Return to Transcripts main page

Nancy Grace

Police Expand Search for Missing 911 Dispatcher

Aired March 30, 2007 - 20:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight, day nine -- a lady 911 dispatcher vanishes, clocks out for the day. No one on the force has seen her again, her car found still parked at the home she once shared with her estranged husband, he a veteran police sergeant himself, the couple on the verge of divorce. Tonight, we piece together the clues left behind. Where is Theresa Parker?
And tonight, a highly popular pastor`s wife heads out of town to a conference, a conference on Christian women`s empowerment there in Louisiana. The mom of two, a local kindergarten teacher, leaves her seat at a 14,000-plus arena for the ladies` room and vanishes. No activity on the cell, nothing on the credit cards, overnight bag left behind in the car. What has happened to Mary Beth Smith, the young wife of a local pastor?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mary Byrne Smith seemed to have it all -- the wife of a well-known Baptist preacher and the mother of two beautiful children, a nice house on the church grounds and the respect of people that live here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seemed to be very outgoing, yes. Pastor`s a wonderful man. The church has grown significantly under his leadership.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Orville Johnson (ph) is a pastor at another local church. He says news of Smith`s disappearance has rattled this small community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve met them several times. I`ve been to their church, seen them at the ballpark. They`re a well-liked, respectable couple in the community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Smith is missing for three days. She was last seen Saturday at the Living Proof Live conference in Bossier City, Louisiana. Her husband, Pastor John Smith, is now in Louisiana, meeting with investigators.


GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. First, the desperate search for a lady police 911 dispatcher.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forty-one-year-old Theresa Parker visited her sister last Wednesday night. That`s the last time anyone saw her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe Saturday morning, she was reported missing to the Walker County sheriff`s office by her mother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Parker`s husband is Sergeant Sam Parker with the Lafayette Police Department.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Theresa Parker and her husband were in the process of separating. She`d already found another place to live. The morning of her disappearance, Sam Parker went fishing with a friend. He told police he never called to report her missing because he believed she`d already moved out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police say no one has been ruled out as a suspect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They also say that Sergeant Parker has cooperated fully and answered all questions during at least three interviews.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re still looking a the missing person, at this point. There`s no conclusive evidence that would point to anything as foul play.


GRACE: What? She`s been gone nine straight days. Nobody in her family has heard for her and she`s not reporting to work. I don`t know what they mean by no foul play, but this police 911 dispatcher has been missing nine straight days, her car found parked there at the home she once shared with her estranged husband, he also a veteran sergeant on the police force. This is all that`s left. Theresa Parker -- tonight, we put together the clues to see what we can determine.

To investigative reporter Nicole Partin. Nicole, what can you tell me?

NICOLE PARTIN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Good evening, Nancy. What we know so far is that, yes, indeed, Theresa was with her family member, her sister, on Wednesday evening. At around 10:00 o`clock, she left, stating that she was going to her newly rented apartment. She was moving out from the family home. And that was the last contact that anyone had from her.

Early Thursday morning, reports are that her husband went to the family home. She was sleeping there. He left her and went fishing. But she hasn`t been seen or heard from since late Wednesday evening.

GRACE: Thank you, Nicole. Let`s go out to a special guest joining us tonight. It is Sheriff Steve Wilson in the Walker County sheriff`s office. Sheriff, thank you for being with us.


GRACE: Sheriff, can I ask you a few quick questions? What time was she last seen by her sister?

WILSON: She was last seen on March the 21st, the evening of March the 21st around 9:00 PM. And then later that night, we know that there was a phone call made to the sister shortly after 10:00 PM.

GRACE: Now, see, that`s what I find very, very interesting, Sheriff, because it`s my understanding that Theresa Parker left her sister`s to go to Theresa`s new apartment. It wasn`t ready for her to move into. She was going over there to do some cleaning and arranging, and said she`d go home around 12:00 o`clock.

It`s also my understanding that a neighbor at the apartment area saw her around 10:15. But the phone call you`re referring to, didn`t that come from the home she once shared with her estranged husband?

WILSON: No. I think you`re mistaken on that. There may have been a phone call from the home, and we`re looking into that also, but I -- but we`re sure that there was also the phone call from Theresa`s cell phone to her sister`s home somewhere around that Same time.

GRACE: Did she actually speak to her sister?

WILSON: Yes. Her sister I believe had just fell asleep and spoke to her briefly.

GRACE: And was she still at her apartment, cleaning it up and working on it?

WILSON: That is what we believe from the interviews. That`s right.

GRACE: OK. Now, so what I asked you to start with, that other phone call I`m talking about, according to the sister, it came up on caller ID from the home -- not the apartment, the home.

WILSON: That`s correct.

GRACE: Who else could get into that home? It wasn`t the sister.

WILSON: Well, we know that Sam Parker was living there, also. He was there during this period of time that we`re -- that you`re questioning about.

GRACE: Oh, I thought he had moved into his father`s home.

WILSON: Well, he was -- he had. It`s quite confusing for someone that hasn`t been tracking it each day. He had actually moved out into his father`s home, his mother and father`s home in the town south of us here. But he was coming and going, the term we would use here, I guess, in the marital home. So he had access still to the marital home.

GRACE: I wonder why he would have been calling the sister after 10:00 o`clock at night.

WILSON: Well, that`s a good question. And you know, that`s some of the things that the investigators have talked with him about. He has been cooperative up to this point, I believe a total of about three different sit-down interviews with him, and he has so far cooperated with...

GRACE: Good to know. Good to know.

WILSON: ... the GBI.

GRACE: And I want to point out that the husband, the estranged husband, is not a suspect. I also want to ask you this -- Sheriff Steve Wilson joining us from Walker County sheriff`s office. Sheriff, isn`t it true that the following morning, he`s back over at the marital home at around 6:00 AM?

WILSON: We know that -- we know that he placed a phone call to his fishing buddy around 7:30 that morning, so we know that he was there on his own statement and the fact that he made a phone call from there around 7:15 to 7:30 that morning. The calls (ph) he had had plans from the day before to go fishing with a buddy.

GRACE: Right. Why was he back at the home that early in the morning?

WILSON: Well, that`s where the boat was. In his own admission, he had to come back and get his pickup truck and boat that was there at that time.

GRACE: Well, sheriff, I`m sure he wasn`t going to find his boat in the living room floor. Why was he in the home, using the telephone?

WILSON: Well, because he had access to that home. He was, as I said, still sharing that home to a certain degree with Theresa Parker.

GRACE: Now, it`s also my understanding he goes in, and the door to her bedroom is shut. He says he doesn`t want to disturb her. Her car is parked in the front, I guess, of the home, but parked at the home. Yes?

WILSON: That is his story, yes.

GRACE: OK. Now, tell me about the search, Sheriff. When was she actually reported missing?

WILSON: She was reported missing to the Walker County sheriff`s office last Saturday morning around 9:00 AM. And shortly thereafter, we began a very intensive investigation, a very intensive search for her that led throughout the day Saturday. And then around 5:30 or so Saturday afternoon, I contacted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and asked them - - and I asked them and requested of them to join forces with us and actually to take over this investigation. And they have done so since around last Saturday.

GRACE: So Sheriff, since the time she was last seen around 9:00 PM by her sister on the 21st, how many days passed before a search was mounted, before she was formally reported missing?

WILSON: Yes. Well, she had -- Theresa had talked with her mother and her sister, and they knew that she was off these days, she was off from work, her regular scheduled days off, and that she was going to be moving. She was going to be coming and going to the new apartment. So they did not think, really, much about her not speaking to them on Thursday. On Friday, they did become somewhat suspicious because Theresa had normally communicated with them on almost a daily basis, or at least every other day. So on Friday, they did become, you know, worried about her not answering phone calls, not calling her, and...

GRACE: So when was she reported, Saturday?

WILSON: She was reported early Saturday morning.


WILSON: So we`re really looking at two full days.

GRACE: Two full days.

Out to you, Detective Lieutenant Steve Rogers with the Nutley Police Department, former FBI terrorism task force. Those first 72 hours, so critical. Why?

DET. LT. STEVE ROGERS, NUTLEY POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, they`re very critical because that`s when information is very fresh in the minds of any witnesses and even possible suspects. Sounds like, Nancy, that the sheriff`s department`s doing an excellent methodological investigation in this case, starting at ground zero, which would be with the husband. And Nancy, you said something or alluded to something a little earlier, the foul play theory. I believe police are focusing on that track, although they`re not saying it.

GRACE: Well put. Let`s go to the lines. Carol in Massachusetts. Hi, Carol.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. Love your show.

GRACE: Thank you, dear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just wondering if her purse or cell phone have been found.

WILSON: My question, exactly. To you, Sheriff Steve Wilson. The sheriff is joining from the Walker County sheriff`s office. Everybody, if you`re just tuning in, we are helping to look for Theresa Parker. This is the lady police dispatcher, a 911 dispatcher, who`s now missing, day nine. Highly unusual. This lady never misses work, never goes this long without being in touch with her family.

What can you tell me, Sheriff, about her cell phone, her pocketbook, her credit cards?

WILSON: Well, the pocketbook and the cell phone have not been located. I wanted to clear that up. Some of the news agencies had reported the cell phone had been located. But what we have done is, we have -- with the technology that`s available today from the wireless providers, we have been able to track the actual cell phone to the last time it was used. And we have a general area that we`re going to be looking at tomorrow. We have a massive search that`s going to come under way tomorrow. We`re hoping that that search, which will cover approximately 40 square miles, will, you know, at least give us some hope, some leads to finding Theresa.

GRACE: You know, that`s an interesting question, Sheriff. With the process of triangulation, I thought you could pinpoint it down to a couple of blocks where the last call was made.

WILSON: Well, we -- the technology is there. I know that it is there, but in this particular -- with this service provider, in this area that we are looking at, we are being told that they can give us a general area but they cannot bring it down to that city block that we surely hoped for.

GRACE: Now, why is that, Sheriff? If the technology`s there, why can`t they do it?

WILSON: Well, that`s something you would have to ask that wireless -- that particular wireless provider. I do not know the answer to that.

GRACE: What about it, Detective Lieutenant Steve Rogers? It can, and we have seen it, hone in on a cell phone call within a couple of blocks. I know that for a fact.

ROGERS: Oh, yes. Sure, it`s a fact. We`ve had that with our own police department triangulating through Internet service providers or cell phone providers, the exact location. Perhaps in the sheriff`s locality, there are not enough cell phone towers...

GRACE: Ah. Yes.

ROGERS: ... to do what we do here in the city.

GRACE: Very possible. Take a listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forty-one-year-old Theresa Parker visited her sister last Wednesday night. That`s the last time anyone saw her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Early Saturday morning, she was reported missing to the Walker County sheriff`s office by her mother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Parker`s husband is Sergeant Sam Parker with the Lafayette Police Department. Theresa Parker and her husband were in the process of separating. She already found another place to live. The morning of her disappearance, Sam Parker went fishing with a friend. He told police he never called to report her missing because he believed she`d already moved out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forty-one-year-old Theresa Parker one of the first 911 dispatchers hired in Walker County 15 years ago. Those close to her knew her 14-year marriage to Lafayette police officer Sergeant Sam Parker was ending. She was moving out. She went to visit her sister last Wednesday night, and that`s the last time she was seen. Her mother called to report her missing Saturday. Sam Parker told police he thought she`d already moved out and that`s why he didn`t report her missing.


GRACE: Hold on just a moment! To you -- back to Sheriff Steve Wilson with the Walker County sheriff`s office. He actually said that he thought his wife had already moved out?

WILSON: Well, that`s the statement that he gave to investigators. His story was that he was in and out of this marital home, and he knew that she was in the process of moving to the next town. And that`s the statement he gave, yes.

GRACE: Well, if she thought she`d already moved out, then why was her car parked there and he didn`t go into the bedroom when he said that the bedroom door was shut, he didn`t want to disturb her?

WILSON: I think that`s an excellent question.

GRACE: OK. OK. I hear you loud and clear. Sheriff, question. Did he take the boat back to the home?

WILSON: Yes, he did. Yes, after the fishing trip ended on Thursday afternoon, he did return back to that home.

GRACE: And her car was still sitting there?

WILSON: Yes, it was.

GRACE: And the bedroom door was still closed?

WILSON: Yes, it was, according to his statement.

GRACE: And he didn`t call police?

WILSON: No, he did not.

GRACE: Has this guy taken a polygraph?

WILSON: He has not, at this point.

GRACE: Has he been asked to take a polygraph?

WILSON: Yes, he has.

GRACE: Has he said yes or no?

WILSON: Well, that`s -- I do not want to comment on that because I`m -- I don`t want to go into areas of evidence that might jeopardize the integrity...

GRACE: Has the polygraph been set up? Has it been arranged yet?

WILSON: No, it has not.

GRACE: All right. Let`s go out to Chloe Morrison with the "Chattooga Times Free Press." On the other hand, this guy`s not a suspect and it is said he is cooperating with police. In what way?

CHLOE MORRISON, "CHATTOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS": Well, his sister gave the statement today that he has, you know, given up his home and his car for searching. They searched all around his house, searched -- you know, photographed and examined his body and just looked for physical evidence all around the car and his house.

GRACE: Let`s unleash the lawyers. To Mickey Sherman and John Burris, both veteran trial lawyers, Sherman in New York, Burris in San Francisco. To you, John Burris. You can get a warrant to take pictures of somebody`s body or to pluck hair, to get a voice Sample, to get a DNA Sample. You know, you don`t really have to have cooperation. You can get that through a search warrant, right, John?

JOHN BURRIS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely. But he has cooperated, and so obviously, he wants to, you know, protect himself as best he can. If I were representing him, I think that I would probably have a polygraph taken so that I`m clear about some of the things that have taken place and...


GRACE: A private poly?

BURRIS: Of course. You know, I`d have a private one that -- because the question is this. How much do you want him to talk to the police or not? And obviously, he wants to create -- he wants to be cooperative, but at the Same time you know, these are situations where suspicion`s going be on him, no matter what. And so cooperation in and of itself may never help him out because unless he has a foolproof alibi, the suspicion is going to be on him, so...


GRACE: Well, in fact, I don`t believe he was working that night that she was last seen. I don`t think he was working with the police. That`s a very good point, John Burris.

And to you, Mickey Sherman. The reality is, a lot of things can screw up a polygraph.

MICKEY SHERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, but they`re generally reliable, as much as we hate to admit it. You know, the wife is missing. The guy went -- the husband`s gone fishing when she`s missing. Didn`t we do this story already a couple of years ago?

GRACE: Hey, you are supposed to be taking the defense side, OK?


SHERMAN: And I am. The bottom line is that they`re always going to look to the husband. They`re always going to look to the spouse.

GRACE: That`s normal. That is not anything unusual.

SHERMAN: Statistically, they`re the ones who are generally guilty. And the guy`s backed into a corner. That`s the problem he has.

GRACE: Agree, disagree, Burris?

BURRIS: No, I recognize...


BURRIS: ... police focus on him. But from a defense point of view, you`ve got to decide how much you want to allow for the police...


BURRIS: ... to have access to him. And given he can`t get himself out of it, I think I would shut down.

GRACE: Everybody, we are talking about a woman, a lady police 911 dispatcher, who is now gone day nine. We are piecing together the clues that we know about tonight and taking your calls.

Very quickly, to tonight`s "Case Alert." The search for a 3-year-old boy kidnapped on a parking lot in Mesa, Arizona. Police say Isaiah Vargas was with acquaintance when he was snatched at the apartment complex. It all went down Thursday night, the acquaintance assaulted by two suspects described as black males in a dark green Volkswagen Jetta. A third suspect believed to be the driver couldn`t be identified. Vargas, the little boy, 3 feet, 29 pounds, brown hair, brown eyes. He has a slight scar on the right forehead. Last seen wearing bluejeans, red jersey. If you have info, please take a look. Call 480-644-2211.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... forty-one-year-old Theresa Parker. The 911 dispatcher scheduled to be at work but did not show. Detectives say no one has heard from her since last Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re still looking at a missing person. There`s no conclusive evidence that would point to anything as foul play.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police say they`re worried because although Parker had gone out of town on trips before, she always stayed in very close contact with her family, but not this time. Police used GPS to locate the phone, and they say they know the last time it was used, information they say they cannot release.


GRACE: A lady police 911 dispatcher missing now day nine. I`m stunned anybody would say they don`t believe foul play is involved. This is nothing like her, her car parked indefinitely in the front of the home she once shared with her estranged husband.

With us tonight, a very special guest, Sheriff Steve Wilson with the Walker County sheriff`s office. Again, thank you for being with us. Sheriff, you mentioned you`re a launching massive 40-mile search tomorrow. Why?

WILSON: Well, it`s south of the marital home, in an area that would extend from Lafayette, Georgia, down to the Trine (ph), Georgia, area. This is in a somewhat rural area of Walker County.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sam appears to be extremely worried about his wife. He`s distraught in regard to his wife. But as he told me, he said his best medicine was to stay active and keep his mind busy.


GRACE: He is the husband, the estranged husband, of the lady 911 police dispatcher, now missing day nine. Tonight we are piecing together clues.

Out to the lines. Sharon in Tennessee. Hi, Sharon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. We love your show.

GRACE: Thank you. What`s your question, dear?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have two. Has anybody checked to see if they used her for fish bait in these fishing waters?

GRACE: If he did what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he used her for fish bait in his fishing waters.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And have they sprayed the boat with luminol?

GRACE: I can answer one of those, I believe, but I`ve got Sheriff Steve Wilson with me. He went fishing with a local attorney, right?

WILSON: That`s correct, Nancy. We have...

GRACE: OK. She`s not fish bait. We know that much.

WILSON: We have confirmed that story. We have interviewed the attorney. And Sam -- the police officer`s story and the attorney`s story corroborate each other, so we feel confident that we`ve ruled that out.

GRACE: Sheriff, have you guys used luminol in the car, the boat and the home yet?

WILSON: Well, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations has used investigative techniques similar to that.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We first told you about the GBI taking possession of Sergeant Sam Parker`s patrol car Thursday. But Fayette Police Chief Tommy Freeman says another officer drove it to the Walker County Sheriff`s Department eight days after his wife, Theresa Parker, disappeared. Investigators searched it.

They also say that Sergeant Parker has cooperated fully and answered all questions during at least three interviews. Although investigators don`t call Parker a suspect, this ordeal has stressed him and the department out. The search for Theresa Parker and suspicion around her husband has placed tremendous pressure on the department.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Parker`s family says she`s traveled out of town before but always stayed in close contact with her mother and sister with her cell phone. Police say no one has been ruled out as a suspect. Sergeant Parker continues to work his overnight patrol shift while the search for his wife continues.


GRACE: A lady 911 police dispatcher missing day nine. Out to Nicole Partin, investigative reporter, had there been any history of domestic violence?

NICOLE PARTIN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Yes, there had been, Nancy. In both 2002 and 2004, 911 calls show that there had been calls of domestic violence in the home. And then again in May of this year, calls had came in, both from Mr. Parker and then, 30 minutes before that, from Miss Parker, as well, claims of domestic violence in the home.

GRACE: Hold on. Hold on. That`s three calls, one in one day, and two in another day?

PARTIN: There were calls in 2002.

GRACE: Right.

PARTIN: Calls in 2004, and then again in May, there were also calls, 30 minutes she calls, 30 minutes later the husband calls, and says, you know, she`s claiming I`m ransacking the house, I`m abusing her. Come over here and see that I`m not. So both of them actually dialed 911 in one day.

GRACE: So she called claiming domestic abuse, and he called basically to tell?

PARTIN: Exactly.

GRACE: OK, so that`s three separate domestic abuse allegations. Did any of those go to court?

PARTIN: They did not. As far as we can tell, they did not. They were dismissed. Nothing became of it. I think on one occasion they sent an officer over. But we`ve got to remember, the estranged husband is a sergeant with the police department.

GRACE: Now, what am I supposed to remember about that, that you can`t have a domestic if you`re a police officer?

PARTIN: I think that you can, but I think in some cases -- this is a very small town. And from what I`ve been told, that a lot of this was kind of swept under the rug, and, you know, they would send an officer over, and he would kind of talk to Sergeant Parker, and that would be the end of it.

GRACE: To you, Sheriff Steve Wilson, what about it? Is that true?

SHERIFF STEVE WILSON, WALKER COUNTY SHERIFF`S OFFICE: That is totally untrue. These were never swept under the rug. They were fully investigated, and no arrest was made of either party out of these two calls. There was one call in 2002. And then in 2004, as your reporter said, Theresa called first, and then Sam called second, about 30 minutes apart.

So we`re talking about two events, actually two domestics with three telephone calls. They were fully investigated. And reports were made on these. Of course, in Georgia domestic violence reports are not subject to public review. But I can assure you they were fully investigated.

GRACE: What was the nature of the call? What was the claim?

WILSON: They came in as domestic -- the event, when the calls come into 911, each call is classified into categories. And both of these, or all three calls, both events were classified as the domestics, which is, you know, pretty generic for all types of domestics.

GRACE: We don`t know exactly what the allegation was?

WILSON: Well, we believe in both events that they were verbal, verbal domestics. Domestics are classified in two or three different ways. They can be of a verbal domestic, a physical domestic. And we believe -- and the evidence, I think, would support that -- that these were very heated, domestic-type arguments.

GRACE: Let`s go to Chloe Morrison there with the "Chattooga Times Free Press," Chloe, isn`t it true that that coming Friday, they were to finalize the financial settlement?

CHLOE MORRISON, "CHATTOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS": I am not aware of the financial situation. All I know is, you know, they both were working -- she was working for the county, and he was working for the city.

GRACE: OK. Nicole, are you familiar with that? Was there a financial settlement to be done on Friday?

PARTIN: They were actually selling the family home. And on Friday, the closing was to take place. And they were actually, at that point, going to settle the funds on the closing of the home.

GRACE: Out to the lines, Kathleen in Florida, hi, Kathleen.

CALLER: Hi, Nancy. My question is, if they`ve established his whereabouts on Wednesday evening, that maybe she didn`t go missing Thursday morning. Maybe it more than likely happened Wednesday evening. And where was he?

GRACE: And, again, the husband is not a suspect, has been not named a suspect. He is being cooperative. We`re still waiting for him to take a polygraph, but still cooperative.

To you, Sheriff Steve Wilson, you know, I was asking that earlier. He was off on Wednesday, correct?

WILSON: That is correct.

GRACE: The same night that call came from the home they shared, right?

WILSON: That is correct.

GRACE: What`s his alibi for that night?

WILSON: He was at home off and on that night working in the yard. He was burning some leaves. As you know, springtime is coming in this area, and he was kind of clearing some winter rubbish. And we have confirmed that with a young man that he had hired to work in the yard that night.

GRACE: And how long did he work in the yard?

WILSON: Up until about dark, which here is around 8:00, 8:15.

GRACE: And that mysterious phone call that came from the home to the sister was around, what, 9:30, 10:00?

WILSON: I believe you`re correct, yes.

GRACE: Interesting. Who owned the boat?

WILSON: Sam Parker owned the boat.

GRACE: It was his boat. Who owned the home?

WILSON: The home was jointly owned by Theresa and Sam.

GRACE: Had there ever been any break-ins?

WILSON: None that I am aware of, no.

GRACE: Do we know if she had boyfriends?

WILSON: We have not found any evidence of that.

GRACE: To you, joining us tonight, Beatty Cohan, psychologist and author, welcome back to the show. It`s nice to have you. You know, just because police start with the boyfriend or the husband does not indicate anything. That`s where all missing people, missing person`s cases start, with the family. Why?


GRACE: But why?

COHAN: Well, I think that the people who are very, very close to the person, it would be the logical place to certainly start there. And I think, you know, if you look at the history of this particular couple -- I mean, one of the sheriffs said that, well, there were domestic issues. And his definition was that the domestic issue was probably verbal.

We don`t know whether or not it was verbal. We don`t know whether or not it was physical. And I`ll tell you, in the 35 years that I`ve been a psychotherapist, the majority of people do not call 911 if there are verbal altercations going on. So that`s number one.

Number two, the question that I have is, how did this husband feel, really, about her moving in to her own apartment and setting up home? And was it as amiable of a divorce as we`ve been, you know, led to believe?

GRACE: Well, so far, that`s the report. We`ve checked it out from many sources. They were trying to remain friends. We`re still on the story of the 911 lady dispatcher missing.

But I want to tell you about a preacher`s wife that goes missing from a ladies` Christian conference. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s one of the most difficult cases detectives in Bossier City, Louisiana, have ever worked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The frustrating thing is, it`s just not knowing, and hopefully, you know, something will break here soon so that we can at least provide some information to the family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mary Byrne Smith has been the talk of Summerdale since she disappeared while attending a religious conference near Shreveport. Now, she`s the talk of the nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I spoke with some national cable news folks, you know, which is a benefit to us. I mean, the more information we can get out there about Ms. Smith, you know, the better the chances of, you know, us possibly getting some information about her.


GRACE: Another mystery, a highly popular pastor`s wife heads out of town to a conference. It`s actually on Christian women empowerment in northwest Louisiana. The mother of two, a local kindergarten teacher, gets up out of her seat in the middle of the conference, says she goes to the lady`s room, and vanishes.

To you, Nicole Partin, investigative reporter, has there been any cell activity, any credit card activity?

PARTIN: Absolutely not. According to detectives, there has been no activity on her cell phone, no activity on her credit cards. And no one has heard from her since she left her friend around 11:00 a.m. Saturday at the conference.

GRACE: Just left the lady sitting there, her overnight bag still found in the car where it was abandoned. It may boil down to simple Trial 101, the method of triangulation, being able to track cell phone calls many times down to the block, the square block.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... very responsible teacher. So when she didn`t show up to work, it got everybody`s attention. We`re a family. And when something happens to one of our employees, it concerns us all. So we`re very hopeful, and our thoughts go out to the family, and very hopeful that she will return one day to the classroom.


GRACE: How can you go missing from a 14,000-plus arena? But that is exactly what happened to this preacher`s wife, a highly popular preacher`s wife, goes on a Christian woman`s empowerment conference in Louisiana, takes a bathroom break and is never seen again.

Let`s go out to our guest tonight. To you, David Ferrara, staff reporter with "The Press Register," what exactly happened?

DAVID FERRARA, STAFF REPORTER, "PRESS REGISTER": Well, it is not entirely clear at this point. Police aren`t saying a whole lot except that they don`t suspect foul play.

GRACE: Well, how long has she been gone?

FERRARA: She`d been gone since Saturday morning around 11:00.

GRACE: OK, we`re going on a week. What do they suspect?

FERRARA: Well, they`re not really saying. They said that they found some personal information that paints a picture that they do not suspect foul play. But at this point, they`re not saying what that personal information is or how they obtained it.

GRACE: Who called police?

FERRARA: Her friend. She had attended this religious women`s conference with her friend. And when her friend waited by her car for about two hours, and she never showed up, her friend called police.

GRACE: Now, the pastor`s wife is -- they`re from Alabama, correct?


GRACE: And this conference was over in Louisiana, yes?

FERRARA: Right, it`s about 500 miles away.

GRACE: And how old are the children this lady leaves at home?

FERRARA: They`re young children, but nobody`s really said anything about their ages at this point in time.

GRACE: I understand they`re toddlers.

FERRARA: That`s not exactly clear yet.

GRACE: OK, let`s go to the lawyers, Mickey Sherman, John Burris. You know, to you, Mickey Sherman, it`s not a crime to go on a walkabout, to disappear for a few days, unless you get police in on it, like...

MICKEY SHERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, like the runaway bride.

GRACE: Runaway bride, yes. Who can ever forget that? That women cost the government thousands and thousands of dollars. Then she gets a book deal.

SHERMAN: Yes, but she also gave us a lot of free air time, Nancy. And you can`t fault her for that. And if there`s...

GRACE: I`m surprised nobody was arrested in that.

SHERMAN: No, but if there was no foul play here, then she`s got a boyfriend or a girlfriend. I mean, it`s either one or the other. It can`t be a little bit of both. And if they seem so confident that they`re able to say there`s no foul play, then clearly it`s a runaway bride situation.

GRACE: John Burris, what about it?

JOHN BURRIS, FMR. PROSECUTOR, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, I would agree with that, as well. You know, the police indications are that it`s not foul play, then it has to be as Mickey suggests. I don`t think that she`s going to be liable for any money, in large measure because her friend is the one that called the police. She didn`t call the police. She didn`t do anything. She just left. And she has a right to leave and abandon whatever she wants, so I don`t think she has any liability as of yet. It is, you know, suspicious, but at the same time, she does have a right to walk away from whatever she wants. So I don`t...


GRACE: Well, the reality is, to both of you gentlemen, Wilbanks, the runaway bride, also didn`t call police, but her problem was she gave a false report and very well could have had somebody arrested with that false report.

BURRIS: That hasn`t happened in this case.

GRACE: No, it has not.

SHERMAN: And remember the hell she put her husband through? He took the polygraph, and then everyone criticized him, thought he was phonying it up.

GRACE: The whole family. The whole family.

SHERMAN: We vilified him for about 48 hours.

GRACE: No, no, I did not vilify him.

SHERMAN: Everybody else but you, Nancy.

GRACE: No, because after seeing him on the air and talking to Wilbanks` father, in my mind, no. And, plus, Jennifer Wilbanks` fiance was there in the home at the time she went missing. In my mind, he always had a locked alibi.

Out to the lines, Debbie in Louisiana, hi, Debbie.

CALLER: Hi, Nancy. We enjoy your show.

GRACE: Thank you to all of my Cajun friends.

CALLER: Yes. My question is, much of the same, do they think that the lady is estranged or left her husband, as do happen with pastor`s wives, and it`s very hard, and she may have just walked away from the marriage?

GRACE: Are you a preacher`s wife?

CALLER: No, but I am in a family where that happened.

GRACE: The stress.

You know, let`s go to our shrink, psychotherapist Beatty Cohan. You know, you do live in a fish bowl. This is a young lady. She`s only 30 years old. I think she just turned 30. She`s got two kids. I understand they`re toddlers. Not sure about the ages. She`s just as cute as a button, goes to this lady`s conference, a Christian ladies` empowerment conference, she gets empowered, all right. She goes to the bathroom, and she`s never seen again.

COHAN: I`m not so sure, Nancy, that this was probably not something that was preplanned. We know nothing about the marriage. We know nothing what really was going on behind closed doors. It`s true you do live in a fish bowl if you`re in a position like hers.

GRACE: Well, not just a fish bowl, Beatty. Everybody expects...

COHAN: Exactly.

GRACE: ... something of you. It`s not just that people are looking at you. You`re a model. You`re up on a pedestal if you are, you know, the wife of a preacher, a rabbi, any situation like that, very difficult.

COHAN: Very difficult. And we don`t know what was going on in the marriage or in the family. And for me, you know, when I think about foul play, it sounds to me like, when she was at this conference, that this was not something just on the spur of the moment, Nancy, that she decided that she was going to disappear. I`d be very, very curious to find out about what was really going on in her life and in her marriage before the conference.

GRACE: You know, another interesting thing -- out to you, David Ferrara with the "Press Register" -- it`s one thing to be fed up with your husband or your wife, all right, and take a break, take a walkabout, but when you have two kids at home, leaving them behind, that that is a more serious issue. Do we know if she had withdrawn money from the bank? I mean, I hate for everybody to twiddle their thumbs and think she`s just taking a breather from her family and there really has been foul play, David.

FERRARA: Well, police said that they`ve tried to track her credit cards and things like that, and her cell phone, but they really haven`t found any sort of records since she disappeared. They haven`t said anything about, you know, if she took out a bunch of money before she left.

GRACE: OK. Take a listen to this, David.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Summerdale Police Department has contacted investigators in Bossier City, but so far nobody knows what happened to Smith.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, that`s kind -- that`s the freaky part about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s really, really weird, because stuff like that never really happens in Summerdale. I`ve never heard of anything like that happening.


GRACE: And to you, John and Mickey, if we all are just saying she`s taking a breather, what if foul play, to you, John Burris?

BURRIS: Well, obviously, foul play is an important consideration. You do have to wonder how it could happen and the likelihood of it taking place, of course. And the longer it goes on, there might be some real indication that something happened.

GRACE: Well, it`s been a week. It`s been a week.

BURRIS: That`s not very long. If she`d run out with a farm boy, it might be a year or so before she comes to her senses.


GRACE: What a week in America`s courtrooms. Take a look at the stories and, more important, the people who touched our lives.


GRACE: A stunning twist to a student-teacher affair. A young father of two pulls a long gun after his teacher wife lures a teen student into a sex affair. First, he says accident. Whoops, I tripped, and I shot the kid right in the head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To allow his client to get on television and answer questions, and then tonight to divulge to you attorney-client privileged conversations with his client, it`s outrageous. If they charged first degree and don`t have any lesser included on it, I`m telling you, this guy is going to walk.

GRACE: Day one in the inquest of Daniel Smith, just 20 years old and he died mysteriously. Why wasn`t Stern in court?

DAVID CAPLAN, "STAR" MAGAZINE: He didn`t support the hearing (INAUDIBLE)

GRACE: Avoid?

CAPLAN: That`s it, avoid.

GRACE: That would be it.

A tipster leads police to the day care, full of children, where police discover not only marijuana, but through all the dense pot smoke, an arsenal of handguns, rifles and ammunition, all within the children`s reach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s the worst I`ve ever seen, Nancy.

GRACE: ... dog feces on the floor where the children can play? How can you get a daycare license when you`ve got a record like this, Captain?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t answer that one, Nancy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think perhaps he really does have back pain, maybe he did have a spider bite, maybe he does have influenza. Maybe his scalp did get burned. Maybe he does have past drug addiction problems occurring.

GRACE: We also learned that he is kicking off an official tour in Las Vegas. So Las Vegas seems to be the hot spot for Michael Jackson right now, whether it`s on the stage or the hospital or the courtroom.


GRACE: Tonight, we remember Army Private First Class William Davis, just 26, Adrian, Michigan, killed Iraq. First tour of duty, he dreamed of enlisting as a teen in his family`s military tradition. Awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, he loved videos games, landscaping, racing up and down the bluffs with his mom, Jean, on the shores of Lake Michigan. He leaves behind a 3-year-old, his grieving widow Renee, pregnant with son, Caden (ph). William Davis, American hero.

Thanks to the guests, but most of all to you for being with us. A special good night from the New York control room. Good night, Brett, Rosie, Ben. See you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.