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CNN Larry King Live

Expert Panel Discusses Recent Child Abductions

Aired July 31, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: the raging debate over young murder victim Danielle van Dam's time of death, and how it might it get her accused killer off the hook and back on the street. Our experts give their opinion.

Famous forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee.

Lin Wood, the attorney for the parents on JonBenet Ramsey.

Marc Klaas, the father of young kidnapped and murder victim Polly Klaas.

Mark Geragos joins us, his job as a defense attorney has included abduction and pedophilia cases.

And Court TV anchor and author and former prosecutor Nancy Grace.

Plus, the Elizabeth Smart case, still missing. We'll talk to her father about former family handyman Richard Ricci's court appearance today and Smart's meeting with Ricci's wife.

It's all next, with your calls, on LARRY KING LIVE.

Let's start with Ed Smart. He's in Salt Lake City, Utah. His daughter, Elizabeth, is still missing, hasn't been in the news much for the past two weeks. How have you felt? She remains missing. You look at all these other things going on, her death, a killing, another girl is kidnapped and gets -- breaks out and comes back. How are you viewing all of these things?

ED SMART, ELIZABETH SMART'S FATHER: I'm just hopeful. I still really feel that Elizabeth is out there, and that, you know, one of these days, we're going to get her back. And the fact that, you know, we haven't found her, we haven't found her dead, I really feel that she is out there.

KING: How is Lois, Mrs. Smart, doing?

SMART: You know, it's hard. It's really hard for Lois. She -- it's hard for her to think about what Elizabeth might be going through. And it's, from that angle, it's, you know, it's easier for her to think that, you know, maybe she is in a better place.

KING: Easier to think that than maybe being a predator to someone?

SMART: Right.

KING: Yes. How do you handle those thoughts?

SMART: I handle those thoughts -- I just feel like somehow we're going to find her. And I have, you know, I just keep praying and praying that, you know, that I'll still feel that she is out there and that she is still alive. And that's how I deal with it.

KING: So, you have not hit the futility, end of the road feeling?

SMART: I have not.

KING: You attended court today, and Mr. Ricci pled innocent to burglary and theft charges. Why did you go?

SMART: You know, I just feel like I've got to be as involved as I possibly can. And I haven't seen Richard. I haven't seen his wife. And I was anxious -- actually, I didn't plan on seeing him. I was told that it was going to be by video camera. So, I was surprised when he showed up. And I don't think that he saw me. But I was -- you know, I was saddened just because Richard was always -- he acted so pleasant and like he was your best friend. And it's just a realization that he just is very good at what he does and that is, you know, being a con.

KING: Do you connect him to your daughter at all?

SMART: You know, I feel that there is a very strong probability that he is connected to it, just because of the way he's conducted himself recently, that the investigation just opened so many things about him that I just felt that, you know, it's hard not to think that he isn't connected somehow.

KING: And it must have been emotionally very difficult to be in his presence.

SMART: You know, it just -- it made me feel bad. I mean, I was just sorely disappointed. I just thought, you know, how can you be the way you are?

KING: Did you talk to his wife?

SMART: I did. We -- as I sat there watching him and I saw Angela, I really wanted to talk to her. I wanted to -- I mean, I feel bad for her. I really do. I mean, you know, I don't know everything about Richard. Hopefully, there are some good things about him.

KING: What did she say?

SMART: When we met, she, you know, I told her, I said, Angela, you know, certain things I know he did. And there is no getting around that. And, you know, unfortunately, that's why he appeared in court. But I pled with her, I begged with her to please talk to him, and, you know, if the car was -- I mean, I don't believe that Angela felt that the car was taken by Richard.

On my part, there's no reason for this mechanic to have, you know, said that it wasn't Richard. The car was brought there; it was taken, it was brought back. You know, you would think that somebody would recognize the same person.

KING: What did she say to you?

SMART: You know, she said to me that, you know, the car keys had been lost in April at one time, and she knows that the car had gone from the shop, but she , you know, really felt that it was somebody else.

KING: Now, the sketch artist -- very famous sketch artist -- Jeanne Boylan was brought in. She did work on the Unabomber.

No sketch has been released of the person identified by your young daughter who saw the person take your daughter away. Why not release that sketch?

SMART: You know, I have left that totally in the hands of the police. You know, initially Marc Klaas had told me about her, and she's a wonderful person. And I just -- I really appreciate her coming in.

I've left the whole issue of, you know, what was done in the hands of the police.

KING: But Ed, logically, what's the reason for doing a sketch unless you show the sketch?

SMART: You know, she has an ability to bring out things that a, you know, a regular forensic artist might not bring out. And you know, details and information that can be very helpful. And I just -- you know, I feel that her -- the information that was received is going to be beneficial.

KING: Did you see the drawing?

SMART: I haven't seen a drawing, no.

KING: What is the latest thing the police have told you?

SMART: You know, the police are just working very, very hard. They've got, you know, half of their task force working on Richard and half of it's working on other possibilities. And they're just -- you know, it's such a -- it's been so long. It's just taken so long.

But I know that they are working and doing everything that they possibly can do, and I'm just hopeful that something is going to break.

KING: Ed, give our best to the family and to Lois, especially, and to you. And hang tough, and we'll be in constant touch.

SMART: Larry, thank you very much. I appreciate it. KING: Ed Smart, the father of the still-missing Elizabeth Smart. It's almost two months.

Our panel joins us next. Don't go away.


LARRY KING, HOST: Let's meet our panel. By the way, Lin Wood, the attorney for John and Patsy Ramsey will be joining us a little later. They are assembled this way.

In New Haven, Connecticut, Dr. Henry Lee, the world famous forensic expert, professor of forensic science at the University of New Haven and author of "Cracking Cases: The Science of Solving Crimes."

In San Francisco is Marc Klaas. His 12-yea-old daughter, Polly, was abducted. A paroled felon did it, was convicted and sentenced to death. He founded the Klaas Kid's Foundation.

Nancy Grace is the anchor of "Trial Heat" on Court TV, a former prosecutor. Her work involved cases involving child abduction, sexual assault and murder.

In Los Angeles is Mark Geragos, defense attorney. And his defense practice has including abduction and alleged pedophilia cases.

And in San Diego, at the courthouse is Steve Fiorina, a reporter for KGTV who's been covering the trial of David Westerfield; he's being tried for the murder of Danielle van Dam. We're going to talk a lot about that.

But Marc Klaas, something puzzling after talking to Mr. Smart. Why wouldn't the police release the sketch? And why wouldn't they show the sketch to him in case he knew person?

MARC KLAAS, DAUGHTER ABDUCTED & KILLED: I have no idea. I think that -- though something that's even more puzzling is since the little sister, Mary Catherine -- I believe is her name -- knew Ricci and since last week, Lois said that Mary Catherine saw the abductor and recognized his voice, the question that somebody has to ask this little girl is -- was that individual Richard Ricci because if it wasn't Richard Ricci, there's a kidnapper out there. This is an easily answered question.

KING: And Nancy Grace, you're a prosecutor. What do you make of not revealing the -- not showing the sketch?

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV ANCHOR: Well, I'm listening very carefully to the exact words being used. As Marc accurately pointed out, she saw the abductor. But did she see his face? I'm betting this goes back to the fact that she may not have gotten a good look at his face. And then, to release a composite of his face, that's not totally accurate. It could only damn the case to a failure.

KING: Dr. Lee, what do you make of it? DR. HENRY LEE, FORENSICS EXPERT AND AUTHOR, "CRACKING CASES": Well, I agree with Nancy and Marc. And there are probably some inconsistency with the description and artist sketch and -- versus Ricci and they probably say they think they need a lot of work to do before it's released because once it's released, if there's some inconsistent development, you cannot use that any longer.

KING: Good point. Mr. Geragos?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you know, the interesting thing is that what Marc Klaas said, is that if she recognized the voice, I assume that recognizing means "I heard it, I know whose voice that was." She can put a name to that or she can at least pick out a face that goes with that. And number two, I don't know how it would necessarily damage the case because if there's a composite, if they file against Ricci for this crime, that composite's going to be in the discovery turned over to the defense and somebody's going to see it anyway. So either way, I don't see where there would any downside to letting...

GRACE: Well, I said that if it's not Ricci -- if it's not Ricci and she creates a composite that's not totally accurate and it's released and the wrong person is arrested -- or, in other words, it doesn't help the public get the right person.

GERAGOS: Well, correct me if I'm wrong, I think Marc Klaas was on the scene very close to when this happened, is the one who suggested that this particular artist do the picture. If that's the case, that was before they had focused on Ricci because remember, we had Bret Michael Edmunds and everybody else.


GERAGOS: Why didn't they release it at that point so that people who would have been out there trying to find this person and maybe recognize him.

KING: I want to move to the van Dam. Marc, did you recommend that they use that lady?

KLAAS: Yes, absolutely. I recommended that they use her very, very early on. However, they deferred for at least a month before calling her in. But I want to be clear. The little girl knew Richard Ricci and the mother said last week on TV that the little girl recognized the voice. Therefore, the logical question is, was that Richard Ricci?

KING: Yes. All right, Steve Fiorina, let's go to you in San Diego. What's the latest on this puzzling trial of David Westerfield for the murder of Danielle van Dam, which many thought, before it began, was open and shut?

STEVE FIORINA, COVERING TRIAL FOR KGTV: Well, the D.A. is counting highly on circumstantial evidence. They found blood. They found hair, fibers and fingerprints. The defense decided that their best option at this point was to try to find some way of spreading doubt by virtue of forensic and entomology, the study of bugs, so popular on the program, "CSI." They have got an expert, two now, that say that the girl's body could have only been out in the open, exposed to elements, no earlier than February 12. Now, David Westerfield had been under police surveillance 24 hours a day for more than a week prior to that. So what they're looking at is some way of showing that he could not have dumped the body where it was, some 20 or 30 miles from his home.

KING: Dr. Lee, what do you make of that?

LEE: Well, the time of the death has become the central issue in this case. Forensic entomology, of course, study the bugs and insects, actually can date back to the 13th century, the start of French (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And some ancient Chinese forensic books already talk about use maggots, flies, beetles to investigate a case.

Here, we -- both sides have excellent forensic expert. They have two medical examiner, Dr. Blackburn and Dr. Robert Boyce (ph), are world leading medical examiners. And their time of the deaths is wide range, from February 1 can be to February 17. And...

KING: Dr. Lee, does that automatically create, in the mind of jurors, reasonable doubt?

LEE: It's possible to create a reasonable doubt. They probably say all of the experts cannot even agree the time of the deaths except forensic entomology really does not determine the time of death. It determines the life cycle of the blowfly when the infestation started to the growth of maggots.

KING: Nancy, would -- does that mean, Nancy, that the blood in the -- found in his car doesn't mean anything?

GRACE: No, no, Larry, I do not believe it does. And as Dr. Lee accurately pointed out, even the defense's own experts don't agree on a day. They've got a wide range there. And remember, the state brought on experts that stated the girl's body could have been left as early as Feb 1 or Feb 2. So a long story short, you've got a battle of the experts going on. And if these experts nullify each other, the jury will fall back on the blood, the hair and the fiber evidence.

KING: Oh, so they'll not -- they'll equate each other out?

GRACE: Yes, the bug experts are going at it pretty hard in the courtroom, but it's tit-for-tat. It's like a tennis match between the entomologists.

KING: Mark?

GERAGOS: That's -- it's kind of the conventional wisdom, if you will, of when you have that battling of expert witnesses, that if they're both good and there isn't -- and it's a draw, so to speak, the jurors tend to just dismiss that or set it aside and the, focus on the rest of the evidence.

KING: What if they believe one of them over the other? GERAGOS: If they believe one over the other -- I've had cases like that...


GERAGOS: ... where one psychiatrist or one forensic...

KING: Yes.

GERAGOS: ... psychiatrist was markedly better than the other and that tends to sway the case. This case, though, you've got a problem because, no matter what you do with the entomologist, you still have to deal with that blood evidence. That blood evidence is very damning.

KING: Steve, why isn't that the open and shut aspect here? Why aren't people doubting it?

FIORINA: Well, the D.A. really got frustrated when the defense had his witness on a couple of days ago. He said, "DNA." and he was trying to hark back to a month ago, the testimony about the blood that was found on Westerfield's lapel of his jacket as well as some blood that was found in his motor home, which the numbers they put on one point were one in 25 quadrillion as being Danielle van Dam's.

There was also the handprint that was found inside the motor home. There was the fiber evidence, which I think could be some of the most damning as well. They found these blue and gray nylon fibers in Westerfield's home and two dozen of them in and around her body. But the worst was the orange acrylic fibers. They found a number of those all over his house, in his bed. They found it in his laundry and they found one in some of her own hair that was tangled in the plastic necklace. The only thing left on her body when they found her was this orange acrylic fiber, which matched as closely as they can determine the same acrylic fibers from which they can find no source in Westerfield's house.

So the DA came up with all of that, but that has been several weeks ago. The van Dam's, themselves, testified. The jury got do see the emotion of them, the pain they have felt, back in early June. I believe it was June the fifth and sixth when Brenda and Damon van Dam testified. And what the DA is trying to get is all that brought back. When he gets to closing arguments, he's going to want to hearken back to that because he doesn't this bug evidence, which comes at the very end, to cloud the picture.

KING: Got you. Well-stated. We'll take a break and come back. Lin Wood will be joining us in a little while. We'll be including your calls too.

Tomorrow night, Joe Esposito is with us. You may not know the name, but his best friend in life was Elvis Presley. We'll be right back.


KING: Marc Klaas, we haven't got your thoughts on this van Dam matter. How do you see it?

KLAAS: Well, you know, I would hope that the jury wouldn't just focus on the last thing they heard. I think they have to consider all of the things that have been mentioned previously, plus the fact that van Dam's own son -- I'm sorry -- that Westerfield's own son took the stand and said, emphatically, that it was not his kiddy porn that was on the computer, that in fact, his father had lied about that and that, in fact, it was his father's child pornography.

KING: All right. This time of death thing, Dr. Lee, without being too technical, why can two experts have such disagreement?

LEE: Well, because you have a big problem here, San Diego weather, February. It's dry. The heat. So you can't really do any controlled experiment to replicate. You, basically, base on our past experience and knowledge, try to come to the best estimate because whether or not the body was covered, whether or not the body mummified because don't forget, the body -- mummification, once it start, the skin like a leather -- like leather and very difficult for fly to lay their eggs and to grow.

GRACE: Hey, Larry?

KING: Yes, Nancy?

GRACE: You know what's really interesting about what Dr. Lee just said, that is exactly what came up during the trial. For the first time, in San Diego, since the 1860s, there was what was called Santa Ana conditions; weather conditions, incredibly dry, incredibly hot and the mummifying issue came up. In fact, they had to put embalming fluid on the child's fingers in order to get a fingerprint. She was so dry and mummified.

KING: What then, does that do to a jury, Mark?

GERAGOS: I think in a case like this, I think Marc Klaas hit the nail right on the head. That testimony by the son, which basically undermined the expert testimony about it. It could have been downloaded by the son. It was -- and they did kind of an analysis of that. That was devastating to the defense, not something that I think they either expected nor obviously, hoped for. And jurors tend to do that. If there are these kinds of excessive battles of the experts, they tend to go towards things that they can understand, like anybody else because jurors are just like us. You hear a lot -- you can't educate somebody to the point ad nauseam about what the expertise is. And they tend to want to listen to what lay people have to say.

KING: Steve, is it expected that they'll be sequestered during their deliberations?

FIORINA: That request was renewed just a couple of days ago by the defense, but the judge says he believes this jury is -- he said "a hardy group" and he has warned them repeatedly that he does not want them watching any news coverage. In fact, last week, during the Runnion situation, he was concerned that -- the defense was very concerned that they could be impacted by that. So he again warned them about that.

Judge Mudd is trying to protect the jury. In fact, he got very angry a couple of days ago because someone was reportedly following a couple of jurors, trying to get their license numbers. So at this point, he wants to keep them still in their normal lives as much as possible and then, let them deliberate. However, he does have a contingency plan. He has already directed the county to find some way to put them up if that is indeed thought to be the need for this case.

KING: Nancy, if you're a member of the van Dam jury and you watched Mrs. Runnion on this program and she laces into the jury that let Avila off on that -- let him off on that first trial, you have to be affected.

GRACE: You're darn right, Larry. It broke my heart when I saw her say that, just lashing out with her knowledge of the legal system that she has. But I'll tell you another thing, Larry, that also happened here on your show was when it all came out the other night about Alejandro Avila getting off, getting acquitted after a jury trial, to go on and then, apparently kill Samantha Runnion. They've got that on their back, a monkey on their back. If they let Westerfield go, what if -- what if he was guilty?

KING: But is that then unfair to Westerfield, Mr. Geragos?

GERAGOS: Well, you see that's why the defense -- why do you think the defense lawyer there is screaming and yelling, "I want them sequestered?" I mean he doesn't...

GRACE: No...

GERAGOS: ... anybody to be looking at these kinds of things and to be factoring that in. He wants it decided on the evidence. He doesn't want it to side in on the...

KING: And are we, Nancy -- are we, the collective we, the media, affecting trials too much, do you think?

GRACE: You know what, I've had many, many juries, more than I can even count. They're probably smarter than all of us put together. So a long story short, I don't think what they see on TV is going to change their view of the facts, but it may increase their sense of duty. And according to, you know, Mark Geragos, he'd want 12 people that had been sitting in a cave somewhere that didn't see anything going on for the last year.

GERAGOS: No, the -- unfortunately, Nancy, I don't want -- I want the opposite. I want the most intelligent people I can get on a jury.

GRACE: That don't know anything about current events.

GERAGOS: No, but my experience with jurors are -- is that jurors -- I agree with you in this sense -- they're some of the smartest people that you'll ever see. And I don't think you need to do anything to heighten their sense of duty. Most jurors, the overwhelming number of jurors, when they take that oath, they take it seriously. They take it damn seriously. And it's shown in the conviction rates. I mean there's 98 percent conviction rates in...

GRACE: Well, there's one more thing -- there's one more thing, Larry, I have to tell you about this trial. When Marc brought up the kiddy porn -- when Marc Klaas brought up the kiddy porn, when those jurors saw this, it was a video of a little girl being raped by two adult males. They cried. They cried, Larry, openly in court. Now, how do you think the defense is going to get over that image?

KING: Rochester, Indiana, we start to include some calls. Hello.

CALLER: Hello. My question is for Nancy Grace. I would like to know from Nancy how does a child -- how old does a child have to be for a prosecuting attorney to take her word or their word to do anything, for instance, in a molestation case?

GRACE: Well, I've got tell you, the youngest child molestation victim that I ever had as a prosecutor was four years old. Now, when I had her at trail, she had turned 5. And I can't tell you how much I did not want to put this child up on the stand. It broke my heart. But when I saw the medical reports and I gave those to that jury and the child tried her best to testify, it worked.

KING: Let me get a break and we'll come back. We'll have more calls in a little while. Lin Wood will join us.

Tomorrow night, Joe Esposito, the best friend of Elvis Presley, will be our special guest.

As we go to break, here is Mr. Westerfield's son testifying. You won't see his face. The judge didn't want it shown. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know if your father had pornography in the house?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you know?

DAVID WESTERFIELD'S SON: I found some on his computer and I found some on disks in his office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The stuff that you found on his computer, which computer was that, sir?

DAVID WESTERFIELD'S SON: That was the computer with Internet access.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The one in his office?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How was it that you found it on the computer? DAVID WESTERFIELD'S SON: In the operating system that he uses, there's a button in the lower left hand corner called the "start button," which contains all the shortcuts to your programs and on one occasion, there was a link there, which was to a pornography site on the Internet.



KING: Life and times in trials with our panel. Cape Coral Florida, the caller, hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Larry.


CALLER: I appreciate the panel and all their expertise. My question is to Nancy Grace. Nancy, what explanation, if any, has the defense given for the blood that has been found on David Westerfield's jacket?

GRACE: Very interesting. That's the same jacket he took to the dry cleaner at 7:30 a.m. He pulled up in that RV and dropped it off for a rush job. I just wanted to throw that in tonight. But, so far, we haven't heard a definite explanation. But they have alluded to the fact, which is true, that the child, Danielle van Dam, had come into Westerfield's home on two occasions, both to sell Girl Scout cookies with her mother.

They're also alluding to this jury that the RV had been parked in and around his house, a perfect place for a child to wander in and play, to kind of explain the blood in the RV and the blood on his jacket. They'll argue it in closing although they did not put up facts at trial. They'll argue it in closing.

LEE: Larry, can I make a comment on that?

KING: Sure.

LEE: There are something called secondary transfer. Many time, those transfer evidence can have an innocent explanation. A small spot of bloodstain, unless we can positively determine the age, that's really fresh, and deposit February 1 or around that time otherwise the bloodstain can be much older. The volume of that, of course, becomes less important.

As far as the fiber evidence, it's really important -- except what we understand, mainly, apartment have similar type of carpet in that apartment complex. So that's again -- create a little issue here. I'm sure those fiber, hair, fingerprint, each one can explain away but when you add it together, it become very important.

KING: Steve, does the jury look at all bored with the entomological testimony? FIORINA: In fact, I was watching them very closely yesterday as the latest expert was on and they were -- almost each one of them taking notes and they were leaning forward in their seat watching closely. I think they know that a great deal of this hinges on what they're hearing and they're paying a lot of attention.

KING: Rochester New York...

FIORINA: I'd also like to...

KING: Yes, I'm sorry, go ahead.

FIORINA: I'd to throw out too that one of the things they're saying about how the blood may have been transferred -- Danielle had been scratched by her dog a few days before her disappearance. And they're saying that maybe somehow she got into the motor home and left some blood in there. They did find some blood on the carpet and I believe a rug as well as there was some on his jacket. The mom...

KING: Rochester, New York.

FIORINA: ... says the scratch wasn't that deep.

KING: Rochester, go ahead.

CALLER: Thanks, Larry. This is a question for Marc Klaas. I have read that stranger abductions are actually on the decline in the past couple of years. So my question is, this business of strangers going into homes and taking children, is that something new or is that something on the rise?

KLAAS: Well, no, actually that dates back, as far as we know, at least to the days of the Lindbergh kidnapping. That's exactly what happened to Charles Lindbergh Jr. in the 1930s. But we have to be very careful how we categorize this. People continually talk about stranger abductions, but we know that this man was no stranger to Danielle van Dam. And in fact, of all of the cases that have occurred this year that are high profile, there's no real indication that any of these were truly stranger situations. However, they were all predatory situations. The numbers, though, are coming down, you're absolutely correct about that.

KING: Mark Geragos, as you watch this van Dam trial, is this something where only you need one of the 12 to hold firm on reasonable doubt that this could possibly go?

GERAGOS: That it could be a hung jury? I don't think so. I mean if you want my gut feeling about this, I think it's a guilty verdict. I think that the prosecution is going to get up and the prosecution's going to hammer away at there's too many coincidences. You can -- you know if you just had...

KING: The dog...

GERAGOS: ... the dog. If you just had -- you can -- the scratch of this, if you had the transfer evidence, you have this, you have that, you have that. At a certain point, there's too many coincidences that you're trying to talk about the fact that -- as Nancy said, you know, somebody's going to the dry cleaner, the bleach smell and everything else. There's just too many arguments that you have to make and jurors are just not going to want to make that leap in a case like this.

KING: Crystal, Minnesota, hello.

CALLER: My question is for Nancy Grace. Since she's a prosecutor of molestation cases, I was wondering if she had ever come across any cases where children were coached or led into saying or outright lied about molestation.

KING: That happened in California once before. Nancy, answer, what was that famous case?

GRACE: It sure has.

GERAGOS: The McMartin case was a...

KING: The McMartin case...


KING: Yes.

GRACE: It has happened. And you know a very odd story is I actually had two sisters that had the medical evidence to prove that they had been molested. They named their attacker and then, they were coached by the defense to recant. So it does happen. It happens quite often. And you've got to be very careful about speaking to the children victims and not put words in their mouth. They've got to tell the story their way and you've got to be on your guard for coaching.

GERAGOS: And unfortunately, a lot of times, when I've come across it, has been in the worst of all possible situations, when it's a divorce situation. It's awful sometimes what spouses to do each other. And a lot of times the kids end up being kind of the collateral damage.

KING: We're going to take a break. When we come back, Lin Wood, the attorney for John and Patsy Ramsey will be with us. Mrs. Ramsey, as you know, has undergone a six-month course of chemotherapy. We'll ask Lin to get an update on that and we'll talk about stranger abductions with him. We'll spend some time with him and then, the whole panel will assemble and come back in the last portion.

As we go to break, here's Brenda van Dam testifying about learning of her daughter's disappearance.


BRENDA VAN DAM, VICTIM'S MOTHER: I started looking around the house and looking under the beds and looking in the closets. And Damon came up the stairs and he started looking with me. And we were yelling out her name. And then, we went downstairs. Damon went out front and I went out back, but we couldn't find her.



KING: We're going to spend some moments now with Lin Wood. He's been with us a lot in the past, the attorney for John and Patsy Ramsey. He's in Atlanta.

First, what's the latest on Patsy's condition?

LIN WOOD, ATTORNEY FOR JOHN AND PATSY RAMSEY: Patsy's just finished a very difficult six-month course of treatment, chemotherapy, for a recurrence of her ovarian cancer. As you may know, Larry, Patsy suffered stage-four ovarian cancer back in 1993.

She was cancer-free for nine-and-a-half years, and unfortunately in January, was diagnosed up at the National Institutes of Health as having suffering a recurrence.

The prognosis is good for her. It was found early. It appears to be limited in area, so everyone is very hopeful.

But it's been a tough six months. It's been a tough six years for Patsy Ramsey and her family. You now, JonBenet, next Tuesday, would have been 12 years old. This family has endured incredible pain, incredible turmoil in their lives for the last six years.

And I think Patsy knows that compared to that the last six months have not been that difficult -- not as difficult as the loss of a daughter.

KING: How have the Ramseys looked at these other abductions and the way the parents have been treated in those matters?

WOOD: Well, they look at them, I think, as all of us do: with a profound sense of sadness and pain.

They surely understand better than most the pain that the van Dam family, the Smart family, the Runnion family. The families of these children are suffering, and will suffer for the rest of their lives.

But they also, candidly, I would have to tell you, like me, they look at some of the recent abduction and murder cases, and they have a sense of amazement because they look at the way the media has treated these cases and they remember how the media treated them and continues to treat them.

They look back and they see, in these cases, fortunately, what appears to be solid law enforcement at work. And they remember, unfortunately how the Boulder Police Department totally bungled the case of JonBenet Ramsey, and how even today there's really no law enforcement effort underway to try to find the killer of their daughter.

It seems that if we didn't learn from the JonBenet Ramsey case, at least we seem to have learned, because the media has treated these families of late much differently than they treated the Ramseys, and law enforcement seems to be doing a much better job, and not making some of the same fundamental mistakes that were made out in Boulder, Colorado.

KING: Lin, is that because when the Ramsey occurrence happened, people didn't think about a stranger going into a house and trying to take, or taking, a child?

WOOD: You know, I think that's part of it, Larry.

You go back and you look, and initially the public was totally skeptical of the idea that parents could be sleeping in a $1 million house in Boulder, Colorado -- a large, rambling house -- that while the parents would be sleeping, some intruder would be courageous or risk-taking enough to come into the house in the middle of the night and abduct and harm a child.

But now we know it happens. People didn't believe John and Patsy; they seemed to be skeptical. But ask Ed Smart, he knows, it happened in his house.

We've learned a lot through the media spotlight this summer on the missing and murdered children cases that there are perverted people out there, pedophiles, sexual deviants who are willing to come into your house in the middle of the night while you sleep and abduct or harm your child.

That's what happened to JonBenet Ramsey, and unfortunately that's what's happened to these tragic cases of late.

KING: How are the Ramseys doing -- I mean, aside from the illness, how are they doing emotionally? What's John doing?

WOOD: Well, John still is looking for gainful employment.

I don't think -- and as I sit here and listen to the panelists bandy back and forth about the evidence in this case, and we talk about blood and we talk about bugs and decay, and we just lose sight sometimes, I think, of the human people that are involved in these cases; a child dead, parents affected.

John Ramsey, to this day -- I don't suspect many people think about it -- but John Ramsey can't really find a job. He still has to live his life, at an early age -- John's only in his mid-50s -- he has to live his life tainted by the idea that he was held out by the media as someone who may have been involved in the death of his daughter.

The Boulder Police Department refused to come clean and tell us the truth about that case. And so John Ramsey may never find a job until and unless the killer of JonBenet is found. And that's not going to happen unless we've got competent law enforcement professionals out there, starting over again and looking at the evidence.

The forensic evidence is there. All of the forensic evidence you hear discussed that seems to, on the face of it, implicate some of these individuals in the recent cases, the same type of forensic evidence was found in the Ramsey case, but it pointed away from the family and to an intruder. The police just refused to follow it.

KING: All right, we're going to get a break. Lin will stay with us, our panel will rejoin and we'll get their thoughts on what Lin has had to say in our remaining moments.

I'm sure you won't go away.


KING: We have a little bit of time; I want to get a lot of thoughts in here.

Nancy Grace, does Lin Wood have a good point?

GRACE: Well, he's got an excellent point that very often many people forget these are not just news stories, these are people's lives.

But I see the JonBenet case as completely different than these cases. In that case the child was tied up, bludgeoned, strangled in the home, and whoever did it wasn't afraid of getting caught while they sat around and wrote a ransom note.

The other cases are completely different.

WOOD: In the deepest, darkest, furthest corner of a four-story home, the basement of that home, someone took that child down there and did, in fact, sexually assault her and did, in fact, brutally murder her.

And this family, John and Patsy Ramsey, from a historical perspective, have not one shred of background evidence about them that leads anyone to reasonably conclude they could commit such a heinous crime. These were good, decent American citizens who were living the American dream.

And yes, Nancy, it happened in Boulder, Colorado. Someone came into that house and took that child down to the deepest, darkest part of the house for thrills for doing it in the house, who knows?

But there are perverted people out there that are capable of committing that type of crime.

KING: Let me -- I want to just touch a couple of other bases around with the whole panel.

Steve, is the parents' lifestyle in the van Dam case going to come up again?

FIORINA: I'm certain it will come up a little bit during the closing arguments. However, it's still part of the radio talk show gab-fest going on all the time down here.

Also, we should point out that the van Dams very quickly had to submit to lie detector tests, so they were ruled out very quickly.

David Westerfield became a suspect because he was the one gone for two days.

KING: Marc Klaas, do you still keep in touch with the van Dams?

KLAAS: You know, I -- of course I keep in touch with the van Dams, and I spoke to Brenda not too many days ago. She told me, in fact, that the son of Westerfield would be taking the stand. And I was astounded, because it didn't seem to me that they could control anything he would say.

And I think it was a calculated move to put the last coffin in Westerfield's -- the last nail is Westerfield's coffin, and I think it was effective.

But listen, there's nothing in Westerfield's background to indicate that he could have committed a heinous crime either. And there were a lot of things that were left unsaid about what happened in the Ramsey situation. But since these folks basically threatened litigation to anybody that doesn't totally agree with their version of the facts, I'm afraid I can't say any more.

KING: Dr. Lee, you were called in on that Boulder case.

LEE: Yes, I was directly involved in the case.

KING: What's your conclusion?

LEE: My conclusion here, we still don't know the real manner of the death. Is that really homicide or accidental death? As far, you know, this case, Alex Hunter (ph) contacted me two-and-a-half months later. And I'm not trying to defend Boulder Police Department; that's a small department that don't have much homicide experience, and they did their best.

Unfortunately, when they respond to, say, a kidnapping case, we say three page of note. And very few cases in my career being -- assisting law enforcement, almost 6,000, 7,000 cases have a case -- have three pages of note. Alex Hunter (ph) is a man with a lot of courage.

Before he announced that he not charge anybody, he flew to New Haven. I have a secret to share with everybody: He was in New Haven with me. We had two days discussion, day and night. Does physical evidence prove one way or the other? We can't really prove that in the case.

KING: OK Lin, you wanted to say something about Dominick Dunne's comments the other night about that case.

WOOD: Well, let me segue into Dominick Dunne but just commenting on Mr. Klaas's comments just a moment ago where he said he couldn't discuss the case because the Ramseys threaten litigation against anyone who did. I could I could sit down and ask Mr. Klaas 100 factual questions about the JonBenet Ramsey case, and I bet you he wouldn't get 10 of them correct.

I don't mind, and the Ramseys don't mind, anyone going out and discussing the case. They do ask, as I think they are entitled to ask, that the discussions be based on truth and facts.

Dominick Dunne came on your show, Larry, a few weeks ago, and in response to a caller, for example, he said that the Ramseys had, through their money, been able to prevent having to testify live before the grand jury -- that they were allowed to testify by video because of their money and power.

That's absolute fiction. In fact, the Ramseys tried to be permitted to testify live before the grand jury and the prosecutors wouldn't let them. And I don't believe that their video was ever shown to the grand jury because it was police interrogation video, and it was extremely favorable to the Ramseys -- three days' worth, where they answered every question.

Now I did, in fact, call Mr. Dunne, as he indicated on your program, and I told him, if you're going to be discussing this case, just like Mr. Klaas may be discussing it or Nancy Grace or Mark Geragos, make sure that you have the facts correct.

I don't think that should be intimidating people that know the case. If you know the case, talk about it. If you don't, don't talk about it.

KING: We only have a minute left. We could do a lot more on this.

But Mark Geragos, are there dangers here -- I know we do it and we talk about it and the public's interested in it -- that we delve too much into things that juries haven't decide yet?

GERAGOS: Well, obviously, because you talk about, can you get a fair trial.

But Lin points out something that I think -- and you can see it when Lin talks about his clients. If his clients are innocent then, I mean, what has happened to them? What have we done to them? What has the media done to them? What kind of...

KING: And also,there's a killer loose.

GERAGOS: Right. God forbid that there's somebody else out there.

But the other kind of slow torture that they've been exposed to is something that you wouldn't ever want to do to anybody or any parent, let alone somebody who's lost a child.

KING: We're out of time. But I will tell you, we'll have you all, of course, all back. And Lin, we'll come back for an entire program, as this subjects remains one of the great mysteries.

We thank Dr. Henry lee, Marc Klaas, Nancy Grace, Mark Geragos, Steve Fiorina at San Diego at the courthouse form KGTV and Lin Wood, the attorney for the John and Patsy Ramsey.

We'll come back and tell you all about tomorrow night's show right after this.


KING: It'll make you feel old. Tomorrow is August; 25 years ago in August, Elvis Presley died. Twenty-five years ago. His best friend was with him when he died.

Joe Esposito is our guest tomorrow night.

Where does time go?