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CNN Larry King Live
Minister's Wife Charged With Murder; Interview With Michael Schiavo
Aired March 27, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, a Tennessee minister found shot to death in the back, his wife and three daughters found the next day in Alabama. Today his wife is charged with his premeditated murder and police say they know the motive but aren't telling. We've got the latest with the wife's attorney and her close friend.
And then, Terri Schiavo's husband Michael Schiavo, hated by her parents for disconnecting her feeding tube and letting her die and now speaking out on the bitter fight that drew in the Supreme Court, the White House and the Vatican one year ago. He'll take your calls too.
It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening. Earlier today in Tennessee, 32-year-old Mary Winkler was arraigned for the first degree murder of her minister husband 31-year-old Matthew Winkler, who was found shot to death in the family home in Selmer, Tennessee last Wednesday.
An Amber Alert was issued for his wife Mary and their three daughters, who were all found the next evening in Alabama. Authorities say that Mrs. Winkler voluntarily confessed to planning her husband's murder and carrying it out.
With us in Memphis is Steven Farese, the attorney for Mary Winkler.
In Nashville is Jennifer Johnson, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
In Pensacola, Florida is Officer Jason Whitlock of the police department of Orange Beach, Alabama which is located right across the water from Pensacola. He located Mary Winkler and her children in Orange Beach last Thursday and he took Mrs. Winkler into custody.
And, in Selmer, Tennessee is George Brown, the reporter with CNN affiliate WMC-TV, Channel 5, who's been covering the Winkler story. What's the latest today George?
GEORGE BROWN, WMC-TV REPORTER: Well as you know, Larry, she did appear in court today in the building behind me and she did not enter a plea although we have been told that she will enter a not guilty plea.
A lot of people in this town, it's about 4,600 people, so not very big, they're not used to all of this attention and not used to something like this happening here, the pastor, the minister at that church very popular in this town, his children popular, although a lot of people said that his wife was somewhat reserved.
But they are still in shock that this happened. Some of them told me that they really weren't surprised anymore that something happens in any town this size, while other people really think that this has shaken up a small town.
And the reaction today of her being in court is one of awe. And, of course, tonight there was a visitation going on here, just ended, in Selmer for Mr. Winkler and there are a lot of people there. In fact, truckloads from other churches around the area have come in to say goodbye to him and to give his respects to the family.
KING: George Brown, thank you.
Steven Farese is the attorney for Mary Winkler. Do you know her Stephen? How were you retained?
STEVEN FARESE, ATTORNEY FOR MINISTER'S WIFE MARY WINKLER: I was first contacted, Mr. King, by a distant relative who happens to be an attorney here in the Memphis area. He called me Thursday and asked me if I would try to help her.
KING: Have you met with her?
FARESE: I have met with her. I've met with her on three occasions. I met with her Saturday evening. I met with her Sunday and I met with her today briefly.
KING: Now, the police are saying they know the motive. Did she at all tell you why?
FARESE: Well, of course, Mr. King, may I call you Larry?
FARESE: All right, Larry, as you know anything that she's told me is confidential so I couldn't express that if I did know it but, you know, just by implication the word motive means that she did an illegal act, so I'm not aware of any motive at this time.
KING: Why was there no plea today?
FARESE: Today was a procedural hearing where she is confronted with the charges for the first time since she was taken into custody Saturday by the Tennessee authorities. They wanted to get her in front of a magistrate as soon as possible to make sure that she knew what the charges were and what her rights were.
KING: And when will she plead?
FARESE: Well, there may be an informal plea on Thursday because they'll have the preliminary hearing at that time when the state will have to show probable cause to present this to a grand jury.
KING: Jennifer Johnson, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, give me the state's involvement.
JENNIFER JOHNSON, TENNESSEE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: Well, we've been involved from the very beginning on two different fronts. One, when the body was found we were charged with the criminal investigation and that was a role that our criminal investigation division was involved in.
And also, we issued the Amber Alert. The TBI is the agency in Tennessee that issues Amber Alerts, so we were sort of working it on two separate fronts from the very beginning.
KING: But the state isn't the one that tries. She's going to be tried in the city where it occurred?
JOHNSON: Correct. She will go to court in McNary County. I mean we're the investigative agency and the prosecutor will handle that aspect of it.
KING: Was the motive, if that is -- if there is such a thing, was the motive told to your officials?
JOHNSON: She's been very forthcoming with us. We know the motive. We haven't shared that and aren't comfortable sharing that. The district attorney has asked us to, you know keep that close to the vest at this point. At some point it will come out and all the facts will be known by the public.
KING: Can you tell us, Jennifer, whether it is puzzling?
JOHNSON: I think everything about this case is puzzling. I don't think there's any information that could come out that would really make sense of it all and I think that's really where the public is right now. They want some reasonable explanation for this and I think we all have to brace ourselves for the fact that it may never come. They never get a reasonable explanation or a satisfactory answer.
KING: Officer Whitlock, how did you come to apprehend her?
OFFICER JASON WHITLOCK, ORANGE BEACH, ALABAMA POLICE: Well, when I came into work about six o'clock they briefed us on the Amber Alert that they had received earlier in the day. Soon after the Amber Alert was briefed to me, a TBI agent contacted me on the phone. He advised me that she's possibly in our area.
At that time, just like any other law enforcement agency would do, we combed the streets looking everywhere for her. And soon after that just out of coincidence she pulled right in front of my unit where I was able to stop the unit in a local business establishment.
KING: What did she say?
WHITLOCK: Well, she didn't say anything at all. We ordered her out of the vehicle. She exited the vehicle, obeyed my commands, walked directly back to my patrol car. We placed her in cuffs just for safety reasons, placed her in the back of the patrol unit and she didn't say anything at all at that time.
KING: How were the children?
WHITLOCK: They were extremely upset. It was very difficult trying to comfort them. We did the best we could with what we had to work with, you know, asking about their schools and friends and so on and we were able to get them something to eat at a local establishment.
KING: What do you do with a case like that regarding children? You obviously have to put her in custody. What do you do with them?
WHITLOCK: Well, we transported them to our police department and we had some female employees at our department look after them and try to comfort them and keep them busy, you know, to keep them sidetracked where they don't have to think about what's going on.
KING: Did you have anything to do with transporting her back?
WHITLOCK: Later on in the evening I transferred her to the Baldwin County Corrections Facility probably around ten, eleven o'clock in the evening. At that time, she just went straight to sleep in the back of the patrol car, didn't say a word to me on the way.
KING: Was there an extradition involved here, Steven?
FARESE: I was not involved in that process.
KING: But there was where she was extradited because she was one state to another right?
KING: Didn't she have to agree to that?
FARESE: She would have to agree to that but, again, I've not questioned her about how that occurred. I just know that it did occur.
KING: And, Officer Whitlock, you had nothing to do with taking her across the border right?
WHITLOCK: No, sir I sure didn't.
KING: All right, we'll take a break and come back with more with Steven Farese, Jennifer Johnson, Officer Jason Whitlock, and reporter George Brown.
At the bottom of the hour, Michael Schiavo; you're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Your phone calls will be included. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ms. Winkler, in the State of Tennessee v. Mary Carol Winkler, No. 06657, you are charged under Tennessee code annotated Section 3913-202 with first degree murder. (END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN WINKLER, FATHER OF MURDERED MINISTER MATTHEW WINKLER: We want to express to the Lord our deep appreciation for allowing us the privilege of serving as Matthew's parents. We were blessed with raising three wonderful sons.
To all of our families and friends thank you for your love, your support, and your prayers. Your prayers were answered. Your support was so helpful and your love means as much to us as life itself.
Now we turn our immediate attention to the remembrance of our son, Matthew, and the care of three precious children. We ask that all of you realize the challenge of the task before us and honor our privacy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: George Brown, this pastor was very popular?
BROWN: Very popular. The family had only been here about a year but I was told by the church members that he had already brought more people into the congregation. And, Larry, what a lot of people don't realize around the country is the Winkler name is very big in the Church of Christ. It is a famous family. They have written books. His father is a minister. He was a minister.
So, this is a story really that has spread around the country, not only on national news but through the Church of Christ, which of course is a big church especially here in the south. So, you put that together.
And, as I said earlier, there was a visitation service that ended about ten minutes ago. We were told that there were busses of people from cities around this area from Churches of Christ. They came in just to show their respects for the Winkler family.
And his kids also, Larry, very popular in the town here, in fact, a lot of people are saying that they hope that the grandparents will bring the children back so that they can talk with the children and at least have one goodbye I guess if you will because they were so popular with the townspeople here.
KING: Jennifer Johnson, why premeditated?
JOHNSON: Well, we went over all of the evidence that we had and all the information that we obtained in the interview and the district attorney really made that decision. She felt like this was the appropriate charge and, of course, we went with that judgment call.
KING: Steven, do you understand that? FARESE: Well, I understand that's the way it works. The prosecution has to make decisions. This was the decision made by Ms. Rice and that's where we are.
KING: What's been the demeanor, without having to reveal anything she said, of your client?
FARESE: She's been very reserved, very quiet. She has what we call a flat effect. She has had trouble concentrating and following what we're saying contextually and, of course, you know, facing everything that she's facing, the loss, her children being gone, being imprisoned, it's hard to separate the way she was before to the way she is now because I only know her the way she is now.
KING: What was she like when arrested, Officer Whitlock?
WHITLOCK: You know, she appeared to have kind of a sigh of relief, you know. She looked more relieved and just glad that it was over with, you know, and sooner or later she knew she was going to get caught and this was the time.
KING: Let's take a call. We'll take other calls as well; Michael Schiavo at the bottom of the hour; Mount Hope, West Virginia, hello.
CALLER FROM WEST VIRGINIA: Yes, hello Larry.
CALLER: I have a question. Could the motive have been that Mr. Winkler could have been abusing his wife or children in any way?
KING: Jennifer, that's a logical thing to think.
JOHNSON: A lot of people have asked that question and from the very moment that we came upon the scene we actually looked and there's no history of domestic violence. As I said earlier, we can't share the motive but I think, you know, the history does sort of speak for itself.
KING: George Brown, what's the mood there? I mean is it all perplexed?
BROWN: It is perplexed and I'll tell you, Larry, this is one of those strange cases where people aren't guessing. They're not commenting on what the motive is. I've actually been told by several people that they don't want to guess because it would just hurt the family more and that it doesn't really do any good.
As far as how the rest of the town is feeling, it's kind of a mix. I mean there is the shock of the murder. Then there's the shock that a woman did it and that it was the wife and that it was the minister.
And then also you have all this media attention, all of this on this one little town and, Larry, this is a town that's mainly known for a big furniture outlet store. That's in Tennessee what most people know Selmer for. So, when you put all that together, it's a town that really is in awe at this time.
And also, they're still just not getting used to what has happened. So, you had a lot of people trying to get into the court today because of that. And then now knowing that the funeral is tomorrow and then she's back in court on Thursday and a lot of people are asking when is this going to end and when are we going to be able to get back to normal?
KING: How much press is there?
BROWN: There's a lot of press in fact. Basically every major network is here. You have some stringers here. You have stations from Memphis, from Huntsville, from Nashville, you have print media, so there's a lot of people.
In fact, our story tonight at ten o'clock on our local newscast is about the media attention that has been focused on this town. And, Larry, I got to tell you we've actually had people yelling at us today saying "Go home. Leave us alone," that sort of thing, which we completely understand but at the same time we try to explain to them that we're trying to get their story out at the same time.
KING: Let's take another call, Port Ritchie, Florida, hello.
CALLER FROM FLORIDA: Yes, hi good evening, Larry.
CALLER: Thanks for taking my call.
CALLER: This question is for Jennifer. Does anybody know why she was going to Alabama? Does she have family there?
JOHNSON: There's no really good solid reason for that. We don't know of any family members that she had down there. She was on the side of the road. She wasn't at anyone's house. So, like many aspects of this case, it's a mystery.
KING: Officer Whitlock, did she say anything substantive?
WHITLOCK: About where she was staying or what she was doing down there?
KING: Yes, about anything, why she came there? What did she talk about if anything?
WHITLOCK: Actually for the extent that I dealt with her she didn't say a word. I just -- we handcuffed her and placed her in the back of the patrol unit and that's all that happened on my end.
KING: Didn't say anything to her children? WHITLOCK: No, no. She didn't have a chance. She was immediately commanded out of the vehicle and handcuffed and placed in the back of the patrol unit.
KING: And the children went in a different vehicle?
WHITLOCK: Yes, sir to a different vehicle and transported to the police department.
KING: We'll take a break. We'll be back with some more and more of your calls. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mary Carol Winkler was apprehended by law enforcement officers in Orange Beach, Alabama. According to agents of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, Mary Winkler confessed to planning the murder of her husband, Matthew Winkler, shooting him on March 22, 2006 and leaving Selmer with her three daughters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back; Cape Coral, Florida hello.
CALLER FROM FLORIDA: Yes, hi Larry.
CALLER: Enjoy your show very much.
KING: Thank you.
CALLER: I was just wondering if there was any possibility that she may be suffering from a postpartum depression.
KING: Steven is her lawyer, Steven what do you think of that?
FARESE: Well that's certainly one of the aspects that we're looking into. Many people, of course, have suggested that and that's something that most seasoned criminal defense attorneys would look into and we will certainly look into that.
KING: Steven, does this look to you like it's plea-able (ph)?
FARESE: Well, we don't know that yet, Larry. First of all, we have to see what charges come out of the grand jury and then we have to open negotiations with the attorney general to see if they're amenable to any pleas. Of course, what we suggest has to be stamped with the approval of the defendant in cases like these, so Mary Carol will have the final say on whatever happens.
KING: Jennifer, does it appear at this early stage plea-able to you?
JOHNSON: You know that would be more of a prosecutor question. I just, I don't know what they're open to at this point.
KING: Jennifer, is the fact that the shooting was in the back do you think that led a lot to the first degree part?
JOHNSON: You know we haven't even really confirmed that. I know that other people have.
KING: Oh, that's not confirmed?
JOHNSON: That is not confirmed by the TBI. I've seen other people say it on different shows but I think that, you know, the first degree murder or, you know, premeditation is what a lot of people associate with first degree murder. I think really she made that decision based on the evidence that we found during the searches and also the conversations that we had with her.
KING: Atlas, Oklahoma, hello.
CALLER FROM OKLAHOMA: Yes, do you know if she has been able to see her family since she's been arrested?
FARESE: She's been able to visit with her father. There has been an educated choice by us as far as the children are concerned due to the fact the father has yet to be buried, so we will revisit that issue after tomorrow. But, at this time, it is my belief that she has not seen the children.
KING: Will the children to your knowledge go to the funeral?
FARESE: It's my understanding that they are with the paternal grandparents so they will be in charge of making that decision for the children because they're ages 8, 6 and 1.
KING: Killeen, Texas, hello.
CALLER FROM TEXAS: Hi, I'm wondering has Mrs. Winkler shown any type of remorse at all over the death of her husband?
KING: Officer Whitlock, did she show any to you?
WHITLOCK: Well, at the time of the arrest she just, like I said, it looked like just a blank stare. She exited the vehicle, just had a stunned look on her face and, like I said, it looked more as if she was just exhausted and just glad it was over with. She didn't show in my opinion any kind of remorse at all. Like I said she looked more exhausted than anything.
KING: What about to you, Steven?
FARESE: Well, there's certainly been sadness, you know. You can get into semantical games with words like remorse. There's been sadness on her part. She's been dejected. She's been withdrawn. So, you know, one might say that's remorse. Another one might say well she's feeling sorry for herself. So, I can't -- I can't make that call.
KING: George Brown, did you see her in person today?
BROWN: I did not see her in person. We actually watched a video feed that was sent out of the courtroom but I can tell you that she was very sullen, I guess you'd say. She really didn't look up much, just kind of walked in with her head down a little bit, sat there didn't say anything.
I will tell you there were members of her church who were in there to show their support. Someone told me they actually had something they held up to show that they were there to support her.
And, Larry, that's probably one of the important things here that the church members want to get out is that, a) they're not going to judge her; and, b) that they are here to support her no matter what she says happened or what is determined that happened that they still are behind her and they want her to know that they have forgiven her for anything she might have done and that it basically is up to God to decide what will happen to her in the future.
KING: Huntington, Tennessee, hello.
CALLER FROM TENNESSEE: Hello. I was wanting to know if the children saw anything.
KING: Do we know anything about that? Does anyone know anything? Jennifer, do we know if the children...
JOHNSON: Well, what we've confirmed is that the children are believed to have been inside the home. We haven't really gotten into any details about what they may have seen for fear that they may end up seeing some of these broadcasts. We just feel like it's not appropriate to, you know, air all that in a public forum since they could be watching these shows and don't want to do anything to further damage them.
KING: And, Jennifer, an 8-year-old and a 6-year-old could be witnesses couldn't they?
KING: Because they certainly speak and they are aware and can describe things they've seen as opposed to the 1-year-old of course.
Do we have any time concept here Steven?
FARESE: Say again, Larry?
KING: Do we have any time concept, how long is this going to, you know, if we go to trial how far away is it?
FARESE: It's difficult to say but it's easy to say generally that it will at least be months.
KING: I thank you all very much and we'll be following this closely, Steven Farese, the attorney for Mary Winkler; Jennifer Johnson, the spokeswoman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; Officer Jason Whitlock of the police department of Orange Beach, Alabama who made the initial contact and arrest; and George Brown, the reporter with CNN affiliate WMC-TV covering the Winkler story for us and we thank him very much as well.
We'll take a break and come back and meet, haven't seen him in a while, Michael Schiavo. Don't go away.
KING: This Friday marks the first anniversary of Terri Schiavo's death. Her feeding tube had been removed ten days earlier after a lengthy legal battle that put her husband Michael at odds with is in- laws, the State of Florida, the United States Congress, the president of the United States, even the Vatican.
Michael tells his story in a new book, "Terri, the Truth." There you see its cover. He joins me by satellite from New York to talk about it, nice to see you again Michael.
MICHAEL SCHIAVO, FOUGHT TO LET WIFE DIE: Nice to see you, Larry.
KING: On the cover it's written as a prelude to the book, a religious zealot offered $250,000 to anyone who would kill me. My two babies were threatened with death. I was condemned by the president, the majority leaders of the House and Senate, the governor of Florida, the pope, and the right wing media all because I was doing what Terri, the woman I loved, wanted. I didn't respond to their attacks. I didn't confront their lies. Until now, in this book. Why now?
SCHIAVO: Larry, before I answer that, I want to settle some disagreements, some recent allegations that have been said about me in the last day or so. It's just two of them.
One was the money situation, where the other side had said I did not spend a penny of Terri's award money on Terri. They stated that Terri received $1.6 million. That is not correct. Terri's original award was reduced by 70 percent per the jury.
After all legal costs and medical costs were paid, $750,000 went into Terri's trust fund. From there, for the last 15 years, that money has been used for Terri's medical care, paying for her nursing home care. I hired a private aide. It even paid for the Schindlers' doctors, who came in and examined Terri, it paid for their fee. Plus, yes, it did pay for the legal fees. But I'd say 98 percent of that money went to Terri's medical care.
KING: And that money came from what, a lawsuit that she won?
SCHIAVO: A medical malpractice suit, yes. And the other accusation was that they're saying that I didn't allow them to touch Terri when she died.
KING: The Schindlers, you mean? SCHIAVO: Exactly. I have no idea where that came from. That has never been said. They spent probably only ten minutes with Terri after she died. She was by herself. They were by themselves. And they left the room. Nobody else was in the room except the Schindlers.
KING: Who said this?
SCHIAVO: The Schindlers. They're saying that I did not allow them to touch Terri after she died. That's so false. It's so false. It's unrealistic.
KING: All right. Why the book now?
SCHIAVO: You know, Larry, for 15 years I have been vilified. I have been called a murderer. I have been told that I strangled Terri, that I abused her, I broke her bones. It's my turn to talk now. And I'm setting the record straight. And that's why the book is called "The Truth."
And also, I don't -- you know, this book is also -- it's a lot about Terri, it's a lot about Terri and I. And I don't want anybody else to go through this, Larry. This was a horrible ordeal.
KING: The answer should have been, if only she had written it down, right?
SCHIAVO: If only she had written it down. And that's my next big fight, Larry. I am going to go out and talk up living wills. People need to make their wishes known. They need to get out there and write it down. Even if they write it on a piece of paper and have their family witness it and stick it in their safety deposit box. Have it notarized. Even if you want to live. Even if you want that, write it down. That's your choice. You have that choice.
KING: Everyone asks, Michael, and it seems the logical question, OK let's say you're right, she did say to you that she didn't want to be living artificially. But the Schindlers wanted her so much, they wanted to take her. Why didn't you just give it up?
SCHIAVO: It wasn't about the Schindlers, Larry. We have discussed this last year. It wasn't about me. It wasn't about the Schindlers. It was about Terri. And I fought for what she wanted.
KING: So you don't second-guess yourself ever?
SCHIAVO: Oh, no. No, I don't, Larry.
KING: OK. Was there -- I know you write about lots of things. First, the issue of whether Terri had an eating disorder, that she had bulimia. Did she?
SCHIAVO: I now believe she did. With becoming a nurse and listening to doctors and even her family said that she had bulimia. Her mother came out and stated it to a nurse at one of the medical facilities that Terri had bulimia. So I believe she had bulimia. And it sets something else straight about that, about the bulimia. The medical examiner also stated that after 15 years, he couldn't really tell if she did or didn't. So he did not rule bulimia out.
KING: Did bulimia have anything to do with the cause of her illness and death?
SCHIAVO: I'm sure it was the cause of her cardiac arrest.
KING: You also say in the book, and you never said this before, that Terri's father made fun of her being fat.
SCHIAVO: I've said that many times, yes.
KING: You had?
SCHIAVO: They ridiculed her, her brother ridiculed her, they carried a picture around of her license when she was heavy, they made fun of her. They did it all the time, Larry. Terri used to break down in tears. I can remember that happening.
KING: You met -- how's your marriage with Jody?
SCHIAVO: It's wonderful. It's fantastic.
KING: She was very supportive through all this, was she not?
SCHIAVO: Yes, she was. She stood behind me. She stayed in the background, she stood behind me and gave me all the support and love I needed.
KING: It was kind of remarkable. Since so much of the life was about Terri, right? Whenever she'd see you, you're talking about Terri. You're going on this program, you're talking about Terri. That must be tough for her.
SCHIAVO: I'm sure it and is that's probably something you need to ask her. I'm sure it's very tough for her. You know something, she's a together woman. And she has big shoulders.
KING: Was there a point when she asked you to drop the fight, and you were considering dropping the fight and your attorney changed your mind?
SCHIAVO: Yes, there was. That happened probably a couple of weeks before the tube was removed. The reason why she did it, and I can understand, is she was afraid for our children. Our children were being threatened with death.
They wanted to come -- people were writing us letters. They were stating that children disappear. You want to watch your backs. And then at the bottom of the letter, they would quote the scripture. So it became a thing about our children. She was very frightened for our children.
KING: There are also thoughts that the videotape of Terri, which her family showed, showed that she was responsive and not in a persistent vegetative state. Even Senator Frist said that.
SCHIAVO: Senator Frist made a diagnosis from a two-minute clip. I mean, there's a doctor that everybody should want, that can diagnose you from a clip. As far as the Schindlers not believing, there is medical proof from the medical examiner that Terri was in a vegetative state.
They said with no uncertainty the medical findings proves that she was in a persistent vegetative state.
KING: Were you with her when she died, Michael?
SCHIAVO: Yes, I was.
KING: What was it like?
SCHIAVO: Well, I spent the night with her. I could see as a nurse, and I could see that Terri was changing, her breathing was changing. It would be a little abnormal for a while, then go back to normal. So I spent the night with her. I stayed by her side. I talked and told her I loved her and caressed her arm. And we stayed through the night.
About 7:00 in the morning, we got a phone call that the Schindlers, Bobby and Suzanne, wanted to come in. Mr. And Mrs. Schindler were on the compound at that time. Bobby and Suzanne wanted to come in and visit her. We left the room and we went back down to the room that I was staying in. And about quarter of 9:00, the administrator came down and said Michael, if you want to see Terri, you need to come now.
So I jumped up from the bed and I -- you know, I hurt my knee in all this. I was hobbling down the hall as quickly as I could. As I was there, the administrator said, well, we asked Bobby and Suzanne to leave because we're going to do an assessment and we noticed the change in Terri, but Suzanne left with the priest and Bobby got into an argument with the police officer.
She reiterated to me if you want to go, you need to come now. I had no time to sit and think about Bobby Schindler and what he was doing out there with the police officer. So my attorney quick said so me, do you want him in? And I said no. I had seconds when I got in the room to spend with Terri. I got around to the side of the bed. And I could see that Terri had taken a big change. I knelt down beside her, Larry. I cradled her in my arms and I told her I love her. It's still hard to this day. And I told her it's OK.
KING: And she passed away in your arms?
SCHIAVO: And she passed away in my arms.
KING: We'll be right back with Michael Schiavo. The book is "Terry: The Truth." It's published by Dutton. Don't go away.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: By the way, immediately following this program, "ANDERSON COOPER 360." We'll have a pre-taped interview with Terri Schiavo's parents. Here's a clip. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO'S FATHER: OK. Well, let me just take you back to the condition that she was in. Because most people thought -- and I've been told and I've read articles where she was brain dead, where she was on a ventilator. And in reality, Terri was reactive. She was mobile. There was nothing wrong with her other than she had brain damage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And had a feeding tube.
SCHINDLER: And she was interacting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Want to comment on that, Michael?
SCHIAVO: Interacting with who? I think they -- they wanted to see what they wanted to see. The autopsy proved that Terri was cortically blind. She could not see. Her brain was half the size of a normal weight. That's how much it had shrunk. Her cerebral cortex was gone. You know, it's kind of sad that, you know, they're kind of still in denial.
KING: Were you ever close with them?
SCHIAVO: Oh, yes. I was close with them at one time. We were -- I called them mom and dad. And we were very close.
KING: Another bone of contention with the Schindlers is the way you had Terri cremated. And they apparently wanted something different. What happened there?
SCHIAVO: It's not about the Schindlers. It was my decision for Terri. I was going to bury Terri in my family plot in Pennsylvania. But I did bury her here. They've got to stop making it about themselves. It was about Terri.
KING: Is it true that they demanded money from the malpractice award?
SCHIAVO: Yes, they did on Valentine's day in 1993. He wanted to know how much money he was getting.
KING: What did you say to him?
SCHIAVO: I said that the money I got to quiet things down -- I said I'm giving it all to Terri. And that's when he said he was going to get a lawyer and take over the guardianship. And then he wanted to know how much Terri was going to give him.
KING: What happened here, Michael, as you look back on all this? What happened? You and the Schindlers and Terri, how did this become what it became?
SCHIAVO: I believe it was money, Larry. Mr. Schindler -- he testified that he was angry. They didn't get any money. Mrs. Schindler was also angry. They said it on the television show today. They were angry about the money.
KING: So money counted more to them than their daughter, in your opinion?
SCHIAVO: Yes. Yes. And it's sad.
KING: We'll take a break and be right back with more of Michael Schiavo. The book is "Terri: The Truth." Michael Schiavo, the publisher is Dutton. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JON THOGMARTIN, MEDICAL EXAMINER: What diagnosis can be made though in regards to the brain of Mrs. Schiavo? Her brain was profoundly atrophied. The brain weighed 615 grams, roughly half of the expected weight of a human brain. This was due to diffuse hypoxic ischemic damage.
There was massive neuronal loss or death. This damage was irreversible and no amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Anderson Cooper will host "AC 360" at the top of the hour. And I see that he is back in New York.
Anderson, what's up?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, we've got a lot to cover in this hour. We'll have the other side of the Terri Schiavo story literally. We'll talk to Terri's parents about what they think happened to their daughter. And needless to say it's quite a bit different than Michael Schiavo's version of events.
Also tonight, the latest on the murdered pastor. His wife in court today. We'll talk with her attorney about possible motives and reports that she has confessed to the crime.
And we'll look at one of the most mysterious rites of Christianity, exorcism. Believe it or not it's actually a growth industry. You'll meet one of the leading practitioners ahead on "360" -- Larry.
KING: Thanks Anderson. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" just about 10 and a half minutes away.
"Terri: The Truth" by Michael Schiavo. That's the new book. And Michael Schiavo joins us -- is with us from New York. Recent ABC News poll shows 64 percent of the public support the decision that you made with regard to Terri. That's almost -- it's just one percent more than when it happened. Does that surprise you that the public generally supported you?
SCHIAVO: No, not really. I mean, I believe that, you know, this is what people want. You know, they want to talk about their wishes. They believe in their own choice.
KING: Well, I mean, and all of the heavy hitters who are opposed to you. We are talking presidents and popes.
SCHIAVO: You know, at the end I was very surprised about all of the people that backed me, and I was very happy for it. I am glad people started speaking up. It is about time because you know something? The government got into my personal life and people started realizing that this is not right. These people do not belong in our lives. They're put there, they're elected there to do a job of running this country, not our lives, not our personal lives.
KING: And you're getting more active than just that, you founded terripac.com. What does that do?
SCHIAVO: That is a PAC that I founded, it's going to be holding some of these people accountable for what they did. But we're going to do a lot of education about living wills. We're going to talk about bulimia, eating disorders.
It's going to be a lot of education. You can go to that site right now and you can click on your own state, it will tell you how to sign up for health care surrogates, where you can get your living wills, Project Grace is on there, they can help you out.
We need to talk about this, Larry. Death is going to happen to all of us and everybody needs to discuss it. And it's OK. It's OK to discuss it. People need to let their wishes known. Like I said, even if you don't want to die, even if you want to stay connected.
KING: That's right, let somebody know.
SCHIAVO: Let somebody know, don't go through what I did.
KING: That Web site is terripac, it's one word, T-E-R-R-I-P-A-C, terripac.com.
KING: Not only -- the polls think that politicians should never have gotten involved. Does that surprise you?
SCHIAVO: No, not at all. I'm happy for these people. Like I said, they stood up for what we believe in. Stay out of our lives. Do your job. Don't tell other people how to live or die.
KING: Do you think the politicians weren't sincere?
SCHIAVO: No, not at all. KING: They were not sincere?
SCHIAVO: They had an agenda. Especially DeLay, Frist, they all had an agenda.
KING: To appeal to?
SCHIAVO: To appeal to their constituents. You know, they didn't even know Terri two weeks prior to this. They didn't even know her name. They didn't know how to pronounce her name.
And you know, I invited Governor Bush, come down and see me, come down and talk to me. He never came down. I invited the president. Come down and talk to me. Come down and see what you're getting involved in before you start making decisions and getting on the talk show circuit about that. Nobody ever came down.
KING: Why do you think that story grew so much?
SCHIAVO: I just -- because of the people that got involved in it. You had the right wing constituents, the religions. The right people were involved. They got it talking.
And you know something, Larry, I was just in it for Terri, not anybody else. You know, I took care of Terri, I protected Terri, and I did a good job at it.
KING: Was it hard for you day in, day out, to look at her? That expressionless face?
SCHIAVO: It was very hard, every day, Larry, every day. I miss -- I miss the face I once fell in love with. And behind me in school, I miss that little giggle. I miss that -- that smile.
KING: She sat behind you in school?
SCHIAVO: Yes, she did. That's where I met her, in college.
KING: How, by the way, did the subject of death come up?
SCHIAVO: Well there was quite a few instances. We were -- we'd be home watching T.V. and she'd see something on T.V. and she would tell me that "I don't want any tubes, I don't want to live like that."
A story about her uncle, who was disabled and we were on a train trip here and she made a comment, she was reading a book -- it's a long story but she says, "If I'm ever a burden to anybody, I don't want to be -- don't ever do that to me." And, you know, she made these comments to other people too.
KING: How many court cases did you have over this?
SCHIAVO: Oh, Larry, there's probably over 250.
KING: We'll take a break and be back with some more moments with Michael Schiavo. The book is "Terri: The Truth." Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: Michael Schiavo, it's quite a love story. Terri's first kiss was yours, right?
SCHIAVO: Yes, it was. It was her first date.
KING: Now to reaction to the autopsy. It concluded that Terri was blind, her brain profoundly atrophied. However the medical examiner couldn't determine if she'd been bulimic or what caused her initial collapse. Did that surprise you?
SCHIAVO: No, no. I mean, he determined that because it was too many years have elapsed. But he did say, "I cannot rule that out."
KING: Were you hesitant about having an autopsy?
SCHIAVO: No, not at all, no, not at all. Because I knew -- I knew what the conclusions would have been and I welcomed it.
KING: Did the Schindlers complain about the autopsy?
SCHIAVO: No, they wanted one too.
KING: And you remember -- I don't remember what their reaction was to the results.
SCHIAVO: They don't believe it. They'll tell you that. They've been out there saying they don't believe it.
KING: They believe the autopsy was a lie?
SCHIAVO: You'll have to ask them, Larry. I don't know. They're just saying that they still believe that she was reactive, she smiled, she talked, she could be rehabilitated.
KING: You write in the book the case will never be over.
SCHIAVO: I think -- the case will always be a part of American history. Terri will always be in my heart forever. And I will never, ever forget her.
KING: Thank you so much, Michael.
SCHIAVO: Larry, thank you.
KING: Thanks very much for coming forward. Michael Schiavo, the book is "Terri: The Truth," written with Michael Hirsh, published by Dutton.
By the way, a sad note as we end tonight. Lyn Nofziger, good friend of ours, and a long-time member of Ronald Reagan's team has died. He was with the former president from Reagan's days as governor, through the early White House years. In a statement released tonight by Nancy Reagan, she said, "Lyn Nofziger was one of the nicest men I've ever known." And I would say amen to that. He was only 71-years-old. Lyn Nofziger, one of the really good guys.
Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, we'll took at four of the top names in country music, Naomi Judd, Travis Tritt, Lee Ann Womack and Martina McBride. All of them, tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE.
Following us tonight is of course the perennial, "ANDERSON COOPER 360." He's hosting it out of New York, he's going to discuss the other side of the Schiavo matter and a lot of other things as well. Anderson, it's yours.
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