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Jane Velez-Mitchell

Haleigh`s Dad Speaks Out from Behind Bars; What`s Behind Violence in U.S.?

Aired January 28, 2010 - 19:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, Ronald Cummings lashes out from behind bars. And he`s threatening to kill whoever took his little daughter. We`ll play the jaw-dropping tapes of Ronald Cummings speaking out from inside his jail cell. Why does he think his recent arrest is just a way for cops to grill him on Haleigh?

And fiasco in Haiti. Money, food, aid, flooding into the country. But is it reaching the people who need it? Tonight, we will talk exclusively to a rescue worker on the ground who says it is not. He claims people are dying in front of him because of bureaucratic disorganization.


DAN HARRINGTON, FATHER OF MORGAN: We now need to find the person who did this, and we will not stop until that person is brought to justice.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Desperate words from a heartbroken father. The parents of beautiful co-ed Morgan Harrington are tracking down her murderer. Tonight, we will talk to Morgan`s father about his hunt for justice. Who does he think killed his precious daughter?

And a very special guest on ISSUES tonight. World-famous spiritual leader Marianne Williamson offers insight into our culture of violence as two teenage girls were forced to fight, and the entire thing was posted on YouTube. But that`s just the beginning. Cops say two parents were egging them on. What`s going on?

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Head-spinning new developments in the case of missing 6-year-old Haleigh Cummings. Are cops squeezing answers out of the last person to see her alive?

Haleigh`s father, Ron Cummings, is speaking out from behind bars. Ron, his ex-wife, Misty, her brother, Ron`s cousin, and a friend, have all been arrested on drug trafficking charges. But Ron claims police targeted him, and his friends, just to lock him up and question them about little Haleigh`s disappearance.

Listen to this.


RON CUMMINGS, FATHER OF HALEIGH: They just told me that their main focus is not on putting me in jail, but finding Haleigh. They already know that I don`t know anything about Haleigh`s disappearance. Nothing else, otherwise I`d already been in DOC.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s him talking from behind bars. We`re going to play more of that tape in a second.

Investigators say these cases are not connected. But they are going to grill the group, including that one right there, about what happened to little Haleigh.

Even though Ron feels targeted and Misty`s dad reportedly says her [SIC] daughter was just doing people favors, this clan was allegedly involved in some serious pill-pushing. Police say this crew did seven different drug deals with undercover officers, selling the pain pills Oxycodone and hydrocodone. More than 300 pills were allegedly involved. And the drugs had a street value of almost $4,000. Could one or more of these people know what happened to this precious child?

I want to hear from you. What are your theories? Now let`s see the phone number. There it is, 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297,

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: criminal defense attorney, David Schwartz; psychologist Brenda Wade. We need you tonight, my dear. Former police officer, Mark Herold. And investigative journalist, Art Harris, who has dug up some brand-new information.

Art, what do you know tonight?

ART HARRIS, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, I can tell you, Jane, that Misty Croslin is behind bars facing decades in prison, if convicted of six fellow counts of drug trafficking, selling as you said, more than 300 pills from around town, resulting -- her arrest resulting from a month-long investigation, undercover investigation by a tri-county drug task force.

Her husband, Ron Cummings, today meeting or talking to her mother, spoke today -- his mother spoke today and said that he believes cops think Misty knows a lot more than she`s been telling, and that she will reveal what she does -- does know from behind bars. He thinks that she is going to say something at some point if she stays in jail.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I want to analyze that. Here is my thought. David Schwartz, Florida has the death penalty. So even the fact that she is facing the prospect of 74 years behind bars, if Florida has the death penalty, could even 74 years not be enough to get her to crack?

DAVID SCHWARTZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, I mean, to get her to crack -- I think it`s much easier to get her to crack when she`s out of jail than in jail. You have all kinds of issues right now. She certainly has the right to counsel at this point, and she should be advised not to make any statements whatsoever.

I would think, from an investigative standpoint, it would be easier to trick her or get her to crack when she`s not in the custody of the -- of the state of Florida.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, guess what, David? They`ve been trying that for almost a year, and it hasn`t worked. So I guess they`re trying something different now.

SCHWARTZ: Wait a minute, Jane, you just can`t -- you can`t just try it. You can`t just arrest somebody. But however, in this particular case, the police certainly had probable cause to arrest Misty, based on these undercover buying busts.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ron Cummings insists he has absolutely no idea who took his precious daughter. Now, this we`re looking at Misty right now, when she got arrested. Look at her. She looks like a kid. Listen to Ron`s response when he is asked what he will do if they find the person who took Haleigh.


CUMMINGS: Kill him. Same thing I said on the 911 call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just wanted to make sure.

CUMMINGS: I`m telling you, I`m ain`t changed my mind not a bit. I don`t care if they get me with in justifiable homicide. I don`t care. If I find out what happened to my youngun, it doesn`t matter to me. It`ll be worth life without parole or the death penalty or whatever.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Art Harris, Ron is involved of being involved with drugs, and you told me earlier when we were talking on the phone that Satsuma is becoming a cesspool of drugs all the way around. A lot of drug arrest there. Do police believe the person who took Haleigh could be somebody in the local drug world?

HARRIS: They believe this does have to do with drugs. Somehow drugs are surrounding this. The people involved here, Misty, was involved in a three-day drug party with locals leading up to Haleigh`s vanishing that day. Ronald Cummings now accused of three counts of felony trafficking. Despite his past denials, he is now an accused drug dealer.

So I spoke with Dominic Pape (ph), who is special agent in charge of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Jane, and he said this is a window into an epidemic that is killing people in Florida. Prescription drug epidemic is the No. 1 killer there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Of course it is.

HARRIS: And in the country. Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Of course it is. And while we wage a war on drugs, it`s costing taxpayers billions and billions of dollars to stop illegal drugs from coming into this country, and to prosecute and lock up people for nonviolent drug offenses, which was never going to work, because there`s no way to cut off the demand. It`s the demand that creates the problem. Addiction creates insatiable demand.

While we`re doing all that, and spending billions with the DEA and the U.S. military, even, the biggest problem in Florida and around the country is prescription drug abuse. The prescription drugs that were being sold, allegedly, by the person you`re looking at right there.

Now, here`s my big issue tonight: strange love. First, Ron and Misty get married, right after Haleigh goes missing on her watch. Now they`re divorced. He claims they`re just friends in his jailhouse interview. Ron even gave a shout-out to his new girlfriend.

Listen to this.


CUMMINGS: I want my family to know I love them, my girlfriend to know I love her, my kids to know I love them, Haleigh to know I`ll never give up on her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brenda Wade, when the reporter asked Ron who this mystery new girlfriend is, he wouldn`t say. But Misty`s mom says, "Unh-uh, the two are still sleeping together up until their arrest," Misty and Ron.

Misty reportedly got a tattoo on her lower back that says -- want to take a guess? "Ronald Cummings." So something doesn`t add up here about their relationship, Brenda.

WADE: I think it adds up, Jane.

And we know every that every child needs and deserves functioning parents. And you`ve already named the elephant in the living room, Jane. The elephant here is addiction, and it`s drugs. We can`t have fully- functioning parents. When people are involved in drugs, whether they`re taking them, selling them, it`s a world that creates a very dark, dark, illusion.

And it`s clear to me, and I`ve looked at this case so many times. From the very beginning, I said, drugs and/or alcohol have to be a major feature, because pieces don`t add up. Misty was asleep, but she doesn`t know what happened to the little girl. She was in the bed, she wasn`t in the bed. It just designed doesn`t add up.

And what we`re looking at with this relationship is a classic addictive relationship. We have a codependent relationship. They`re not only addicted possibly to drugs, they`re addicted to one another, too.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what, Mark Herold, here`s what I don`t understand. We`re going to get to the calls in a second. Why would Ron lie?

Let`s say Misty`s mom is right, and they were still sleeping together. I buy it, because who gets a tattoo of somebody on their lower back that they`re not sleeping with? I mean, that`s crazy.

This girl -- this little girl that you`re looking at right there would get a tattoo on her lower back of Ronald Cummings if she wasn`t sleeping with Ronald Cummings, her ex-husband. OK? So he`s saying, "Unh-uh, we`re just friends. I have a new girlfriend," but won`t name her.

Why -- let`s assume for a second that they were sleeping together. What would his motivation be not to admit that?

HEROLD: I can`t really think that he`d have a motivation. You know, one thing is, he might be lying just because he`s a liar. He may just not be a truthful person. And he gets behind the 8-ball and all these questions are coming at him and he reacts to them.

But my guess is, he`s probably lying about that. He`s probably lying about some other things but you don`t just know. I agree. This is a clear-cut case of a family living, just absolutely absorbed in drugs, absorbed in a lifestyle that certainly they can`t raise a child. And it may have looks like definitely some negligence here. The child disappeared. But probably even worse. We just don`t know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but I guess the point is, we had said that he was at work, he knew nothing about it. He said a million times, "I know nothing about it." And we assumed that was right, because he screamed -- he screamed on that 911 call, "I`ll kill him!" So we assumed he was an angry dad who didn`t know anything.

HEROLD: That could be an assumption, though.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But if he`s lying...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We invite Ron, if and when he gets out of prison, or his attorney who is out there, to come on our show and tell their side of the story. Ditto for Misty.

Everybody stay right where you are. More on Ron`s enraged jailhouse tapes right after the break.

And we`re taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. Barbara, hang in there from Florida. We`ll take you in a second. 1-877-586-7297. What do you think of these tapes? Do you believe Ron?

Plus a YouTube video shows two girls punching and hitting each other. Cops compared it to human dog fighting and say adults egged it on. Our very special guest, world-famous spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson, is going to offer insight, much-needed insight into our culture of violence and how we can change it.

But first, Ron Cummings speaks out from behind bars. Do you believe his story? What about his ex-wife? Is Misty keeping secrets from cops?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, sir, let me talk to your wife, let me get some information from her. Can I talk to her? OK?

CUMMINGS: How the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) did you let my daughter get stolen, (EXPLETIVE DELETED)?




MISTY CROSLIN, EX-WIFE OF RON CUMMINGS: I got up because I had to use the bathroom, but I didn`t make it to the bathroom. I seen the kitchen light on, and I walked in the kitchen, and the back door was wide open. And I didn`t notice about Haleigh then until I seen the back door open. And I go in the room, and she`s gone. And that`s all I know. Because when I woke up -- when I went to sleep, she was there, and when I woke up, she was gone.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hmmm. That`s Misty`s version of what happened that night, the night little Haleigh vanished. Remember, she was the last person to see this little girl. Ron admits, he has a hard time believing his ex-wife doesn`t know more about the child`s disappearance. Listen.


CUMMINGS: Hard to believe that she doesn`t know more. But it`s also hard to believe that, if she did know more, she ain`t already talked, you know? Especially if they`ve got her locked up like they`ve got me, man, because this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) will drive you crazy.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And phone lines lighting up. Barbara from Florida. Your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: Yes, Jane. I would like to thank you for all that you do for victims. My heart goes out to this little girl`s mother. I`m a mother, and I can`t imagine what she`s going through in all this, with all of this other stuff going on.


CALLER: But my thought is, is that, you know, from the beginning that she -- Misty says she woke up, and it was around 10 or whatever, and this child was missing somewhere around 10. But I know that she came home from school that day. Haleigh came home. How do we know that she wasn`t really missing earlier?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Art -- excellent question, Barbara from Florida. Art Harris, there were people who saw her...

HARRIS: That`s right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... a few hours before. And isn`t it true that one of the individuals arrested, Misty`s brother, has admitted to police he went to the house that night, at 10 p.m., just when she said she`d already put the child to sleep and she was herself going to sleep.

HARRIS: Banged on the door.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Banged on the door, nobody there. What`s your theory about this relationship between Ron and Misty?

HARRIS: Well, I think it is a -- as you said, sort of a love addiction. I think Ron likes young women underage. He has had three women in his life, and they have all been young teenagers. Misty is No. 3.

And, you know, he is very controlling, very manipulative, and, you know, he could get them to do anything he wanted, like babysitting.

And now when Misty, flash forward, stumbled into this undercover drug ring and was making money, he jumps in on at least three of the deals, allegedly. He`s on tape helping her go get drugs and delivering them to the undercover officer. And they were making money. They were getting prescriptions for, like, $30 for two prescription co-pay, and selling these 30 pills for $15 a piece.

So if you don`t have a job, and Ron was unemployed, you know, for the last, gosh -- for months and months, and Misty doesn`t have a job, this is easy money.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But why would he lie about sleeping with Misty? What`s the advantage? And if he`s lying about that, what else could he be lying about?

HARRIS: Well, you name it. I mean, this is somebody who -- you know, who said initially, he didn`t do drugs, never smoked a joint, you know, didn`t -- didn`t push women around. And, you know, on all those counts, Jane, I have spoken to his -- his ex-girlfriends who he had children by, and they all say this is an abuser.

So, you know, this is somebody who obviously is always blaming somebody else for all his problems.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Margaret, Louisiana, your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: Yes, ma`am. My initiative (ph) with this is that Ron Cummings and Misty Cummings -- actually, Ron, I do believe, yes, he is a drug dealer. There`s a big circle of drugs going on with this entire family.

To keep it short, I do not believe that he was aware of what happened to Haleigh. But I do believe that Misty and the rest, including the grandmother, and the brother -- the brother was there. There was someone with him. His child was taken for money. And that is what I truly believe, for them to go and do with their drug money and everything and have money (UNINTELLIGIBLE) child.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, ma`am, thank you for your -- your theories.

Again, we invite the attorneys for Misty and Ron, Misty`s mom, Misty`s brother, the whole clan, if they want to come on, welcome at any time to tell their side of the story.

But David Schwartz, this -- this whole drug issue is really terrifying, because the one thing that can destroy maternal or paternal instincts is drugs. It makes anything possible.

SCHWARTZ: That`s right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, absolutely. Drugs is an epidemic, and it`s certainly a theory in this case that drugs may have something to do with Haleigh missing.

But the bottom line is, that`s mere speculation and guesswork at this point. We need hard facts, and we need to move the ball forward in solving this missing -- the case of this missing girl. We need to move the ball forward. And right now, I`m just hearing about money and theories, and no hard evidence. I`m sure the police are a lot further along on this than what we`re speculating about.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we`ll see. Now, here`s another really bizarre aspect to this. Let`s take a look at one of the women arrested with Ron and Misty, Donna Brock. She`s what they call in the movie business, a shape-shifter.

First, she was a volunteer for Texas EquuSearch. She reportedly was supposed to befriend Misty to get some answers out of her about what really happened. Next thing you know, she`s getting arrested with Misty after a road-rage incident.

Listen to what the victim had to say about Donna and Misty.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were hanging out of the window, flipping me off, you know, telling me they were going to kill me. You know, motioning as if they had a weapon in the car. You know, it turns out they didn`t have one, but they definitely wanted me to think they did.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, so now she`s accused of being part of a drug trafficking ring. It`s so mysterious.

I want to thank my fantastic panel, and we will stay on top of that case. You can be sure.

Morgan Harrington`s body was finally found after she mysteriously went missing in October. Coming up, two very special guests. Morgan`s father joins me to talk about his hunt for justice. Also with us, internationally-acclaimed spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson.

Also, the earthquake may be over, but Haitians, well, this is a scandal, a fiasco. You`re only going to get this story here on ISSUES.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You don`t need me to tell you that we live in a culture of violence. Every night here on ISSUES, we cover one horrific story after the other.

Her only mistake is she wants to go to a Metallica concert and have fun. Ends up dead in a field. Another child missing. Little Haleigh. She was 5. Just disappears. This is a crisis in America. And we have to come up with solutions.

I am extremely delighted to have with me tonight, a woman who is known around the world as a spiritual teacher, a woman who has written many, many books on journeys of self discovery.

And we are hoping that the one and only Marianne Williamson will help us tonight here on ISSUES understand what`s with our culture of violence in America? What is with, what I would call, a spiritual sickness that is allowing this violence to really become way too routine.

Marianne, can you help us understand what is going on in America?

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON, SPIRITUAL TEACHER: Well, you know, it is, as you said, statistically evident, especially in comparison to other countries, that we are a very violent society.

And I think sometimes when we allow this to be more than a static, and really pierce our hearts, as it were, to recognize, as your show makes it so clear, day after day, the very human face of this violence. And the tragedies and the horrors and the murders and what people are going through, what human beings are going through.

And I think sometimes Americans don`t get deep answers, because we`re not really asking the deeper questions yet. When we do that, when we really allow ourselves to face the fact that we are, as you said, a violent society, and we ask ourselves, what`s the cause of all this, we can pretty easily see causes everywhere. We can see it in the gratuitous violence on the television shows, even at prime time.

We can see it in the gratuitous violence in our video games that our young people play with. We can see it in so much human despair that is experienced in other social circumstances, which become a kind of Petrie dish in certain neighborhoods, where the pathological dysfunction of gang members, et cetera, rises up more -- more easily and more normally, because of the dysfunction in these neighborhoods.

And more than anything else, probably, I think each and every one of us can look in our own hearts, because the violence has to leave here. Sometimes we`re moving so quickly, and we are under so much stress, that we don`t perhaps take as much responsibility as we should for even the attack thoughts and the grievances, and the -- just attitudes and the criticisms that we carry within us.

Because if you look at these things spiritually, all minds are joined. And any time any of us move from attack to forgiveness, from blame to blessing, with every prayer, with every meditation, whether people see these things in terms of a religious context, or spiritual or universally spiritual context, whether it`s an support meeting or whatever it is, that takes us away from the craziness and the -- just the too much stress, too much loudness of our society and moves us into a quiet more, more loving place, and makes us consider these things on a deep basis.

This is how things change: one moment at a time. Because you know what? I`ve seen on your program. Part of the horror of these things is how many times you ask, could one person have changed this?


WILLIAMSON: So it`s a change that...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Marianne, we`re going to be back with more of your wisdom.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Desperate words from a heartbroken father. The parents of beautiful coed Morgan Harrington are tracking down her murderer. Tonight, we will talk to Morgan`s father about his hunt for justice. Who does he think killed his precious daughter?

And a very special guest on ISSUES tonight: world-famous spiritual leader Marianne Williamson offers insight into our culture of violence as two teenage girls were forced to fight and the entire thing was posted on YouTube. But that`s just the beginning. Cops say two parents were egging them on. What`s going on?

Tonight, the search for Morgan Harrington`s killer or killers reaches a fever pitch; the medical examiner still poring over evidence to determine her cause of death. But nothing will stop her grief-stricken parents from forging ahead.


DR. DAN HARRINGTON, FATHER OF MORGAN HARRINGTON: We now need to find the person who did this, and we will not stop until that person is brought to justice.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Twenty-year-old Morgan`s remains were found Tuesday in a remote patch of land on a Charlottesville, Virginia farm. Yesterday, she was positively identified. But how did she get there?

Morgan, a beautiful college student at Virginia Tech vanished October 17th, while attending a Metallica concert.


GIL HARRINGTON, MORGAN HARRINGTON`S MOTHER: As you see us, our sorrow is etched in our faces, our pain has been carved into our hearts.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Morgan`s parents and brother endured 101 days of agony before learning of her fate. It could still be a week or more before they learn the official cause of death from the medical examiner.

Now, out to my very special panel; once again, I would like to welcome world-renowned spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson, the author of "A Woman`s Worth". She is here to give us much-needed insight into what we as Americans can do about the senseless violence in our culture; also with us tonight, Monica Caison, the liaison to Morgan Harrington family and founder of Q Center for Missing Persons.

But first by phone, a truly special guest, Dr. Dan Harrington; doctor, first of all, our condolences. There are absolutely no words I know that can offer any kind of solace. But I just want you to know that everybody here has been thinking about you.

I`ve been thinking about this case since the first moment we reported that your daughter was missing. I`ve actually woken up several times in the middle of the night wondering where your precious child was. So our hearts are really saddened and heavy with this news of your beautiful daughter`s passing; our condolences sir.

D. HARRINGTON: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What would you like to tell the public? What is helpful for you tonight that you need to get out there?

D. HARRINGTON: The thing that I would like to have the community know is that I agree with the message that was just given. You know, the violence that we have in our society is just overwhelming. And I didn`t realize it until I think when Morgan left and I started getting back into watching some of the TV shows of the evening, and almost everything that you turn to has some element of violence.

And I think we need -- I think we need more community in this country. I think that`s one of the things that makes this a much more violent place than what it should be.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I couldn`t agree with you more. I think that we are a culture saturated in violence. And I think that I only pray that your beautiful daughter`s tragedy is a wake-up call to America that we have to stop accepting this as routine, as something that is going to happen. It doesn`t have to happen.

But we first have to imagine that we could create a world that is less violent. And so that`s what we`re trying to do tonight.

You know, Morgan was a fan of the band Metallica. She was at one of their concerts the night she disappeared. Metallica has issued this statement, "Mere words cannot express the anguish and grief that we know her parents Dan and Gil are feeling, and our thoughts are with them."

Metallica and CrimeStoppers have pooled $150,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of Morgan`s killer or killers.

I want to go to Monica Caison. You`re working with missing persons cases. There have been more than 600 leads in this case. Can you give us, as a family spokesperson, any sense of the direction that investigators are headed in?

MONICA CAISON, LIAISON TO MORGAN HARRINGTON`S FAMILY: Well, not at this time. You know, it`s really new in the investigation, and it is the law enforcement that is doing the investigation. We have kind of stepped in the background, and we`ll be there to support the Harringtons so they can begin to advocate for their own case now. And that`s where we`re at.

And hopefully soon information will come in as far as what happened to Morgan, which will give the Harringtons able -- to be able to move on and say goodbye to her in a formal way. And then at that point, it`s going to be an entire investigation with law enforcement. And I`m sure they will notify the Harringtons along the way of the progress in the investigation.

But they`re going to have to keep things close-knit right now, because everything is so crucial in her case to develop not only a solid investigation, but hopefully bringing someone to justice.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Harrington, you have said publicly that you believe your daughter was abducted and died soon after she went missing. Do you feel comfortable elaborating on that theory at all? And we say this only to be helpful perhaps that somebody out there might know something.

D. HARRINGTON: I think that Morgan was picked up while hitchhiking from the bridge. And it is very clear seeing the remains that we were able to see that Morgan had been in the elements for many, many, many months. And it is very likely, in my opinion, that Morgan probably was dead before the concert was over.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Doctor, as a psychiatrist, does your training give you any more capacity to process this horrific turn of events than the average person?

D. HARRINGTON: You know, I think we have -- I think I have actually done pretty well with this. I have been able to put my energy into finding Morgan. And I have given up some of my practice, at least temporarily, until this has kind of come to this point. Because it`s -- it has allowed me, I think, to have the energy to make a plan to find Morgan and do everything we possibly could to bring her home. And we have.

You know, it`s not the outcome that we anticipated. But, you know, we have closure. And so many families never have closure. And I do believe that my training has allowed me probably to have some grieving along the way that -- that has prepared me to be able to handle this at this point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And your son? How is he faring?

D. HARRINGTON: You know, Alex is -- I think Alex is probably having the most difficult time. He lives in New York City, and I think he has compartmentalized this. And when he comes back home, you`re -- he`s inundated with all of the things that we, you know, live with minute to minute.

While in New York, he`s busy with his work, and he`s able to sort of put it away. So I think it`s been very difficult for him. And he is very close to Morgan.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Morgan, your daughter, was an extraordinary young woman. Morgan wanted to be a teacher. She spent summers working with children who have witnessed domestic violence. She was a fan of "Harry Potter", "The Twilight Series" and "To Kill a Mockingbird". She was a beautiful, beautiful young girl.

D. HARRINGTON: Inside and out she was a beautiful person.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. You can just tell by looking at her, doctor.

I want to bring Marianne Williamson into this conversation. Marianne, how -- how do we deal with this? Because one of the things that we don`t want to do is -- is kind of, you know, get the routine and perpetuate this routine. And treat it as business as usual.

We want to break the cycle and say this is a crisis. This precious, unique individual is gone, and we cannot just -- just institutionalize this horror by just talking about the who, what, when, where, why, how. We have to look for deeper -- we have to ask deeper questions, and try to find deeper answers to this crisis.

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON, SPIRITUAL ACTIVIST AND LECTURER: Well, first of all, I just want to say about the Morgan family, it`s so inspiring to hear Dr. Morgan -- Dr. Harrington speaking. And I just want to take a moment to say, the American people, I hope that everybody who is listening in on this program right now will, if they are prayerful people, say a prayer for the Harrington family, the doctor and Mrs. Harrington and their son and for Morgan herself.

And I think that that attitude, where we send all the love in our hearts to them is not only an actual power, an actual force, that will help them bear the unbearable and endure something that is so tragic in their own lives. But you know there is a line in Alcoholics Anonymous that says every problem comes bearing its own solution.

This level of let`s stop and remember what`s important, and let`s pray for these people, and let`s send love to these people, and let`s remember how precious one human life is. This is not only a state of awareness for us to hold right now in order to be of support to this family. But this is the level of awareness we need to have more at the center of our consciousness in our society.


WILLIAMSON: It`s like Dr. Harrington was saying, we need community. We need something like this to remind us what`s important.


WILLIAMSON: Because if you live on this level -- yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just want to say, we are going to stay on top of this story, Dr. Harrington. We`re not going to let it go.

We want to stay on top of the investigation. We want to work with you. Provide any information that you want out there. You just call us. We`re -- we`re invested in your search for justice, Doctor.

D. HARRINGTON: Thank you. Appreciate that very much.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you so much. And again, our condolences.

D. HARRINGTON: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we`re going to have to switch gears here. But I just feel that what we need to do as we talk about the other news of the day, which is coming up, is really remember that this is -- is just -- it`s an obscenity and it`s got to stop. It really has to stop. And we are going to try to be part of that solution to break this cycle of violence.

More news in a second.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops say two teenage girls were forced to fight and the whole thing was posted on YouTube. That`s up next.

But first "Top of the Block" tonight.

A bizarre new twist in the death of Brittany Murphy, the Hollywood starlet was found dead inside her home. Now, get this -- her husband is planning to sue Warner Brothers in a wrongful death lawsuit. Simon Monjack is basically saying Brittany Murphy died from a broken heart?

Monjack says Brittany was devastated when she was fired from the movie "Happy Feet 2" causing her to suffer a fatal heart attack. Here he is talking to "The Today Show".


SIMON MONJACK, BRITTANY MURPHY`S HUSBAND: Hollywood is a village. And once you upset the villagers, they talk and they gossip and they rumor. And they have blood on their hands. And I hope they wash them with very hot water, because the way they treated Brittany Murphy when she was alive was terrible.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Warner Brothers vehemently denying the charges, calling them false, reprehensible and defamatory. On top of that, the movie studio claims they never even hired Murphy for a role in "Happy Feet 2".

There are various reports that Brittany abused drugs and had an eating disorder. We still do not know the cause of her death. But I`m not sure lashing out at Warner Brothers is the way for her husband to move on.

And that`s tonight`s "Top of the Block".

Here on ISSUES, we often talk about the culture of violence in this country. We`ve been talking about it all night, a society where kids are conditioned to violence. And if you still think it`s not a problem, director Allen, roll Exhibit A.

This shocking video shown on YouTube; it shows two girls pummeling each other, slapping, punching. And if that`s not bad enough, two adults allegedly egging them on. You can see a man standing in the background watching. There`s a female inside the house who can be heard pushing one of the girls back into the fight when she tries to crawl away from it.


CASEY HICKS, EAST BATON ROUGE SHERIFF`S OFFICE: What was so concerning to us was that there were adults present that were actually facilitating and encouraging this kind of behavior.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The two adults are in jail, arrested for cruelty to juveniles. Affidavits show the male even told the girls to fight inside to avoid police.

Now, we have blurred their faces to protect the identity of the minors. Those very same documents say the adult female thought the girls could solve an ongoing dispute by duking it out.

We tried to get a response from this couple. We`re not successful. On top of it all, five kids -- five, between the ages of 3 and 16, allegedly witnessed this fighting. What kind of message does that send to them?

Joining me now, my fantastic panel: again, internationally acclaimed spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson -- thank you so much for being here...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...and for offering insights on these cases; Casey Hicks is with the East Baton Rouge sheriff`s office.

And we begin with David Spunt with WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge. David, what is the latest on this case?

DAVID SPUNT, WAFB-TV BATON ROUGE: Jane, the latest on this case is that tonight these folks are still in jail. They`re both on $35,000 bonds still at this time. They`re facing numerous charges, two felonies apiece, cruelty to a juvenile that could land them in a jail for up to ten years maximum.

They`re also facing seven misdemeanor charges apiece. They still have not bounded out of jail yet and we try speaking with the family earlier, as you guys did and were still unsuccessfully.


SPUNT: So that`s the latest.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Casey, you`re the public information officer in this area. What was the -- what was the motive here? This -- this is so bizarre. They wanted the kids to work it out -- to work out a problem?

HICKS: Well, Jane, that`s what they told the sheriff`s office. You know, we got contacted by David with this information. And as soon as detectives looked at this video and Sheriff Gautreaux saw this video, we were very disturbed and concerned.

So we immediately asked investigators to begin investigating. They were able to identify them and when they talked to the adults, they said that they felt like that this was a way to settle a dispute which, you know, obviously, is not the same; violence is never the solution.

And I think that`s what you have talked about on your show today, is this culture of violence, where we`re seeing, you know, an increasing trend of children committing more and more violent crimes. So, you know, I think this gives us a glimpse into the root of that, being raised in that violence. So it`s really important that people realize how serious this is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, here is my big Issue; the vortex of violence that we live in. There is an old saying, boys will be boys. Well, in this case, these weren`t boys; these were girls, girls who apparently trying to act like boys sometimes act.

Is the media making kids believe that hideous behavior like fist- fighting in a garage is cool? We`re going to show you an example here. You don`t have to look any further than TV shows that glorify and glamorize violence.

Take a look at this shocking clip from the "Bad Girls Club" which airs on Oxygen.

This is what these kids and I guess their parents are seeing. I mean, take a look at this violence.

Marianne Williamson, we can blame the media, but I also think we need to look at what kind of values we`re bringing into our culture. We have a lot of patriarchal values of discipline and fighting and where are the matriarchal values of nurturing and compassion and unconditional love and forgiveness?

WILLIAMSON: Well, there`s really no set compartment. Here is the media issue and here is the values issue because unfortunately a lot of what the media does influences our values and of course vice versa.

But I`m so glad that you put a spotlight on a program like that. Because not only is there so much is there gratuitous violence on television, but there`s a lot of gratuitous violence against women. And I think that one of our values should be, not only that we would not be violent towards each other, but also that we would hold people accountable.

I`m very happy that those adults in that clip who egged on those two girls; I`m very glad that they`re in jail. I`m very glad to see the society have a level of intolerance and that would include, I believe -- if you see a television show that you know is using gratuitous violence against women for -- let`s face it -- a kind of sex appeal, a kind of sensationalism, everybody can get on their computer, you Google it and find out how to contact that company. You contact the people who are selling products on that program. You say I will not buy your product, as long as you...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And boycott it.

WILLIAMSON: Exactly. We must get active.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Marianne back with you more in a moment.



HICKS: The type of thing I could compare this to most would be the situation where we`ve dealt with people who are dog-fighting or cock- fighting and now we`re looking at someone`s child here. These are children that are being encouraged in this kind of behavior.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s the same mentality which is why I am so against dog fighting as well. There`s outrage after this fight between two teenage girls showed up on YouTube. The adults allegedly encouraged them to work out their differences by pummeling each other. And one of them was really seriously hurt and tried to walk away. No, they threw her right back in. No, no, no you`re not going anywhere.

Michelle, Virginia, your question or thought, ma`am?

MICHELLE, VIRGINIA (via telephone): Well, my thought is, Jane, is I`m dealing with a similar situation. My daughter is a teenager and she`s actually had a lot of problems with a male individual and I don`t encourage violence at all. And I have told the principal, the bus driver to keep them apart and they don`t do it. And the mother of the other child tells me, let them fight it out.

When you call the police department -- and this is where it makes everything ugly -- when you call and report it, they`re teenagers, they`re not adults. So they have to go to juvenile intake. And if there`s no actual assault before, there`s nothing they can do.

I think when they do something with our system where if you are assaulted, even if there are no marks and it is a juvenile that they can be prosecuted.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ma`am, I think you`re making a very good point. Marianne, I think part of the problem is we minimize this kind of violence. We minimize it and we rationalize it.

WILLIAMSON: Well, in this case -- and I think the caller has a very good point -- it`s the police themselves who are minimizing it. And I think she`s absolutely correct. There should be some way that a police officer could warn, that a police officer could say to the male who is displaying violent behavior already, "We`re watching you, we know you`re doing this."

It doesn`t seem right to me. The last time I was on your program, it had to do with police officers as well. I think that the consciousness raising has to be among law enforcement officials sometimes as well as among the rest of us.

So I agree with your caller completely that there should be a way that a mother could call the police and have a warning issued.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And again, that`s the caller`s issue. In this situation, Casey, you`re with the Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff`s office. You took action against this family and locked up these two adults who were allegedly egging on this ridiculous fight.

HICKS: Absolutely Jane. We received the call yesterday morning at 10:00. Our detectives immediately went to work. They had the suspects within custody in about five hours. We don`t take this sort of thing lightly at all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And the girl is pretty badly hurt, right?

HICKS: What appears to be in the video, it appears that she receives a cut to her mouth. She`s bleeding, she`s trying to exit the room where she`s -- it appears she`s pushed back in the room.

It`s very disturbing. You know -- I know our sheriff himself -- he is a father of four. He has nine grandchildren. A crime against anyone -- violence against anyone is very serious. But when we`re looking at children, it`s even more so.


HICKS: So we want to make sure that we take -- we take this very seriously and take action. And a huge part of this...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just want to thank everyone -- we`re out of time. But I want to thank everyone for participating in this show, which has really been about looking at violence from another perspective in the hopes of breaking the cycle.

Marianne, it`s so delightful to have you on and hear your insights and I really hope you`ll come back soon and hopefully we will not have a horrible story to talk about. We`ll talk about something positive.