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Nancy Grace

Pregnant Marine Disappears on Eve of Testimony

Aired January 09, 2008 - 20:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight: The search is on for a gorgeous young Marine specializing in combat logistics, Camp Learning. Kicker? She`s eight months pregnant when she vanishes into thin air. So far, police found Meredith (SIC) Lauterbach`s cell phone and blue Hyundai Sonata. Tonight: We learn bank records reveal suspicious activity, but still no sign of the young and pregnant Marine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police in North Carolina meanwhile are searching for a pregnant missing Marine who had disappeared before Christmas. Maria Lauterbach is about eight months pregnant now. The 20-year-old is based at Camp Lejeune. Her mother reported her missing December 19. Her cell phone was found the next day near the camp`s main gate. And Lauterbach`s mother told police her daughter was to testify about an incident she witnessed on the base just before she disappeared.


GRACE: And tonight: Has there been another alleged sighting of missing 23-year-old mom Stacy Peterson? Peterson vanishing from the Chicago suburbs. Well, that`s what an allegedly anonymous letter claims, that letter found in husband/suspect Drew Peterson`s own mailbox, that letter placing 23-year-old Stacy Peterson in Florence, Kentucky, with another man. Coincidentally, the very same allegation came from Drew Peterson himself.

And tonight, while the search goes on for his missing wife, Drew Peterson heads to the Magic Kingdom, Disney World.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The claim? Stacy Peterson`s alive and recently seen with a man outside a Kentucky mall, this according to a second anonymous letter mailed to Drew Peterson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one is the only one that we`re aware of where they actually have a -- sorry, the person said that they spoke to Stacy and that the person more or less admitted to being Stacy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The letter coming more than a month after the first anonymous letter claiming Stacy looked pregnant while shopping in a Peoria grocery store. Illinois State Police say they plan to investigate. Drew Peterson remains the only suspect in his wife, Stacy`s, disappearance.


GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us. First tonight, the search for a young Marine, vanishing, Jacksonville, North Carolina. That investigation lurches into high gear. Where is 20-year-old Maria Lauterbach?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to see her again. I hope to see her, and I hope the baby`s healthy. I`m very concerned for both of them because it`s not just one person, it`s two. They`re very much at risk here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened to a female Marine eight months pregnant and missing from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina? Twenty-year-old Maria Lauterbach has not been heard from since December 14th. That`s when she spoke to her mom by telephone. And it`s her concerned mom who reports her missing days later, when she fails to contact her daughter. According to police, Lauterbach phoned home up to a dozen times a week.

The only clues in the investigation, her cell phone found near the main gate of the base, her car abandoned at a bus station, and now records show suspicious activity on her bank account. Her disappearance also suspicious because Lauterbach is set to testify as a witness to an incident at the base.


GRACE: Add into the mix that she is due to deliver at any moment. She was eight months pregnant when she went missing. That was in December. I`d also like to find out why are we just hearing about the disappearance of Lance Corporal Maria Frances Lauterbach?

I want to go straight to Mandi Sheridan. She`s a reporter with CNN affiliate WDTN. Mandi, thank you for being with us. What is the very latest? Then we`ll backtrack from there.

MANDI SHERIDAN, WDTN: Well, Nancy, at this point, her family understandably very upset, and right now, they are just waiting to hear anything. They were very careful with the answers they gave me today because they did not want to hurt the investigation. They say they found her vehicle, they found her cell phone, but so far, no word from her.

GRACE: OK. I don`t understand that, Mandi Sheridan. What questions did you ask that the answers may have hurt the investigation?

SHERIDAN: Before the mother agreed to do the interview, she was very careful. She said she had talked to the sheriff in North Carolina and she just wanted to make sure that she didn`t say anything that could jeopardize the investigation.

She did, however, tell me that the last time she spoke with her daughter was around 2:30 on December 14. And she said her daughter was in a good mood. She was very excited about her mother coming to visit. She was going down to visit the next weekend, and she said her daughter talked to her about what clothes to bring, where they were going to eat. And she also told me that that same day, her daughter e-mailed her father, saying she was very excited for her mother to come down.

And then when she got home that night, she had a phone call from Maria`s housemate, who said she felt something was wrong and she thought Maria was gone. At that point, she began filing a missing persons report.

Now, she tells me that it was a little bit different filing it with the Marines because they had to wait until Maria was of deserted status, and at that point, they were able to file the missing persons report, when no one had heard from her.

And just Monday night, the sheriff down in North Carolina did find her vehicle at a bus stop, or a bus station, in Jacksonville, North Carolina. And they found her cell phone near the main gate at the base. Other than that, they said her cell phone had been turned off. Her mother has not heard from her, and she tells me that this is very unlike her daughter. She said that...

GRACE: OK, hold on. A couple questions, Mandi. With me is Mandi Sheridan with CNN affiliate WDTN. You say the cell phone was found. My understanding is the cell phone was found on December 20 near the gates to Camp Lejeune. Yes, no.

SHERIDAN: Her mother just told me that her cell phone was found near the gate at Camp Lejeune. She did not tell me what day.


SHERIDAN: She just told me it was near the gate.

GRACE: I also learned that there was suspicious bank activity around the date that she disappeared. Has there been any other activity on that bank account?

SHERIDAN: All that we have heard at this point, all that`s been released to us, is that the sheriff down there is saying there is some suspicious activity on her bank account. Her mother said that, as well, said they are looking at her financial -- her finances, but she did not go into any detail when I asked her, you know, more specifics. She, again, did not want to say much because she was afraid of jeopardizing the investigation.

GRACE: OK. OK. I respect that.

Out to the lines. Sheeba in Illinois. Hi, Sheeba.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. You still look radiant.

GRACE: Thank you. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is -- OK, I graduated from high school not far from Camp Lejeune. My question is, why didn`t they do a more thorough investigation of the inland waterways and all this? And could they have possibly listed her as AWOL or thought of her as being AWOL?

GRACE: Good question. What about that? Back out to you, Mandi Sheridan. Have the waterways been searched? And is she AWOL status?

SHERIDAN: At this point, I do not have that information. I don`t know if they`ve searched the waterways in that area. Her mother just told me that they have filed a missing persons report, and that`s all she could really say.

GRACE: OK. Out to Lindell Kay, crime reporter with "The Jacksonville Daily News." Lindell, thank you for being with us. There was a lag time from the time that she was last spoken to on the phone. She called home about 12 times a week. She was getting close to her due date. I can understand that myself. And I guarantee you, Lindell, the mother was coming to visit to get everything ready to give birth, OK? I guarantee you that.

Now, why would this girl, 20 years old, just go missing while her mother is en route, practically, to come get everything ready for her to give birth? She was eight months pregnant. Tonight, as of tonight, she is set to give birth at any moment.

LINDELL KAY, "JACKSONVILLE DAILY NEWS": Right. Well, the -- I think the main thing to remember is Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville area is a very transient area. People come and go. Missing persons -- it`s not uncommon for someone to file a missing persons report, and then two days later, that person shows up and it turns out that they had been, you know, on a two- week deployment or they had been somewhere. So it`s an area where people come and go so...

GRACE: Lindell, Lindell, Lindell, my God, man, the woman`s eight months pregnant.

KAY: Right.

GRACE: She`s not going to be deployed. What are you talking about, deployed?

KAY: No, not -- what I`m saying is that when the sheriff`s department began their investigation on the 19th...


KAY: ... they interviewed the people that knew her. They interviewed people at the base. They conducted an investigation to figure out where she was at. I believe they think at the time that she was where she wanted to be.

GRACE: Oh, voluntarily missing.

KAY: Right. Right.

GRACE: Because that is -- that`s a gap in the timeline that`s very disturbing to me.

KAY: Right.

GRACE: Back to you, Mandi. Based on what Lindell is telling me -- that`s Lindell Kay with "The Jacksonville Daily News" -- she went missing on or about the 14th, but the search didn`t get going until about the 19th, five days later. Why?

SHERIDAN: What the mother -- what her mother told me was on the 14th is when she was notified by her housemate. And the next day, the next -- she said the next business day, they contacted police, the sheriff`s office. And she told me that because of her Marine status, they had to wait until she was of a certain status before they could actually go ahead, that she had to be of a deserter status before they could go ahead and file that report.

GRACE: That doesn`t even make any sense to me! Why should she be treated differently than a civilian when it comes to being a missing person? She didn`t even live on the base, did she, Mandi?

SHERIDAN: I`m not sure exactly where her housing was. Her mother did not go into that.

GRACE: Quickly, out to the lines. Let`s go to Elaine in Michigan. Hi, Elaine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. This is Elaine Wheaton from Foster (ph) in Michigan, and I love your show.

GRACE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you. And your babies are absolutely beautiful.

GRACE: I`ve got to tell you, I hated to leave them again tonight. I don`t know if it gets any easier or not. I know that this girl`s mother, Maria Lauterbach`s mother, must be wringing her hands right now, wondering where is her daughter. And you know, Elaine, nobody has to tell me. The mom was on the way to visit. I did the same thing, getting everything ready for the babies to come. That`s what she was doing. This woman has not gone voluntarily missing at eight months pregnant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do not believe so, neither. I think they`re going to find there was foul play somewheres. But who was the father to her baby?

GRACE: That`s my next question. Who`s the baby`s daddy? Mandi Sheridan, do we know?

SHERIDAN: I asked her mother that exact question, Nancy, and she told me that her daughter was a loner, somewhat of a loner, and that the family was not aware of any boyfriends. And then she said she could not comment beyond that.

GRACE: OK. She`s a loner, and the family didn`t know who the boyfriend was? Is that what I`m hearing?

SHERIDAN: She just told me the family was not aware of any boyfriends. And then she said she was not able to comment any further.

GRACE: OK. Lindell Kay.


GRACE: The father hasn`t come forward? The father`s not out there beating the bushes, trying to find his unborn child? I smell a rat.

KAY: Well, that`s -- yes, that`s more than likely maybe the case. But I think the important thing to point out is the car was found Monday, but it was not at the bus station all this time. They checked the bus station over the weekend, it was not there. So either Maria or someone else put her car at the bus station on Monday.

GRACE: I assume the car has been impounded and it`s being processed for prints, right, Lindell?

KAY: The FBI was -- spent two or three hours going over it today.

GRACE: OK. Let`s go to Tom Shamshak, private investigator, joining us out of Boston, a veteran with just this type of investigation. Where do we go from here? We don`t have her cell phone. The cell phone -- she doesn`t have her cell phone. That was found almost immediately, so we`re not going to get any pings, Tom. So where do we go?

TOM SHAMSHAK, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: First of all, welcome back. Congratulations to you and David on the birth of your beautiful children.

GRACE: Thank you. Thank you very much.

SHAMSHAK: All right. The key here, Nancy, as I see it, is to start a timeline on the phone records. We don`t know that she went missing on the 14th. She could have been going back and forth to work. But if we get the phone records, start a timeline there, who was using that phone? I mean, did that phone become dislodged because she might have been in a quarrel and was perhaps going to be calling 911? The fact that it`s there at the base leads me to believe that there`s a connection to that scene and somebody at the base.

Now, again, where`s the father? Who is the father? And what`s his timeline? Where has he been? That`s something I think they really need to explore.

GRACE: You know, I`m just wondering -- let`s unleash the lawyers. Joining us tonight out of Atlanta, Renee Rockwell, here in New York, Mickey Sherman, both veteran defense attorneys. To Renee. Renee, as she is going through all the prenatal care, and I assume that she was using the facilities there on the base, is there any reason that she would have ever named the father in any of these records?

RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know what? She may not have wanted to name the father. But Nancy, why is everybody talking about the father? Don`t you see another dynamic coming in here, the fact that she was a witness? And if you`re a witness in some type an of investigation, what does that mean?

GRACE: Yes, I see the dynamic. But Renee, you and Mickey and I have tried literally, you know, hundreds of cases between us. How often does a witness -- I know it does happen in those rare instances, but it is very rare indeed that a witness is actually murdered or kidnapped before their testimony. I mean, we hear about those rare, rare cases, but that`s very, very unusual, while the number one cause of death amongst pregnant women is homicide.

ROCKWELL: And I agree with you, Nancy, but somebody`s got to know a guy she may have been secretly seen with -- her roommate, a good friend, her mates that she worked with. Wouldn`t it be interesting if there could have been an allegation that maybe there was somebody involved with her that may have been her superior? It`s just so many dynamics, especially because she`s in the military, Nancy.

GRACE: Mickey Sherman, weigh in.

MICKEY SHERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the problem is that we have to guess so much here. It`s such a murky area. Who investigates this case? Is it the local police, the state police, the FBI, or the United States Marines?

GRACE: What is this, Mickey, about her not being reported missing because of her Marine status for so many days?

SHERMAN: That`s exactly what I`m saying. You know, the last I checked, Marines are people, too. And you know, we hold them in such high esteem, as well we should, that maybe we just don`t want to believe that something bad has happened within the Marine Corps.

GRACE: Now, on whom would the onus lie to go into her medical records? I assume the local police department. Are they crossing jurisdictions with the Marines in trying to find this woman? Is that the holdup? Is that the problem? Is that why we`ve got the lag time?

SHERMAN: I`ll bet you that`s the problem. I think nobody wants to step on the toes of the local Marine people. I think the problem with the history is that there`s not the best relationship between local law enforcement and the Marine law enforcement people (INAUDIBLE)

GRACE: So she, Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach, is falling through the cracks. Where is the 20-year-old Marine?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any idea what you think may be going on with your daughter?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no idea. We have no idea what`s happened. The one thing we do know is it`s extremely out of character for her not to call.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think there`s something criminal going on? Do you think somebody has her?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really can`t comment on that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a boyfriend in the picture or the baby`s father?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s no known boyfriend. She did tend to be a loner. We were not aware of boyfriends. And beyond that, I cannot comment.


GRACE: Where is Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach? She`s just 20 years old. She went missing abruptly, normally calling home about 12 times a week. Here`s the kicker. She is eight months pregnant. None of this is fitting together. There was a five-day lag time before she was reported missing.

Out to the lines. Rebecca in California. Hi, Rebecca.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. Congratulations.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was wondering, do they know what was the suspicious activity on her bank account?

GRACE: To Mandi Sheridan with WDTN. I`m trying to find that out, but I can`t get any further than suspicious activity. There was a withdrawal, a big withdrawal, on the day she went missing, the very day. That was December 14. And then recently, there was more suspicious activity December 24. I don`t know the nature of that on the 24th. Do you?

SHERIDAN: Nancy, I do not. I also had asked those questions, the same questions, and at this point, all I am getting is there was suspicious activity on her bank account. Her mother tells me that they were looking at her finances.

GRACE: Out to Lindell Kay with "The Jacksonville Daily News." What can you tell us about this suspicious activity? That could mean anything from repeated withdrawals until an ATM card stops, to a withdrawal at a different location. Do you have any idea?

KAY: Yes, I do know that the sheriff`s department thinks that that is going to be key in locating either Maria or other people who may be involved. They`ve -- they wanted to keep that pretty close to the vest, but the word got out. And I think that they think that`s going to be very important to the case.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The family is working with the sheriff`s office down there. And what is your hope at this point?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to see her again. I hope to see her, and I hope the baby`s healthy. I`m very concerned for both of them because it`s not just one person, it`s two. They`re very much at risk here.


GRACE: Welcome back. Tonight, we are helping, in our own way, join in the search for a missing Marine, 20-year-old Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach. She is eight months pregnant. She`s due to give birth at any moment. She went missing December 14. No sign of her since. There was a delay in reporting her disappearance of five days.

You know -- to Dr. Daniel Spitz, medical examiner, joining us out of Michigan. Dr. Spitz, those five days were integral. They were key. If you`re going to find a missing person, it`s usually within the first 72 hours.

DR. DANIEL SPITZ, MEDICAL EXAMINER: Well, you`re right, the first few hours and the first few days are critical when you`re dealing with a missing person. The longer you let a missing person remain missing, the more likely, if this involves foul play, that somebody can end up the victim of a homicide.

So I have to say, I do agree with Renee. I think it`s just awful coincidental that she was scheduled to be a witness in a particular event that involved the Marines. And I think that needs to be investigated to see who those people are and how she was involved.

GRACE: And we`re trying to confirm, Dr. Spitz, that she may have been the victim in some type of an incident about which she was set to testify. We don`t know the nature of the incident, and you`re not going to get that out of the Marines. They`re not giving us any information.

Back to you, Dr. Spitz. Is there -- would there be any reason that the baby`s father would be named in any of her medical records?

SPITZ: You know, it doesn`t -- they don`t have to release the information, for one. And they don`t have to be -- the father doesn`t have to be named. It`s really whether the mother chooses to release the information and mention him in the medical record.

GRACE: Well, I have noticed that in certain documents, you do have to -- you`re asked to name the father. That doesn`t mean she had to. Have those documents been released? Have they even been subpoenaed?


GRACE: A 20-year-old pregnant Marine in North Carolina disappearing just before she was supposed to testify about something she witnessed on base. Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach -- her mother actually reported her missing just before Christmas. Her cell phone was found the next day near Camp Lejeune`s main gate. But it`s not clear what she was supposed to testify about or even if it is connected to her disappearance at all. The corporal is eight months pregnant.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the detectives posted something saying that she had talked with her family members an average of 12 times a week. Is that accurate or is that number.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes. Absolutely. Yes. She called constantly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So more than once a day?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So when you didn`t get that phone call that day, I mean, even had her housemate not called you, you probably would have been suspicious?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had talked to her on that day at 2:30 in the afternoon, but she would have typically called me that evening again. As a matter of fact, she -- we had an arrangements where she would call me that evening.


GRACE: I still don`t understand, and I`m not getting answers to explain why five days passed before she was reported missing, her mother, who lived in a different state, finally reported her missing. But what about co-workers? What about her boss? What about her roommates and friends? Why did they think that it was OK that she was gone for five straight days?

Out to the lines. Stephanie in Oklahoma. Hi, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE, FROM OKLAHOMA: Yes, I`ve got three things for you.


STEPHANIE: I`m retired military. Number one, you never just not show up for work. If you don`t show up for work, your immediate supervisor immediately dispatches somebody to your quarters to find out where you are. At that point you are U.A., unauthorized absence. And number three, if they think you`ve ran, the first place they call are local friends, next of kin, and family they know you`re close to to see if that`s where you`re at.

GRACE: Stephanie, having been former military, how do you explain -- I used to have a judge that would tell the jury it is your duty to make all witnesses speak the truth and impugn perjury to no one. Maybe there is a way that I don`t understand, being non-military, that this could have been acceptable. How could she have gone five days? Let`s just pretend two of those days were weekend.

STEPHANIE: There`s no way. They stay on top of pregnant women especially because they are in a delicate condition. The military`s absolutely responsible for your health care and you`re well-being. You are contractually obligated to them. They essentially own you. If you get broken, they have to replace that manpower. Financially, they want to keep you fixed up and in good shape, and they want to keep you in your job doing your thing so they don`t have to, you know, shuffle people around to make up for the lost manpower.

So any supervisor that lets a person just disappear, that doesn`t happen. The chain of command would get involved immediately. Phone calls would be made. And if a supervisor let somebody just disappear for five days without doing anything, that person would end up in big trouble.

GRACE: So are you saying, Stephanie, you doubt this timeline or do you.

STEPHANIE: Doubt it? I raise the B.S. flag and wave it around enthusiastically from my roof.

GRACE: I agree. Something`s not right with the facts that we are getting. Now, do you think it`s possible she called in to work and we`re missing that piece of the puzzle and said, "Hey, I`m sick, I`m not going to show up for a couple of days?" Maybe that could explain the five days?

STEPHANIE: That doesn`t happen. She has to go to the doctor and get what`s called an S.I.Q. chit, sick in quarters. And that means they give her permission to be in her room and nowhere else for up to 72 hours.

GRACE: Now, she didn`t live on base, though, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE: It doesn`t matter.

GRACE: Doesn`t matter.

STEPHANIE: She still has to get the chit. She still has to do the paperwork. There`s always a paper trail. If the mom wants to find out, she needs to start requesting copies of that paper trail now. She needs to get a lawyer that is familiar with the military work because it looks to me like something stinks in Denmark. They are covering this up.

GRACE: Something is very wrong. And what jumped out at me, Stephanie in Oklahoma, is this timeline where you`ve got five days missing.

STEPHANIE: Five days.

GRACE: Now some places that may be acceptable, but not in the military. They don`t work like that.

STEPHANIE: No. You get -- you get thrown in the brig for missing one day. OK? If you just don`t show up for work one day and you don`t have, like, an excuse like your car blew up with you in it, you`re going down. You get into trouble.

GRACE: Does this suggest to you, Stephanie, that another military person could be involved? I mean, we know she`s not missing voluntarily because her cell phone was found thrown away.

STEPHANIE: Violence against women is very common in the military, and the fact that she was a witness to a crime and she was about to testify, those are two things that I`d be looking at very closely because often -- I`m a veteran with M.S.T., and I`m involved with these other veterans with military sexual trauma, you know what? Chain of command sometimes collude to cover this stuff up.

GRACE: Out to psychologist and author Dr. Jeff Gardere. Stephanie in Oklahoma very enlightening. Respond, Jeff.

JEFF GARDERE, PSYCHOLOGIST, AUTHOR OF "LOVE PRESCRIPTION": Yes. I agree with her that we know the statistics that, in fact, that homicide is the number one cause of death for pregnant women. So that doesn`t look good for this young woman. And the fact that we`re not hearing from the military as to what may have been going on with her for those five days, what they know, it is very, very -- a bad picture that we`re getting here.

GRACE: And you would think that her friends and roommates could shed some light on her state of mind. But her mother spoke to her the day she went missing, and nothing was amiss.

GARDERE: Well, here`s what`s interesting and this is from a psychological point of view. The mother`s not telling us much about who the father may be, about her circle of friends. She`s saying, "I just can`t comment on it." So if you take what this caller has said about what may be going on with the military, possible cover-up, we don`t know, of course, then really here things just don`t add up. There must be something that may have gone on within the military and something sexual.

GRACE: Out to the lines, Sherry in Utah. Hi, Sherry.

SHERRY, FROM UTAH: Hi. How are you doing?

GRACE: I`m good, dear.

SHERRY: It`s really great to see you back, Nancy.

GRACE: You know what, Sherry? It`s great to be back. For a while there I could never imagine getting out of that hospital room.


GRACE: .and bringing the twins home with me, but that day has come and I`m very, very thankful. Thank you for your comment.

SHERRY: I know you are.

Listen, I have a thought about this. Since the mother`s not commenting for whatever reason, and they don`t know who the father is, she was supposed to be a witness in some sort of trial, is it possible that she was sexually assaulted on base and that`s what this whole cover-up is about?

GRACE: You know, that has been bandied about.

Out to Tom Shamshak, private investigator. The fact that the incident about which she was set to testify is being kept so secretive, that does lead one down the path right along with the card. But we have no evidence to support that.

TOM SHAMSHAK, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: No, but it is possible that she was a victim of domestic violence and a restraining order may or may not have been issued here. But I think the key to this, again, is trying to figure out if her phone was working those five days after the mother last spoke to her.

GRACE: Everyone, when we come.

SHAMSHAK: There was.

GRACE: Go ahead.

SHAMSHAK: Go ahead. It would appeared that she -- it was.

GRACE: Everyone when we come -- go ahead.

SHAMSHAK: Go ahead. I`ll just say it, it would appear that there might have been a struggle. As you say, the phone was discarded there. And that`s at the base. And then she leaves.

GRACE: I agree.

Everyone, when we come back, an anonymous letter claims missing mom Stacy Peterson is alive and well in Florence, Kentucky.

Tonight, all points bulletin on special moms and dads. If you know a parent who deserves to be recognized, get your camcorder, go to Click on "i-Report" and enter them in the "Nancy Grace Extraordinary Parent Contest."




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do receive anonymous tips. We received a couple today, as a matter of fact. I know that Stacy`s -- the FindStacyPeterson Web site receives anonymous tips, as do the Illinois State Police. But this one is the only one that we`re aware of where they actually have a -- sorry, the person has said that they spoke to Stacy and that the person more or less admitted to being Stacy. And so we felt that it was important to get this out there on the hope that the person who wrote this letter will come forward and confirm this information.

We have employed a couple of detectives. The detectives we have are following up electronically. Cell phone records, text messages, things along those lines. We may actually even have something to announce within a few days, hopefully. We may have a lead on who she was with.


GRACE: Where is the missing mom, 23-year-old Stacy Peterson? She turns 24 January 20. Take a look. Now we learn about a so-called anonymous letter that was sitting in the mailbox of her husband, slash suspect Drew Peterson. A letter that claims Stacy Peterson was spotted in Florence, Kentucky with another man. The writer of this typed letter also claims that he/she got close enough to take a cell phone picture of Stacy but is too afraid to come forward with that photo to prove she is still alive. This is not the first but the second letter sent to Mr. Peterson at his home address. They`re in Bolingbrook, Illinois.

Let`s go out to Mary Frances Bragiel with WBBM Newsradio 780. What`s the latest and what can you tell us about this anonymous letter?

MARY FRANCES BRAGIEL, REPORTER, NEWSRADIO 780: Well, the latest is that investigators continue to look in this case, Illinois State Police investigators. Now there haven`t been any ground or water searches for a couple of weeks, but there`s more than 60 investigators including the FBI in this case and they just continue to gather all the information. You know, I spoke to family members about this letter. They don`t believe it`s the least bit credible.

I spoke to a spokesperson for the Boon County Sheriff`s Department, who says that the Florence -- you know, this took place in Florence, Kentucky, and the Florence, Kentucky Police Department handles that mall where Stacy Peterson was supposedly seen. And he asked his investigators. Nobody knows anything about the supposed conversation that the author of the letter had, you know, talking to an investigator, saying that he saw Stacy Peterson.

I think the biggest question here, Nancy, is that the author of this letter claims they took a photo of Stacy Peterson. How come that photo wasn`t included in the letter?

GRACE: You know, I want to go to a special guest joining us tonight. It is the attorney for former police officer Drew Peterson, the husband of Stacy Peterson.

Mr. Brodsky, thank you for being with us.


GRACE: You know, I was taking a look at this typed letter, and it was sent from Cincinnati. Now, Rosie, let`s see the map. Didn`t your client, Mr. Peterson, just go on a trip to the magic kingdom down in Florida very close to Cincinnati?

BRODSKY: Well, he didn`t take that route. And he was in Florida already at the time so when this letter was postmarked.

GRACE: Really?


GRACE: How do you know what route he took?

BRODSKY: Because he told me. And he was already in Florida. I had spoken to him down there. He was already in Florida on the 29th.

GRACE: In Florida on the 29th. And this was postmarked on the 29th. Question: what day did he leave?

BRODSKY: He left just after -- just after Christmas. The 26th.

GRACE: He left on the 26th. You`re certain?



BRODSKY: Because I had spoke to him.

GRACE: No. Why did he leave? Why now? In the midst of a search for his wife who could be dead.

BRODSKY: To take his.

GRACE: Why did he go on a vacation to the magic kingdom?

BRODSKY: To take his children out on vacation. They desperately need to get away from the circus that was going on in his home.

GRACE: I thought the media had left his home.

BRODSKY: I`m sorry?

GRACE: I thought the media had left his home.

BRODSKY: They haven`t completely left his home. There isn`t a day that goes by that some member of the media doesn`t knock on his door.

But Nancy, I`d like to do something. This letter is out there. We`d like to issue an appeal to the Will County State`s Attorney`s Office to state publicly that Stacy will not be in any trouble, that she will not be prosecuted for anything if she returns. We think that maybe she`s out there and that she`s afraid to come back because she`s worried about prosecution, and we`d like them to come out and publicly state that Stacy has nothing to worry about if she shows herself.

GRACE: Prosecution for what?

BRODSKY: For all the trouble she`s caused. There`s been.

GRACE: I`m sorry. I`m asking for a specific criminal statute, sir.


GRACE: Prosecution for what? What are you talking about?

BRODSKY: Well, I can tell you right now there`s been a couple of ladies in -- a couple of runaway brides, so to speak, runaway wives in Illinois who have come back. We have one lady.

GRACE: Are you talking about the runaway bride down in Georgia who lied to police.

BRODSKY: No, we had a young lady here who disappeared for four days, staged her disappearance to look like -- and then came back and there was an outcry of why she wasn`t prosecuted.

GRACE: Prosecuted for?

BRODSKY: That`s a good question. But there was a public outcry.


BRODSKY: I`m sure that -- I know the runaway bride was prosecuted and they had a big.

GRACE: Jennifer Wilbanks. Yes.

BRODSKY: Correct.

GRACE: Mr. Brodsky, you are a veteran attorney. You know that at this juncture there is no reason or no claim of prosecution against Stacy Peterson. So why are you even saying this? To deflect attention from your own client?

BRODSKY: No, absolutely not. We -- if there`s no reason to prosecute her, if there`s no claim to prosecute her, let the Will County State`s attorney come out and publicly state that so that Stacy doesn`t have to worry about it.

GRACE: OK, fine. OK, you`ve put it out there.

Mr. Brodsky, with us Joel Brodsky, attorney for Drew Peterson, what exactly have you and your client done to try to trace this letter yourself?

BRODSKY: We`ve turned it over to the Illinois State Police, who have the ability to track it down. They can talk to the local authorities. They can search through the local authorities there in Kentucky to try to find it.

GRACE: So the answer would be you turned it over to the authorities?

BRODSKY: That`s correct. We don`t have subpoena power. We don`t -- we`re not a grand jury. We can`t issue search warrants. We`re limited in what we can do. So we turn it over to the authorities. And I know that they`re following up on it.

GRACE: Sir, what route did your client take on the way down to Orlando?

BRODSKY: That I`m not 100 percent sure. I know he told me. I know he didn`t go near Cincinnati. And I know that he was, because I spoke to him, in Florida on the 29th.

GRACE: Mr. Brodsky, you realize how important -- being a trial lawyer yourself, how important someone`s demeanor or their actions, even though they are non-verbal, are important, how important they are in a courtroom. I want to ask you about a few of the statements your client has publicly made. For instance, on December 7 he states that the disappearance of his wife, his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, will, quote, "derail his love life," saying, "I`m not going to get another date."

Do you not find that highly unusual, that at a time when his wife is missing he`s worried about his love life and getting another date?

BRODSKY: Well, you have to remember that he does not -- his wife isn`t missing. His wife called him and told him she was leaving and she found somebody else. So for him to be a little -- to be miffed, to be upset about that is understandable. We don`t just have somebody who disappeared. We have somebody who called him and told him she had found somebody else and she`s leaving.

GRACE: Has that call been tracked? Has that call been verified? I mean did she call on his cell phone? Her home phone?

BRODSKY: Yes. It was her cell phone to his cell phone, and I know the Illinois State Police have those cell phones. They have those SIM cards.

GRACE: Well, have you gotten evidence of that? I mean the cell phone bill would come there to the home, would it not?

BRODSKY: The Illinois State Police has impounded all those records.


BRODSKY: I can`t get to them. We`ve tried.

GRACE: No. No, no, no. That bill would come to his home, would it not?

BRODSKY: No, that -- that record, those phone records have been impounded by the Illinois State Police. We could not get to them.

GRACE: I`m not asking whether you can issue a subpoena duces tecum for documents.


GRACE: I`m saying that would be on a valid monthly bill that would come to Drew Peterson`s home. Did he get it? Did he show you the bill and go look, here`s the phone call?

BRODSKY: No. That bill didn`t come. The Illinois State Police have impounded all those records. We do not get that bill. We do not have those records. They have them.

GRACE: He also goes on on December 7 to state, "My retirement sucks." So while his children are going without their mother, he`s worried about his retirement. What`s wrong with his retirement? Isn`t he getting paid?

BRODSKY: Well, he`s certainly getting his pension, now that we were able to defuse that whole misconception that there was official misconduct. But once again, he is left with his children that he thought that his wife was going to help raise, now she`s run off with another man.


GRACE: Welcome back, everyone. Where is Stacy Peterson?

Out to a spokesperson for her family, Pam Bosco.

Pam, thank you for being with us. What does the family have to say about this anonymous letter that just so happened to be sent while Peterson`s on vacation? Very near Cincinnati.

PAM BOSCO, STACY PETERSON FRIEND AND FAMILY SPOKESPERSON: First, Nancy, I want to say it`s great to finally meet you and congrats on your babies.

GRACE: Thank you.

BOSCO: You know, on the letter I just want to make a comment to Mr. Brodsky regarding the anonymous tip how it comes in. Normally, the tips we get are not anonymous. People, when they want to give information, usually apply a name to it, and to make it legit. Usually that`s provided to the Illinois State Police so they can follow through with it. So the tips that come to us do have a name attached to it. I just wanted to clarify that.

GRACE: Out to Renee Rockwell. Weigh in, Renee.

ROCKWELL: I`ll have to agree with the lawyer. You don`t have a body, you don`t have even a clue that there was a homicide, and you might see her rolling right on in. I still think he would have trouble getting a date, though.

GRACE: Mickey Sherman, to leave behind your children, do you see that?

SHERMAN: No, it`s not logical. But I`ve got to tell you, Nancy. And I`ve been in that seat. I`ve been in Joel`s shoes. And you do get anonymous phone calls. You have to set up a separate line at some point to field those calls. And you get anonymous letters. The big case brings out the big nuts. And Joel`s doing everything he`s supposed to do, which is take whatever is given to him by whoever the source and hand it over to Illinois State Police and let them discover whether or not it`s bogus or not. He`s doing it right.

GRACE: Back to Pam Bosco in our few remaining moments. Final thought?

BOSCO: I can say the tip we get, even the one that we had -- the one that didn`t turn out to be Stacy in Florida, even had a name attached to it. Again, when somebody can`t even get Mr. Brodsky`s name right, Mr. Joel Peterson, to someone that -- and he claims not to want media attention but he goes around with a letter, I`m sorry, if you don`t want media attention you go straight to the Illinois State Police with the tip line.

GRACE: Well put, Miss Bosco, Stacy Peterson family friend and spokesperson.

Let`s stop and remember Army Staff Sergeant Robin Towns Sr., 52, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, killed Iraq, corrections officer, a member of the National Guard, also served during natural disasters. He received the army achievement medal and meritorial service medal. Loved his family and leaves behind not only a grieving widow, Sheila, but six children. Robin Towns Sr., American hero.

Thank you to you for being with us, inviting us into your homes. And thank you to our guests. It`s great to be back with you. See you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. Good night, friend.