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Nancy Grace

Update on 2-Year-Old`s Disappearance

Aired September 25, 2006 - 20:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight, breaking news out of Florida in a parent`s worst nightmare, a 2-year-old tucked into his crib, mom in the very next room with video. Next, baby Trenton`s bedroom screen is found slashed. The mom commits suicide, and Florida police then declare her the prime suspect. Tonight, police release Melinda Duckett`s 911 call, in which she claims she knows who took baby Trenton and also tells 911 she cannot recall what her own baby was wearing. Why?
And tonight, the U.S. Supreme Court declares it`s OK to seize your home so the local government can build expensive condos on your land. PS, the condos are not for you. U.S. Supreme Court, are you in contempt!

But first tonight, the search by land and water for 2-year-old Trenton Duckett.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do not believe (ph) my emotions to the public, and throughout this situation, you did not understand them. But time is short, and I have more important people to speak to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My granddaughter just killed herself. When I came in, she was in the closet. She shot herself.


GRACE: Welcome, everyone. I`m Nancy Grace. Thank you for being with us. Right now, straight out to Marilyn Aciego, reporter with "The Daily Commercial." As you all know by now, that 911 tape by Melinda Duckett has been released. What can we learn from it? Marilyn, what`s the latest?

MARILYN ACIEGO, "DAILY COMMERCIAL": Hi, Nancy. The latest is police released the 911 tape both from Trenton`s abduction and from Melinda`s suicide on Friday and Saturday. And they also released a suicide note.

GRACE: Let`s take a closer listen to the 911 tape and see what we can learn.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Melinda Duckett`s son is missing. I`m not sure what -- I just know that he`s missing and...

911 OPERATOR: How old is he?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s 3 years old -- no -- he`s, like, around 2, 3.

911 OPERATOR: Where`s the last place he was seen at?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was in the room, and he -- I mean, I came over and was watching a movie. He was in his bed, I guess sleeping. And then she went to go check on him, and he`s not there.

911 OPERATOR: What is his mother`s name?


911 OPERATOR: Spell Melinda`s last name for me -- D-U...


911 OPERATOR: OK. And he`s about 3?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He`s really tall, but he`s, like -- he`s 2 - - I forgot how old he is.

911 OPERATOR: What was he last -- what was he last seen wearing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know. I didn`t -- whenever I came in...

911 OPERATOR: Where`s she at?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m trying to find her. She`s out, I guess, trying to find him, walking around the apartment complex.

911 OPERATOR: You don`t know what he was wearing or anything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Melinda? Melinda? What was Trenton wearing? I guess he was wearing, like, a -- I guess, like, sleeping clothes, because he was in bed.

911 OPERATOR: OK. What is his name?


911 OPERATOR: Trenton, like T-R-E-N-T-O...



911 OPERATOR: Hi. What is Trenton wearing, honey?

M. DUCKETT: I don`t know. He was ready for bed.

911 OPERATOR: You don`t know what you dressed him in before he went to bed?

M. DUCKETT: He might have had his shoes off and his shirt off -- no shoes. I know who friggin` did it!

911 OPERATOR: No shoes, no shirt. He`s an Asian male.

M. DUCKETT: He`s wearing jean shorts. He`s 2 years old.

911 OPERATOR: He`s wearing jean shorts.


911 OPERATOR: And he`s 2 years old. And how long has he been gone?

M. DUCKETT: I don`t know!

911 OPERATOR: You don`t know?

M. DUCKETT: I was watching a movie that was two hours long. I had checked on him before anyone came down to the house.

911 OPERATOR: Are you at the house right now? Has he ever done this before?

M. DUCKETT: Has who ever done what before?

911 OPERATOR: Has he ever walked out of the house before?

M. DUCKETT: No, he was in his room!

911 OPERATOR: He was in his room? And how many -- is there a back way out of the house?


911 OPERATOR: She left him, she says, for two hours. OK.

Are you at the house right now, Melinda?


911 OPERATOR: OK. All righty. Stay right there at the house. I`m going to have officers right there to you, OK?


911 OPERATOR: OK. All righty. We`ll be right there.


GRACE: Joining us tonight, a very special guest. Trenton`s father, Josh Duckett, is joining us from Florida. Josh, thank you for being with us again. Josh, did you hear your wife say, "I know who friggin` did it"?


GRACE: Do you think she`s talking about you?

J. DUCKETT: I would imagine so because the first thing that she done when officers arrived was throw the e-mail that was proved that she had sent, but she threw it up at them saying that I done it. So I mean, I assume she was talking about me, but she doesn`t really give any specific names.

GRACE: When she says on 911, "I know who friggin` did it," and cops get there, and she uses that e-mail that she actually wrote to herself threatening her life and the baby`s life, are you starting to believe this was some type of a set-up on you, that this was all about you?

J. DUCKETT: Yes. I mean, I thought that from day one. But I mean, once again, it was just my opinion. I mean, I felt that way. I felt that the e-mail was part of the whole set-up and that it was all part of a game that she was playing.

GRACE: Here is the e-mail that Josh is talking about. Can we go back to the first screen of that? Thanks, Liz. "I hate you because you ruined my life and took my son. I`m going to hunt you and your damn son down one day and kill both of you. Years ago, you stole my heart and F-ed me over." Next screen. "I don`t even think Trenton is my son, anyway. And you`re going to pay for what you`ve done to my life. I want you to be put through torture."

So Josh, pretty on -- early in the investigation, police realize -- they bring in experts, they realize that this letter was written by her on your e-mail account to her. How did she do that? How did she get your passcode?

J. DUCKETT: I`ve had the same e-mail and same password since we were first together. I mean, I`ve had it for four years almost now. And I mean, she knew what my passwords were and everything like that. So basically, what she done was she went into my Myspace page and done a "forgot password" and had it sent to my e-mail address...

GRACE: So...

J. DUCKETT: ... and went in and checked the e-mail and logged in.

GRACE: So I guess when you tried to tell the authorities, I didn`t write this e-mail, nobody believed you at first?

J. DUCKETT: Yes. I mean, nobody believed me. But I mean, I had a full alibi for where I was. I mean, I was with my parents all night.

GRACE: Now, let me ask you something. When this e-mail was -- when she first sent this e-mail to herself, what was happening? Because this was back in July, right, when she sent that e-mail?

J. DUCKETT: Yes. I mean, at that time, there was nothing going on. I mean, we weren`t even in court. I mean, we had been to court for visitation rights and all that right then, and they had given me visitation rights and ordered me to pay child support. And I paid my child support and went to my visitations, as was scheduled. And I mean, basically, there was no communication between us. And then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, this e-mail popped up. And I mean, it struck me as odd because it was on our one-year anniversary that the e-mail actually happened.

GRACE: Well, as I always say, Josh, there is no coincidence in criminal law.

Can we go back to the rest of the body of the e-mail? I noticed it also says, Josh, "I will never pay you child support, and there`s nothing you can do about it." Police have definitely proven she wrote this to herself, so -- here we go. "I will never pay you child support. There`s nothing you can do. I lied to the police to begin with and tried to ground you into the dirt, but somehow, you got out of it. Just wait, though. Next time, things will go my way, and I will use any means of getting there, anything."

Now, this was back in July. And you said that child support, everything had already been determined, correct?

J. DUCKETT: Yes, child support was determined in February of -- the beginning part of February, and I was ordered to started paying on February 15.

GRACE: So why would she have written this to herself under the guise that you did it?

J. DUCKETT: I think it was -- like I said earlier, I think it was all part of her game that she was playing and she was trying to get my parental rights taken away. And I mean, that was grounds -- basically, if they proved -- if they didn`t prove that she didn`t send it and I couldn`t prove that I didn`t send it, then I would lose my parental rights and I wouldn`t have any visitation rights or anything, and she could come and go as she pleased with him.

GRACE: Did she do anything with this e-mail she sent herself?

J. DUCKETT: Yes. I mean, the very next day that the courthouse was open, she went straight up there and she told them that I sent her this e- mail, and basically, they terminated all my parental rights temporarily. I mean, I lost all my visitation rights, everything. And that`s part of what caused me not to see my son for the past two months. I mean, they put a restraining order on me and ordered no contact between me and Trenton whatsoever, by phone or in person.

GRACE: Josh, that`s what I was getting at the beginning when I was asking you why would she have sent this to herself. But you`re telling me now that the very next day the courthouse was open, she took a copy of the e-mail to get your parental rights severed or terminated, correct?


GRACE: All right. Now, let me get another thing straight. Josh, when the cops first got there, when baby Trenton went missing, did she tell them about this and suggest you were the one that took him?

J. DUCKETT: To my knowledge, yes, that was what it was. They said that was the first thing she threw up at them when they arrived at the house was the e-mail they threw up -- or she threw up at them and said for them to check me out. And I mean, they came to my house and they checked everything out and there was nothing there. I mean -- but they did tell me that was the first thing she threw up at the officers when they arrived.

GRACE: Josh, you were mentioning that this was all part of some game that she was playing. Is that why you continue to believe that baby Trenton may be still alive, that maybe she, as you say, stashed him somewhere or sold him or gave him to somebody else, some type of a manipulation?

J. DUCKETT: Yes, I think that -- in my eyes, I feel that that`s a lot of it. I think that it was part of a game, and the e-mail is what started it. And then she never expected the game that she was playing to get as large as it has and to get to the scale that it is now. And it was just too much.

And I mean, because just reading the letter from me, knowing her, reading the note, it was unplanned for her to write that because she was normally detailed in everything that she done. And you can tell that it was a last-minute desperation-type thing. So I feel that -- I mean, that gives us that much hope, and then in the letter, it says, As he grows up, and that gave us that much more hope.

GRACE: Josh, do you miss her?

J. DUCKETT: To an extent, yes. I mean, I`ll always have feelings for her, regardless of the bad blood and everything, because she is the mother of my child, regardless. And I mean...

GRACE: Do you still love her?

J. DUCKETT: ... you don`t stop loving someone overnight.

GRACE: So you still love her?

J. DUCKETT: Yes. I mean, I`ll always have the feelings there, but I mean, there`s just -- you could never stay together under those conditions.

GRACE: Out to Court TV news correspondent Jean Casarez. One thing that I don`t believe has been brought to light is that at the time Melinda Duckett shot herself, it`s my understanding that the FBI was on their way over to the house. Is that correct?

JEAN CASAREZ, COURT TV: Right, to the grandparents` house. But they have said publicly that it was to talk to the grandparents. They didn`t know she was going to be there, and they don`t think the grandparents alerted her that they were on their way.

GRACE: By the time she killed herself, the FBI was on their way over to the home.

CASAREZ: Yes, that is right, to her grandparents` home, correct.

GRACE: Where she was?

CASAREZ: Correct. Where she was. Yes.

GRACE: Let`s go out to the lines. Jean in Florida. Hi, Jean.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. How are you?

GRACE: I`m hanging in there. Still in the saddle. What`s your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good. My question for you is, I would like to know if the people that were there with Melinda that night have been questioned by authorities on the whereabouts of Trenton.

GRACE: They have, but I`m going to get further detail from Marilyn Aciego. She`s a reporter with "The Daily Commercial." Marilyn, I know they were questioned. I know at least one of the two have taken and passed a polygraph. One took a poly, one`s in the military. I don`t know if that`s one and the same. And to Jean in Florida. You just heard the voice of one of them on the 911 call. They`re the ones that originally placed the call.

So Marilyn, I`m really curious, what did these guys say was her demeanor at any time in the evening? You know how when you visit someone and they have a baby, very often, you all go tiptoe back to the back and look at the baby lying there sleeping, or you`ll say good night to the baby or pet the baby. None of that happened. And I`m just wondering, what was her demeanor?

ACIEGO: You`re right, Nancy. From what my sources are telling me, she was acting completely normal, as if Trenton was in the room asleep. And you know, we still don`t know if Trenton was really -- did she really lay Trenton down to bed that night. We still don`t know that. But from what the two gentlemen that were with her have told police, she was acting completely normal.

GRACE: Let`s go out to Mike Brooks, with the FBI task force formerly. Mike, I`ve been taking a look what we know as the hard evidence, all right? You know, Mike, as you well know, very often, you don`t have a fingerprint, you don`t have DNA. You have to build your case on behavioral or human evidence. And you know, you and I were talking about pinging, how if a cell phone was on, even if you were not making cell phone calls, you could then trace where it had been throughout the day. Did you know that the entire day on Saturday, Mike Brooks, after she left her grandmother`s home, all day Saturday until Sunday at 12:08 PM, lunchtime is, the cell phone was totally off. Coincidentally, Mike Brooks, no one saw the child after she left the grandmother`s home, 4:00 PM approximately, Saturday. Nothing.

MIKE BROOKS, FORMER D.C. POLICE, FORMER FBI TERRORISM TASK FORCE: No, not at all, Nancy, and that`s very unusual, especially someone her age. And when we saw where she had been, even where she said she was, where they were able to track and trace the phone, it was in areas that she said that -- she said she had been riding up in the woods. Apparently not, Nancy. Everything was just...

GRACE: It was a lie.

BROOKS: It is a lie. And you know...

GRACE: It was all a lie.

BROOKS: And police have been criticized for their investigative techniques because, yes, they could have gone ahead and arrested her for the e-mail charges, but they didn`t. They wanted to go ahead and follow her, surveil her to see if, possibly, by any chance, that they -- that she would lead police to find out where Trenton was because, Nancy, as you know, a lot of people, after they commit a crime, they`ll go back and...

GRACE: Circle back.

BROOKS: Absolutely.

GRACE: You know who was the greatest example of that? Scott Peterson. You know how he`d always go back out and get out of the car and look out at the bay.

BROOKS: Absolutely, and...

GRACE: And then later tried to say he was looking for Laci and Conner at about 300 feet away.

BROOKS: Exactly. And we -- in fact, he was following what the police were doing and going back and taking a look at what they were finding that day. He went down to the marina, asked the cops what they were doing there. You know, they were able to trace him back to the marina. I remember covering that story quite well, and you`re absolutely right, very much like Scott Peterson.

GRACE: I`m very intrigued by the fact that she had her cell phone off from 4:00 o`clock on Saturday, when she left the grandmother, all the way until 12:00 noon on Sunday. And coincidentally, nobody can place her being with Trenton for all of those hours.

To Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist. The human desire to circle back -- why do they always do it?

ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: In part, it`s to check whether they covered their tracks or not. So they go back to check and make sure that they`re not getting caught, so it`s comfortable in that way. And in some cases, they relive the crime in their mind and in some cases really get excited by that. I don`t think that`s the case in this instance, but that is the case in certain cases.




911 OPERATOR: Hi. What is Trenton wearing, honey?

M. DUCKETT: I don`t know. He was ready for bed.

911 OPERATOR: You don`t know what you dressed him in before he went to bed?

M. DUCKETT: He might have had his shoes off, and his shirt off -- no shoes. I know who friggin` did it!


GRACE: Welcome back. Today, police released not only a rejuvenated, a reinvigorated timeline as to where Melinda Duckett had been in the hours before her son, her 2-year-old son, Trenton Duckett, went missing, we also have released now a suicide note and two 911 calls. What can we learn from those 911 calls?

First of all, the coincidence -- let`s go out to the lawyers, Sam Cammack and Randy Zelin -- the coincidence that she could not recall what the child was wearing. Remember, now, this is the baby, Randy Zelin, that went to bed and she couldn`t remember if he had on shoes or socks when she last saw him. And can`t you just see going through her mind, Did he have on PJs when I was last with him? No, I`m going to go with denim shorts. Give me your best shot, Randy.

RANDY ZELIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: When my daughter was an infant, I lost her for a minute on the beach. Time stood still. I couldn`t even remember my own name.

GRACE: I know that somehow, you`re going to work this into her thinking her child had on socks and shoes in bed. But go ahead. Feel free.

ZELIN: A 21-year-old kid, her 2-year-old son is missing, a kid with a history of emotional problems, going through a bitter divorce. Who knows what she had been doing? What do you expect of this kid? What chance does she have going up against a veteran ex-prosecutor, seasoned law enforcement? She doesn`t remember what the child was wearing...

GRACE: She was on the phone to someone on 911. I don`t know what you`re talking about, seasoned law enforcement and a veteran prosecutor. She was trying to tell a guy on the phone.

ZELIN: Nancy -- and when you listen to the tape, you hear the fear. She`s in the moment.


ZELIN: Does that like someone who`s...


ZELIN: ... who`s contriving this crime?

GRACE: OK. Thank you. To Sam Cammack out of the Houston jurisdiction. Now, why remember to throw out the trash just before she goes to the police station with the baby food, the baby toys, the baby pictures, the sonogram and the toy chest in it? Go ahead, Sam.

SAM CAMMACK, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I agree in part what this other defense lawyer had said, that, I mean, how do you know how someone`s going to react in that type of situation, in a panic situation?

GRACE: In a panic, you throw out the baby`s belongings?

CAMMACK: We don`t know how anybody would react in that situation. It doesn`t mean that it points to her actually being part of the disappearance of her child. I just don`t think it points in that direction at this time.



911 OPERATOR: No shoes, no shirt. He`s an Asian male.

M. DUCKETT: He`s wearing jean shorts. He`s 2 years old.

911 OPERATOR: He`s wearing jean shorts.


911 OPERATOR: And he`s 2 years old. How long has he been gone?

M. DUCKETT: I don`t know!

911 OPERATOR: You don`t know?

M. DUCKETT: I was watching a movie that was two hours long. I had checked on him before anyone came down to the house.


GRACE: Welcome back. Today, police release a new timeline as to where Melinda Duckett was the day her little 2-year-old went missing, as well as much, much evidence, including a 911 call.

Out to Mike Brooks, formerly on the FBI task force. Mike, I find this very, very curious that she could not relate what the child was wearing and actually suggested he was swearing shoes and socks when he went to bed.

BROOKS: I find it very curious, too, Nancy. I mean, you know, why didn`t she go ahead and make the call herself initially to the police? You know, that was wasting time. She should have made the call. She knew the most about him. She should have known what he had on, if (INAUDIBLE) put it down.

But there`s always that stress factor. But even later on, she should have been able to recognize or remember, after everything calmed down, exactly what he had on. But you know, the other thing, too, Nancy, what the attorneys were talking -- why didn`t she cooperate with police after she calmed down then? I just don`t understand that.



CALLER: Melinda Duckett`s son is missing. I`m not quite sure -- I just know that he`s missing and...

DISPATCHER: How old is he?

CALLER: Three years old, like around two, three.

DISPATCHER: Where`s the last place he was seen at?

CALLER: He was in the room and he -- I mean, I came over and was watching a movie. He was in the bed, I guess sleeping. And then she went to check on him and he is not there.

DISPATCHER: What is his mother`s name?

CALLER: Melinda Duckett.

DISPATCHER: Spell Melinda`s last name for me.


DISPATCHER: OK, and he`s about three?

CALLER: Yes, he`s really tall, but he`s like -- he`s two. I forgot how old he is.

DISPATCHER: What was he last -- what was he last seen wearing?

CALLER: Huh? I don`t know. I didn`t -- whenever I came in...

DISPATCHER: Where`s she at?

CALLER: I`m trying to find her. She`s out, I guess, trying to find him walking around the apartment complex.

DISPATCHER: You don`t know what he was wearing or anything?

CALLER: Melinda, Melinda, what was Trenton wearing? I guess he was wearing like a -- I guess like sleeping clothes, because he was in bed.

DISPATCHER: OK, what is his name?

CALLER: Trenton.

DISPATCHER: Trenton like T-R-E-N-T-O?

CALLER: Yes, like T-R-E-N-T-O-N.


DISPATCHER: Hi, what is Trenton wearing, honey?

M. DUCKETT: I don`t know -- he was ready for bed.

DISPATCHER: You don`t know what you dressed him in before he went to bed?

M. DUCKETT: He might have had his shoes off and or his shirt off, no shoes -- I know who friggin` did it.

DISPATCHER: No shoes, no shirt. He`s an Asian male.

M. DUCKETT: He`s wearing jean shorts. He`s 2 years old.

DISPATCHER: He`s wearing jean shorts.


DISPATCHER: And he`s t2 years old. And how long has he been gone?

M. DUCKETT: I don`t know.

DISPATCHER: You don`t know?

M. DUCKETT: I was watching a movie that was two hours long. I`ve checked on him before anyone came down to the house.

DISPATCHER: Are you at the house right now? Has he ever done this before?

M. DUCKETT: Has he ever done what before?

DISPATCHER: Has he ever walked out of the house before?

M. DUCKETT: No, he was in his room.

DISPATCHER: He was in his room? And how many -- is there a back way out of the house -- she left him, she says, for two hours -- OK, are you at the house right now, Melinda?


DISPATCHER: OK, all righty. Stay right there at the house. I`m going to have officers right there to you, OK? All righty, we`ll be right there.


GRACE: Out to Mike Brooks, formerly with the FBI task force, do you believe after hearing this that, when and if Trenton is found, he will be wearing denim shorts?

BROOKS: Nancy, at this point, who knows what the truth is that was coming from her? We don`t know. You always hope, and the police are still holding out hope that he is alive. But as you know, the further we go and the more time passes, there`s always that possibility that we`re not going to find him alive.

GRACE: Mike, what can you tell us about the use of a pen register to place her there at the home on Saturday or Sunday.

BROOKS: A pen register, Nancy, is an excellent investigative tool that actually will monitor all incoming and outgoing calls, and then it puts out a little printout. It`s used most of the time in conjunction with a Title 3 warrant that you can get, because that`s also -- you have to have a court order for a pen register.

It`s used in conjunction most of the time with a Title 3, where you actually have a detective or an FBI agent sitting there in a Title 3 room with earphones on, listening to the incoming and outgoing calls. But it gives you an instant printout, if you will, of the call, how long the duration of the call was, where it came from, and who they were talking to.

GRACE: Let me rephrase, Mike. Is there a way to get a pen register retroactively? Can they go back and look at her incoming, outgoing local calls -- I know we can do long distance -- but local calls to pinpoint when she was really there?

BROOKS: Right now, most telephone companies, it`s all digital, and you can do that, but, again, you need a court order. And the pen register, the reason that works so well, during an ongoing investigation, you can get an instantaneous read right there and, if you have someone on a Title 3, listen to them.

GRACE: So we can go back? We can go -- when he keeps saying Title 3, everybody, he`s talking about wiretapping, eavesdropping. What I`m talking about is not so much wiretapping, eavesdropping. I`m talking about can`t police now go back and reconstruct when and if she was at the home, based on local phone calls made from the home? We know her cellphone was totally off Saturday from 4:00 p.m. to Sunday at 12:08 p.m.?

BROOKS: They should be able to go back, get a court order, go to the phone company, and get...

GRACE: Got it. Man, you feds sure know how to confuse things.

Let`s talk about this suicide note for a moment. Out to Jean Casarez, Court TV news correspondent. She and Marilyn Aciego on the case from the very beginning. When was the suicide note released exactly and why?

CASAREZ: Well, it was released just a couple of days ago, and it was released because police did believe it could be considered a suicide note. And it was found on the dashboard of her car.

But several interesting things in that note. Number one, she says, "I usually plan things very well." I think that is of significance. And then also, she denotes Trenton as being alive. And I think that`s another important aspect of this.

And, Nancy, I think there`s still a question as to whether Melinda knew, in fact at all, that police realized that she had written that e-mail to herself saying it was her ex-husband. Police have said, "We didn`t let her on to know that we realized this, because we wanted to follow her." But the fact is, two lay witnesses told police, "We know for a fact Melinda wrote that herself." So those lay witnesses, did they get back to her to have her realize that police were on to what she had done?

GRACE: Let`s talk about the suicide note for a moment. Liz, if you could put it back up. "I`m sorry this is short. I usually plan things out. Your focus came off my son. I only wanted him safe and in my arms." What would drive her, Dr. Robi Ludwig, to place her pain or her own suffering above finding her son?

DR. ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, maybe she felt there was no son to find. I mean, that`s always a possibility. Maybe part of the suicide was in reaction to how hopeless she felt in life and how guilty she felt over some of the choices that she made. I mean, if she...

GRACE: You know, that`s an interesting point. Back out to Marilyn Aciego with the "Daily Commercial," Marilyn, is it true -- and I learned this from, I believe, the "Orlando Sentinel" -- that, just before she committed suicide, she told her mom, "Mom, Trenton is never coming home"?

ACIEGO: Yes. She did tell her mom that, that she was very upset and crying, from what her mother had said, and said, "I know he`s not coming home, Mom. It`s been too long."

GRACE: I thought there were two separate statements, that she said, "I know he`s not coming home because it`s been too long," and then went on to say, "Mom, he`s never coming home."

ACIEGO: From what I understood, Nancy, it was in the same instance.

GRACE: Same conversation.

Let`s go out to the lines. Christine in New Jersey, hi, Christine.

CALLER: Hi, Nancy.

GRACE: What`s your question, dear?

CALLER: I saw in the news that food and baby pictures of Trenton and his toys were found in the trash.


CALLER: I was wondering if his clothes were found in the trash, as well.

GRACE: Clothing?


GRACE: Jean, do we know about any clothing found thrown away? And is there a possibility it could have been thrown away and not recovered?

CASAREZ: Well, I think that`s definitely a possibility. You know, we don`t know about clothing. We know about toys, toy chest, the sonogram. Police have just said that they believe the sonogram that was thrown away was from 2004. That`s the year Trenton was born. They believe it was originally in a picture frame, along with a picture of Melinda and Trenton, but now that sonogram was recovered in the dumpster.

GRACE: So that`s the answer, Christine. We know baby photos, sonogram, toys, toy box, a lot of baby food, and baby paraphernalia gone.

I want to go back to the suicide note. Josh is with us tonight, Josh Duckett. This is Trenton`s dad. Josh, when you look at this suicide note, when she killed herself, she firmly believed that you, that she had basically instilled in the police`s mind that you were responsible.

J. DUCKETT: Yes, I mean, she stuck by that. I mean, she was pointing the finger towards me. And, I mean, I cooperated 110 percent and made myself fully available to prove that I had nothing to do with it. You know what I mean?

GRACE: Did you speak to her that night?

J. DUCKETT: No, I had no contact with her at all through all of this.

GRACE: None. How about your parents?

J. DUCKETT: My parents neither. I mean, I tried to reach out to her grandparents even after she had committed suicide. I tried to reach out to them, and I got no response from them, either.

GRACE: To Robi, what does it mean about -- what does it mean when you commit suicide in someone else`s home with their weapon?

LUDWIG: Well, I mean, it could be a sign of aggression towards the person that you`re committing suicide. It could mean that she just felt comfortable in the home, that`s where she considered her home, and for some reason just decided to kill herself. What I do know is the way in which she killed herself, she very much wanted to die. You do not put a gun to your head unless you are serious about dying.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Eminent domain is being invoked in the nearly 100 cities in the name of public good. One of those communities is Long Branch, New Jersey.

The oceanfront is being redeveloped, replacing neighborhoods with expensive condominiums, luxury hotels, spas, restaurants, shops, which might sound attractive, unless you receive a letter like the one sent to Lori Ann Vendetti. She and her neighbors received a letter informing them they had 14 days to accept an offer from the city for their property or the city would take their property using eminent domain.


GRACE: Well, the U.S. Supreme Court has made a very unusual ruling, and very often it`s easy to just tune them out, pretend they don`t exist, but this time they have declared it`s OK for the government to seize your home so the local government can build expensive condos on your land. And guess what? The condos are not for you.

Now, here are the voters: Kennedy, Breyer, Souter, and Stevens, and Ginsburg. There she is with that doily around her neck. Nobody understands that, but that`s a whole another can of worms.

Straight out to "USA Today`s" Martin Kasindorf. Now, listen, I`ve checked my pocket Constitution again. The taking clause says no private property shall be taken for public use without just compensation. Now, typically, when I was in law school, that meant to build an interstate, a roadway, a highway; now it`s for exclusive seaside condos. Explain.

MARTIN KASINDORF, NEWS REPORTER, "USA TODAY": Well, public use has meant historically a park, a road. But for the first time, the Supreme Court said -- and this is what much of the nation is in rebellion against and very scared about -- the Supreme Court said that a state or a local government was not barred by the federal Constitution from taking your private home and turning it over to another private person to develop it in a way that would bring jobs or more money or taxes to your city. It could turn over -- a public use could mean for the benefit of the town, more money, economic development.

GRACE: More money. OK, something is very, very wrong.

Out to Art Harris, investigative journalist. Art, typically, the government can take your land for just compensation to build a roadway, as Martin just told us, a park, something for the public.


GRACE: But that does not include smancy-fancy condos on seafront property. I don`t get it. How is this happening?

HARRIS: Well, it`s happening because local authorities have invoked that power, Nancy. In south Georgia, you may be aware of Albany and the hospital down there, Phoebe Putney. They seized a row of houses or declared eminent domain because they wanted to build a private daycare center for their employees, not benefiting the public. The courts upheld it, but the local homeowners managed to get just compensation in the end.

GRACE: But, Art, a hospital that is being used for the public and gets public funds conceivably could be public use.

I want to go out to Scott Bullock. I find this very different, Scott, in that the government, the local government, the city, seizes your home, your home that you`ve been in for 50 or 60 years, and then they give it to private real estate developers for them to build condos to sell. That`s not what the founding fathers had in mind, Scott.

SCOTT BULLOCK, INSTITUTE FOR JUSTICE: That`s exactly right. And, unfortunately, a narrow majority of the Supreme Court agreed with it.

The Long Branch case is one of the worst examples of eminent domain abuse in the country today. What the city is doing there is taking homes for homes, just the homes of poorer folks for the homes of wealthier folks. It is reverse Robin Hood, and it has to be stopped in New Jersey and, really, throughout the country.

GRACE: Well, I`m very disturbed, Scott. I typically am very distrustful of lawyers. I feel they are not telling the whole story, they`re only telling their side of it. But I`ve checked out the briefs. They are taking poorer homes through eminent domain and then building very expensive homes. And I don`t understand the rationale.

Let`s ask somebody that may know firsthand. To Lori Ann Vendetti, victim of eminent domain -- and I`m not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I understand eminent domain for certain reasons. But, Lori Ann, what happened in your case?

LORI ANN VENDETTI, VICTIM OF EMINENT DOMAIN: Well, in my case, the town in Long Branch, the pictures that are being shown are from our neighborhood. Our neighborhood is not poor. Our neighborhood is a community like any other community in America. It`s an average community. We`re not McMansions or anything. We`re just on the ocean, and that`s very lucrative for people right now. And the developers want our property because we`re on the oceanfront.

GRACE: Lori Ann, what are they going to build on your home?

VENDETTI: A hundred and eight five luxury condominiums.

GRACE: We`re looking at them right now. Luxury condominiums threw you out of your home.

Let`s go to the lawyers, Sam Cammack, Randy Zelin. Sam Cammack, response?

CAMMACK: Well, I just think that this is ridiculous. The Supreme Court opinion defies logic. It`s like stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. I don`t understand it.

GRACE: Randy Zelin?

ZELIN: To me, all the court is saying, "Look, we`re going to leave it to the government to decide what is in the public good. What is the public use?" It`s not for the courts to legislate; it`s for the government to legislate. And that`s all the Supreme Court said.

GRACE: Right, I somehow thought you may side with them.

Back out to Lori Ann Vendetti, victim of eminent domain, Lori, I find it very difficult to believe that the government would take away your home, give it to a private developer to build another home. Do I have the facts straight?

VENDETTI: Oh, you have the facts extremely correct. We can`t believe it, either, and that`s why we`re fighting it.

This is America. You work hard. My father worked for 45, 46 years to build us this house. He was a truck driver. He was a blue-collar worker. And the governments are supposed to protect our homes, not take our homes.

This is America. We should be able to keep our homes, and retire, and die in our homes, and that`s all we want to do in our neighborhood. Our neighborhood has senior citizens, 94, 85. I mean, they`re taking these homes from senior citizens. That`s unheard of in America.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s just wrong. You know, this is America. America is about liberty. America is about freedom, about choice. We have no choice. This is despotism. This is a government, a local government telling you, "This is what we`re going to pay for your property. We`ll get your property appraised. You can`t get it appraised. This is what we`re willing to pay you for it. And if you don`t want it, we`re going to take it anyway." What kind of choice is that? That`s not America.


GRACE: I`m not afraid to say it to the U.S. Supreme Court: You are in contempt. How dare you OK a municipal government to sell people`s homes to real estate developers to build more expensive homes on the homes? This is not for an interstate; this is not for a hospital; this is not for a public use. This is to enhance the neighborhood with more expensive homes? Since when?

Back to "USA Today" news reporter Martin Kasindorf, Martin, it`s almost too fantastical for me to believe. Where do we go from here? I understand states are having their own referendums?

KASINDORF: Yes, 30 state legislatures already voted to negate or limit that Supreme Court decision, because the Supreme Court gave them a green light to say that their own constitutions, their own laws could forbid this kind of eminent domain use.

Now, the voters get their first chance since that June 2005 decision to vote in 11 states this fall on proposals to do just what 30 legislatures have done, to do away with the ability of state and local governments to do this to private property owners.

GRACE: And we`re showing those right now, Martin. Thank you for reminding me. The green states are those states that have already passed legislation. I can`t read it from here, but I believe the yellow states are states that have it pending. It`s on an upcoming ballot.

And, Elizabeth, what are the blue states? The blues are on the fall ballot. And what are the yellow?

KASINDORF: Well, the yellow is where...


GRACE: ... has already passed on the fall ballot, right, Martin?

KASINDORF: The yellows are where there was some legislation already passed by the lawmakers, but they also passed even stronger laws, constitutional amendments, onto the voters to decide.

GRACE: Let`s stop our discussion of the U.S. Supreme Court for a moment to remember Marine Corporal David Weimortz, just 28, South Carolina, killed Iraq. He planned to study the law and loved sports so much. His first word as a baby was "ball." David Weimortz, American hero.

Thank you to our guests, especially Josh Duckett. Thank you for being with us. Good night, friend.