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CNN Larry King Live

Battle of the Political Spouses; Black Widow Killer or Victim of Coincidence?; Five Mysterious Feet Wash Up on Shores in Canada

Aired June 19, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, black widow killer or innocent grandmother?
Betty Neumar has had five husbands. They've all died while married to her. She's charged in the death of one, accused of hiring a hit man to gun him down.

What about the others?

Plus, potential first ladies, their image and impact.

Can Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain win votes for their husbands or cost the candidates support?

All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

Before we begin, a quick reminder. Motley Crue tomorrow night, and Lewis Black.

Let's meet our four distinguished ladies and go at it, as we look at the involvement of women in this campaign, especially ahead to the potential first ladies.

In New York is Andrea Tantaros, Republican strategist, media consultant, former press secretary for the House Republican Conference, a supporter of John McCain.

In Washington, Hillary Rosen, a political director of, initially supported Mrs. Clinton, now backs Obama.

In Washington is Amanda Carpenter, national political reporter for, conservative commentator.

And here in Los Angeles, Tanya Acker, Democratic strategist and Barack Obama supporter.

Is this much ado about nothing or this -- is this, Andrea, is this Cindy -- Cindy's fight with Michelle meaningful?

ANDREA TANTAROS, GOP STRATEGIST, MEDIA CONSULTANT, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: No. I think it's a little bit sensationalized. I know you don't believe that, Larry, political discourse sensationalized. But it is a bit of a faux cat fight. You know, Cindy McCain she answered a question relating to, you know, what Michelle Obama -- she was asked a question of, you know, what do you think Michelle Obama was feeling?

Well, she can't get in her head. And she said, I don't know, I don't understand.

But I will say this. Republicans need to move on. Any Republican that thinks that they're going to make a hallmark of this campaign about Michelle Obama, it's a huge mistake. It's time to move on. Look, Michelle Obama has come out, out she's explained her position over and over and over. And I think that's enough. Voters are smart. They can decide whether they like Michelle Obama or not.

KING: Let's relive it maybe one more time before we ask Hillary. During the primary season, Michelle took flak for commenting that for the first time in her adult life, she was really proud of her country.

Cindy McCain faulted that remark. She was questioned about it again today.



CINDY MCCAIN, WIFE OF JOHN MCCAIN: I don't know where -- why she said that. I -- you know, everyone has their own experience. I don't know why she said what she said. All I know is that I've always been proud of my country.


KING: Is that a slap, Hillary?

HILARY ROSEN, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM, SUPPORTS OBAMA: Sure it was a slap. And, you know, I agree, we ought to move on. But, frankly, I think first, Cindy McCain owes Michelle Obama an apology. Laura Bush, very classily, said, in response to the same question, you know, I'm sure she didn't mean that. And I'm sure it was taken out of context, which it was and she didn't. And she's explained herself multiple times. And instead of giving her the benefit of the doubt, Cindy McCain kind of chose to...

TANTAROS: Oh, come on.

ROSEN: ...escalate that. And, you know, it just -- we ought to be move on. But if this is going to be where it goes, I just don't think that people want to see...

TANTAROS: She -- Hillary, she said she didn't know.

ROSEN: ...Cindy McCain (INAUDIBLE).

TANTAROS: She didn't know. I don't know what possessed Michelle Obama.

ROSEN: She had an opportunity...

TANTAROS: If we were in court... ROSEN: say I'm sure she didn't mean that.


ROSEN: I've heard her say she didn't mean that.

TANTAROS: If that was in a court of law, that question would have been thrown out because it would have been speculatory.


TANTAROS: How is she supposed to jump in her head?

ROSEN: ...she could have thrown it out...

TANTAROS: I don't know what Michelle Obama meant.

ROSEN: Instead, she escalated it again.

TANTAROS: I can't speak for her.

KING: OK. All right. Amanda, you wash this. Cindy McCain in Vietnam, working with Operation Smile, also talked about her criticism of Michelle in an interview with our own John King.



C. MCCAIN: I'm an emotional woman when it comes to service to our country. I've watched many people's children leave and go serve. This is something that is the fiber of the McCain family. It was nothing more than me just saying, look, I believe in this country so strongly. That's all it was. It was an emotional -- an emotional -- an emotional outpouring on my part.


KING: All right. Andrea says we should put it away.

Should we, Amanda?

AMANDA CARPENTER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, TOWNHALL.COM, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, for starters, the reason why Cindy McCain's proud retort got so much traction is because she so very rarely injects herself into her husband's campaign. So that's one of the reasons why this got a lot of traction.

But secondly, I don't think she was wrong to bring it up. Yes, it shouldn't be the theme of their campaign, but Cindy McCain has a right to express an opinion. And Michelle Obama, who inserts directly by campaigning for her husband, has to expect those kind of attacks when she is loose with her words in that way.

KING: All right. Now, Tanya, Michelle worked to diffuse it today -- or yesterday -- on "The View." Watch.


MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA'S WIFE: Just let me tell you, of course I'm proud of my country. Nowhere but in America could my story be possible.


KING: Make sense, Tanya?

TANYA ACKER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, SUPPORTS OBAMA: It absolutely makes sense. And I think that people who heard the context in which Mrs. Obama made these comments knows that she never intended to suggest that she wasn't proud of being in the United States. So she explained yesterday her story, her husband's story. These are stories -- these are histories that are really possible in the United States in a way that they aren't anywhere else.

So I think that -- I really hope that we can move past this issue now and stop trying to make a campaign subject of it.

KING: Andrea, in selecting a president, why does this matter?

TANTAROS: Well, because, you know, Hillary Clinton really defined the role of first lady. Whether you like her or not, she was the first lady -- the first first lady, actually, who made comments that came under her scrutiny. She took a very large role...

KING: Oh, Eleanor Roosevelt did it a hundred years ago.

TANTAROS: Well, well -- but the media age, I'm saying. People seize on this. It's a 24-hour news cycle now. You have blogs. But Hillary Clinton took a huge role in her husband's administration. And since then, campaigns have learned that first ladies, when they go out on the stump, they stump for their husbands, they campaign for their husbands. They have all of a sudden become a bigger issue because they've been followed around. Blogs cover them.

And you know what, I think the Obama campaign is doing -- they're making sure that what happened to Teresa Heinz Kerry does not happen to Michelle Obama.

KING: We'll be right back with more from our four very bright, on top of it ladies.

Don't go away.



C. MCCAIN: Please, tomorrow get out and vote. Get your friends out and vote and let's put this man in the White House.

Thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Cindy.

M. OBAMA: Can we do this?


M. OBAMA: Can we do this?


M. OBAMA: Come on now, can we do this?


M. OBAMA: We're going to need you.

Thank you so much.


KING: All right. Hillary Rosen, a front page "New York Times" article asserts that the Obama campaign is giving Michelle's image a makeover. Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod says he absolutely rejects the notion of any kind of makeover.

Who's right?

ROSEN: Well, I've talked to the Obama campaign team about this. I think they feel that they are just introducing her to a wider audience, to a general election audience. I don't think we're going to see Michelle Obama do anything different or be anybody other than who she is. It's just that we're going to see more of her and experience all sides of her -- the mother, the advocate and the wife.

Look, I think it's really important here that we see all sides of both of these women. I don't want to see Cindy McCain be the quiet woman who says nothing, and, as Amanda said, you know, so startles us when she does opens her mouth. She's the CEO of a multimillion dollar company. These women are role models for women cross the country.

We don't have a female nominee. We've got two strong male nominees and both of them have accomplished, important wives. And...

KING: All right...

ROSEN: ...the women across this country, I think, want to see and deserve to see them be, you know, the full complete package.

KING: Amanda, can a spouse elect or cause the defeat of a candidate?

CARPENTER: I don't think that she could be solely responsible. But they certainly provide a good window into the relationship with their husband, which is why I think first ladies are a lot more interesting. But back to the issue of the makeover, you know, I would argue that Cindy McCain had a much better makeover today in her interview that she did on your network. I mean seeing Cindy McCain in a baseball cap and, you know, not the close fitting shirt was a totally new side for her, whereas Michelle Obama is just going to give a new speech.

So, you know, the McCain campaign might actually be working harder to remake Cindy than we think.

ACKER: I think that's a very good point. I mean the interesting thing about Cindy McCain today was it was really the first time that we got to see her a little more relaxed. It was the most I'd ever heard from her, frankly. And I found her incredibly likable.

But, you know, I think that -- just going back to some of the points that we were making earlier, it is really unfortunate that in this campaign, where we've got so much at stake, where there are so many really important issues at stake, that, you know, people -- and, frankly, maybe some folks on both sides, not from the principles in the campaigns, but that we're deciding to pick on these women.

I think that they are both role models. I think that they are both people who have a lot to share with the country. And I think that it really is a sign of how completely uncivil the political discourse has become.

You know, you can't imagine Tip O'Neill beating up on Ronald Reagan -- oh, I'm sorry -- on Nancy Reagan in the way that we've seen the discourse be shaped now.

KING: Andrea, do you think maybe with all the media and 24-hour news channels, and that this has gone on so long, that we're looking for things?

TANTAROS: Oh, absolutely. I think that the media looks for things all the time. And they're hypersensitive. They scrutinize the candidates, the candidates' wives, the candidates' children. Absolutely. They need to fuel this beast that is the media -- the American media. And this has turned even global.

And, you know, absolutely. I think things are blown out of proportion. I think stories, non-stories are made into stories. And it ends up being, you know, one thing -- one story that could just be the smallest little thing gets legs and goes from a small little bug to being a centipede in a second and just spirals out of control.

ROSEN: I don't think it's the media. I think what the media is doing is feeding a very real interest that this country has right now for an intimate relationship with these candidates and with this election. There is so much at stake and so every little thing does matter. And, you know, I think when you...

TANTAROS: Like Cindy McCain's cookie recipes.

ROSEN: But when you look at something like, you know, 54 percent of the electorate are women, that in the last election, 20 million eligible women did not vote who are expected to vote in this election, women really are the swing vote.

And so I think women across the country are looking at these relationships, looking at these candidates and, yes, looking at their spouses to get a better, more holistic view of these candidates.

KING: Amanda, should, therefore, the spouses be more forward?

CARPENTER: I do. I think, as I said before, understanding how the spouses interact with their husbands provides needed details to understanding who will become the next president. You know, how Michelle communicates with Obama, whether it's a little fist just about, tells you something about the way they communicate with each other. Watching Cindy McCain go to Vietnam and get excited about her charity shows you something about what their family values.

And so I think these are important bits of information. I don't think we're looking too far into it and I look forward to learning more.

KING: Tanya, should Michelle be more out front?

ACKER: I think that she's very much out front in an appropriate way. I would love to see more of her. I think she's an exceptional woman with -- you know, irrespective of your political persuasion, she has a lot to teach Americans and talk to -- a lot to talk to Americans about in terms of being a professional woman, being a mother, being a woman in the public eye. I think that there's a lot -- she has a lot to show us.

KING: Do you worry that a lot of right-wing radio and bloggers and people -- and e-mailers are taking quite a lot of blows at her?

ACKER: They already are. It's, you know, my concern is that that will become too big a distraction for the Obama campaign. But they are doing it. They are doing it everyday. I mean they are trying to turn her into this angry black militant. You know, it's really taken on a very absurd proportion.

But I want to see more of her. And I think that as America gets to know her better and sees more of her, they're going to like more and more of what they see.

KING: Andrea, does it bother you that there's kind of a campaign against her?

TANTAROS: Against Michelle Obama, you're saying?

KING: Yes.

TANTAROS: You know, I think it comes with the territory. I think a lot of things are fair game. I mean, for the Obama campaign to come out and say she's off limits, I don't know where she got that. I mean she is out campaigning for her husband, like Cindy McCain is. And if these women are going to be out there, they are fair game.

Now when the attacks get cruel, when the attacks are just flat out false, either candidate -- and their husbands, I don't think it's fair and it does bother me.

And as a woman, you know, particularly -- I look at someone like Hillary Clinton. I don't agree with her on a whole host of issues. But I will say, I think that she was treated unfairly many times. I don't think it was an overarching theme. But sure. I mean I think the other women on the panel would agree. You look at some instances and you would say, yes, this does bother me how she's treated.

And I think that would go with Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama, if they are unfairly treated. If it's fair game, that's a different story.

KING: Is it going to -- we are running out of time.

Tanya, is it going to get worse?

ACKER: I definitely think it's going to get worse. But I want to go back to Andrea's point. I don't think it's fair to suggest simply because a woman is out in the public eye supporting her husband in the biggest quest of his life that she can be smeared, that she can be attacked, that she can be mischaracterized, that she can be caricatured...

TANTAROS: I didn't say that.

ACKER: No, no. I hear what you're saying. But my point is simply that I think we are seeing a caricature of Michelle Obama that bears no relationship at all to the person who she is.

KING: Obviously, we can guarantee...


KING: Hold on, guys. We're running out of time.

All right, we can guarantee we're going to do a lot more on this because, after all, this election doesn't come up again for another four or five years.


KING: So hang tough.

Next, she was married five times, widowed five times.

What happened to the husbands?

The strange case of Betty Neumar, next.


KING: Welcome back.

Authorities say that Betty Neumar has been married five times that they know of since the 1950s. She's been widowed five times, too.

Does this 76-year-old grandmother deserve sympathy or suspicion?

Well, right now, Neumar is behind bars in North Carolina. She's charged in connection with the July 1986 shooting death of her fourth husband, Harold Gentry.

What's more, authorities in Georgia have started investigating the death of her most recent husband, John Neumar. He died last October.

We're now joined by Al Gentry. Betty Neumar was arrested last month in the connection with the killing of his brother and her husband, Harold. He's in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In Grovetown, Georgia is John Neumar. His father, John, was Betty Neumar's most recent husband, died at age 79. Authorities in Georgia are investigating that.

With him is his wife, Janet Neumar.

And in Stanly County jail -- in front of the Stanly County jail in North Carolina is Mark Boone, a reporter for CNN affiliate WCNC.

Where does it stand now? Has she been charged, Mark?

MARK BOONE, REPORTER, WCNC-TV, CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA: She has been charged with a felony here in North Carolina, which is a solicitation for murder. She's behind bars behind me here at the Stanly County, North Carolina jail. She's held on a half million dollar bond and she awaits a court appearance next month.

KING: Al, how was your brother killed?

AL GENTRY, BROTHER HAROLD WAS BETTY NEUMAR'S FOURTH HUSBAND: He was shot in the chest, once in the back of the head and four in his back.

KING: Was there a motive involved? Was there a suspect? Did you think it was his wife?

GENTRY: Well, what made me think she was involved some way or another -- I mean she got to the house that night. The first words she said, with no remorse whatsoever, "Al, I was in Augusta." The people she was with explained the same thing, "Al, she was in Augusta with us."

She never showed no tears, she never showed no feelings or anything. She was just a little bit nervous. And a neighbor was there and he was pretty nervous. And they went around behind a building and they talked. And then the law got her and talked to her.

KING: Oh, the law did...

GENTRY: So that give me an idea that what was happening, that she knew what was going on.

KING: Mark Boone, was that -- is the suspicion now that it was a hired killer?

BOONE: Well, that's what she's charged with. She's charged with approaching -- actually, they found a witness, according to the prosecutor, who overheard a solicitation made. And they found a second person who says they were approached multiple times. The prosecutor said in court perhaps as many as five times this person was approached.

Betty Neumar, according to the prosecutor, offered to give him a pickup truck and pay him cash to kill her husband, went so far as to tell that person when she would be out of town and which door inside her home would be unlocked -- which doors to enter and exactly how to commit the crime. That all came out in court a couple weeks ago here.

KING: John, your father was 79 when he died, right, John Neumar?


KING: And what did he die of?

J. K. NEUMAR: He was 79. Well, he had some complications that was caused with the intestines and the stomach and everything. And because he died, from what I understand, in the V.A. hospital, because he had been having -- in and out for many years since he had married Betty. And later on -- well, to make a long story short is I didn't even know he was that sick, because she never called me up.

She had put a wedge between our family where weren't welcome there. And I didn't have much conversation with my father the last few years. And when he...

KING: Did you suspect her of any wrongdoing in your father's death?

J.K. NEUMAR: Well, I didn't at first. But I always had funny thoughts about him, because like I say, she separated us so much. He acted very strange once he married her. And when he did die, she didn't even call me up. I read about his death in the newspaper. And when I went to the funeral home, he was already cremated.

KING: Janet, what do you think?

JANET NEUMAR, FATHER-IN-LAW WAS BETTY NEUMAR'S MOST RECENT HUSBAND: Well, I think it very strange. I mean, it's a sad thing when you read about your own father's death in the obituaries and then when you go to the funeral home -- it was just such a strange service. The man had bought a plot -- a double plot when Mrs. -- the first Mrs. Neumar died. And it has a tombstone on it, but Neumar in the middle -- the name Neumar in the middle with Virginia, that's his first wife's name, on one side.

He fully intended to be buried next to her, not cremated. And it was just a -- such a cold, cold service. And like I said, when we walked in her, mouth fell almost to the floor. We sat on the back pew. We didn't even get to sit up front. I mean it was just a -- it was just terrible. It was just terrible.

KING: Mark Boone, would the suspicion there be what, poison?

BOONE: Well, that's what they're looking into. Of course, the charge here in North Carolina came first, when they reopened this murder case from 1986, some 22 years ago, and actually charged Betty Neumar with solicitation for murder. That's when they called up those folks down in Augusta, Georgia. They realized Betty Neumar was living there and learned that her husband passed away just in October of last year, found out that he died of sepsis. That is some intestinal bleeding, is what they know.

And they think that -- they know that arsenic poisoning is one thing that can cause that. But there could have been other medical reasons for that. And that's why the Augusta authorities have seized those ashes. They hope to test those ashes for the presence of a heavy metal, specifically arsenic, to see if that toxis -- toxicity, I should say, was there.

KING: And Betty Neumar had more than a few...

BOONE: The lawyer...

KING: Hold on.

Betty Neumar had more than a few secrets in her life. One's a shocker that our next guest uncovered, next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'd like for her to know that that was the prettiest outfit I'd ever seen her on the other day, in that orange outfit with them pretty bracelets. It's a long time overdue.


KING: We have another comment from Al Gentry in a moment.

But Mitch White joins us in Charlotte. An Associated Press correspondent, Mitch is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist.

We understand there's some other weird things about this, that she had children people didn't know about?


This case has just taken so many twists and turns. And one of the fascinating things is that there's really not a paper trail on Betty. And we've had to dig into her past and had some help with our A.P. library in New York.

But what we discovered is that before 1986, there really isn't much, you know, as far as where she lived when her husbands were but after relentless digging were find out that her first husband died in '52, second husband died in 1954. And at some point she moved to Florida and she married a third husband.

And the third husband's death, while the first two the police are saying were really suspicious -- the third husband's death, she was actually in a room with him. And his name was Richard Sills (ph). She claimed that they got into an argument and in the middle of the argument, he pulled out a gun and shot himself. Police eventually ruled it was self-inflicted and then she moved on and three years later married Harold Gentry.

KING: John Neumar, does all this shock you?

J. K. NEUMAR: Once I started hearing all this, that's when I really -- I've always had funny feelings or suspicions about the way she treated us and pushed us away from my father. And now, as I have had time to think about it, no, it doesn't shock me. It really doesn't shock me.

KING: Al Gentry, does it shock you?

GENTRY: Not really, knowing her it doesn't. But I want to go back toward the beginning, where you was talking about her, about the solicitation. This solicitation taking place three times before my brother was killed.

KING: You mean hiring someone?

GENTRY: Yes. She went to someone three times before he was killed. And it keeps coming up on the news that people comes in and says he was -- she had solicited it. And it was like it happened afterwards. It did not happen afterwards. What I understand it was three times. One time for 10,000, dollars. One time for an '85 GMC pickup, a camper truck, and then back this one guy had another business and she offered to buy something from him, and she didn't even want the product.

KING: Go ahead.

WEISS: I was just going to say that what Al said is correct. And one of the most disturbing aspects of the entire case is that you did have somebody come forth and warn police before the murder that she was out there trying to hire someone. And --

KING: Wow.

WEISS: And the thing is, two of the lead investigators in the case are dead, and I spoke to the former sheriff. He said that he had a stroke and he couldn't remember details of the case. But I've also talked to another investigator who was hedging a little bit and he -- you could tell that he just knew a lot more than he wanted to say.

KING: OK, I've got to --

(CROSSTALK) KING: All right. John -- hold it, hold it, Al, hold it. John Neumar and Janet Neumar, thank you very much for being with us. We have a statement from Charles Parnell (ph), the attorney for Betty Neumar, who says, "I wish to remind the public that Betty Neumar is only charged in the state of North Carolina. She has no other charges pending against her. Our rules in North Carolina provide certain parameters about what I can comment upon at this point. No discovery has been provided to me by the district attorney, but I have been assured that they can get that to me as quickly as they can. Meanwhile, she's presumed innocent and I further remind everyone that much of what they've heard thus far in the media is pure speculation."

We'll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: North Carolina investigators say this 76- year-old grandmother got away with murder for 22 years. They believe Betty Neumar murdered her fourth husband. Now Richmond County is investigating the death of her fifth.


KING: And we understand if it weren't for Al Gentry and his persistence, there may not have been an arrest. Al Gentry remains with us, as does Mitch Weiss. Now we're joined by Dr. Robi Ludwig, pyscho-therapist, best selling author of "Til Death Do Us Part, Love, Marriage and the Mind of the Killer Spouse," and Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky forensics expert and professor at John Jay College of criminal justice.

Dr. Kobilinsky, how do you get away with something like this?

DR. LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC EXPERT: Well, it's a good question. First of all, suspicion or speculation is not going to be enough to have a trial or a conviction. I think the strongest case here lies in the Gentry situation, Harold Gentry's death. The other cases are mysterious. And the problem is, there isn't enough physical evidence to tie her to these deaths. And I think that is the issue.

It's very suspicious, but what's the evidence that actually links her to these other mysterious deaths?

KING: Dr. Ludwig, what would cause someone to do this?

DR. ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHO-ANALYST: You know, these women tend to be very angry with men, obviously. And in some cases, it's strictly for profit. They pursue a man that has money and when the money runs out, that's when they get rid of them. Although in Betty's case, it's very interesting, because she tended to go towards military men. So my thought about that is that she was looking for a man to protect her. And when they failed her, she eliminated them. So it was a combination of profit and rage.

KING: Al, if she killed your brother, why do you think she killed your brother, or had him killed?

GENTRY: Profit.

KING: What, insurance?

GENTRY: Profit. I think she did it for money because after she had -- after he died, and the way she come in that night, at her house, she sold a lot of antiques they had, because he worked in Germany on clocks, for clocks, antique clocks, or for a piece furniture. When he moved back here, he had 101 antique clocks. All right, they build this house in '77. After he died, she went and she didn't sell this house. She went to the bank and borrowed the money on it. And she went to Augusta and never made a payment on it.

KING: Mitch, do you think it was for profit, if she did it?

WEISS: If you look at the last two husbands, without a doubt, it was. We were going through the records, especially with John Neumar. We found that John Neumar was probably worth about 200,000 dollars. He had inherited about 60,000 dollars from a family member and his house was paid off. He had a coin collection set that was worth thousands of dollar.

And then ten years later, if you look at the bankruptcy filing, she collected 43 credit cards with over 206,000 dollars in debt. She filed chapter seven and those debts were wiped out. So if you take what he had going into the marriage and what she ran up during the marriage, you would see it was almost 400,000 dollars. Where did that money go?

KING: Dr. Kobilinsky, the officially of John Neumar's death is officially listed as sepsis. What is sepsis and could you induce sepsis?

KOBILINSKY: Sepsis is actually an inflammation around the body, usually caused by some pathogen, bacteria, fungus, or some other pathogen. Usually, there's fever. There's problems with various organ systems. And there are times when the diagnosis can be confused between, for example, arsenic poisoning and sepsis.

But remember that this is most likely a hospital pathologist or the treating physician that signed the death certificate and called it sepsis. It could have been much more nefarious if there was poison involved. However, the problem is that the body was cremated. And cremation is a great way to stop a medical legal investigation.

KING: How do you think, Dr. Kobilinsky, you can get away with this, if she did it?

KOBILINSKY: Well, the issue is not to have physical evidence or get rid of the physical evidence. So, if in fact he was poisoned, as some people are alleging, Mr. Neumar, if that were the case, cremation would be the way to do it. You see, cremation raises the temperature to such a high level -- you know, probably around 1,100 or 1,200 degree centigrade, such that the body is brought down to skeletal remains and then the skeletal fragments. It's then pulverized into ashes. If there was arsenic present, it would have become volatile.

LUDWIG: But there's a psychological --

KING: I'll bring you right in, but hold it. Thanks, Dr. Kobilinsky. What could the possible defense of Betty Neumar be? That side of the story after the break.


KING: Chris Amolsch, a defense attorney, will join us in Washington.

But Robi Ludwig was going to say something before the break. What was it, Robi?

LUDWIG: There's also a psychological component. We don't tend to think of women as being dangerous. And we certainly don't think of wives and family members as being suspicious for the most part. And these black widows tend to be smarter than most killers. So they study about poisons and what kinds of ailments it can mimic. So they're very, very clever and they're also not acting in the spur of the moment. So they're very dangerous in that regard.

KING: Reminds us of "Arsenic and Old Lace." Chris Amos, what do you make of this story?

CHRIS AMOLSCH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think this trial is going to be one in pre-trial motion. If the jury is able to hear about the other four alleged victims in this case in the trial of the current victim, I think that she's going to have a very difficult time.

KING: But how can they hear about it? That's not introducible, is it?

AMOLSCH: It is if the government can show it's part of a larger pattern. In general, you're not allowed to be convicted of something simply because you're a bad person. But if the government can establish it, they can put in evidence of prior similar acts, to show this part of a larger pattern, and is therefore relevant to whether she did this murder as opposed to the other ones as well.

But as your earlier guests talked about, those are so far removed and so different than this one, it's going to be a big fight. But that's where this is going to be won or lost, not necessarily a trial.

KING: What about her age?

AMOLSCH: Her age is going to factor into it for sure, from a sympathetic point of view. The jury is going to have a hard time looking at her and seeing a cold-blooded killer. So the prosecutors are going to do everything they can, I would imagine, to give the jury not only evidence of this murder, but the other four that they say she also participated in. And if --

KING: Mitch? I'm sorry, go ahead, Chris. AMOLSCH: If the jury is able to hear that, if the judge makes the decision that the jury is able to consider those other four mysterious deaths when considering her guilt in this case, it's going to be very difficult for her to prevail.

KING: Mitch, in your investigation, any mental health questions?

WEISS: Not as far as we've been able to detect. But I wanted to go back to an earlier point, Larry. That's I think it's incumbent upon police to actually go back and look at those earlier cases. Because if somehow they are suspicious, as investigators say they are, then I think we need to look into them to see what happened, to give a voice to possible victims. So that's really important. And whatever they uncover in those earlier cases I think can also be brought into trial during the Harold Gentry case.

AMOLSCH: You would hope not. From a defense lawyer point of view, you would hope not. She's not on trial for being a bad person or being married five times. She's on trial for the murder of Mr. Gentry and it's important that the prosecution and the judge keep focused on that. And what happened 30 years ago is not really what's at issue right now.

KING: The bail of 500,000 dollars, you think that's excessive?

AMOLSCH: It is excessive. When you look at the standard for bail, it's is the person going to flee the jurisdiction and are they a danger to the community? I meaning, obviously, the allegation of murder is a serious one, so there is the dangerous element; you can't deny that. But the idea that she's going to be able to go anywhere or leave the jurisdiction or flee I think is kind of extreme. But 500,000 dollars, I think it probably kept the public happy and made everybody understand how serious a charge this is.

KING: Al, I wish you the best. You've gone through a lot and you have prevailed a lot. Now you've got an arrest coming. Let's see what happen. And Mitch Weiss, thanks for your reporting. And Dr. Ludwig, as always. And Chris Amolsch, thanks very much for your views.

Severed feet are washing ashore in Canada. I'm not kidding. What's going on? We'll talk about it when LARRY KING LIVE returns.


KING: A strange story out of Canada; five human feet have washed up on the shores of British Columbia in the last 11 months. What was thought to be a sixth foot turned up yesterday. It was actually a hoax. To give us some insight into these bizarre occurrences, in Seattle is Curtis Ebbesmeyer, a scientist who studies ocean currents, "Floatsametrics (ph) and the floating World" is his new book. Dr. Larry Kobilinsky returns, the forensic expert. And in Vancouver is Ted Field, Vancouver Global TV reporter.

Ted, what's going on? TED FIELD, VANCOUVER GLOBAL TV: Oh, it's a weird one. I've been a reporter around here for over 20 years and never seen anything quite like this. As you pointed out, it started last summer when a couple of feet encased in running shoes floated up on some isolated islands in Georgia's Strait. If you've ever taken a cruise ship, a trip from Vancouver or Seattle up towards Alaska, it's probably the first couple of hours. That's where this is taking place. It's the Georgia Strait area.

At that time, our CP officer said this sort of idea would be about a million to one shot, with two feet floating up within a few days. Since then, as you pointed out, the total is now five. Yesterday, we thought we had the sixth, but it was a really horrible pranks, a hoax, where someone stuck an animal foot in a sock, wrapped it in seaweed and put it in running shoes. Somebody found it.

I'm sorry, when you've got people who have missing loved ones, it's really frustrating for them. So it's a case where we have five now and the police are really stumped. That's led to wild speculation. That speculation now because it's up to five has led to worldwide speculation about what might be happening.

KING: Curtis, first, what are Floatsametrics? What is that?

CURTIS EBBESMEYER, OCEANOGRAPHER: It's the study, Larry, of everything that floats on the ocean.

KING: What an interesting topic. I had 100 guys I grew up with, not one wanted to be an expert in Floatsametrics. What do you make of this, Curtis?

EBBESMEYER: Well, we have had three turn up in the northern end of the Strait of Georgia and two at the mouth of the Fraser River. So we've got two clusters. Some of them could have washed down the Fraser River. Three of them could have come from maybe an airplane crash up at the northern end of the Straight of Georgia. They're separated by about 100 miles.

KING: Dr. Kobilinsky, can we study them and find out anything?

KOBILINSKY: Absolutely. I think the first thing to look at are whether or not there are tool marks on the remaining bones. Normally, tissue will decompose and the bones will become disarticulated. That may be what we're looking at.

KING: Ted, you said plane crash. Are you investigating any plane crashes occurring near that area, or could it have come from miles away?

FIELD: Yes, well there was a plane crash nearby in the Georgia Strait about three years ago, and many of the family members -- four of the bodies were not recovered. So some of those family members, DNA has been taken from them. They're trying to compare that to see if that's a possibility. But along with that, the speculation has been, what, is there a serial killer? That's still just pure speculation. Is it a case where there's been gang violence in the area? The gangs have been escalating in the Vancouver area.

But at this point, people are now even talking about, is this tsunami victims? Is it wash that comes from elsewhere. But it sounds like most of the experts are talking, it's got to be fairly localized, where these feet are coming from.

KING: Curtis, you know currents, how far away could the feet have travelled?

EBBESMEYER: The remains have been found in the Strait of Georgia, which is a pretty isolated body of water. So it's highly likely that the remains entered the water around the Strait of Georgia. The tsunami stuff is 10,000 miles away, and that's just way out of the question. So we're dealing probably with remains that entered the Strait of Georgia around the edge or perhaps tossed overboard or maybe in a plane crash.

KING: Dr. Kobilinsky, can you identify people from feet alone?

KOBILINSKY: Well, the answer is yes. You can extract DNA, either from whatever tissue remains or from the bone. But it doesn't do you any good unless you have something to compare it to. My understanding, at this point, is that there was this plane crash. There were four victims. But the comparisons of DNA show that there were no relationships here. So there is a mystery, who -- what is the source of these body parts?

KING: Dr. -- I mean Ted Field, are the residents considering this very serious or kind of funny?

FIELD: Well, no, I mean, it's very serious. Obviously, we've had missing people cases in Vancouver before. We've seen weird things. Years ago, we had a pig farmer just recently convicted of serial murders. So we've seen strange happenings in Vancouver in the past. So the big thing, too, is that we're hoping that the police and -- the public are hoping that the police don't say, well, who knows what this is going to be; it doesn't get enough attention. It sounds like the police are taking this very seriously, because of these other high-profile incidents.

And we've had other people go missing along the lower mainland area. So DNA is being collected. The other frustration is sometimes labs are so backed up that they don't get the information to us quickly enough. So until the police star telling us some more detail, there's going to be continuous speculation about where these feet are coming from.

KING: Curtis, have your studies ever brought you into this kind of thing?

EBBESMEYER: Larry, I've worked with skulls floating 80 miles. I've worked with a skeleton floating 2,000 miles. But never -- I've never had a case where we've had an assemblage of feet. That's -- we've got like five bodies. And just to have the feet wash up is bizarre.

KING: Dr. Kobilinsky, is there a difference between the male and female foot?

KOBILINSKY: Yes, indeed. You can do genetic testing. There's what we call a locust called amelogenin. You can tell if it's from a male or a female.

KING: That might lead to something. The mystery goes on.

Thank you all very much. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, Dr. Larry Kobilinsky, and Ted Field. Curiouser and curiouser.

By the way, if you think your health destiny is determined by your genes and there's nothing you can do about it, think again. Exciting new research by Dr. Dean Ornish and his colleagues shows lifestyle changes, like better diet and more exercise, and improved stress management, trigger genetic changes in a small group of men with prostate cancer. We have a link to this ground breaking reach. Head to for information that could change your life. And check out our picture galleries, download our podcasts or send upcoming guests an e-mail.

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