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Nancy Grace

Husband Eyed in Strangulation Murder of Woman and Two Young Sons

Aired May 13, 2009 - 20:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Breaking news tonight. A quiet, close-knit, upscale Illinois suburb reeling after a beautiful young mom and her two little sons found dead in their white finished (ph) two-story home, each in their own bedroom, reportedly strangled. A heartbreaking gesture. Just hours ago, 31-year-old Sheri Coleman and the two little boys, Garett and Gavin, ages just 9 and 11, laid to rest side by side. Who -- who -- crept into the family home in the darkened early morning hours to smother and strangle the life out of a stunning young mother and her two boys, leaving them dead in their own beds?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was an American hero. They were star football players and members of the church youth group. But mom Sheri and brothers Garett and Gavin Coleman are dead, reportedly victims of strangulation inside their own home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was some damage to the screen, but the window was found open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were words written on the wall, and the words say, "I told you this was going to happen."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris Coleman watched his wife, Sheri, and his 11 and 9-year-old sons, Garett and Gavin, being buried today. But he didn`t arrive to the graveyard alone, Coleman reportedly being followed by multiple law enforcement officers in unmarked cars, the cars reportedly trailing Coleman wherever he goes, even sitting outside the house he`s reportedly staying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is not a suspect. He`s not a person of interest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He reportedly left his house at around 5:45 AM. When he returned after calling the police to check on his family, they found the victims inside their bedrooms, all dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s what the story is. We don`t know who did it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This as "The St. Louis Post-Dispatch" reports Coleman may have been having a relationship with another woman. Coleman`s attorney says he has no knowledge of anyone by the alleged woman`s name. Police say they have no suspects in the investigation.


GRACE: And tonight, Hidalgo, Texas, a precious 4-year-old little girl, an angel, playing with her little friends in their own front yard when an unmasked man emerges from a white pick-up truck, snatches the girl off the lawn. When 12-year-old big sister tries to save her, the kidnapper delivers a blow directly to the sister`s head and makes off with the little brown-eyed 4-year-old. Tonight, where is 4-year-old Lesley?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Authorities are looking for a suspect in the disappearance of 4-year-old south Texas girl Lesley Perez, who was snatched from an empty lot across from her home Tuesday night. Authorities believe Lesley was taken by force. They say a man allegedly stepped out of a white pick-up truck, hit Lesley`s sister in the head, grabbed the little girl and took off. Police are looking for a man in his 30s with spiked hair. Lesley was last seen wearing lime green shorts, a green striped shirt with a white collar, and Hello Kitty earrings.


GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us. Who crept into the family home in the darkened early morning hours to smother and strangle the life out of a stunning young mother and her two little boys, leaving them dead in their own beds?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coleman watched his wife and two kids being buried today, as police reportedly trailed his vehicle from far behind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many of Gavin and Garett`s classmates and teammates on hand, remembering their close friends as boys who loved to play sports. Those who knew Sheri will remember her commitment to her church and helping others.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris Coleman, the husband and father who lost his wife and two kids to reported strangulation in their own home, may have been having a relationship with another woman, according to "The St. Louis Post-Dispatch," "The Post-Dispatch" alleging through law enforcement sources cops traveled to Florida to interview the alleged, woman who they report worked in a bar and as a hostess for a gentlemen`s club. An attorney for Coleman tells the newspaper he doesn`t think it`s appropriate to comment on the status of the investigation and says he has no knowledge of anyone by the alleged woman`s name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Husband Chris Coleman reportedly asked to give his fingerprints by court order.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point, is Chris Coleman considered a suspect in this case?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our investigation to me reveals who`s responsible for these deaths. I`ll leave it at that.


GRACE: A mother and two young sons in the last hours buried side by side. Take a look. Right now, police saying no suspects, no person of interest. There`s 31-year-old mom, her sons just 9 and 11 years old, all three murdered in the early morning hours, apparently as they slept in their own beds.

Straight out to McGraw Milhaven, talk show host, KTRS radio there in Missouri. What`s the latest, McGraw?

MCGRAW MILHAVEN, TALK SHOW HOST, KTRS RADIO: Nancy, thanks for the invite. They held a news conference earlier today, and the police said that they do have a person of interest and they do have enough evidence. However, they`re not going to reveal who the person of interest is, and they`ve handed off the investigation to the Monroe County prosecutors.

GRACE: To Major Jeff Connor with the Columbia Police Department. Major Connor, if you have a person of interest, why -- I will assume it`s a he -- why is he being kept a secret, his identity?

MAJ. JEFF CONNOR, COLUMBIA POLICE DEPARTMENT (via telephone): We don`t have a warrant for his arrest at this time, so we don`t feel it would be prudent to give his name out until the state`s attorney determines whether or not there`s enough to charge him.

GRACE: Ah. So you are waiting for a little bit more evidence. Out to Nick Pistor, reporter with "The St. Louis Post-Dispatch." Thank you for being with us. What can you tell me about an alleged girlfriend? The husband had a girlfriend? Is that what I`m hearing?

NICK PISTOR, "ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH" (via telephone): That is true. That`s what we reported today in the paper, and that`s what we`re standing behind, that Chris Coleman had an affair with a woman who went to high school with Sheri and was Sheri`s friend and that he carried on that affair through the time up to the murders.

GRACE: Is the affair over?

PISTOR: Well, we don`t know what the current status of the affair is. We know that investigators went down to Florida shortly after the murders and began interviewing this woman and many of the people close to her. And Major Connor did confirm today that the investigation went to Florida, but he wouldn`t say what it was about.

GRACE: Well, Nick Pistor, joining us from "The St. Louis Post- Dispatch" -- Nick, you say you`re standing by your story. Has somebody suggested your story is false?

PISTOR: Oh, no. Absolutely not. But when you`re saying, you know, we had alleged it, we`re just saying that there was an affair and we disclosed it.

GRACE: OK. Who`s the woman?

PISTOR: We have not disclosed her name yet. We`re not prepared to release the name.

GRACE: Well, what can you tell me about her?

PISTOR: We can tell -- we can say that she went to high school with Sheri, that she works down in the Florida area. She`s a cocktail waitress now. Her family, when we went to interview her, had said that they will never comment. And that`s the current situation.

GRACE: OK. You know, Nick, I`m going to connect a couple of dots here. Out to Clark Goldband, also on the story. Clark, she`s a stripper. Am I wrong?

CLARK GOLDBAND, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: Well, Nancy, yes. Things we`ve seen being reported is she`s an exotic dancer at a club around the Tampa area.

GRACE: Caryn Stark, I think we need a shrink right now. Why do we insist on saying "exotic dancer" and "gentlemen`s club"?

CARYN STARK, PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, because it`s so unacceptable, Nancy.

GRACE: Apparently not.

STARK: You need to have a euphemism for somebody who`s a stripper because that will be much more appealing and make people be happier. They don`t want to hear "stripper."

GRACE: OK. Back to you, Goldband. What do we know about the alleged affair?

GOLDBAND: Well, according to these press reports that we`ve seen, the alleged affair assumingly took place down in Florida. He worked for the Joyce Meyer church, the...

GRACE: Wait, wait, wait, wait. What is the Joyce Meyer...

GOLDBAND: Meyer Ministry.

GRACE: Who is he? Who worked for the Joyce Meyer church?

GOLDBAND: OK. The husband, Chris Coleman, had a job there. He was in charge of security on the night shift. We`ve seen reports that say he traveled around a lot for his job. So if we follow the dots on that, the affair probably took place down in Florida.

GRACE: Back to McGraw Milhaven, KTRS radio talk show host. What can you tell me about the circumstances surrounding the three murders? A 31- year-old mom, absolutely beautiful, apparently, by all accounts, a devoted mother, and two little boys, I believe 9 and 11 years old. What were the circumstances surrounding the discovery of their bodies, McGraw?

MILHAVEN: Yes, the circumstances were, very simply, Chris Coleman went to the gym, left the house about 5:00 o`clock in the morning, called back about an hour or so later, didn`t get a response, called the police. The police...

GRACE: Wait, wait, wait, wait. Back it up.


GRACE: McGraw, what time did the husband, Coleman, go to the workout club? Is it Gold`s workout gym?

MILHAVEN: It was a Gold`s gym in south county. He crossed over into Missouri I`d say about 5:30-ish, 5:45-ish.

GRACE: OK. Just give me some quick answers here -- 5:30 AM approximately. Do we know if he went every morning? Was this routine, or was it just suddenly that day, he got wild (ph) hair (ph) to go work out at 5:30 AM?

MILHAVEN: At this point, we don`t know.

GRACE: All right. Do you know, at that Gold`s gym, do you have to sign in? Do you have a key card? Do they have surveillance? Do we know what time he got there and how long he stayed?

MILHAVEN: That has not been out yet, but I can only assume there is some type of check-in and/or surveillance.

GRACE: OK. McGraw, what time did he start calling back home? He leaves around 5:30 AM. When was his first call back home?

MILHAVEN: It`s being reported about 7:00 o`clock.

GRACE: So an hour-and-a-half later. Back to our special guest joining us from Columbia, Major Jeff Connor. He`s the major with the Columbia Police Department. Major Connor, when did he make the welfare call to have police -- he`s five minutes away, five miles away, but he calls police to go check on his family. What time did that occur?

CONNOR: He left his house at 5:43 AM, and then shortly thereafter, started calling his house, realized that nobody was answering. And on his way back at around 6:50 is when he made the phone call to the Columbia Police Department.

GRACE: Major, why did he immediately start calling back to his home? He just left there. Why was he calling back at 5:45 AM?

CONNOR: He was making sure that the kids were getting up for school.

GRACE: OK. So this was a school day. Yes, I understand, Major Connor. Thank you. Major Connor, I understand that at the crime scene inside the home that words were scrawled on the inside of the home. Is that true?

CONNOR: There were some messages on the walls inside, but we`re not going to comment on what the content was.


CONNOR: There`s been some reports of certain words were mentioned, and the statement that`s been reported actually isn`t accurate. But there...

GRACE: Is it close?

CONNOR: ... there were some (INAUDIBLE) words...

GRACE: Is it close, Major? Is the statement reported -- what was the statement, Clark?

GOLDBAND: Well, Nancy, it said, quote, "I told you this would happen," according to press reports that we`ve seen.

GRACE: And Major Connor, you`re saying that`s not what was written on the wall?

CONNOR: That is not exactly what was written on the wall...

GRACE: Aha. You said...

CONNOR: ... but there were threats (ph) on the wall.

GRACE: ... "not exactly." Was it close to what was written, Major?

CONNOR: Yes. It was close. There was threats towards the family.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sheri and the boys were incredible people. You know, they`re the folks that when they walk into a room, they bring a smile on everybody`s face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`d rather have known them in my life and still go through this pain than not have known them at all.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve developed information that we believe one person is actually involved in this homicide. We believe that this was not a random act, that it was actually intended to kill the three members of this family. At this time, we are not going to release the name of that individual. This is a very serious case, and we don`t want to jump to anything. But to put the public at ease, we don`t feel this was a random act. We feel this family was targeted.

DR. JOSHUA PERPER, MEDICAL EXAMINER: They can make a determination whether the victim was strangled and how, whether by manual strangulation, by hand pressure, or by a ligature. If the victim puts out a struggle, sometimes they try to detach the compressing ligature or the hands, and the very fingernails of the victim can inflict some injuries which can be matched to the victim, obviously on the neck. That would be the thing. And there might be bruises on the hands or on the arms, as well.


GRACE: Do you see that little 9-year-old boy, the little 11-year-old brother? Somebody went into that home and smothered or strangled two little boys to death, reportedly in their own beds -- Mommy, too -- 9 and 11 years old.

Out to the lines. We`re taking your calls live. Dee in Illinois. Hi, Dee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. I love your show. I never miss it. Two questions.

GRACE: Thank you. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I love your kids. They`re beautiful. The twins are gorgeous.

GRACE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One, why did this father not immediately put his arm out, Draw my blood, take my fingerprints, here`s my hair sample? And why was he calling back at 5:45 if he`d just left the house to make sure the kids were up if mom was at home?

GRACE: You know, I`m going to go to a man who has all the answers to your first question, Dee in Illinois. Marc Klaas is with us tonight. He is not just the president and founder of Klaas Kids Foundation, he`s a crime victim. His daughter, Polly, was taken out of the home and she was murdered. And of course, police first come to the bio dad, and he said, Take my blood, take my hair, take my fingerprints. Here`s my alibi. Search my home. Take my car. I don`t care! I want you to clear me to go find the person that took my girl.

So to you, Marc Klaas. Why didn`t he?

MARC KLAAS, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION: Well, I think that his behavior is incredibly suspicious. I think they need to, number one, check to see if this was his pattern, to call home at 5:45 every morning to see if his wife was up, getting the kids ready. And I agree with the caller that that`s something that makes absolutely no sense. There`s no logic behind that.

I think that, you know, this is easily one of the most cowardly acts imaginable, to go into a little child`s bedroom and choke the life out of them in the middle of the night. I think that Mr. Coleman`s behavior is very suspicious, and I think it`s not only his lack of cooperation with law enforcement by making all those statements, Take my information, polygraph me, do all of these things, but also this odd phone call, this woman down in Florida.

He seems to be following in the pattern of Jeffrey McDonald, Scott Peterson, Mark Peterson -- I`m sorry, Scott Peterson, Michael Peterson, Mark Hacking. There`s just a whole list of characters like this who seem to be willing to do in their family so that they can have a quick fling with some loose woman somewhere else in the country. It`s nuts.

GRACE: And again, he has not been named a suspect.

KLAAS: That`s right.

GRACE: He has not been named a person of interest.

KLAAS: Right.

GRACE: You know, what is interesting to me -- let me not just say interesting but curious, disturbing. Major Jeff Connor -- he is the major at the Columbia Police Department. How long did it take for the husband, who is not a suspect, to call the wife`s family and speak to them and tell them what had happened?

CONNOR: You know, I really don`t have the answer to that. He was being interviewed here, and I believe other family members may have made that contact.

GRACE: You`re absolutely right, Major. McGraw Milhaven, KTRS, what can you tell me?

MILHAVEN: Yes, the murders happened on Tuesday morning, May 5th, and her family is saying that they didn`t get a call until Thursday morning, so 48 hours later. She found out through the police, by the way, her family.

GRACE: Through the police.


GRACE: Is that what you said?

MILHAVEN: Yes. She found out, her family did.

GRACE: To Nick Pistor with "St. Louis Post-Dispatch." Everyone, we are taking your calls live. What can you tell me about their courtship? How did they meet? How long have they been together? And what did he do for the Joyce Meyer church ministries?

PISTOR: Chris Coleman was a security -- was involved in security for Joyce Meyer Ministries. He performed many of their surveillance activities and camera activities and is very close with the Joyce Meyer family. The two -- the couple met while she was at an Air Force base. She was in the Air Force and he was in the Marines. Then when they got married, they were in St. Louis, and then they moved to Columbia, Illinois, where -- in 2005. And then shortly before the murders, in November, he had taken her name off the deed of the house that they were living in.

GRACE: Out to the lines. Sue in New York. Hi, Sue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. Thank you for taking my call.

GRACE: Thank you for calling in, dear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve been watching you since the Larry King days, and I thought then and I still think now you are God`s angel on earth for what you do for our littlest victims.

GRACE: Sue, I do not deserve that. You can ask any defense lawyer in town. But thank you very much. What`s your question, dear?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is about the words written on the wall. I mean, it doesn`t seem that they`re going to tell anybody what it was written in, i.e. pen, marker, blood. But if they -- would they be able to do a handwriting analysis from that and compare it to whoever...

GRACE: Good question. Bill Majeski, former NYPD detective, now the president of Majeski Associates, joining us out of New York -- I`m sure that there would be a lot of variables when you`re writing on a wall, as opposed to handwriting. But certain things would remain constant. Yes, no.

BILL MAJESKI, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: Yes, absolutely. In a situation like this, there`s a very good possibility that they would be able to match up the scrawling on the wall with characteristics from his handwriting. That`s another reason they`re asking for -- they demanded his fingerprints. There`s a good possibility that he may have leaned a hand on the wall as he was writing, if, indeed, he`s the one who wrote that note.

GRACE: Again, he is not named a suspect. Everyone, we are taking your calls live. When we get back, we`ll unleash the lawyers, Renee Rockwell and Mickey Sherman.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The taking of Coleman`s fingerprints begs one question which no one is answering at this point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point, is Chris Coleman considered a suspect in this case?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not prepared to say anybody is keyed in on a suspect. We`re just still -- we`re in the investigative stage of this and still trying to determine who`s killed these three people.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is some evidence that we`ve collected that - - it`s no secret. We were around Interstate 255. We believe there was evidence discarded around this route. So I can be a little more specific, that if there`s somebody out there in the public that thinks they saw something along that area, maybe along the bridge, to call us. That could be a key to helping us also.


GRACE: Let`s unleash the lawyers, Renee Rockwell, veteran defense attorney out of Atlanta, and Mickey Sherman, renowned defense attorney, author of "How Can You Defend Those People?" and now the host of "Sherman`s Law." You`ve got your own law? WGCH, 1490. I`m not even going to go into that.

First to you, Sherman. The husband is not a person of interest at this juncture. He`s not been named a suspect. But no break-in in the home, no sex assault, no robbery.

MICKEY SHERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, but why are we involved in saying that? That`s so silly. Of course, he`s not only the suspect, he`s the main suspect. Why do we go with the fiction that he`s not a person of interest? It makes no sense. But also...

GRACE: Well, OK. You`re not answering the question.


GRACE: But that`s another can of worms. Renee, you want to take a crack at it?

RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh, no, he`s not a suspect. He`s just got three unmarked cars following him. Nancy, that`s a Marine. He well knows he`s a suspect, and he did the right thing by getting an attorney.



MAJOR JEFF CONNOR, COLUMBIA POLICE DEPARTMENT, ON THE CASE: After nine days of investigation we`ve developed information that we believe one person is actually involved in this homicide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris Coleman reportedly says he went to the gym at 5:30 a.m. to work out. He became nervous around 7:00, when he couldn`t reach his 31-year-old wife, Sheri, and two sons, Garett, 11, and Gavin, 9.

Coleman called police for a welfare check and found the family dead in their own house, reportedly all the victims of strangulation.

NANCY GRACE, HOST: He`s five minutes away at the workout club and he calls police?

CONNOR: He stated he had been trying to call them the entire time he was gone and after not getting an answer he contacted the police department and the officers actually arrived at the house before he did.

We believe that this was not a random act, that it was actually intended to kill the three members of this family. At this time we are not going to release the name of that individual.

GRACE: Major Connor, was there any forced entry in the home?

CONNOR: There was some damage to the screen, but the window was found open. The back window leading into a basement room was found open.

GRACE: The window was open. Was it forced open or left open?

CONNOR: There`s no indication that force was used to open that window.


GRACE: Straight out to the lines. Sue in New York. Hi, Sue. Sue, are you with me? Let`s go to Carol in Nebraska. Hi, Carol.

CAROL, CALLER FROM NEBRASKA: Hi, Nancy. You need to be commended. You`re an angel of mercy.

GRACE: Well, you know, Mickey Sherman and Renee Rockwell may not agree with you. But your opinion means more to me. So thank you. What is your question, dear?

CAROL: Also, I want to say I have a granddaughter that`s the same age as your twins. They were born -- or she was born on the 2nd of November. So...

GRACE: And they were born on the 4th. You know, Carol, I don`t know about you, but have you ever heard of Monkey Joe`s? That`s where mommy`s been all afternoon climbing up inflatable play toys. So mommy can only move from the neck up. Luckily, that`s perfect for my job description.

What is your question, dear?

CAROL: OK. My question is what -- anybody that would break in would not leave a message like that on the wall. I mean, that`s just ridiculous.

GRACE: Well, yes. And it`s kind of like your saying, gee, who could have done this while you`re pointing at yourself. To leave a message like that, "I told you this would happen," or words to that effect.

Major Jeff Connor tells us that is not exactly what was written. He`s not divulging what was written.

Straight out to the lawyers. Renee Rockwell, Mickey Sherman. Why make a murder elaborate? What person would feel at home enough in the home to feel they had time to scrawl out a letter on the wall, Sherman? Who? Who? Who wouldn`t want to just leave?

MICKEY SHERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY, AUTHOR OF "HOW CAN YOU DEFEND THOSE PEOPLE?": You`ve obviously concluded that this is the bad guy. There`s no question about it.


GRACE: No, I have not concluded anything. How do I know there`s not some lover, some.


GRACE: . angry ex? I don`t know what the choices are. Right now I know about the husband.

SHERMAN: But is it more logical.

GRACE: But he`s not the only variable in this conundrum.

SHERMAN: But is it more logical that a father would strangle his boys than a stranger would do that? I mean, just by sheer logic it doesn`t add up. And does everybody.

GRACE: Well, as a matter of fact, most child homicides are by the father, now that you mention it. But go ahead.

SHERMAN: All right. The fact is that.

GRACE: I`m sure there`s room for your other foot, Mickey.

SHERMAN: No question. I don`t think so. The fact that this guy has a loose woman, exotic dancer, stripper girlfriend.

GRACE: Loose doesn`t matter. The fact that there is a girlfriend shows me their marriage has a problem, or at least he has a problem.

SHERMAN: And how often does that lead to murder? What percentage? It`s extraordinarily small.

GRACE: I don`t know. But I do know this. I don`t know how often a mistress leads to murder, but I do know, Renee, that in many murder cases, domestic homicides where the man kills the wife, there`s a mistress lurking in the background. So that reverse equation may have probative value.

But Renee, I want to get back to what`s written on the wall. It reminds me so much of the JonBenet Ramsey case, where somebody feels like they`ve got time to kick back and write a five-page ransom letter. Who?

RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No. Nancy, if you remember, the ransom letter was written and rewritten and rewritten. There was a practice letter.


ROCKWELL: But Nancy, this whole thing is going to really boil down to not the writing on the wall or the letters or does it match anybody`s writing. It`s going to boil down to forensics. Not only is -- there`s a print.

GRACE: That is forensics. Handwriting analysis is forensics, Renee.

ROCKWELL: But it`s going to be fingerprints. It`s going to be scrapings under the victims` fingernails. Hair fiber. A fingerprint alone is not going to make this case, Nancy.

GRACE: Well, no, especially if they are looking at the husband because his fingerprints are rightfully in the home.

ROCKWELL: He lives in the home.

GRACE: I want to go to Dr. Michael Bell, Palm Beach County chief medical examiner.

Dr. Bell, this family, in a heartbreaking gesture, were (sic) just laid to rest a couple of hours ago side by side. And in my mind I`m seeing the mommy`s grave and the two little graves beside her.

Now I want to know, Doctor, what, if any, signs would you expect to see on the body if the mom or the boys fought back?

DR. MICHAEL BELL, PALM BEACH CO. CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER: Well, the typical signs of strangulation begin with the eyes, in which they get pinpoint hemorrhages on the surface of the eyes.

And then the rest of the findings, sometimes you`ll get some bruising on the outside of the neck, on the skin surface, but more often than not it requires an autopsy to detect hemorrhages, bleeding into the strap muscles of the neck as well as fractures of the hyoid bone and the thyroid cartilage.

GRACE: Dr. Bell, what I want to -- what I`m asking about is evidence of defensive wounds, that they tried to fight back. If the little boys or the mom had tried to fight back, what would you expect to find on their bodies?

BELL: What you might find is pieces of tissue, skin from the assailant underneath their fingernails as they tried to ward off their assailant.

GRACE: OK. Doctor, I`m just a J.D. I`m not an M.D. But would, for instance, bruising on the outside of the -- between the elbow and the wrist where they tried to fight, or if they curled up in the fetal position, maybe bruises on their knees even or their shins.

You mentioned fiber, maybe something under the fingernails. Would you expect to find any of that?

BELL: As I mentioned before, if they`ve had time to defend themselves, if they know.

GRACE: Right.

BELL: If they`re in a struggle, yes, you may well get tissue, skin, underneath the fingernails from the assailant.

GRACE: To Major Jeff Connor, joining us from the Columbia Police Department, he`s keeping the facts close to the vest, as he should.

But Major, could you tell me, is the husband cooperating? Did he voluntarily give fingerprints, DNA, hair samples, anything like that?


CONNOR: I really don`t want to get into any of the statements.


CONNOR: . or what he did or did not do.

GRACE: Understood, Major. Let me ask Nick Pistor. What can you tell me?


NICK PISTOR, REPORTER, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, COVERING STORY: I can tell you that he returned to the police department on Monday under a court order to be fingerprinted. He did not answer any questions.

GRACE: What? Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on. The court had to order him to come back to the police department to cooperate?


GRACE: Continue.

PISTOR: He was fingerprinted. He did not answer any questions. He was with his attorney. He was there for about 30 minutes. And he left. He returned to the house of the murders. It was released from custody, released back to him. He parked with his attorney outside the house but did not enter. His attorney said he didn`t want to go in.

GRACE: Well, then why did he go back to the house?

PISTOR: He watched his family members pull up a trailer and stash some of his belongings into a trailer, and then they drove off.

GRACE: Out to the lines. Kelly in Florida. Hi, Kelly.


GRACE: Excuse me. Claudia in Florida. Hi, Claudia.

CLAUDIA: Hi, Nancy. I just want to tell you that my twins are number 4 and 5 in my family and they`re 10 years old and the best is just ready to come for you. So be prepared.

GRACE: You know, I keep asking parents -- don`t you want to just freeze them at 18 months? And they go no. Every day gets better. And so far that has been true.

What is your question, dear?

CLAUDIA: I have two. Number one, do we have any evidence that they had marital problems?

GRACE: You mean other than the stripper girlfriend?

CLAUDIA: Well, that`s a big part of it. But.

GRACE: I`d say that`s a problem.

CLAUDIA: I`d say it`s a big problem. Second of all, do we have an estimated time of death?

GRACE: Good question.

Major Connor, can you release that much to us, the estimated time of death?

CONNOR: You know, that`s still being analyzed with the forensic pathologist.

GRACE: Everyone, you are seeing shots of Sheri Coleman, age 31, and her two children, Garett and Gavin, age 11 and 9. They loved football, video games, Legos. They loved their church youth group. They were murdered in their own beds.

We`ll be right back. Taking your calls as we go to break.

On a high note, happy birthday to Colorado friend of the show, Nancy. She`s a first grade teacher and she has been for 35 beautiful years. She`s now devoting her time and her love to husband Dale, who is battling Parkinson`s disease. They never miss our show.

And Nancy, it is a pleasure knowing you are with us tonight. Happy birthday, friend.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police searching tonight for 4-year-old Texas toddler Leslie Perez, who vanished from an empty lot across from her home Tuesday night. Leslie was playing baseball with a group of kids, including her older sister, when a man reportedly stepped out of a white pickup, hit her sister in the head, and grabbed Leslie.

Authorities believe the suspect targeted the toddler and that she could be in grave danger.


GRACE: Straight out to Michael Board, WOAI Newsradio.

Michael, this child playing in her front yard with her little -- big sister and friends and a guy snatches her out of the front yard?


MICHAEL BOARD, REPORTER, WOAI NEWSRADIO, COVERING STORY: Yes, it`s really a parent`s worst nightmare. This girl is -- remember, she`s only 4 years old, just acting like any normal 4-year-old girl. They`re out playing baseball with some friends last night.

Like they just said, someone came up, grabbed her, pushed away her sister, and then took off in a speeding pickup truck. And what`s scary about this, Nancy, Hidalgo, Texas where this happened is right on the Texas-Mexico border. Literally. It`s like a couple-minute drive and you`re out of the country.

This kidnapping happened at 9:00 last night. A warning to the border guards did not go out until 4:00 this morning. There`s absolutely, if he went to Mexico, no way they could have seen this coming and stopped it.

GRACE: To Matt Zarrell, also on the story. Matt, what can you tell me about the 12-year-old big sister trying to stop the kidnapper?

MATT ZARRELL, NANCY GRACE STAFFER, COVERING STORY: Well, apparently, they were playing outside in a lot which is right next to the house, where a lot of them play baseball and play sports frequently. And apparently, the guy drove up, it was one man in a Ford F150, it`s -- in the `80s car, it`s an old car.

And apparently what happened is he got out of the car. The 12-year- old was trying to protect his sister -- her sister, and that`s when the man hit her on the top of the head, took the 4-year-old, and left.

GRACE: He hit the 12-year-old little girl? He beat her in the head?


GRACE: To fight her off?


GRACE: Back to Michael Board with WOAI Newsradio. What can you tell me about the description of the perp?

BOARD: He is a man. They believe he is about 5`7". They believe he`s possibly a white male. He was in a white pickup truck. It`s actually with Texas license plates. They believe that it`s just a normal-looking guy. Looks like a lot of people who live around in this area. So not a very good description of the guy.

They`re hoping that someone might see this girl, really. She was wearing lime green shorts, a green striped shirt. What`s specific about her is she`s got a small scar over her right eyebrow. She`s also got a birthmark on the upper side of one of her legs.

That`s really what police are keying in to because her description is much better than the description that they have of the person who snatched this little girl.

GRACE: Now tell me about the vehicle, Michael Board, the vehicle in which the perp was seen.

BOARD: It was a late model Ford F150. Really -- not really very distinct. It looks like a lot of pickup trucks that are down here in the valley of Texas. The only thing that`s specific about this is it did have an after-market exhaust but really.

GRACE: Whoa, whoa, it had what?

BOARD: An after-market exhaust. Someone put a special exhaust that.

GRACE: What is that?

BOARD: It makes loud noises. It`s supposed to make the truck run better. But it`s something that`s very common. This isn`t something special. It`s just -- you know, pretty much you see this on a lot of pickup trucks down here.

So really, Texas authorities don`t have a lot to go on with the suspect because he looks like a lot of people down here in the border area. They`re really hoping that people will spot the girl because she is much more remarkable, especially with that small scar above her right eyebrow, than the suspect in this case.

GRACE: Now, my concern is if it`s above her right eyebrow, she takes her bangs and swoops them over the right eye. So I don`t know if anybody would see that scar.

What time was the abduction, Michael Board?

BOARD: Like I said, the abduction happened at 9:00 last night. And what`s really frustrating to people who are watching this and wondering why did this not -- why did this alert not go out right away?

There`s a lot of bureaucratic mess that goes through when an Amber Alert goes out. Police have to check out, did the girl run away, was it a family member, is she maybe next door? So you know, it`s that time, and it`s the bureaucratic process that really bogs this down.

She was abducted 9:00 last night. The Amber Alert here in Texas did not go out until 4:00 this morning. That`s a lot of time. That`s like seven hours. Of this person with this girl. Who knows where he could be?

GRACE: To Marc Klaas. Marc, I am just sick about this. The little girl in her own front yard playing with her little sister and their friends, playing baseball in their front yard, as much as a 4-year-old can play baseball. And a guy brazenly comes up and takes the girl, beats the sister off, beating her in the head?

MARC KLAAS, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER, KLAASKIDS FOUNDATION: Brazen and brutal. Not unlike the kidnapping in San Bernardino that we were talking about only last week.

But Nancy, I have some updated information here. They`re looking for a specific person. They`re looking for 40-year-old Raul Ornelas. He is 5`4". He is 165 pounds. They`ve updated the vehicle information. They`re now looking for a 2002 blue Chevrolet Cavalier, four-door sedan with Texas plates 875 5BZ -- SBZ.

GRACE: OK. You know, Marc, just as you`re telling us the updated information we have some more.

Matt Zarrell, what do you have?

ZARRELL: Apparently, this guy had met with the FBI and law enforcement and they had ruled him out as part of it. But one thing that just happened moments ago is a POI was taken in for questioning. This is apparently a man who knows.

GRACE: Whoa. Person of interest.

ZARRELL: Yes. This is a person who they believe had some connection to the victim. They`re not saying he`s a suspect. But they`re saying that he may know someone that`s involved in this. They brought the Perez family in to try and identify him.

GRACE: What more can you tell me, Matt? They brought the family down to police headquarters to try to ID a person of interest? Is that what you`re saying?

ZARRELL: Yes. This report just came in moments ago. We`re still scrambling to find out what happened. And we understand that this guy may know who`s involved or may know something about what happened to her.

GRACE: OK. Marc Klaas, she could still be alive.

KLAAS: Well, absolutely. If the intent was murder, she would have been murdered most likely within the first three hours.

Here`s what I can tell you. Tell you. "Beyond Missing", the program that I am involved in, when the Amber Alert was issued, we set out, and I`ve got this right here, we sent out 1200 e-mails, 100 text messages, 1300 faxes to every law enforcement agency, media outlet, highway hotel, fast food outlet, and convenience store within a 100-mile radius.

We did that during the first Amber Alert and then it was updated with pictures a couple of hours later and we did it again. If this guy is within that 100-mile radius, they`re going to get him. If it`s this guy, Raul, they`ve got him.

GRACE: All I can say is God help the police right now.


GRACE: To try to save this little girl`s life.

Caryn Stark, what does it tell you about the perpetrator that he comes right up in the front yard?

CARYN STARK, PSYCHOLOGIST: That he is capable of violence, that he is so desperate to have this little girl, and think about it, Nancy, he chose her from all the children that were playing right there, knocked out her sister. He wanted this 4-year-old. It`s very scary.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leslie was playing baseball with a group of kids, including her older sister, when a man reportedly stepped out of a white pickup, hit her sister in the head, and grabbed Leslie. Authorities believe the suspect targeted the toddler and that she could be in grave danger.


GRACE: It`s been 24 hours since this little girl was taken out of her own front yard.

Out to the lines. Kelly in Florida. Hi, Kelly.

KELLY, CALLER FROM FLORIDA: Hi, how are you? Me and my mom are big fans.

GRACE: Bless you. Thank you for calling in. What`s your question, dear?

KELLY: I just had a question. Now, with the other kids in the front yard, have they interviewed or talked to anybody, or did he attempt to try to get anybody else, or was he specifically targeting this child?

GRACE: Michael Board, WOAI, what can you tell me?

BOARD: Yes, he specifically targeted this child. In fact, he went away from other kids and ran after this 4-year-old girl, pushed down her sister, beat her sister over the head and threw this girl into the bed of his pickup and took off away from this field where they`re all playing baseball.

GRACE: So the little girl tried to ran? You said he ran after her?

BOARD: Yes, he apparently jumped out of the pickup truck, ran after the 4-year-old, grabbed her, and when the 12-year-old, like any other sister sees something happening to their sister, they`re of course going to go over there and try to help them out.

And this guy pushed her away, beat her over the head, tossed the girl into the pickup truck.

GRACE: Got it.

BOARD: . and took off.

GRACE: To Dusty in Michigan. Hi, dear.

DUSTY, CALLER FROM MICHIGAN: Hi, Nancy. Thank you. I have a question. It sounds like whoever took this little girl is somebody that`s got a grudge against the family. And I`d like to know if that could be a person of suspect, somebody that`s got something wrong with the family.

GRACE: OK. Good question. Matthew Zarrell, what do we know?

ZARRELL: Well, we know that investigators continue to look at all possible leads. They continue to investigate. They`ve got the FBI out there. They`ve talked to the kids, as you`ve mentioned, they have ATVs out there. They continue to search.

GRACE: Let`s stop and remember Army Specialist Albert Jex, 23, Phoenix, Arizona, killed Iraq. Awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Action Badge. Named after his great uncle, also killed serving his country.

Free spirit, loved hunting, fishing, camping, drag racing his Pontiac GTO. He leaves behind grieving parents Kathleen and Nelson, sisters Nicole and McKenzie, brother, James.

Albert Jex, American hero.

Thanks to our guests but especially to you for being with us. And special good night from Boston and Georgia friends of the show, Jane, Ricky, Helene, and Kelly.

Everyone, I`ll see you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp. Aren`t they beautiful? And until tomorrow night, good night, friend.