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Experts Say Anthony Family Troubled; Octomom Looking for New House
Aired February 19, 2009 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, mounds of new evidence lead to shocking developments in the Caylee Anthony murder case. Hundreds of photos and documents provide a telling look at the psychology of mom, Casey Anthony. Was Casey trying to get some sort of revenge against the controlling mother? Do prosecutors believe a rocky relationship with her parents led to murder? I`ll have a comprehensive look inside the troubled mind of Casey Anthony.
Then, as police frantically search for 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings, a flood of new reports could shift the investigation. Was dad, Ronald Cummings, in a fight one day before Haleigh disappeared?
RONALD CUMMINGS, FATHER OF HALEIGH: There was no -- there was no fight with no cousin over a gun. I don`t know where people are getting information from.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Meantime, Haleigh`s great-grandmother says Misty would never leave the kids home alone. Will cops be able to tie together all these loose ends in time to get Haleigh back safely?
And by now, we`ve all heard about the tragic story of Travis the chimp, who seriously mauled a 55-year-old woman. But I`ll take a look at the bizarre relationship this TV star chimp shared with his owner.
SANDRA HEROLD, CHIMP OWNER: I stabbed him. He turned and he looked at me, like, "What did you do, Ma?"
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bathing together, sleeping together, drinking wine together? Owner Sandra Herold reportedly treated Travis as a surrogate child and spouse after losing her daughter and husband. Time and time again, people insist on turning wild animals into entertainment and pets. Will we ever end the exploitation that often turns deadly?
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A shocking portrait emerging of a fractures Anthony family. Tonight, hundreds of pages of evidence released in the Caylee Anthony murder investigation reveal a family at war with itself. The documents show a troubled, some might say twisted, relationship between grandmother Cindy and mother Casey.
Casey`s friend Michelle Murphy told authorities that George and Cindy confided that they were considering getting custody of Caylee. Another friend, Annie Downing, says Casey told her she was feeling crazy and considered getting herself committed.
There are even claims that Cindy Anthony signed Casey`s name to e- mails during the search for her granddaughter. All of this paints a picture, some observers say, of a family torn apart by internal jealousy. Psychologists are now asking, could this provide the prosecution with a motive for murder?
Also in those files, one simple statement from the lead detective. Quote, "There is nothing to suggest that anyone but Casey Anthony is responsible for the death and disposal of Caylee Anthony."
So much to talk about tonight. And of course, we`re taking your calls. Now to my expert panel: Terry Lyles, psychologist; Dr. Judy Kuriansky, clinical psychologist; Chip Merlin, criminal defense attorney; and Rozzie Franco, a reporter with WFLA 540-AM.
Rozzie, before we focus on the psychology of the Anthony family, give me the very latest on the Anthony family`s private investigator, Dominic Casey. New interview transcripts released today. What do they reveal?
ROZZIE FRANCO, REPORTER, WFLA: Well, I`ll tell you. Dominic Casey has been quite a character throughout this entire ordeal.
I was very suspicious of him in the beginning. And he`s got quite a checkered past here in the area. When I looked into him, he`s associated with a number of property developments where he owes money, specifically Dunhill Properties.
But getting back to the case here, what he talked about was actually going to the scene and getting a tip from a friend that that was where they hung out, where Caylee`s remains were found, and also a tip from a psychic where Caylee`s remains could be found, before Caylee`s remains were actually found.
Obviously, the defense is saying that these are conflicting statements, and they also want to let folks know that Dominic Casey did not work for their team. They worked specifically for George and Cindy Anthony.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let me say this, Rozzie. I don`t know anything about what you said about property. That`s not something that CNN can independently confirm. I want to just put it out there. That`s your report.
But the bottom line here is that this guy, this private eye, went to the scene where the remains of little Caylee Anthony was eventually found three times in approximately the month before her remains actually were found, and that raises eyebrows. The authorities asked him why did you go there three times? And he gave differing accounts. One time he said a psychic sent him there. The next time he said he went there because friends of hers said they used to hang out there. And all of it is -- it certainly raises an eyebrow. Is that correct?
FRANCO: That`s correct. And he couldn`t give them a straight answer on who actually give him the tip on who -- on why to go there.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And of course, we would love to hear from Dominic Casey if he wants to tell his side of that. We invite him on. He can come on any time. We`d love to hear what he has to say.
Now, these explosive new court documents reveal so much about the mother/daughter dynamic. During an interview with detectives, one former friend of Casey`s, Annie Downing, revealed that Casey told her, Cynthia wanted Caylee to call her "Mom" instead of "Grandmom."
Annie believed Casey was jealous of Cynthia`s relationship with little Caylee. Annie paints a picture of a very strange relationship with Cindy assuming the mother role and Casey feeling marginalized. Now, listen to Cindy talk about her granddaughter Caylee during last week`s memorial service.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY ANTHONY, GRANDMOTHER OF CAYLEE: The moment I first saw Caylee Marie, the instant she was placed into my arms, she stole my heart forever. My heart just melted. God has blessed me with three children, three beautiful children. I love them all unconditionally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Judy, obviously our heart goes out to Cindy. She`s in pain. That was a memorial for her precious granddaughter. But she said she had three children. And in fact, she has two children and a deceased granddaughter.
Given what the others were saying about Casey`s resentment of Cindy wanting to be called allegedly "Mom," I hear three words in my head. Triangulation, no boundaries, and enmeshment. What do you say?
DR. JUDY KURIANSKY, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: My goodness! I`m going to give you an honorary degree, because those are exactly the words that were in my mind. And what, really, they mean is that the mom -- the grandmother of the poor little girl -- was not setting up boundaries that she is not, in fact, the mother. And assuming that role definitely can make the daughter, the real mother, exceptionally angry. Angry at the mom and taking it out on the child.
Now, that doesn`t excuse anything. It`s the armchair analysis of why this was going on, why the -- why Casey would end up having such anger towards her child. And it`s really directed towards the mother for taking over her role.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And this happens all the time. I mean, this is an extreme example, Terry Lyles, of something that is a rather common dysfunction within families. And I want to add one other piece to the puzzle.
According to previous reports that were in "People" magazine, Casey was upset, because when she gave birth to little Caylee, reportedly Cindy was the first to hold the infant. So it`s sort of a piling-on of one situation after another where Casey is not treated like the mother.
TERRY LYLES, PSYCHOLOGIST: Jane, we talked about this weeks ago. And I said early on, on your show, weeks ago, that there was something bizarre going on here between the mother and the daughter and the father and the grandfather in this case. It`s kind of thrown off to the side in that triangular effect.
And you know, there`s a castration of the grandmother taking over the mother role. What is -- what is the daughter supposed to do? Other than act that out somehow, want to be gone (ph) or retaliate, and unfortunately, this looks like that`s exactly what took place. And then Caylee is in the middle of all this confusion, bearing the brunt of this tragedy.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Chip Merlin, could the prosecution use this psychobabble, for lack of a better word, in front of the jury to set up a motive?
CHIP MERLIN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don`t know if the prosecution wants to do so unless they really want to confuse the jury. And it gets awfully speculative to start saying the family dysfunctions like this are going to lead somebody to commit murder.
And as a matter of fact, I think the defense, as a matter of fact, might love for them to go ahead and start going down this road with respect to motive and take off -- and not really focus on exactly what happened to the child and what Casey Anthony was saying right after this happened.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the reason why we`re discussing this is it`s not just one isolated comment. It is a theme that runs through 500 pages and the previous documents that have been released.
I want to look at some more of these newly released documents. Something else revealed by Casey`s former friend, Annie Downing, to detectives. Downing says Casey was upset during Caylee`s second birthday, because Cindy was helping little Caylee open presents.
Casey`s reaction, quote, "Oh, my God. This is supposed to be Caylee`s day. I`m her mom. She is not her mom."
Now, we talked about lack of boundaries. But let`s talk about the triangulation aspect, Dr. Judy. When there are three people involved in a relationship that should be two primary people, that third wheel, what happens in that kind of triangular dynamic?
KURIANSKY: In that triangle, as we see with this, then there is tremendous anger, and somebody ends up really getting hurt as we saw here. And rebelling and trying to get revenge and even being aggressive towards one or the other of the people. So this is what we`ve seen play out. It`s an explanation, but it`s no excuse.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. Let me ask you this, though, quickly. Is this something we can all learn from? Because aren`t these common dynamics in lesser forms?
KURIANSKY: Yes, they are. And that`s why it`s important that you`re talking about it on the show. Not that it`s the prosecution or the defense in the legal case, but it`s an example for all people who are watching and following this case for grandmothers to know you can love the child, but don`t ever forget who`s the mom.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well put. All right. Everyone stay right there.
Don`t forget: Nancy Grace is up immediately following this program at 8 p.m. Eastern. She will have the very latest on the new evidence in the Caylee Anthony case.
And we are just getting started right here on ISSUES. Can the prosecution use Casey`s mommy issues to convince a jury she is guilty? Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297. And let me know.
All this new evidence suggests Casey had a very strained relationship with her parents. Here is another example.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY ANTHONY: I was in Lake County two days ago.
CASEY ANTHONY, CHARGED WITH CAYLEE`S MURDER: OK.
CINDY ANTHONY: Is there anything there?
CASEY ANTHONY: Mom! I`m -- I`m sorry. I love you guys. I miss you.
CINDY ANTHONY: All right, sweetheart. Here`s Dad.
CASEY ANTHONY: No. I`m going to hang up and just walk away right now.
CINDY ANTHONY: Please, don`t.
CASEY ANTHONY: I`m frustrated, and I`m angry, and I don`t want to be angry. This is the first time I`ve truly, truly been angry this entire time. But I`m so beyond frustrated at all of this. I can`t even swallow right now. It hurts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASEY ANTHONY: Let me speak for a second. Dad, I let everybody talk.
CINDY ANTHONY: OK.
CASEY ANTHONY: They`re not releasing it, well I hope not. I`ll keep saying what I have to about the police. Can someone let me -- come on.
CINDY ANTHONY: Casey, hold on, sweetheart. Settle down, baby.
CASEY ANTHONY: Nobody`s letting me speak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was perhaps a window into the fractured family dynamic now being detailed in more than 500 pages of documents released by the Florida state attorney`s office.
I`m back with my panel and the phone lines lighting up. Nancy in West Virginia, question or thought, ma`am.
CALLER: Hi, Jane. I love your show.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.
CALLER: Thank you for doing -- you know, for covering all of this stuff that so many people are interested in.
My question is last night`s show, they talked -- you guys talked about a diary that she had written and on, I guess, the opposite page it said `03.
CALLER: My question was is there anywhere else in the diary, either before that day or after that that would have any kind of date that would let somebody know that maybe it was, you know, maybe that page was made to look that way?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Very good question. Rozzie Franco, when I looked at that -- and we`re looking at a photograph -- we saw an open page. And it almost appeared like there could have been pages torn out. So, in other words, maybe the `03 related to a previous page and that the June 21st diary page, which seemed to be so incriminating -- basically she says she`s never been happier in her life and she made the right decision, and that would have been, if written in `08, a couple of days after her little daughter disappeared. It -- I get the feeling that perhaps the `03 is separate from the page that has the diary.
FRANCO: Initially, I felt that, too. And when I looked -- because when you look at it, that`s all you can see. And you do see where there`s possibly pages torn in between the `03 where she dated and then that June 21st.
Now, when I called today to talk to Baez`s spokespeople, they didn`t call me back. Because I mean, that`s critical right now. We need to know specifically what that date was.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the defense says that all of this is speculative and one-sided and that basically it`s...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... a prosecution document.
Bonet, your question or thought? Bonet?
CALLER: Oh, hi, Jane.
CALLER: Love your show.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.
CALLER: I would like to know, don`t you think it`s rather curious and even an admission by Lee Anthony when she gave the eulogy or spoke at Caylee`s memorial service that -- when she used the word, quote, "unequivocally" that she loved her children, unequivocally? Why would you use a word like that unless they had done something wrong?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Terry Lyles, you want to take that one?
LYLES: You know what? What seeps out is usually because of what`s hidden inside. And you know, for her to make a statement like "my three children" and really not getting into the fact that, "Wait, I have two children and a granddaughter that I love and I miss," it`s beyond boundaries to me. She`s gotten to a place where she actually believes, in my opinion, that that`s her child. And that`s where this problem, I think, really ensued from the beginning and can only get worse from there.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Dr. Judy, I`d love to get your response to this one. We`re asking what role did Cindy and George play in creating Casey`s mindset?
Let me take you again to the recent "People" magazine story. Quote, "Cindy`s brother Rick Plesea recalled the time that Cindy, George, and Casey showed up at his wedding in June of 2005. The first thing he noticed was that Casey was clearly pregnant, but when he asked Cindy and George about it, they denied all, explaining that she was just putting on weight."
Take it away, Dr. Judy.
KURIANSKY: Well, this is all the big word dysfunctional in terms of really taking over from her daughter and not giving her her own being. And that ends up leaving poor Casey to the point where she`s saying, "I am not you. You are not me. Let me be me, and I am the child here." Which partly explains her infantalizing herself to a certain extent, and not be willing to be a mother, because she`s saying, "I`m the child, not my child." So stay away. And cut the ties.
It just shows what you just read, Jane, that this is the mother taking over for the daughter. It`s a sad statement and a message to moms about being able to keep their limits.
And the poor dad, by the way, plays a role in this, too. His depression, I think, is an indication of his own recognition, I would say, of how enmeshed the family was.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we`ll get to that right now. Let`s consider the relationship between Cindy and George. "People" magazine recently reported that dynamic. Quote, "At one point, Cindy wanted to divorce George. The main problem in their marriage seemed to be their vastly different personalities. The source that knew them described Cindy as a very type `A,` and she really runs that house."
So Terry Lyles...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... there wasn`t just the loggerheads between Casey and Cindy. There was also the conflict between Cindy and George. How would that impact Casey`s mentality?
And on top of it, Casey and George weren`t getting along either. In other words, nobody is getting along in that house.
LYLES: Well, listen, that kind of control doesn`t work well. When somebody takes that kind of control over a dynamic situation like this in a family, people are either going to cower down, scatter, or just be, you know, out of the way. And I think that`s what you`re seeing here.
In that tape you just showed after the break, you`ve got Casey and the mom going back and forth bickering. They can`t even get a full sentence in. And the dad is sitting off to the side like, you know, a figurehead almost not saying anything because he doesn`t want to get bopped by this either. And you`ve got this whole twisted scenario. It`s almost like a sibling rivalry between Casey and her daughter and this whole situation. And there`s a grandmother acting like she doesn`t know what`s going on.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. Karen in Illinois, question or thought, ma`am.
CALLER: Yes. I was wondering, the gentleman that went out there to the site that -- where Caylee was found and supposedly took video of that, is there any connection between him and that utility worker or the utility worker and Lee? Because there just seems to be two many winky-dinks in there for that to have just happened all of a sudden.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the meter man says he has absolutely nothing to do with the family and that he used to be a bounty hunter. And he just has a good gut, and he went there on his own and found it. So that is pretty much what he`s saying. And I think we have to trust him on that, because he is the guy who found the remains.
Let me give Dr. Judy the last word. What do we learn from this? What do people at home take away?
KURIANSKY: I think what people at home take away is that there needs to be a distancing and a separation between the roles of the different family members. And a recognition that a mom is a mom in different generations and to keep your separate roles.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And let`s hope that something good comes out of this, that at least people might learn valuable lessons. Judy, Chip, thanks. Rozzie, Terry, stick around.
Coming up, more fall-out in the bizarre Octomom story. Could Octomom and her brood of 14 be out of a home? I`ll have an update.
And Haleigh Cummings, we`re going to search for her. Next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s going on with the repossession of your house?
NADYA SULEMAN, MOTHER OF OCTUPLETS: It`s not my house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not yours?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are in $23,000...
SULEMAN: Probably grandma.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The house you`re living in now?
SULEMAN: Yes. I need a new house. I need a new house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She needs a new house. Octomom reacting to news that her own mother has fallen way behind on mortgage payments. She stands to lose the three-bedroom house for all 16 of them were supposed to live once the octuplets are released from the hospital.
It doesn`t look like the octobrood will be on the street anytime soon. TMZ is reporting that Nadya Suleman has been casing this. Take a look at this gorgeous place, this $1.2 million mansion in Wittier, California. It has four bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, and -- get this, people -- a pool without a safety fence. Just what you don`t want when you have 14 young kids.
I want to bring in my good friend, Harvey Levin, executive producer of TMZ.
Harvey, great to see you, as always.
HARVEY LEVIN, TMZ: Hi, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The most obvious first question here, how on earth is she going to pay for these fancy new digs? Does she have some kind of secret deal or what?
LEVIN: Well, let me tell you what`s going on.
LEVIN: We talked to the realty company, someone in the realty company who is -- and that is the company that has listed this house for $1.42 million. They say that she is an interested buyer. That`s what she told us. Now, that said, I`m also going to tell you now that we have been told that right now, as we speak, Jane, Dr. Phil is in that house, apparently, and doing an interview with her. And there are some other people from Paramount shows there, as well. And that they may have cut some deal with her and rented this house for the day.
So on the one hand, we`re hearing the house is being used to shoot this interview. And on the other hand, and maybe they`re consistent, we`re being told that by the -- by the realty company that she`s an interested buyer.
I will tell you this, Jane. I know the way this town works. If Paramount is doing this interview with her, I promise you she`s making a lot of money off of that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, it certainly would make sense because she seems very unconcerned when your guys caught up with her and said, you know, your mom`s house, the Octograndma`s house, could be going into foreclosure, because it`s ten months behind on the payments. And she`s like, "Yes, we need a new house." Like la-di-da, nothing. If you`re about to go into foreclosure, usually you`re a little bit worried, right, Harvey?
LEVIN: Yes. Well, she didn`t seem worried at all. I mean, we pulled the foreclosure documents, and there`s no doubt about it. They`re in arrears on the house. She, you`re right, Jane, did not seem concerned. She`s wheeling and dealing in this town. I mean, she is, you know, making deals with photo agencies. She`s making deals with publicists. She`s now doing sit-down interviews for entertainment shows. So, you know, this woman is cashing in every which way she can.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Everybody says she hasn`t made a deal. Nobody is admitting to the deal, but there are so many ways to structure a deal with third parties, aren`t there?
LEVIN: Well, you know, she said as far as we know that she`s not going to do a reality show. You know, the shows that she may be doing right now are not reality shows. So she can legitimately say that. You know, she is trying to make money six ways to Sunday.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I think you`re absolutely right. Harvey, you did it again, another blockbuster exclusive. How do you keep doing it? Thanks you so much. Join us soon.
Again new details in the frantic search for 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings. An arrest made today. Could it be a break in the case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: New evidence leads to shocking twists in the Caylee Anthony case. Sifting through the evidence, we see a telling picture of mom Casey Anthony`s psychology.
Was Casey trying to get some sort of revenge against a controlling mother? Do prosecutors believe a rocky relationship with her parents led to murder? A look inside Casey Anthony`s troubled mind.
Then, the desperate search for five-year-old Haleigh Cummings continues with a flood of new reports. Dad, Ronald Cummings, denies reports that he was in a fight one day before Haleigh disappeared. Just add this to the long list of inconsistencies in this troubling case.
We are looking back at the shocking portrait emerging of a fractured Anthony family. The hundreds of pages of evidence released in the Caylee Anthony murder investigation reveal a family at war with itself.
Back with me, Terry Lyles, a psychologist and Rozzie Franco, a reporter of WFLA 540 AM.
Terry, we`ve been psychoanalyzing this family and, of course, we certainly would love to get their side of the story. I`m sure that Cindy would have a lot to say about what we`ve been saying tonight.
But I think it goes all the way back to even before this precious child was born. The reports in previous documents allege that a friend wanted to adopt little Caylee while she was still in the womb.
She discussed this with Casey. Casey, according to these documents, was in favor of it, but Cindy said no. Given everything else we`ve discussed, what do you make of that?
TERRY LYLES, PH.D., PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, you know, again, it gets bizarre from the very beginning, in my opinion as we`ve talked about before. And when she wanted to give her own daughter up for adoption and hoped that she would have a better life, maybe she knew what would take place if she didn`t do that knowing who her mother is in this case.
But when the mother or the grandmother in this case steps up and says, no, I want to take this child, it`s almost like right then she circumvented her own daughter`s wishes and right then you start drawing blood. And it`s never going to be good when you start that kind of relationship when a child now becomes a pawn between the mom and the grandmother.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Also, in these documents the friend of Casey, Annie Downing (ph), revealed that Casey told her that Cindy quote, "was a horrible person who was trying to control her life and take Caylee away from her."
Another friend, Michelle Murphy (ph), said Lee Anthony and George Anthony had told her that they and Cindy Anthony were considering getting custody of Caylee. And also that Casey had told her she considered herself a bad mother, but did not explain herself.
Now, keep in mind that Casey also told friend Michelle Murphy in 2007 she was feeling crazy and considered getting herself committed. In defense of Cindy, and I have to take this back to the psychologist, Terry Lyles --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: If your own daughter is kind of crazy and negligent and displaying signs of possible mental instability, you have to step in when there`s a young child.
LYLES: Absolutely. And in defense to Cindy, somebody had to do something. I think where the problem really arises is you`ve got like two issues, major. You`ve got, you know, Caylee`s situation and obviously what it is -- you`ve got the mother saying, "Hey, if no one is going to step in, I`m going to do what a grandmother should do and take over."
But if someone needs to be committed or needs some, you know, analysis to find out that where they are mentally, that should have been followed up on.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.
LYLES: And that should have been taken seriously.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Rozzie, we`ve got ten seconds. What can we expect next? Are we going to get more documents tomorrow?
ROZZIE FRANCO, WFLA 540 AM, ORLANDO, FL.: We very possibly can get more documents and as we`ve seen, these documents have kind of solidified a lot of the theories that we had before.
So we just have to kind of stay tuned and see what comes out next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And we`re going to stay on top of it every single step of the way. Rozzie thank you so much.
Quick reminder, Nancy Grace, up next at 8:00 p.m. and she will have the very latest on the Caylee Anthony murder case.
Some breaking news just coming in as we speak that you do not want to miss. Nancy will have it for you.
Meanwhile, we turn to the desperate search for five-year-old of Florida, Haleigh Cummings now missing for ten days. Her father`s girlfriend, Misty Croslin, re-questioned by investigators today and then there was this stunning announcement by authorities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF JEFF HARDY, PUTNAM COUNTY SHERIFF`S DEPARTMENT: An arrest was made on a sexual predator here in Putnam County. However, this particular person does not have any direct link to Haleigh Cummings as far as being able to put him anywhere near her residence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Earlier, Haleigh`s father, Ron, spoke out at a very emotional news conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD CUMMINGS, HALEIGH`S FATHER: Please bring my daughter home. And she`s not yours. It`s not property. You know, it`s not something that you just take and say it`s mine or whatever. This is my daughter. This is blood. And I would like to have my daughter back, please. Please, bring my daughter home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hopefully somebody out there is listening and will do precisely that.
Troubling questions keep surfacing. Is Ron`s girlfriend, Misty, reportedly the last person to see Haleigh, telling the truth about where she was that fateful night?
And could reports that Ron fought about a gun just one day before little Haleigh went missing provide a much needed break in this case?
Let`s go straight to my excellent panel: Ashleigh Banfield, anchor on the Legal Network "In Session" and Terry Lyles, psychologist, plus Jennifer Bauer, a reporter at CNN affiliate WJXT TV.
Jennifer, what is the very latest?
JENNIFER BAUER, CNN AFFILIATE WJXT TV REPORTER: Well, today in that news conference this afternoon, Jane, you heard Sheriff Jeff Hardy announce the arrest of Timothy Lou Kakis (ph). He is a registered sex predator here in Putnam County, but in the same breath Sheriff Jeff Hardy said his arrest has nothing to do with Haleigh`s disappearance.
However, he is a registered sexual predator. Sheriff Hardy called him a dangerous individual who wears a GPS monitoring device. Apparently last night, he violated curfew and so this afternoon, detectives went, picked him up and put him in jail.
Sheriff Hardy tells us he is being questioned about the Haleigh case, but he tells us right now there is no direct link.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, among the hundreds of tips, one that Ron Cummings, the dad, got into a fight about a gun just one day before little Haleigh`s disappearance. He was asked about that this morning at the news conference. Listen to his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: There was no fight with no cousin over a gun. I don`t know where people are getting information from. You know, people say a lot of things. And they don`t know what they`re talking about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you didn`t have an altercation with anybody verbally, physically, at all before?
CUMMINGS: I don`t have any enemies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Ashleigh Banfield, this claim that he had a fight reportedly came from his own family members who alleged that Ron accused this other guy of stealing a gun and then the man disappeared and the next day, the gun was found in a ditch.
He says it`s not true, but if there is a missing man with a grudge against the child`s father, I mean, how do police check this out?
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR OF "IN SESSION": Well, everything that happens, especially if it`s something unusual within hours of a missing -- you know, a missing child, but it`s kind of tough because at this point, we don`t know anything except what one report is from a family member.
And that family member didn`t suggest it was a cousin. Just suggested that it was a person, they couldn`t remember anything, they didn`t even know where it had happened. They did say that the gun was retrieved and they also know this, that -- that the father in this case actually said to the police responding, if I find the person who did this, I`ve got a gun and I`ll use it on him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. He did say that.
Now, I have to go back to Jennifer Bauer and this very, very cryptic set of questions and possible leads. Please sort it out because what I have is based on questions that were asked at a news conference which the authorities didn`t answer.
But there has been something raised about a cousin of Misty`s -- a possible cousin of Misty near Knoxville, Tennessee, who may have a history as a sex predator who may have been seen with a little girl that was shielded when the person approached.
Again, this is total speculation but we`re trying to get to the bottom of this.
BAUER: Yes, Jane. That`s the problem, there`s so many rumors floating about. We are hearing that there were possible Haleigh sightings in Tennessee and maybe he met at a Caraboo`s (ph) Restaurant.
All we know here in Putnam County is that the Sheriff Jeff Hardy is not confirming any of these sightings or talking about Haleigh being in Tennessee. But he did say that Misty has a relative who lives in Tennessee that has been questioned.
That relative is not in custody and the sheriff would not comment on whether or not he is a registered sexual offender or predator, but he did say that that relative was in Satsuma recently visiting Misty and went back to Tennessee.
We don`t have a timeline. And we don`t know when he was here and when he went back, but we do know that relative has been questioned and we do know that relative is not in custody.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Jennifer, a quick follow-up. I thought I heard something in the mix of all of these sort of rumors floating around that somebody -- aside from the air conditioner repairman had visited Misty at the trailer hours before the little girl disappeared.
Like some sort of cousin of hers.
BANFIELD: Yes, that`s right. And we`re trying to confirm that as well, Jane, because as I mention, there is a lot of speculations, a lot of rumors going around. We`re trying to find out if it is this relative, if it was a friend, but the sheriff will not comment.
All he is saying that people are being questioned and they are following up on those now 1,300 tips.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right, a lot of questions over Ron`s girlfriend Misty and whether her story checks out.
Listen to what Ron had to say about his 17-year-old girlfriend just today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In your heart, do you believe that Misty was, indeed, home and that she has been telling the truth?
CUMMINGS: Yes, I believe she`s telling the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So he says he believes her, but listen to this part of the 911 call made when Haleigh was first reported missing.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OPERATOR: Ok, sir. Let me talk to your wife.
Let me get some information from her.
MISTY CROSLIN: [INAUDIBLE]
OPERATOR: Ok, can I talk to her?
CUMMINGS: How the [bleep] do you let my daughter get stolen, [bleep]
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ashleigh, he seems very angry. What do you think, is he suspicious or not?
BANFIELD: I wouldn`t read anything into that. I can only imagine as a parent what it would be like upon learning that your child is missing in the middle of the night. You might want to blame anybody around you.
I wouldn`t read a thing into that. My heart goes out to this father at this point. And I`m thinking back, Jane -- I know you covered this as well -- to Mark Lunsford who also was in a trailer whose child was also missing in the middle of the night.
And then sadly, a sexual predator was at fault for that, only a few trailers away, and they had actually looked at that trailer.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You are absolutely right. It can happen. And certainly we shouldn`t cast any aspersions or suspicions on anyone. It`s way too early. Ashleigh, Jennifer, thanks.
Terry, stay right there.
Coming up, I will analyze a women`s bizarre relationship with her chimpanzee; one that may have led to a horrific attack. I want to hear your take on this strange, tragic story of the chimp. Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297. It`s all next. We want to hear from you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Coming up, I will examine the bizarre relationship between a woman and her pet leading to Travis the chimp`s horrific attack.
But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.
An update on the 9-year-old Arizona boy accused of committing a double murder back when he was only 8 years old. The boy originally pleaded not guilty to two charges of premeditated murder in the November 5th shooting death of his father, Vincent Romero and Timothy Romans.
Under a new plea deal today, the young boy pleaded guilty to one count of negligent homicide. That deal will keep that child out of the State Juvenile Correction System. He will be on probation until he is 18. That`s tonight`s "Top of the Block."
There is nothing funny or cute about this next story. In fact, it`s just as outrageous and tragic as the octo-mom, but in a very different way. By now you`ve heard the story of Travis the chimp who was shot and killed by police after he attacked a 55-year-old woman to within an inch of her life.
The 911 call to police, chilling.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OPERATOR: What is the problem?
SANDRA HEROLD, KEPT CHIMPANZEE AS COMPANION: He`s killing my friend.
OPERATOR: Who is killing your friend?
HEROLD: My chimp. My chimpanzee.
OPERATOR: Oh, your chimpanzee is killing your friend?
HEROLD: Yes. He ripped her apart, hurry up. Hurry up, please.
OPERATOR: There`s someone on the way.
HEROLD: With guns, please. Just shoot him.
OPERATOR: What is the monkey doing? Tell me what the monkey --
HEROLD: He ripped her face off.
OPERATOR: He ripped her face off?
HEROLD: He tried -- he`s trying to attack me. Please, please.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The bizarre relationship between Travis the chimp and the woman the chimp lived with demands closer examination. She says he brushed her hair, they bathed and slept together, they even drank wine together. But was it precisely that unnatural situation that set the stage for disaster?
Let me turn to my fantastic guests, joining me again, Terry Lyles, a psychologist and Lisa Lange, from PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Lisa, this is a tragedy all the way around. Our hearts go out to the woman who was attacked. Chimps are highly intelligent animals. Isn`t it a mistake to try to turn a chimp into a caricature of a human being?
LISA LANGE, PETA: Absolutely, they are wild animals, and by the time they turn the very young age of 8, they have the strength of seven men. They`re exceptionally dangerous and we need to ban the private ownership of chimpanzees in every state in the country.
Unfortunately, Connecticut, the state for some reason allowed her to keep this animal without a permit. So this animal was 14 years old. He was 200 pounds. He was obese. He was exceptionally strong. He had a history of biting people. And this tragedy was 100 percent avoidable.
And I think it`s also really important to remember that the violence that these animals face starts days after they`re born. They`re taken away from their mothers when they`re mere infants because that`s the only way that you can train a chimpanzee for commercials which this animal was used in.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to get in to that in just a second.
Now, the 70-year-old woman made Travis her companion. After the death of both her husband and daughter, listen to how she describes their relationship after she was forced to fend off this attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HEROLD: For me to do something like that, put a knife in him, was like putting one in myself. And then he turned around and like, "Mom, what did you do?"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Terry Lyles, isn`t this substitution relationship unhealthy?
LYLES: Oh, it`s very unhealthy. I mean, this is an animal. And the abuse was toward the animal. I mean, you cannot treat animals, you know, like spouses and family members. I understand pets, but this is not a dog or a cat.
This is an animal that has a propensity to being violent if necessary. And it was probably just defending itself at all cases, not knowing all those signals that are being sent between love, care, and affection.
No wonder this is so twisted. I feel sorry for the chimp.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, according to some reports, that the woman who came to visit had a toy that she waved absolutely innocently, but that that might have been something that set him off. This is not an isolated case.
PETA in fact has produced a very disturbing documentary exposing how chimpanzees are abused and exploited for commercial purposes. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELICA HUSTON, ACTRESS: Around age 8, apes grew too strong to be handled. No longer useful to trainers, they`re usually discarded at poorly-run roadside zoos or breeding facilities of masquerades sanctuaries. PETA found Chubs who was used in a remake of "Planet of the Apes" living in squalor at a roadside hell hole in Amarillo, Texas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That voice, Angelica Houston, by the way the famous movie actress.
Lisa, everybody thinks, "Oh, it`s a cute little animal and I want one in my house and I`m going to be nice to it," but that is precisely the abuse.
And if you want to find animal exploitation, I always say follow the money. This animal, the one that ended up being killed after ripping that woman`s face off was used in TV commercials.
LANGE: Yes, he was -- he was used in Old Navy commercials and Coke commercials at the very least; that`s what we know of. And the thing is that we`ve done investigations and other animals groups have done investigations that have found in every instance, the training of great apes is abusive.
And the reason for this is like little human beings, when they`re babies, they get distracted very easily. They run around and they get into things and on a set whether it`s for a commercial or whether it`s for a movie, time is money.
And so you`ll see sometimes when a chimpanzee shows that smile, it`s not a smile. It`s a fear grimace and that`s because they know that if they don`t perform on cue that they`re likely to be hit with a metal bar or a hose filled with sand or shot with a hotshot. And this is the rule and not the exception.
And then again like you saw in this video, when they turn the age of 8 they`re no longer useable. But these animals live to be 65, 70 years old.
Last year on the set of "Speed Racer" they were using a chimpanzee in that movie and in front of an American Humane Association representative, the trainer punched one of those chimpanzees. It was never reported, that animal was kept on the set --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s your investigation and I want to take some calls in a second. So many people calling in, wanting to talk about this terrible tragedy. We`re going take your calls. Hang in there.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are back, talking about this tragic and bizarre relationship between Travis the chimp and the woman who turned him into a domestic companion.
The phone lines are light up. Laurie of Florida, question or thought ma`am?
LAURIE IN FLORIDA: Hi, Jane.
Yes, I have to be honest with you. This whole thing just breaks my heart. Human beings and wild animals do not mix together and furthermore, Travis has exhibited signs of violence prior to this. Why wasn`t something done then? Maybe he would still be alive and that lady would not be in the hospital in critical condition. This is just terrible. I mean, my heart goes out to all of them.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and I have to go back to Lisa on that one. There are sanctuaries that would have taken this animal. I know there`s one group I give money to, Primarily Primates that takes animals -- chimps. There was a place for this animal to go to live in a sanctuary, right?
LANGE: Definitely, but there are not enough sanctuaries out there to take in the tens of thousands of chimpanzees who are being bred and living in people`s homes and who are thrown into roadside zoos as you saw in the video.
What has to happen now is we have to have a permanent end to the breeding of these animals. No more animals in people`s homes and no more animals in these advertisements that portray these animals as little men in monkey suits.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, absolutely.
LANGE: Hoola, and Keds and Honda are three corporations that are into this.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, you know what I`ve got to say that we can`t -- CNN cannot independently confirm any of the results of any of PETA`s investigations and we`re going to continue to follow this story because it is such a heartbreaker.
Jeff in Florida, your question or thought, sir.
JEFF IN FLORIDA: Hi I just like to say me and DJ Cav (ph) love your show. We think you`re one of the best.
I have a question really quick. There has been several reports that she had possibly gave this animal a certain kind of medicine, Xanax.
Now, they said she was backtracking her story. Is there any proof or any reports that she actually did give the medication to the animal?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Terry Lyles, I understand that she is backtracking and saying no, but the fact she gave the animal wine, right there, that`s bizarre.
LYLES: I mean the food they dined together with, I mean Filet Mignon and lobster tail. I mean, this is bizarre as bizarre as I have heard. And you know again, I guess the biggest thing with this story is a plea to people, if you see something crazy going on next door, don`t bury your head in the sand. Become a village like we used to be back in the day, make phone calls, be consistent.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Lisa, I`m going to give you the final word. We`ve got about 20 seconds. What should we do?
LANGE: We need to really impress upon our state legislatures to pass laws in every single state banning the private ownership of these animals. And please, write to companies like Castrol Oil that are still using these animals; these abused and neglected animals in advertisements because that`s really where the problems starts.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, it`s up to the humans to fix this problem, people. Terry, Lisa, thank you so much for joining me tonight.
I am Jane Velez-Mitchell and you are watching "ISSUES" on HLN.
SUSAN HENDRICKS, HLN PRIME NEWS BREAK ANCHOR: Hi there, I`m Susan Hendricks with your "HLN Prime Newsbreak."
President Obama visited Canada on Thursday, his first foreign trip as head of state. He and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Hartford discussed trade, energy and security. Obama reassured Canadians he wants to increase trade with their country. Both leaders say nations around the world need to resist the urge to put up trade barriers in tough economic times.
A 9-year-old Arizona boy accused of killing his father and another man pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of negligent homicide. Murder charges were dropped. The plea deal keeps the boy from serving any time in the State Juvenile Correction System. A judge could still sentence him to time in a county facility.
And take a look at this, the DOW Jones Industrial Average slumped to its lowest point in more than six years Thursday. Fears of a prolonged recession sent stock investors heading for the exits. The DOW slid more than 89 points or 1.2 percent, closing at the lowest point since 2002.
That`s it for now.