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CNN Larry King Live

U.S. Marshal Found Dead in Mexico; Obama: Plugged-In President; Interview with Jack Cafferty

Aired March 26, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, breaking news -- another killing in the murder capital of Mexico and this time it's a U.S. marshal found dead. Anderson Cooper reports on the war next door and why it's a huge threat to America.

Then, President Obama's town hall -- online.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I actually want a universal health care system. That is our goal.


KING: Gimmick or good government?

Plus, the so-called Smiley Face murders and the seem to me of controversy surrounding the deaths of dozens of men.

Are they linked by this symbol left by the killer or killers?

Are they murders at all?

Desperate families here demanding answers now on LARRY KING LIVE.

Breaking news tonight -- the death of a U.S. marshal in Mexico.

Anderson Cooper is in Texas tonight.

And he's got the latest from the border -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, his body was found in a ditch, shot in the back of the head, reportedly. Exactly who did that, we do not know.

What we do know is that Vincent Bustamante was a 17 veteran -- 17-year veteran of the U.S. Marshals Service. He was a deputy U.S. marshal, also, a former police officer here in the City of El Paso.

He wound up on the other side of the border, though, in Juarez. And that is where his life ended.

He actually crossed over into Mexico on March 17. A bench warrant in the United States was issued for his arrest because he failed to appear in a court date on March 18th, where he was supposed to plead guilty to stealing weapons from the U.S. Marshals Service, which he tried to pawn at a pawn shop here in Texas.

Exactly why he was doing that is not known. Clearly, there was a lot going on in this deputy marshal's life. The Marshals Service has confirmed that he was not killed in the line of duty.

So there's a lot of questions -- probably more questions than there are answers right now as to exactly what he was doing and whether or not he had any connection with any of the drug cartels which have caused so much havoc just on -- frankly, on both sides of the border.

And, Larry, we got a very intimate look at the operations of drug cartels. We spoke with a mid-level -- a man who claimed to be a mid- level member of an active Mexican drug cartel operating on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Now, his claims of being a member have been verified by two trusted sources who have spent a long time working in this region. We -- we agreed to not use his name and to conceal his identity.

But here's some of what he told us about life in the cartel and the violence that is now plaguing Mexico.


COOPER: You know, there's always been -- been violence associated with -- with drug routes...


COOPER: Clearly, we have some problem with that sound. We'll try to get that back for you, Larry, though. But we have a lot move more of that interview tonight on "360" at the top of the hour -- Larry.

KING: Thanks.

Hang right there, Anderson.

Gary Tuchman is also with us.

He's in Tucson, Arizona.

Gary's been investigating how easy it is to get drugs across the border from Mexico into the United States.

How easy?

What have you found?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry we spent the night with the Border Patrol here in the Tucson sector. Of all the border states next to Mexico, the four states, more drugs are seized in Arizona than any other state. That's why we wanted to spend time with the Border Patrol here.

And among the highlights we saw -- or low lights, we saw a truck pulled over at a checkpoint about 30 miles north of the border. The truck was full of tomatoes, Larry -- thousands of pounds of tomatoes. Now, if you looked at it, you wouldn't have thought anything of it.

However, the drug dogs were sniffing. They thought there was something unusual going on in the truck. They looked inside the truck, brought it back to the Border Patrol station.

And we saw something that was really hard to believe, because it just looked like tomatoes. When they went aboard, though, there were bales and bales of marijuana -- 40 bales of marijuana, 908 eight pounds at $800 a pound on the street. It was $720,000 worth of marijuana in one truck.

They arrested the driver. But that's three quarters of a million dollars of marijuana now off the streets.

KING: That's Gary Tuchman in Tucson.

We have now made up for the error earlier and have put together the little piece that Anderson Cooper did. You'll see the entire thing on his own show at the top of the hour.

But here's that piece with a member of the Mexican drug cartel.



COOPER: You know, there's always been -- been violence associated with drug routes. There's always been violence associated with the trafficking of drugs. But it seems like the violence has changed. I mean, you're seeing beheadings now -- public executions.

Why has the nature of the violence changed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The nature of the violence has changed because the message they want to send out to the other cartel -- it's a message to the opposite cartel telling them hey, this is -- this is what's going to happen if we get you.

COOPER: So by -- by cutting off people's heads, they're sending a message?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they are, letting them know who it's -- who is it coming from and who's -- who's -- who's giving out the orders and who is it going for.

COOPER: How much does it cost to get somebody killed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, across the border, it's $100.

COOPER: $100?


COOPER: In Mexico today? If you wanted to have somebody killed in Mexico, it would cost $100?


COOPER: What about in the United States?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe $500 to $1,000.


KING: Unbelievable.

You'll see most of that, or if not the entire interview, on "A.C. 360" with Anderson Cooper.

You went out on patrol, Anderson, with the Mexican military earlier today in Juarez.

What was that like?

COOPER: It's interesting, Larry. You know, Juarez used to be a bustling city -- a lot of Americans going over there, you know, several times a day, crossing over from El Paso. You don't really see any Americans in Juarez these days. A lot of shops are boarded up. A lot of the nightclubs are closed down.

And it is basically an occupied city now. The Mexican military -- there's about 5,000 Mexican soldiers there going on patrol every single day. The level of violence is dramatically down.

I talked to the mayor -- you talked to him last night, Larry. At the worst of it, in February, they were having about 10 murders a day. They're now averaging about one murder every two days. That's a big change in the City of Juarez.

The question is, how long can the military stay there?

There's two problems with corruption with the local police force. They're trying to rebuild the national police force, the federal police.

But it is a very dangerous situation right now -- Larry.

KING: You'll see a lot more with Anderson Cooper on "A.C. 360" at the top of the hour.

And we thank Gary Tuchman for reporting from Tucson.

President Obama went high tech with his own town hall today. We'll check it out next.

What did you think of it?

Go to and tell us.

Stick around.


KING: Let's meet a top notch panel.

In New York, Jack Cafferty, our buddy, CNN commentator. He does The Cafferty File on "THE SITUATION ROOM." And his new book is "Now or Never

Getting Down to the Business of Saving Our American Dream." There you see its cover. And we'll spend some extended time with Jack coming up.

Chris Cillizza is the -- he writes "The Fix" for political news and analysis on the space. He's also "The Washington Post's" first Web-based White House correspondent.

And in Washington, Amanda Carpenter, reporter and blogger for "The Washington Times."

President Obama held a town hall meeting today, guys, on the Internet. The Web-savvy White House is changing the way things in Washington are done.

Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When can we expect the jobs that have been outsourced to other countries to come back and be made available to the unemployed workers here in the United States?

OBAMA: Not all of these jobs are going to come back. And it probably wouldn't be good for our economy for a bunch of these jobs to come back, because, frankly, there's no way that people could be getting paid a living wage on some of these jobs.


KING: All right, Jack Cafferty, gimmick or a good idea?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN COMMENTATOR: I think it's a -- a terrific idea. But more than that, it's an extension of the campaign that got him elected president. You remember, he was the mastermind who tapped into the Internet and the small contributors -- $10, $20, $30 apiece have and raised buckets and buckets of money that eventually were used to capture the nomination and then the White House.

He promised this kind of thing in the campaign, to be transparent and open and stay in touch with the American people. And this is just another manifestation of him doing some of the things that he said he was going to do.

I think it's terrific.

KING: Chris, over 100,000 questions were submitted. Do you know how they determined what they'd use?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, REPORTER, "THE FIX," WASHINGTONPOST.COM: There was a vote, Larry. There was sort of a voted up system that allowed people -- that, you know, questions sort of emerged at the top.

But, you know, what I think is interesting, I agree with everything Jack said. But I will say, I think this is a win-win for President Obama in that it had the look and feel of transparency and accountability. But the underlying message here, it's largely a stage- managed event. There aren't any reporters there. Most of the people who are there are there at the invite of the president. Most of the people who are going to go to and ask the questions or vote the questions up are either dedicated supporters of his or people who are likely to give him good questions.

This is a prime time press conference, where it's unpredictable. This is largely a political theater event that has the look of a wide open, free-ranging discussion.

Again, it's a smart move, but we have to call it what it is.

KING: Amanda, one of the questions he took was whether or not to legalize marijuana. He said he would not. That question is getting a lot of attention.

What did you think?

AMANDA CARPENTER, REPORTER & BLOGGER, THE "WASHINGTON TIMES": Well, I question the people that allowed that question to go through, because I think it undermines the credibility in the event in a way, because it gave a lot of room for people to give jokes.

But, you know, as to whether this is a gimmick or a good idea, I think in the way that it seems an extension of his campaign makes it seem a little gimmicky.

I think people want to see him get in the practice of governing. And he's starting to become so over exposed in this campaign manner -- going on "60 Minutes," "Jay Leno," doing a prime time press conference and this the next day.

I think people want to see him direct -- you know, he's doing all of his support -- ramp up support for his budget. But I think a lot of people think he should be talking to Congress and not just the party faithful.

CAFFERTY: Can I just offer something...

KING: Jack, a bit much?

CAFFERTY: Can I just offer something on the question about marijuana?

KING: Yes. CAFFERTY: I think he made a mistake in just kind of throwing that off today. The reports at the top of your program indicate that the Mexican drug cartels are running amok not just on the border. They are active in 230 American cities because we haven't bothered to seal the border since 9/11.

The biggest drug market in the world is right here -- the United States. And it's been suggested by people a lot smarter than me if we were to legalize things like marijuana, not only do you put the cartels out of business, but you turn a $44 billion a year war on drug expenditure into a $33 billion a year tax receipt. And that swing is $77 billion and the last time I looked, we could use the money.

KING: And, Chris, even people as William F. Buckley favored legalization.

Do you think that's coming?

CILLIZZA: I don't, Larry, just because I think it's a political hot potato that Barack Obama doesn't necessarily want to touch. And while I don't disagree with Jack's point, I think Barack Obama broadly is saying I've bitten off a lot here -- restructuring the financial system of this country, a $787 billion stimulus package, a home foreclosure package.

There's a lot going on here. And I think he is -- remember, I do think all presidents look to past presidencies for lessons. I think he is wary of the controversy that surrounded Bill Clinton in the don't ask/don't tell, the gays in the military, that sidetracked Bill Clinton in many ways -- got him off track. And he struggled to get back on and pass some of his major initiatives in that crucial first year.

And so I do think Barack Obama is aware of that and is really trying to stay focused very clearly on the economy first, second, third and last.

KING: Amanda, does it -- does it puzzle you, despite all these things going on, how popular he remains?

CARPENTER: No. I think there's a reason that he is personally popular. He's very thoughtful. He's charismatic. I think he gets credit for putting himself into the public square and allowing that dialogue go to take place.

You know, people are starting -- where the anger is being directed at is toward the policies. And I don't think that the connect has been made that these are truly his policies.

But one note on the press conference is that, you know, the Treasury secretary had a major rollout of a new financial package this morning. And Obama didn't talk about that. And so I also wonder if this was a measure to try to put distance between himself and the Treasury secretary, who is unpopular right now.

KING Do you think so, Jack?

CAFFERTY: I don't know. The Treasury secretary has been a little bit of a lightning rod. But the last week or so, both times Tim Geithner has had anything to announce, the stock market has greeted those announcements with jubilation -- 500 points on the details that came out about the bank plan and up 175 points, I think, today, at least partly as a result of the things that Geithner was talking about this morning.

So -- and there are some indications that some of these policies are beginning to -- to work and to have some positive effects. We're seeing mortgage applications up at higher rates than they've been in 30 some months. Interest rates for a 30-year conventional mortgage down the lowest they've ever been in history. So people are looking to refinance their homes.

There are some scattered indications that he's having some positive effect.

CILLIZZA: You know, Larry, just real quickly. I think one of the real challenges that we will see both in the first two years and heading up to the 2010 election and the first four years of the Barack Obama presidency is he's putting into place long-term things that are, I think, going to have -- it's going to take a while for these -- for us to know whether these things succeed or fail.

The problem is, the American public has demonstrated time and time again, we are not a patient people.

KING: Yes.

CILLIZZA: And so Barack Obama continues to...

KING: You're not kidding.

CILLIZZA: ...he continues to call for patience.

KING: All right...

CILLIZZA: You see him say that almost every time he appears publicly. I think Amanda's right -- people are willing to wait with him now because they like him.

The question is, over time, if there aren't tangible signs, do they continue to stick by him or do they say this isn't working?

KING: Good point.

Thanks, group.

Jack, you stay right there, because we're coming back in just a couple of moments with Cafferty on his book.

Go to our blog and see what everybody is talking about tonight -- And we'll share your comments, in 60 seconds. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The president went online today to talk to the American people. We do it every day and night on the blog -- and, David, I've seen a lot of comments coming in and you've pulled a few for us.

DAVID THEALL, LARRY KING LIVE PRODUCER: Larry, we have pulled a couple of them.

Now, most people here, of course, who talk online are digging the fact that the president of the United States is taking questions from people online. We're hearing things like this from Debbie. She says: "I love that President Obama is taking online questions. Very savvy," says she. "Very 2009."

A couple of people -- not many at all -- a couple of people have had enough of this kind of stuff. Says one, "gimmick." He called it a "gimmick." He said: "Please stop with the schmoozing and get back to work."

Those are some of the comments that we're hearing tonight, Larry, on this -- on President Obama's online town hall today.

KING: And, David, the president covered a number of stocks today -- or topics today. But as we've said, his comments on marijuana seem to be getting much of the attention.

THEALL: Larry, get this. The White House said 3.6 million people voted online on the question that President Obama would be asked. And the president himself said today that this one on legalizing marijuana to help the economy was one of the most popular.

The president, by the way, says, no, that it won't help the economy. But any time we mention that on the blog, we get a good debate going. Somebody says: "It's not the time to end the war on drugs." But somebody chimed in and said this: "I believe the top is not going away. You had mentioned this earlier. We're debating the issue and even the president is commenting on it. I think it will be legal within a few years."

We're continuing the conversation, as we always do, Look for the blog link. Jump it. Larry and I always love reading your comments.

KING: We sure do.

Thanks, David.

Our friend, Jack Cafferty, is back.

We'll talk about his new book next.


KING: Jack Cafferty returns.

His new book "Now or Never" the title. His first book was a major best-seller.

Is it that bad, Jack, "Now or Never?"

CAFFERTY: Well, I don't know if it's that bad or not. But I think we're on the -- on the cusp of seeing a change, perhaps not for the better, in the standard of living in this country. You know, it's always been the tradition, Larry, for a couple of hundred years that the generation coming along behind this one is able to look forward to a little better life than the one we had.

I'm not sure that's going to be the case anymore. I've got four kids and some grandkids out there and I'm concerned about the kind of future that's waiting for them.

What I meant by the title "Now or Never" is that given the condition of things when Barack Obama was sworn in in January, if some of the things he's trying to do don't work and we continue down the same path of spending more than we have and running the national debt to -- to ever increasing heights, that -- that the party is going to be over and that we're all going to have to settle for a -- a reduced standard of living. I hope that doesn't happen, but it could.

KING: This book, by the way, is extraordinary of many facets, not only your take on things current, but your openness about your own life, your alcoholism.

And like why the decision to go that route, as well?

CAFFERTY: Well, the reason that I chose to share some of the personal stuff is that I -- I spend a lot of time every day on CNN, on "THE SITUATION ROOM," waxing, I would like to think, eloquently, about the issues that confront all of us and casting a sardonic and, at times, cynical and even condescending eye on some of the people who are paid with -- for leading this country.

I put some of the stuff in there about my background and my personal life to perhaps give the people who watch me on television a sense of why I tend to view things the way that I do.

The product of an alcoholic family, you learn to not trust the stuff you're confronted with on a daily basis, question everything and cast a cynical eye on what's going on around you. And I think, you know, that's part of the reason it's in there.

KING: How about dealing with loss?

Carol, your late wife, was very important to you. She passed away.

Was that sudden?

CAFFERTY: Very sudden. It was last September. She felt fine the morning I left for work. She collapsed at church that afternoon doing some volunteer work. She was rushed to the hospital and into emergency surgery that night and was dead less than 24 hours later from cardiac arrest. She never got out of the intensive care unit. It turned out that there was an aneurism on her spleen that nobody knew was there. It ruptured. It was extremely sudden. And it was -- I've never been a -- you know, a nuclear explosion, but I can't imagine it would be any worse than what happened during that 24 hours. And my two younger daughters were with me that -- during that night.

KING: How have you dealt with it?

CAFFERTY: I -- I don't know the answer to that, you know?

I'm still on the wagon, so I'm pleased about that. There was a -- there was a thought of well, I could reach for a drink and try and dull the pain. I didn't do that.

And because of these kids that -- that kind of look to me for some sort of example, I have found the strength to at least get up in the morning and do the days.

But I do them one at a time. And I miss her all the time in every way you can miss someone. She was a magnificent woman and she probably saved my life. She's the reason I got off the booze 20 years ago.

KING: How old was she?

CAFFERTY: Sixty. A young woman.

KING: You've seen -- yes.

You've seen a lot of life and you bring that to the audience very well.

Have you got a...

CAFFERTY: That's because I'm old.


KING: Yes, me, too. Yes. I love when you -- when they -- they tell you you're a legend. Yes. When you're a legend, it means you're old.

CAFFERTY: It means you're old, yes.

KING: When -- what do you say to -- in these times, with so many people in straits, do you have any words of wisdom?

CAFFERTY: No. I mean I don't presume to be smart enough to understand how people ought to deal with this, except that, you know, they did turn out in big numbers during the last election. The law of unintended consequences, I think, of eight years of what George Bush and his lads did to this country created the opportunity for this African-American gentleman that we have in the White House right now.

And I think maybe there was a reason that he showed up on our doorstep. And I hope he knows what he's doing. And if he does, then maybe we'll all be better off in the long run. Let's hope so.

In the meantime, you know, what was it they said during the campaign?

Desperate people hold their guns and their bibles close. I -- you know.

KING: You're optimistic about him?

CAFFERTY: I am, as optimistic as you can be about a politician. But I -- I see some things I like. He's smart. He's articulate. He's got some humanity about him. I mean he's marking the NCAA brackets and his wife is planting a garden outside the White House.

When was the last time we had a sense that real people live there and not these plastic figures that once they get ensconced there turn into something that we can't even recognize anymore?

KING: Jack, thanks.

The best of luck with the book.

CAFFERTY: Larry, thank you.

KING: No one deserves it more. He's -- he's one of the real good guys, Jack Cafferty. The book again, "Now or Never

Getting Down to the business of Saving Our Dream."

His first book a best-seller. This one, I predict, will go further.

Next, they're calling them the Smiley Faced murders now happening.

But are they murders at all?

It's puzzling. We'll talk about it with police, a victim's family and crime experts, right after this. Am to turn to,


KING: Now this is puzzling -- the so-called Smiley Faced murders involve the deaths of dozens of men.

But are they really homicides?

The debate has torn families and law enforcement apart.

Take a look.


KING (voice-over): Thirty five suspicious deaths in 33 cities, all men under the age of 30, found dead after a night of drinking with friends. Another link, this symbol, a smiley face painted near some of the bodies. The men were all eventually discovered in lakes or rivers.

Coincidence? Or the work of serial killers?

KEVIN GANNON, RETIRED POLICE SERGEANT: These young men are being abducted by individuals in the bars, taken out and, at some point, even held for a period of time before they are entered into the water.

KING: Retired Sergeant Kevin Gannon began his investigation in 1997, when the body of 20-year-old Patrick McNeil was found floating off a pier in Brooklyn. He was last seen with friends in a bar in Manhattan. Dozens of suspicious deaths have followed along with the haunting symbols.

Twenty four-year-old Matthew Kruziki was found dead in the Mississippi River in 2005. A smiley face spray painted on a nearby overpass.

BILL KRUZIKI, SON DIED IN 2005: Some of this case, the evidence is so compelling, this just can't be coincidental.

KING: Local officials ruled most of the deaths accidents. But Gannon and fellow retired detective Anthony Duarte (ph) say they have even more evidence tonight that proves these men didn't drown, that they were murdered.


KING: The aforementioned Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte join us. Kevin is the retired New York PD detective. He's been tracking suspicious drownings of scores of young men all over the country. He's in New York. So is Anthony Duarte, the retired New York PD detective. He's working with Gannon on what some are calling the Smiley Face murdered. And in Tampa is Dr. Cyril Wecht, forensic pathologist and attorney. He's examined autopsy reports from some of the cases that Gannon and Duarte are investigating.

Kevin, is the reason you think this is murder the smiley face nearby at all the deaths?

GANNON: That's not the only reason. Obviously, we did a lot more work than that. Besides the specificity of the group, that is so narrowly related to age, 19 to 23, highly intelligent, all very athletic young men. But besides that, we had to do all of the evidentiary work that would try to substantiate our claims that these are homicides and not just mere coincidences with a smiley face attached to it.

KING: Anthony, you have suggested these were perfect crimes. What was the typical cause of death listed on the death certificate?

ANTHONY DUARTE, RETIRED DETECTIVE: Many times it was listed as either accidental or possible suicide. And in many cases, it was also listed as undetermined.

KING: What told you it was murder? DUARTE: Well, we think in somewhere around 12 cases, we have enough evidence now that we can point it towards murder.

KING: Like?

DUARTE: Like in the Patrick McNeil case that we currently are here for, we have new evidence that we just got from the autopsy report and photos, showing that unfortunately Patrick was burned, and has a ligature on him. And this suggests to us that the medical examiner's office missed this, and this case should have been classified as a homicide.

KING: So Dr. Wecht, what they're saying is a serial killer is loose, kind of a brilliant serial killer, who can beat forensic experts. You have examined some autopsy reports. What do you make of this?

DR. CYRIL WECHT, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Larry, first of all, if I may say from a forensic, epidemiological stand point, as you pointed out in your introduction, the statistics are so stacked against this number of men, young men, Caucasian males, found in bodies of water in that cluster of states, within that period of time. Of course, there are statistical aberrations, I realize. I just wanted to point out that to the epidemiologist, it would be a weird case.

From the forensic pathology standpoint, with regard to Patrick McNeil, we have a young man who is found -- he has a blood alcohol level of 0.16. Probably a third of that is postmortem putrefaction, a quarter to a third of that. So we have a relatively low level of alcohol. There's no way in the world that this man then accidentally is going to fall into a body of water, because he as a 0.1 or a 0.12 level of alcohol.

Then he has fly larvae, that's the key thing, Larry. It brings in anthropology and entomology with pathology. Fly larvae are found in his groin. These are fly larvae that could not have been laid in that area of the body postmortem.

KING: In English, what are you saying?

WECHT: I'm saying that the fly larvae have been laid in the groin area. It's an indoor fly, could not have been an outdoor fly. It was an indoor fly. And the larvae were there, did not move ahead into the later stage. So we have a body that was already dead before it was placed in the water.

KING: I got you. You're saying he was murdered?

WECHT: I would call it a homicide, yes.

KING: Parents of one of the victims are here. Their story next.


KING: Joining us now are Pat and Jackie McNeil. Their son Patrick was a Fordham University student when he disappeared in 1997. His body was found two months later in the Hudson River. Do you think, Pat, that he was murdered?

PAT MCNEIL, SON DIED IN 1997: Yes, I do, Larry. I knew from day one it was a homicide.

KING: Because?

P. MCNEIL: Because of the information on the chief medical examiner on the autopsy report. The lines on his neck were there. The eggs were mentioned in the groin area. And I don't know whether the medical examiner did not notify the police department. But I think the chief medical examiner and the NYPD have a whole lot of explaining to do to us for the 12 years of grief that have passed. We never really got the final answers that we should have got.

KING: Jackie, You have to be impressed, if that's the right word, with what Dr. Wecht had to say?

JACKIE MCNEIL, SON DIED IN 1997. Yes, I was very impressed. Like my husband said, we always knew that something happened bad to Patrick, that it wasn't just an accident. But this brings a whole new light on it.

KING: Obviously, you don't think the police would cover up something like this? You think it's a mistake?

J. MCNEIL: I do. I think it's a mistake. I just think it probably costs money to investigate these things. And law enforcement don't have the manpower to do it. And it's just easier to say they're just drunken kids who fall into the water.

KING: So Kevin, what we're saying here, Kevin, is -- you're saying that there's a serial killer out there right now?

GANNON: Well, this isn't just one individual.

KING: How do you know?

GANNON: Because of the fact that we have a multiplicity of victims on same dates across the country. The fact that what I was trying to tell people before about the evidentiary, we went to find this evidence; we looked at the location of the body, where it was recovered, in relationship to where it should have went in, the condition of the body when it was recovered. Did it match what a body should look like at that amount of time in the water.

The position of the body, was it face down or on its back, and if the circumstances about that lividity, when the blood settles in the body after death -- it takes anywhere from eight to 12 hours. We can tell that it's not consistent with the way the person drowned. And then there's taxonomy. What we have is the evidence that leads away from where the victims were going.

We have like three other -- four other points that we use to make sure that those points are all part of the case, before we feel it is really sufficient to pursue in that level. KING: Anthony, that makes the puzzlement even greater. So we have possibly many people going around killing people, putting a smiley face. Are they copycats, Anthony? What's your read? What's your theory?

DUARTE: Well, as Kevin said earlier, it's definitely not just the smiley face. We have different clusters in different parts of the country that are tied in. Smiley face is probably the least part of it.

KING: Pat and Jackie, what do you make of the ligature markings on your son's body?

P. MCNEIL: Well, they were on -- like I said, Larry, they were on the autopsy report from day one, along with the eggs in the groin area. And I don't know how they ever missed that. The chief medical examiner, who was in charge of that, obviously turned it over to the NYPD and I don't -- I can't figure out why they didn't further investigate our son's death.

KING: I can't either. We reached out to the New York Police Department for an updated comment on Patrick McNeil's death and on the theories of former detectives Gannon and Duarte. And we received no response. Last year, the New York Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly, was quoted as saying there is nothing to suggest that Patrick's drowning or that of another young man later that same year, were the victims of serial killers.

It's a puzzlement. We'll have more in 60 seconds.


KING: We're well aware of all the grim news that must be reported. That's why we want to call attention to the other side of crime. Tonight's hero is a surgeon who confronts the effects of violence every day. Dr. Carnell Cooper treats victims at Baltimore's University Maryland Hospital. He runs an intervention program there. I asked him what led him to start it.


CARNELL COOPER, SURGEON: It was our attempt, really, Larry, to saves lives. We, at our hospital, everyday, see young people, predominantly males, who come in victims of violence, gunshot wounds, stab wounds, assaults. We spend hours in the operating room saving their lives. We spend days, weeks, months getting them through their hospitalization.

We take care of them and then they come back again. And sometimes we really can't save them that second or third time. So we asked what we could we do differently? So we put our heads together and we came up with the Violence Intervention Program.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This group has changed my life tremendously.

COOPER: What we do is try to address the issues that put that patient at risk. We try to help them get a job, for example. We try to get them into a substance abuse program.

KING: Is it working?

COOPER: It's absolutely working. We did a study several years ago now, we have lots of data that show that a hospital-based program saves lives.

KING: Thanks, Dr. Cooper, we salute you.

COOPER: Thank you for having me.

KING: Our hero of the week, Dr. Carnell Cooper, surgeon, Baltimore's University of Maryland Medical Center.


KING: There are many physicians who do incredible things every day, but there's only one Dr. Carnell Cooper and he's our hero. We'll be back with the smiley faced murder story, and a former FBI profiler after this.



KING: Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte, former New York PD detectives stay with us. Joining us from San Francisco is Candice Delong, former profiler for the FBI. We asked the FBI to comment on all this and what they told us, in essence, was they have not developed any evidence to support links between these tragic deaths. And that the vast majority appear to be alcohol-related drownings. Candice, what's your read?

CANDICE DELONG, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit looked extensively at this, in addition to using their violent criminal apprehension program, which is a computerized tracking system. And they don't see any links. I don't know if the two New York detectives have met with the profiling unit or not. And unfortunately, it's sad but true.

Now notwithstanding the Patrick McNeil case, sadly, a lot of young people do die of accidental deaths, many times drowning, on our college campuses throughout the nation.

KING: Were you impressed with what Dr. Wecht had to say?

DELONG: Yes, regarding that particular case in New York, that certainly does sound like it was a homicide. I, however, fail to see the connection between the New York case and these other midwestern cases. Perhaps we could learn.

KING: Kevin, have you met with any profilers?

GANNON: No, I have not.

KING: Any reason why you've not? GANNON: We've looked at the work that the Behavioral Science Unit, the Behavioral Analysis Unit did in La Crosse, as well as the BCI Bureau of Criminal Investigation from the state, along with the La Crosse detective bureau. When we looked at that work, in five of those cases, there was a lot of evidence that obviously was missed. In three of the cases, there's evidence leading away from where the police have -- they all say they suspect the individuals came out of the bars, walked three blocks to the Mississippi River and floated in.

As my partner Anthony always says, if you don't want the answers, don't ask the question. And they brought these dogs in and the dogs led to the river and that was it. But when the dogs led them somewhere else after that, they disregard the second part of the search, which to us is not doing a complete and open evaluation. And in two of the cases, a living witness and (INAUDIBLE) -- we can prove that that living witness was held for five hours before put in the water, as attempted murder. And Lou Coleman was dead before he went into the water, clearly.

KING: Anthony, this must boggle your mind then, feelings that you have that you feel are murders and are not being taken seriously.

DUARTE: That's exactly right, Larry. You're born with certain instincts and gut feelings. And when you feel something that's not right, chances are it's really not right. And if you see something that's not right and you don't act upon it, in essence, you're actually sanctioning that type of action.

KING: How do you respond to that, Candice?

DELONG: Well, I agree that, certainly, instincts are important. I would simply like to point out that the FBI in cases like this, where they are consulted, any additional information that comes up will be taken into consideration, and an additional assessment will be made. In this particular case, the FBI, they basically had three choices. Of course, now, I think we're looking at what, 25 to 30 deaths. But the choices would be, yes, we agree that this is -- these are murders of a serial nature. No, we totally disagree. Or this is inconclusive; we need more information. We cannot say.

And they have come out and said they don't see any evidence of a serial nature.

KING: At this point. Thanks, Candice. We'll come back and we'll talk to a gang specialist from a school where an alleged victim went missing. Stay with us.


KING: Gannon and Duarte remain in New York. Joining us from Minneapolis is Dr. Lee Gilbertson. He's a gang specialist and associate professor, department of criminal justice studies at St. Cloud State Universities. He's been working with the detectives, examining possible linkages between the case. He got involved -- what, a student in your school was one of those found dead?

DR. LEE GILBERTSON, ST. CLOUD STATE UNIVERSITY: Yes, Larry, Scott Ragle (ph) back in February of 2006.

KING: What were the circumstances?

GILBERTSON: Scott was downtown with his friends drinking and he became separated from them. And he was supposed to meet them in one direction at a bar, and ended up going the opposite direction. Later, he was found drowned in the Mississippi River.

KING: What are your thoughts? You heard the FBI specialist say that a lot of kids die of drowning every year.

GILBERTSON: Well, that's true, Larry. But if you actually look at the statistics on drownings, most drownings occur during the summer and they're related to water activities like boating and water skiing and things like that. Very few drownings actually occur during the winter. And those are generally associated with ice fishing and snow- mobiling and things like that, up in our northern region.

When I looked at these cases, the first thing that jumped out at me was the victimological profile. It's not a normal distribution. You don't have tall, fat people or tall, skinny people, and short fat or skinny people. They're all right in the middle. The profile is very, very thin. The standard deviation is only 0.4 on their weight and height.

As I started working on this more and more, I found that there were six distinct patterns that told me that these cases were linked. Now, if you're going to do -- all of my careers, whether I was a signal intelligence analyst in the Army and now I teach crime mapping to my students. So I look for patterns. I use criminology and victimology. If you're going to look for serial crimes, the first thing you have to do is determine which of these events that you're looking at are crimes, in fact, and then look for the patterns.

Unlike most of the other blogging sites out there on the Internet, they're using religious medallions and things like that to link the cases. That's jumping to step two. You need to start with step one. That's what Gannon and Duarte are doing.

My part of it is step two, link the cases. I found six patterns, the victimological, the profile of the victims. It's consistent. It's tight.


KING: All right. Go ahead.

GILBERTSON: I have spatial profiles across the United States, as well as where they land within the city. Time, I've gotten really good at predicting the time. But it really distresses me that I can't pick the location. Evidentiary, Kevin alluded to it. In many of the cases, if you follow the trail where evidence was reintroduced into the scene after the search or dogs tracked them in one direction, between 150 and 180 degrees in the opposite direction is where you found the body.

Symbolic is next one --

KING: Because of time limitations, doctor, I'm going to break it down to what do you believe is going on?

GILBERTSON: I believe, looking at these different patterns, as they're put together, that we have a large group that operates under one ideology across the United States, broken up and working, operating, however you want to describe it, in separate cells under a schedule to commit these crimes.

KING: So it's a group of people in different parts of the country killing people, leaving that smiley face as an example. And there's a pattern to it and there's a common belief among the killers.

GILBERTSON: There is a common belief. And the fourth member of our team, Adam Carlson, that's his area. And is he tells us, it's actually homogenation of four political and religious beliefs.

KING: We're out of time. We're going to do a lot more on this. WE thank Kevin Gannon, Anthony Duarte, Dr. Lee Gilbertson.

DUARTE: Thanks so much for having us.

KING: Thank you, guys. Tavis Smiley is going to be here tomorrow. The Mexican drug battle goes on. In the middle of it, tonight, Anderson Cooper reporting from the border on the war next door, right now on "AC 360." Anderson?