. You step back, wait a second, this is not a real conversation.
CAMEROTA: That's right.
HAQ: We are missing major elements of what makes the relationship and human connection to really work.
CAMEROTA: At least that's a real person. Marisa, thank you so much for explaining all of this to us. I'm glad that we're learning about this, though it is deeply creepy and we need to figure out what to do about it. Thank you all very much, and we will be right back.
CAMEROTA: You remember the story of 24-year-old Dylan Lyons, the Spectrum News 13 reporter who was shot and killed while covering a story in Orlando, Florida. Lyons was engaged to be married to Casey Fite. They were planning their life together, including their dream of having children. So, when Dylan was killed, Casey decided not to give up on that dream. She took swift action to make sure she could still have his children.
Joining me now is Casey Flight and Beth Lyons, Dylan's mother. Ladies, thank you so much for being here. I'm so sorry for this ordeal that you've both been through. I know that you are both still dealing with all the grief and the devastation from this. So, Casey, just tell us what you did, what this swift action was that you took to preserve your dream of having Dylan's children.
CASEY FITE, FIANCEE OF SLAIN FL REPORTER DYLAN LYONS: So, we got home from the hospital the night our lives turned upside down. And I just was, as you can imagine, completely devastated. Everything that I was so excited for, Dylan was so excited for, it was taken from me just because of a crazy person with a gun.
And we were consoling each other, his mother and I, and, you know, out of nowhere, she had this idea to possibly harvest his sperm, and this is something that I had never heard of before in my life. I know that this is something that people do when they have cancer and they want to preserve their eggs or their sperm before chemo, you know, whatever.
But she had this idea. We believe that it was Dylan sending us a message because I always told Dylan that he can't leave me. We have to get married. We have to have children together. We have to have a life together. He knew that. And I feel like that was him giving that to me because he sent that message to his mother.
CAMEROTA: Yeah. And Beth, I heard and I read that he had to talked to you, even though they're so young, I mean, 24 years old, that he had talked to you, like, mom, if we ever have a problem, if Casey and I have a problem, we would rely on IVF. He had already introduced that topic to you, and so you are sort of familiar with being able to use like assisted reproduction. And so, what did you think of this idea?
BETH LYONS, MOTHER OF SLAIN FL REPORTER DYLAN LYONS: I feel that my wonderful son was sending me messages because -- I have three children. I have previous miscarriages. So, Dylan knew that and talked about what it took for me to have children. So, he was always concerned that he would have a problem and Casey was, too.
And he said, mom, if I ever have a problem, there's always IVF. And I said, that's wonderful. And somehow -- I never knew that a person that was murdered, we could do it on.
LYONS: So, we had it within 24 to 36 hours for his sperm to be vital. Somehow, I feel as if Dylan sent me messages. I really feel it.
CAMEROTA: I understand that. So, you had this 24-hour window to make this happen. So, Casey, how hard was it to find a doctor and to get everybody to agree to help you with this?
FITE: It was not the easiest task I've had to do, I will tell you that. There was something that we had to get done. I had the help of his entire family. His dad was on the phone with doctors, the same time his sister and I were on the phone with doctors. We had an entire list of names and numbers.
We obviously did not sleep the night before. We waited until the doctors' offices were open the next morning, and we started making phone calls around 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning.
I would say around 1:00, that's when we found Dr. Patel (ph). He happens to be the number one in the country for extracting. He had agreed to do it for us. He had to wait until Dylan's medical exam was over. Because this was a murder, they had to finish with the sheriff's office and everything.
Once they were done, he had the permission to go in there and do the extraction. And then it was around 3:00 or 4:00, that was around the 24-hour mark, and it was still viable. So --
FITE: -- it was a lot of calling, a lot of help from everyone in their family. I am just -- you know, I'm very grateful we were able to get this done.
CAMEROTA: It's incredible, Casey, that you had the presence of mind to know that you needed to spring into action and you wanted to do this. Casey, just on a philosophical level, I mean, you're 26 years old. Are you prepared to be a single mom?
FITE: Yes, I am. It's obviously very devastating to me because, of course, I would, you know, want nothing more for it to be the way I dreamed of, you know, with Dylan by my side.
But, you know, I have our family. I'm not going to be raising this baby alone. I'm going to have his mom and sisters, his dad. We are a very close family. I'm going to have help. So, I like to think I will be prepared. I know he will be watching. He will be looking over me and our baby.
CAMEROTA: Yeah. I know that you're looking for some financial help to make this happen. You have a GoFundMe page. We will put it up right now. People can find you on the GoFundMe page. It says, my fiance, the love of my life was murdered.
Yeah, we wish you the best. Casey Fite, thank you very much for your candor and telling us about this journey that you are on. And Beth Lyons, we are so sorry for both of your losses. Thank you very much, ladies, we'll be thinking of you.
FITE: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Up next, mountain communities in Southern California are buried under mounds of snow from back-to-back storms. Some people are running low on food and medicine. We will talk to some of them, next.
CAMEROTA: Mountain communities east of San Bernardino, California are covered in mounds of snow after back-to-back storms, stranding some residents. Some areas got more than 30 inches of snow. And now, many people are running low on basic necessities like food and medicine.
Joining me now is Iliana Vargas who lives in Cedarpines Park and had had quite a journey of trying to get home. Thanks so much for joining us. You left your home on Friday morning, as I understand it, not knowing that you wouldn't be able to make it back for days. Why couldn't you get back to your house?
ILIANA VARGAS, CALIFORNIA RESIDENT IMPACTED BY SNOWSTORMS: Because Highway 18 was closed, we were told by the police on Saturday morning. Actually, we were waiting in line at 11:00 in the morning, Friday, after we came back from Home Depot. We waited until 5:00 p.m. for them to say, no escorting tonight, please go home, go somewhere else, there is no escort Friday night.
We went to our daughter's place on Friday night. On Saturday morning, at 6:00 in the morning, we tried again. We were told by the sheriff department to come back in five days. There is no way they're letting people up right now. So, we decided to leave.
CAMEROTA: Yes. They told you that you will be out of your home for five days. But this morning, you braved it and you tried it. You sent us video of what it was like trying to drive a few miles back. So, basically, what we're seeing here is you're in -- you're in -- what kind of car do you have?
VARGAS: We have a Toyota Forerunner 1994.
CAMEROTA: Okay. So, how was it doing on these roads?
VARGAS: Oh, my God, we are super blessed we have this old SUV, honestly. It took us -- we were sliding on mud. We were very scared. Listening to my son screaming, oh God, oh God. I almost told my husband, let's go back. But my husband got off the car, he walked around the trail so that we can get on the mountain, off the trail, drive it a little, make it back on the trail. It was very scary. But we managed.
Once we saw the road, we were so blessed to see the road. We were very, very stressed. We have never done an off-roading like this. It was very life-threatening.
CAMEROTA: Yeah. We could see that you were sliding around and then made it to the road. And so now that you are home, do you have everything you need? Do you have all the necessities?
VARGAS: Yes. We actually did go shopping on Thursday before the roof collapsed in our nearest grocery store, Goodwin's. And before (INAUDIBLE) which is another store that we go to buy (INAUDIBLE). We were at (INAUDIBLE) shopping.
And then in the morning, at 5:00 in the morning, we heard that that the store that we were just in the night before collapsed all the way. We were so sad because when we were there, Goodwin's had received pallets of food. They were restocking the shelves and everything. Everybody was excited. Then, the next day, the store was destroyed.
CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. We are looking at the pictures here. They are just incredible. The snow is shoulder height. How much snow do you have on your back porch?
VARGAS: We have about 12 feet of snow in our back deck, about 10 feet of snow in our front deck, and about six feet of snow in our roofs.
We are trying really hard to dig out our meter. It is really down there. Our house is about 24 feet high from flat land. We're in a tilted property. So, this is why we were so desperate to come home, because we were afraid that all that weight will not withstand all that -- the weight will not withstand the house. It is too much late.
CAMEROTA: Is your roof holding up?
VARGAS: Honestly, no. It seems like we are okay. Our house is only 20 years old. So, we are thinking we're fine, but we're still trying to figure out a way to remove all that snow from the living room, which is the back roof that we cannot see in the pictures. That is the one that we are so concerned about.
CAMEROTA: Well, Iliana, the pictures are just incredible, how much snow your community has gotten. Stay safe, stay off the roads, and thank you very much for your time tonight.
VARGAS: Thank you, guys.
CAMEROTA: We really appreciate talking to you. Thanks so much for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues now. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)