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American Morning

Survival Story; Media Reports From Spain Say Fidel Castro Near Death

Aired January 16, 2007 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Survival story, details of Shawn Hornbeck's kidnapped, but connected life on line, a cell phone, and a chance encounter with police that could have saved him.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Some developing news about the health of Fidel Castro. New speculation the Cuban leader is on his death bed. We're live.

And danger zone: Snow and ice from coast to coast. Hundreds of thousands still without heat and electricity this morning.

S. O'BRIEN: And from the ruins of Hurricane Katrina, a frozen embryo rescued, and that baby about to be born today on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning. Welcome back, everybody. I'm Soledad O'Brien, reporting from Kirkwood, Missouri, this morning. In fact, we're right in front, Miles, of the suspect Michael Devlin's home this morning.

M. O'BRIEN: Good morning, Soledad. I'm Miles O'Brien in New York. Tuesday, January 16th. We thank you for being with us.

Soledad, back to you.

S. O'BRIEN: Let me give you a little walking and talk. You're going to lose my light a little bit, but if you'll bear with me I just want to take you down to the stairs here. Let's go down this way.

This is the apartment that, of course, attracted so much police attention. If you come right down here. You can see right here Apartment D. This is Michael Devlin's apartment. Now, one of the things police noticed was that on other side is that actually some of these windows don't even have any screens on them. Any shades on them. And so they pointed out how, one, the close the neighbors are, and, two, how open.

So, when you have someone like Shawn Hornbeck, who, allegedly, was living right here with Michael Devlin, it raises so many questions.

Why weren't any of the things that we see as red flags now noticed by the neighbors? And keep in mind, this is a very close apartment complex, buildings like this, five of them in each one. And then, of course, it goes down this way. But homes across the street, homes down the road. This is not an isolated community. This is not inherently a great place to hide.

This morning we're going to be talking a little bit more about that, missed opportunities, and a really great opportunity that was taken by two police officers who really made a big break in this case -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Soledad. Back with you in just a moment.

First, a developing story. Fidel Castro may be on his death bed. A Spanish newspaper is reporting the Cuban leader is in very grave condition with an intestinal infection. Al Goodman is in Madrid, and Morgan Neill, live from Havana. Let's begin with Al where the news broke.

Al, good morning.


Well, "El Pais", Spain's largest-circulation newspaper published on its front page this day, that the Cuban leader Fidel Castro has undergone three operations, intestinal surgery, but complications have set in, "El Pais" says, and he is in very serious condition.

The newspaper cites medical sources at a Madrid hospital. That's the same hospital where the chief surgeon, last month, went to Cuba at the request of Cuban authorities, to examine Fidel Castro.

I caught up with that chief surgeon, Doctor Jose Louis Garcia Sabrito (ph), this morning, at the Madrid hospital. He said several things. First, he is not the source for the Madrid newspaper story. Secondly, he says it is without foundation, because all the credible information, he says, about Fidel Castro's health must come from Fidel Castro's own medical team.

And the Doctor Sabrito (ph) says he goes back to what he said publicly in the December 26 news conference, in Madrid, after he got back from Cuba, in which he said Fidel Castro is recovering from intestinal surgery. He does not have cancer. And perhaps he might be good enough to get back to work someday. That's according to the doctor.

Since then, Miles, we've talked to another source in Madrid, known to CNN. This source tells us that information that's now in the newspaper has been circulating at the hospital for the past couple of weeks. This source tells us the information appears to be reliable -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Al Goodman doing a lot of legwork on this story. We're trying to sort it out for you. Let's go to down Havana. CNN is the only U.S. television network to have a correspondent based in Cuba. Morgan Neil is that person. He's there live.

Morgan, obviously, the government denying most everything that Al just said. MORGAN NEILL, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING: Well, so far, actually, Miles, we have no reaction whatsoever from the government on these reports, from here in Cuba. Nor do we expect one, necessarily. They often don't report on these -- this speculation, unsourced reports, about the president's health.

What we do hear consistently is that he is recovering well. Now, the government here does regard details of his condition as a state secret. Since he -- since President Fidel Castro handed over power on July 31st to his brother, we haven't seen him in public. What we have seen most recently is a video. That's the video we've been seeing on the screens there that was released in October.

In that video you see the president walking with some difficulty, awkwardly. He has lost a great deal of weight. He himself said through state media, at one point, he lost 41 pounds since he first became ill.

Now, even after the visit of the Doctor Garcia Sabrito (ph), it's worth noting that state media in Cuba didn't publish the reports that came out in Spain, his comments on the president's condition.

As I say, Cuban officials have said throughout the president's recovery is going well. And the most recent message we've gotten from the president, through state media, he said, is his condition was far from a lost battle. And that he had warned all along his recovery would be a prolonged process -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Morgan Neill in Havana, thank you very much. Coming up, we'll talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta about what Fidel Castro might be suffering from -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Miles, thanks.

There are reports in local papers about threats of violence that may have been made against Shawn Hornbeck, and that may have explain how the boy could have stayed here, as is alleged, by investigators, for years with the suspect, Michael Devlin. It's really been quite a surprising turn of events as the investigation continues back in Shawn's hometown, though, they are absolutely joyous and trying to figure out what to do next. Sean Callebs has that side of the story.

Good morning.


It was great. We spent yesterday in Richwoods. It is about an hour and a half from where we are now. People there say that it is great to see the signs go from the missing persons to "Welcome home, Shawn". And the community, indeed, his old friends are ready to do everything they can to welcome him home.


CALLEBS (voice over): Richwoods, Missouri, has one country store, one post office, and now one of the best-known 15-year-olds in the nation.


Those who knew Shawn Hornbeck best when he disappeared more than four years ago, say they never gave up hope. His classmates at the last school he attended, Richwoods Elementary:

SAVANNA PRUITT, SHAWN'S FORMER CLASSMATE: Everybody kind of had a gut feeling that they would see him, but they didn't know where they would find him, or when they would see him.

CALLEBS: Ryan Messix and Shawn were close friends who did everything together. He was one of the last people to see Shawn in Richwoods.

RYAN MESSIX, SHAWN'S FORMER CLASSMATE: I remember playing basketball the day that he came up missing. Me, and him, and my brother were down at the Lion's Club with some of my family.

CALLEBS: Whether fliers hit the region after Shawn was reported missing, the two former classmates joined hundreds of people who searched the area. Family and close friends suspected Shawn was kidnapped, right from the start. They say he never stayed out after the sun went down.

KIM EVANS, FAMILY FRIEND: He wouldn't come out and say I am afraid of the dark, but he was afraid of the dark, so when dark came, something is wrong.

CALLEBS: Kim Evans is among the family's inner circle, working with the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation. She says the past four years have been hard on Shawn's mother and stepfather leaving Pam Akers almost gaunt from stress.

(On camera): How did they know Shawn is out there, he is coming home safely?

EVANS: That's a rough one. I don't know if they did always know he was. They just always hoped he was, and they said we're not giving up.

CALLEBS: Shawn's old friends say they can't wait to catch up, and do what they can to make him feel as though he is home.

MESSIX: Hope to have a party, or something, so we can meet with him.

CALLEBS: But that will come later. The community is incredibly protective of the family. And what they need most, they say, is time alone.


CALLEBS: Boy, four years say long time. Those kids were 11 years old when Shawn left. Now they've moved on to high school. But, Soledad, you get the genuine sense that everybody down there really wants to do what they can to welcome him home, do what they can to get him back into the school system. The superintendent, everybody. That community could not have its arms open wider right now.

S. O'BRIEN: The family wants privacy, but, of course, the story is making headlines each and every day.

CALLEBS: Indeed.

S. O'BRIEN: Shawn Callebs for us. Thank you, Sean.

Back to you in New York, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Soledad.

Happening this morning, Senator Barak Obama apparently taking the first steps toward running for president. A source close to the Illinois Democrat says he is poised to file papers forming an exploratory presidential committee. A Chicago TV station says Obama may make a campaign visit to Iowa this weekend.

Jury selection underway today in Washington as the trial of Lewis Scooter Libby begins. The one-time chief of staff of Vice President Cheney charged with lying to investigators trying to find out who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to reporters in 2003.

Plame's husband had raised questions about how the intelligence used by the white House to justify the Iraq war. The president is scheduled testify at that trial.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Saudi Arabia this morning. Saudi officials telling her that Arab countries are ready to back the U.S. plan to stabilize Iraq, but the Saudis say it's up to the Iraqis to make the plan work.

Watch out, Texas. More freezing rain on the way, and more freeze warnings for Arizona and California this morning. It's the lingering after taste of a huge winter storm that swept across the country.


M. O'BRIEN (voice over): It stretches from Mexico to Maine. Cold, dry air from Canada and warm, moist air from the Gulf creating a potent mix of freezing rain, sleet, and snow. From coast-to-coast trees, power lines, and roads glazed with ice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I prefer snow, any time, any day. Ice, they can keep that.

M. O'BRIEN: The big storm took more than 40 lives in six states; at least 17 of those in Oklahoma. About a half million homes from Oklahoma to New Hampshire are dark and cold this morning, and it could be days before the lights come back on.

MARTIN MURRAY, PUBLIC SERVICE CO., NEW HAMPSHIRE: All the crews that we have available are working, and we're going to try to get just as many customers as we can back, restored with power as quickly as we can.

M. O'BRIEN: In the West big losses for California's billion- dollar citrus industry. Orange growers say three-quarters of this year's crop may have already been destroyed.

Even in the desert they are feeling it. In Las Vegas some of the coldest temperatures in a decade. Looking for a quick warm up? The National Weather Service says, don't bet on it.


M. O'BRIEN: Chad Myers has the forecast coming up. Plus, back to Soledad live in Missouri. And a closer look at what happened to Shawn Hornbeck after he was kidnapped some four years ago. The clues he might have left online.

Plus, an amazing sign of life coming out of Katrina's floodwaters. Today, the payoff for this unusual Katrina rescue. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING, the news in the morning is on CNN.


M. O'BRIEN: About a quarter past the hour. Let's get a quick check on the "Travelers' Forecast". Chad Myers with that.


S. O'BRIEN: Did you know that 16 months after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, we are going to meet the tiniest survivor of the hurricane today. He -- or it might actually be a she, we don't know -- because we're talking about a frozen embryo that was rescued from a fertility clinic, implanted, and then became a baby. Susan Roesgen, this morning, is in Saint Tammany Parish Hospital, which is in Covington, Louisiana, with an update on this story for us.

Good morning, Susan.


You know, we are now less than an hour away from the C-section birth of a Katrina survivor.


ROESGEN: For days after the hurricane rescuers navigated the flood to find survivors, but what this group was searching for could save as many as 1,400 babies who weren't even born then. Rebecca Markham is about to give birth to one of them.

REBEKAH MARKHAM, MOTHER: Come here. Stop right here.

ROESGEN: Rebecca, and her husband, Glen, have a two-year-old son conceived by in vitro fertilization. Now they're going to have their second in vitro baby, born from a frozen embryo. It's an embryo that came from a storage tank like this one, filled with super-cold liquid nitrogen. If a tank warms up too much, the frozen embryos are destroyed. After Katrina, when the fertility clinic lost power, and air conditioning, the call went out to the state police to rescue the embryos in the nitrogen tanks.

DR. SISSY SARTOR, FERTILITY DOCTOR: They were still submerged in the liquid nitro gen. The level had dropped down some, but they were safe. Perhaps a few more days or another week and they would not have been.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here comes the first tank.

ROESGEN: This is home video of the nitrogen tanks being carried out of the flooded clinic.

LT. JOHN KISTLER, LOUISIANA STATE POLICE: Literally like you were carrying eggs. You treated them very gently. You didn't want to tip them over, rock them. We treated them with very special care.

ROESGEN: State Police Lieutenant John Kistler was one of the rescuers.

KISTLER: I think first responders, anywhere, I mean, you are used to car crashes or fires, or any sort of emergencies that you kind of handle like that. But the embryos were -- I think everybody thought that was a special mission.

MARKHAM: You know, Katrina is a huge part of history now, and this baby lived through it without even being born, and it was amazing to me that they did that.

ROESGEN: Now, the tape of the embryo rescue will be added to Rebekah and Glen's new baby videos. A reminder of something good to come out of a disaster.


ROESGEN: The Markhams could, of course, know the sex of their baby, Soledad, but they chose not to find out until they find out the old-fashioned way, after the baby is born. And, also, their baby is one of eight pregnancies to come out of those 1,400 rescued embryos so far.

S. O'BRIEN: Some people like to be surprised. Susan Roesgen, for us this morning. Thanks, Susan.

Also, ahead this morning. More news from Kirkwood, Missouri, including some clues that it seemed that maybe Shawn Hornbeck was leaving behind. (INAUDIBLE) on that story.

And then "Minding Your Business". Ali Velshi has a little bit of good news for us at the gas pump. We'll tell you about all of that straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. We're back in just a moment.


M. O'BRIEN: Headlines we're watching for you this morning. New signs Barak Obama may be running for president. He is expected to form a presidential exploratory committee, and pay a call on Iowa in the coming days.

Nearly a half million homes without power after the devastating ice storms all across the nation.

The deep freeze also threatening some of California's citrus crop. Actually, a majority of it.

We've been following the online clues that kidnap victim Shawn Hornbeck may have planted. Whether he might have tried to reach out to his family on a web site they set up after his disappearance. CNN's Jacki Schechner brings us up-to-date with the online component to this story -- Jacki.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING: Well, we've been doing some digging to try to get as much information as we possibly can as to some of the clues that are popping up online. We want to give you the latest information that we have.

There's some stuff that we're going to be able to verify ourselves, and there is some stuff that, frankly, only Michael Devlin and Shawn Hornbeck will be able to verify once they have been completing interviews with law enforcement.

But there's what we know. There were some Yahoo profiles online, that appear to be created by someone named Shawn Devlin. That could have been created by Michael Devlin, pretending to be Shawn Hornbeck. There's just no telling at this point.

Yahoo has taken those profiles down. We spoke to them. They say they will do that when they find that a profile violates terms of service. But they wouldn't speak specifically to these profiles. And they wouldn't indicate to us what terms of service that these profiles could have possibly violated.

That's about as far as we were able to verify on that front.

Now, what we also did is speak to the creator of the web site called Mindviz. This is a smaller social networking site. There is a profile up there by someone claiming to be Shawn Devlin. Now, we don't know, again, if this was created by Shawn Hornbeck, Michael Devlin, or somebody else entirely. We did reach out to them and didn't get a response, in terms of the person who created the profile.

So, what we're doing is going on the assumption that this was either Michael or Shawn, at this point. There are now some 15 pages of comments on this web site. It has not been taken down yet -- people wishing Shawn luck. Also, people asking the site's owner to take the web page done, to be done with it, frankly, at this point.

We also wanted to let you know that he was able to trace for us, the owner of the site, the last five log-ins to this profile. And they were able to trace back to the St. Louis, Missouri, area. That gives us some indication that perhaps this was created by somebody in that Kirkwood area.

As for the postings on Shawn, which is the web site that Shawn Hornbeck's parents set up to look for him and to support other parents, there were a couple of postings on there. One of them saying, "How long are you going to look for your son?", by someone claiming to be Shawn Devlin. That's tough to verify. And that's the only thing that Michael and Shawn are going to be able to really give us some insights, themselves, once we are able to speak to them, or law enforcement is able to speak to them.

M. O'BRIEN: So, we're left with a lot of circumstantial evidence, which at least leads to the computer in Devlin's apartment.


M. O'BRIEN: We don't know who was doing the keystrokes. We do know this. There's a report out this morning in the "St. Louis Post Dispatch" indicating that Devlin might have used fear and intimidation, all these years, to scare Shawn Hornbeck. And perhaps, he was constrained even though he might have had access to the computer. Constrained, one way or another, from really issuing a more direct plea for help.

SCHECHNER: That's true. And one of the things we know about online predators, or people looking to gain access to younger children online, is they know very well how to do this. They know exactly how to create a profile that's going to lure other children. They know exactly what to say and how to say it.

So, if Michael Devlin was creating a profile -- we're not saying that he was -- but if he happened to be creating a profile pretending to be Shawn Hornbeck, he would have all of these nuances on the profile that would perhaps be appealing to other young children.

M. O'BRIEN: And he would be sophisticated enough, when he comes home, to look at where a young man had been on the Internet, as well.

SCHECHNER: And be able to make the changes accordingly if he needed to.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Jacki Schechner, thank you very much.

M. O'BRIEN: How is this for a change? Gas prices are falling, and likely to keep going down. It's 25 minutes past the hour, Ali Velshi, is Mr. Sunshine this morning.


ALI VELSHI, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING: You're going to incite a riot with that kind of talk, Miles.

You know, oil prices are down about 13 percent since the beginning of the year, and that always gets people wondering how far gas prices are going down. So, let's take a look at where gas prices are: $2.23 is the national average for the price of unleaded self- serve gasoline. A month ago it was $2.30.

If you take the relationship between crude oil and gasoline; mathematically every dollar drop in the price of crude oil should result in about a 3 cent drop in the price of gas. That's ideal. That hasn't happened. According to that calculation, gas prices should have dropped about 23 cents or 24 cents. Hasn't happened. It's only dropped about 7 cents.

Now, gas station owners don't make as much on gasoline as you think. And when gas prices go up, because of the competition, they can't usually squeeze as much out of it. They make more money on a cup of coffee than they do on your gas tank fill, usually.

What happens when prices go down, they drag their feet in bringing those prices down, because this is the most profitable time for them. Right now we're looking at an analysis that suggests that gas prices will probably go down about 10 cents, or a little more than that, in the next week to 10 days.

By then OPEC may have had a meeting to stem the slide in oil prices. Already looks like that's happening. Maybe expect another 10- cent break in the price of gas, and then it will stop, and then we'll be in spring, and gas prices will go up again, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: So it goes, on and on. Thank you very much, Ali Velshi.

The top stories of the morning are coming up next. Including overnight developments about the health of Fidel Castro. Is he much worse than Cuba is letting on?

Plus, Senator John McCain takes a not so friendly fire from the far right. Why he is fending off criticism from an evangelical leader.

And the glitz, the glam, the Golden Globe winners. Did you miss the award shows last night? Don't worry. We'll catch up this morning. You'll be fine at the office and around the water cooler. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.


S. O'BRIEN: Life as a kidnapped teenager. New details about Shawn Hornbeck's four-year ordeal, and what might have kept him from running for help.

M. O'BRIEN: Developing news about Cuban leader Fidel Castro. His health may be taking a turn for the worse.

S. O'BRIEN: America on ice. Slick roads kill at least 41 people across six states. Fruit crops are now in the danger zone out West.

M. O'BRIEN: And Golden Girls, "Dream Girls" scores big at the Golden Globes, but other winners from Hollywood's wild night, leave a wide open race for the Oscars, on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning, to you, it is Tuesday, January 16. I'm Miles O'Brien in New York.

S. O'BRIEN: And I'm Soledad O'Brien coming to you from Kirkwood, Missouri this morning.

This is kind of ground zero, Miles. Come with me, if you guys will follow down this way. This is the apartment complex where the suspect, Michael Devlin, lived right down here, apartment number D. But where I want to take you is down these steps a way to this parking lot, because it was this parking lot that was actually crucial -- bear with me. I know the light is not great. It's obviously early in the morning here. It's this parking lot where the police officers were actually able when they were serving another warrant to notice a truck that fit the description of the truck that was mentioned in the second kidnapping, the Ben Ownby kidnapping. And what they were able to do, really amazing police work, was to follow-up and to actually get a break in this case. It was utterly critical. We're going to be talking to those two police officers, what led them to ask the questions, what led them really to notice some of the red flags that many of the neighbors here, frankly, did not over the years. We'll be talking to them ahead this morning -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you very much, Soledad. See you in just a minute.


S. O'BRIEN: This morning here we're talking about signs that were missed by some of the neighbors. The opposite problem, though, taking place in Union, Missouri, which is just outside of the Franklin County courthouse, where some defense attorneys are concerned, actually, that people might know too much.

Chris Lawrence is following that part of the story for us this morning.

Chris, good morning.


Yes, they're worried that with this, you know, influx of media and all the attention it's gotten that it may have poisoned the case in the minds of some of the potential jurors.

Michael Devlin still about a day away from being arraigned right here. But in an exclusive interview with CNN's Larry King, his defense attorneys are already raising the concern about getting that fair trial in this part of the state.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): Michael Devlin's attorneys are worried that people in Missouri have already made up their minds about Devlin before he's even been charged.

MICHAEL KIELTY, ATTY. FOR MICHAEL DEVLIN: He's scared, but we are anticipating a long legal battle to protect his rights and preserve the integrity of the system. LAWRENCE: Local prosecutors will have to prove how Devlin could do what he's been accused of, kidnapping Ben Ownby and holding Shawn Hornbeck for four years an hour's drive from his family.

KIELTY: The U.S. attorney could get jurisdiction either under a federal kidnapping charge or possibly a child pornography charge if they do, in fact, have that evidence.

LAWRENCE: Investigators searched Devlin's apartment and took his computer, but won't say specifically what they found.

During the year Shawn Hornbeck allegedly lived with Devlin, there was a Yahoo! profile for a teenage boy named Shawn from Kirkwood, Missouri, but the e-mail address read "mdevlin." And about a year ago, when Shawn was still missing, someone calling himself Shawn Devlin posted messages on the family's Web site. The first asked Shawn's family, how long do you plan to look for your son? The second offered to write a poem in his honor.

Who wrote these? Shawn Hornbeck, Michael Devlin? Neither? Investigators can figure out which screen name signed on and use other clues to piece it together.

DET. KEN NIX, COMPUTER CRIME ENFORCEMENT: We can get a good indication by the time stamps that are on it. Who was in the house at the time? The type of verbiage that was used. Is it a kid using it, or is it adult using it? And you know, we kind of cue our investigations around that.


LAWRENCE: Police are still collecting evidence. The defense attorneys say they've yet to see it. Once they do, they'll be able to better formulate some sort of defense strategy -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Chris Lawrence for us this morning. Thanks, Chris. Not very far from here in Union, Missouri.

There's one person who knows this story inside and out. Aisha Sultan is a reporter with "The St. Louis Post Dispatch," who's been covering this story from the very beginning.

What's been very interesting to me is this picture that's emerging of the suspect, Michael Devlin, 41 years old. There are people who say he was the friendliest, most trustworthy guy, and other people say he had this sort of monster inside of him who seemed like he could snap any moment.

AISHA SULTAN, "ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH": It seems like he was different things in different situations. His employer seems to have trusted him, promoted him to manager, said he was very reliable, trustworthy. And then, yet, his friends say they really noticed a change in him over the years. People who've known him for 20 years said that he started out, he was a teaser. He would have moments where he could be generous with people. And yet, as the years grew on, his diabetes got worse. He did have his toe amputated. He became more reclusive and a grumpier sort of person. And then by the time the neighbors talked to him in these recent years, they were almost scared of him.

S. O'BRIEN: They didn't want to deal with him at all.

You had an opportunity to talk to some of his family members, Michael Devlin's family members. He was adopted. His brothers were adopted as well. What surprises me is that they don't actually live very far from where we are at Michael Devlin's home, and yet it appears they never came here.

SULTAN: Well, that's what they said. I talked to a brother of his who said that they had never seen Shawn Hornbeck even though, like you said, they lived maybe about 10 minutes away from here. They're a close-knit family. They saw each other at Christmas, and they said that they had no idea.

S. O'BRIEN: When you talk about this young man, a boy at the beginning turning into a young man really under the eyes of a whole community, there was a time when police actually stopped him.

SULTAN: There was a time when police had stopped him on his bike. He was out past curfew. They asked his name. He said he was Shawn Devlin. Now, looking back, of course, there seems to have been so many times when -- if someone had just put two and two together, they could have -- they would have found him. And yet, there were several of those missed opportunities.

S. O'BRIEN: Several missed opportunities here. There were reports of screaming, and shouting and noise that involved -- of Michael Devlin and apparently Shawn Hornbeck, too, that some neighbors seemed to be reporting, but no one seems to have gone the extra step to bringing police in.

SULTAN: Right. And, you know, Michael Devlin was actually quick to call the police himself. He had been known to call them when he got agitated about a parking spot.

S. O'BRIEN: Very brazen.

SULTAN: So he had very -- a very brazen attitude, and people are speculating whether he was wanting to get caught or whether he had absolutely no fear of ever getting caught.

S. O'BRIEN: I think this whole Internet connection, the fact that it appears from what neighbors say that Shawn Hornbeck had a cell phone, or access to a cell phone, at the very least, was allowed to go out riding with friends in this neighborhood, and, I mean, across the street there are homes, we should tell people, and of course it's a very small little apartment complex as well. I mean, people are living very close, seemingly with eyes closed.

SULTAN: Well, he had a friend who came, parents dropped him off almost every day, a best friend that came and -- that friend also is saying that he had no idea. There were times when -- reports about Shawn being missing would come up on TV, and Shawn would not react to that, so...

S. O'BRIEN: When the full story is out, it's going to be a remarkable story, and hear what this young man has to say. Aisha Sultan, thank you very much, of "The St. Louis Post Dispatch," who's been covering the story from the very beginning. Appreciate it so much.

SULTAN: Thank you so much.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's send it back to Miles in New York -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Soledad.

Senator John McCain is fending off fire from the far right flank this morning. A leading evangelical minister says there's no way he could support McCain for president.

AMERICAN MORNING's Bob Franken joining us live from Washington with more.

Good morning, Bob.


Well, he's been trying to enter stage right, but he has certainly not been altogether successful.


FRANKEN (voice over): One of the nation's most influential Christian conservatives is lashing out at Senator John McCain.

JAMES DOBSON, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY: He's not in favor of traditional marriage, and I pray that we won't get stuck with him.

FRANKEN: James Dobson, founder of the evangelical powerhouse Focus on the Family, was speaking on a Christian radio program last week. Dobson said there's no way he'll get behind McCain's bid for the White House.

DOBSON: I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances.

FRANKEN: Those comments highlight a major political problem for the Arizona senator. He remains estranged from his party's core voters, conservative evangelicals, major players in Republican primaries.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: I don't think that they think that John McCain is a true believer, that John McCain is with them on all the issues, that John McCain, if he were to become president, would push a social agenda as hard and fast as they would like.

FRANKEN: McCain does oppose abortion and same-sex marriage, but he refuses to get behind a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. And he's generally had an arm's length relationship with evangelical leaders.

Back in the 2000 presidential campaign, McCain called his then opponent George W. Bush a Pat Robertson Republican, who panders to Christian leaders like Jerry Falwell. That was then.

Now, of course, McCain is struggling to win over those same religious leaders. He recently spent some political quality time with Falwell, delivering the commencement address at the reverend's fundamentalist Liberty University.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We have our disagreements, we Americans. We contend regularly and enthusiastically over many questions.

FRANKEN: But Dobson's comments show that McCain's still got some fences to mend. The senator's spokesman says the record speaks for itself.


FRANKEN: So here we have Senator John McCain trying to reconcile with Christian conservatives, and, Miles, if Dobson is right, he doesn't stand a prayer.

M. O'BRIEN: It's interesting. Nice term of phrase, by the way, Bob. Dobson took great pains to say he was speaking as an individual, not on behalf of focus on the family.

FRANKEN: Well. But he, of course, represents a large organization with a large following, and certainly, put it this way, McCain would rather have him in his corner as opposed to not.

M. O'BRIEN: But why would he try to separate himself from his organization in this case?

FRANKEN: First of all, it's early. Second of all, there could be an awful lot of discussion, an awful lot of movement. John McCain could perhaps come up with some sort of way to make Dobson happy, at least happier than he is now. At some point Dobson could dramatically say, you know what, I'm going to support John McCain.

M. O'BRIEN: Got you. All right. Bob Franken, thank you very much.

FRANKEN: Coming up, is Fidel Castro in worse shape than Cuba is letting on? Dr. Sanjay Gupta is taking a look at what we may know about Castro's condition.

M. O'BRIEN: And look for a golden glow in Hollywood this morning. A complete wrapup of the winners, the speeches, and the hints about the Oscars. And we'll do the dresses, too. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning.


M. O'BRIEN: Fidel Castro is a very sick 80-year-old man. We know that for certain. But how sick is he? Spanish newspapers reporting this morning the Cuban leader is in very grave condition suffering from an intestinal infection after three failed surgeries.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is taking a look at what this all could mean, reading the medical tea leaves, I guess you could say.

Sanjay, as best as we can from where we sit, explain what we know.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is a little bit confusing. Dr. Garcia Sobreto (ph), one of the surgeons who examined him last month, still stands by his statement that he is doing fantastically well, recovering fantastically well. But we are getting some new details just over the last couple of hours, Miles, about what may have happened to Fidel Castro and led to his current state.

Let me give you a couple of things here. First of all, the condition that we're talking about is probably something known as diverticulitis. What that means are these pouches of infection that occur typically in the large intestine. What it sounds like what happened in Fidel Castro's case is that one of these pockets of infection sort of exploded, broke through his intestinal wall, and caused an infection of his entire abdominal cavity. That's called peritonitis. That's a very serious condition.

In order to try and take care of that, what it sounds like the surgeons did there -- I want to show you on this model, if I can -- they removed part of his intestine right over here, this part that was actually probably had infection in it, and I don't know if you can see that well. And then actually connected part of his intestine from above that to the connection below. So you actually just bypass in this part of the intestine after you removed it and connecting two parts together.

Sometimes that can be a difficult operation, especially in the face of infection, which is why he probably ended up having his second operation. Sounds like that line between the two connections, between the two parts of the intestine, actually broke down and that caused even more infection. So he had a second operation, sort of clean the infection out of his abdominal cavity, and try and reconnect those two pieces of intestine again. He also had problems with his gall bladder at that time, and they had to put a small prosthesis in it. Didn't work. And that's what it sounds like. We're talking about a third operation now, most recently where they went back in again, tried to reconnect those two pieces of intestine, fix his gall bladder, again, replace that prosthesis in his gall bladder, and try and make sure that his intestine holds.

And as far as we can tell, Miles, the latest thing that we're getting is that it's not working. He's still leaking half a liter of fluid into his abdominal cavity every single day, which is a lot. He is a very sick guy, and that just leads to more infection -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: And what it sounds like here is a series of dominoes are starting to fall here. What is the likelihood at this point when you consider the layers of difficulties of dealing with it that he'll ever return to power?

GUPTA: You know, what's so interesting to me, is typically in this sort of situation, someone has a severe infection of the abdominal cavity and the intestine is removed, what happens a lot of times is you actually have what's called a bag, a colonscopy bag placed to try and divert the intestinal contents away from the abdominal cavity. That is what is commonly done.

If something like that is done, and they can clear that infection, he might have a chance of recovery. But again, he is 80 years old. He has been really sick now since July, with significant infections of his abdominal cavity. It is hard to clear that. So it's really sort of dependent on what happens next here as far as his overall medical treatment.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Sanjay, just quickly, I know you have something special for tomorrow. Tell us what you've got coming up .

GUPTA: Well, you know, we've been really focussing on this whole idea of saving your own life, and I decided to look into that myself. A lot of people talk about heart disease, and at what age you should get screened, who should get screened and why. I decided to get tested myself, and I'll show you why I did it and what exactly I did to try to get my own heart checked.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, looking forward to that. Thank you very much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: Sanjay Gupta, see you later.


M. O'BRIEN: Coming up on the program, back to Soledad in Kirkwood, Missouri, including word of a police encounter that might have saved Shawn Hornbeck from his alleged kidnapper much sooner.

Plus, a golden night in Hollywood. Big winners at the 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards. All you need to know for the office conversations today, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: It's the morning after in Hollywood. The winners, 4:52 their time right now, either at home with the Golden Globes or still out celebrating.

CNN's Sibila Vargas has a roundup for us.


SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: The stars came out if full force for Hollywood's biggest parties. Some of the most talked about contenders did not disappoint. It was a royal evening for Dame Helen Mirren, who took home the gold for her dramatic turn as Queen Elizabeth II in Stephen Frears' "The Queen."

Forest Whitaker had been the talk of the town as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland," and when he was awarded the prize for his work, he gave one of the most genuine speeches.


You know, thank you -- thank you for -- for this award, for the best actor award. I'm -- you know, I'm stunned.


VARGAS: "Babel" took top drama honors, "Dreamgirls" top musical or comedy. And "Dreamgirls'" Jennifer Hudson, who was the favorite supporting actress in the film category, was also presented with the statue.

On the TV side of things, America may have a new star in America Ferrara. The "Ugly Betty" star is sitting pretty with her new statue.

And one of the funniest moments of the evening, an unforgettable acceptance speech from Sascha Baron Cohen. He may have checked his Borat persona at the door, but Borat's spirit was certainly in the house.

Sibila Vargas, CNN, Hollywood.


M. O'BRIEN: Sibila looks pretty marvelous too.

Top stories ahead. Live with the latest on the Missouri kidnap mystery.

Plus, what you need to know to keep your children safe.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning.