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Nancy Grace

Small Child`s Body Just Found Floating in Canal; Couple Runs Meth Lab with 6 Children Inside Home

Aired August 04, 2009 - 20:00   ET


JEAN CASAREZ, GUEST HOST: We begin tonight with breaking news out of Boise, Idaho, in the search for a little 8-year-old boy. The body of a young boy fitting the description of Robert Manwill has been discovered floating in a local canal, little Robert reported missing from his mother`s apartment complex. He seemingly vanished into thin air. Has the desperate search for Robert Manwill come to a tragic end?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have received word from the Ada County coroner`s office that a tentative identification has been made of the body found in the New York Canal as that of 8-year-old Robert Manwill. Preliminary autopsy results are still being evaluated. We are also still awaiting positive identification of the body that the coroner`s office says must come from comparing dental reports, a process that is still under way. Finding Robert will not be the end but just the beginning of an entirely new investigation. Our priority remains finding answers for Robert`s family and this community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 8-year-old vanished on July 24th under what police call suspicious circumstances.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Boise Police Department is conducting an excellent investigation. They`re being very methodical and careful on what they`re saying. But this may very well now turn into a homicide investigation. They`re going to begin at ground zero, right at the home of the victim, and they`re going to spread themselves out into the community.


CASAREZ: And also tonight, acting on a secret tip, Ohio police storm a home in a quiet Akron neighborhood. Inside, a young couple and six children allegedly living in a drug haven for one of the most powerful and addictive illegal drugs, a full-scale meth lab in the home, complete with glassware, tubing and dug paraphernalia, not to mention a loaded .45- caliber pistol, the anonymous tip saving six young children in the nick of time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ohio police made a shocking discovery. After responding to a tip, they arrived at a local home where they say they found six children, a loaded gun and a full meth lab inside. Authorities arrested a couple who were living there on both drug and child endangerment charges. According to reports, officers were given permission to enter the home by one of the suspects. Inside, investigators say they found chemicals used to manufacture meth, as well as a loaded .45-caliber pistol. The couple`s relationship to the children, all but one of whom is under the age of 12, is still unclear. Those children are now in state custody while the couple are being held on $100,000 bond at the county jail.


CASAREZ: Good evening. I`m Jean Casarez of the legal network In Session, in for Nancy Grace. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. Has the desperate search for an 8-year-old Idaho boy, Robert Manwill, come to a tragic end?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tentative identification has been made of the body found in the New York Canal as that of 8-year-old Robert Manwill. Robert was reported missing more than 11 days ago. Some are demanding immediate answers. We understand and we appreciate the community`s intense interest in this case and the compassion that so many of us feel for a lost child. For Robert`s sake, and the sake of his family, the answers we provide must reflect the answers that can only come from a thorough investigation. That investigation is still very much under way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mom`s home had been searched. This was last Thursday that the mom`s home had been searched. Another home had been searched north of her apartment. People -- there was police and the sheriff`s department digging around, taking pictures. Cars have been -- cars have been searched and taken into the police department. There`s a opening to the canal. It`s called the New York Canal. It`s pretty sizable canal, with very steep concrete sides. And there is a point that he could -- that he could have entered that within a half mile from his mom`s apartment. But where the body was found was over five miles away from Robert`s mom`s apartment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robert`s family remains in close contact with the Boise police. Finding Robert will not be the end but just the beginning of an entirely new investigation. Our priority remains finding answers for Robert`s family and this community.


CASAREZ: Let us go straight out to Greg Hahn, editor of "The Idaho Statesman," standing by live in Boise, Idaho. Tell us what was found, a little body in the -- floating in the canal.

GREG HAHN, "IDAHO STATESMAN" (via telephone): Yes, that`s right. And of course, the whole community had been on, you know, high alert for a week, and they ended up getting two phone calls of folks who saw it. It was pretty far outside of town. It was actually, we figure, about (INAUDIBLE) told us it was about 18 miles of water, like, probably, from where the Vista Boulevard, where the boy`s apartment is, or the boy`s mother`s apartment is, and when the body was found. Of course, they still don`t know where he went in, but they also say that`s possible. We`ve had -- we`ve had bodies drift 14 miles or more. They`re pretty big, fast- moving canals here.

CASAREZ: Greg, do you, know when the body was found of this little boy -- we don`t know -- it has tentatively identified as Robert Manwill, not conclusively at this point. Was the body clothed, was it not clothed? What can you describe about when that body was found?

HAHN: You know, we haven`t been -- we haven`t been told exactly what he was wearing, whether it was the same Spiderman shirt and jeans that was described to us. I think they recognized pretty quickly that -- maybe from the age and the size that it was somebody that could be. They cordoned this off pretty well. It was a rural area, and even our photographers with big lenses -- we wouldn`t run a photo like that anyway, but they weren`t getting anywhere close to it, so we`re not 100 percent sure.

CASAREZ: Tell us about this canal. Does it go through the entire city? How big is it? How deep is it? Is there a current in this canal?

HAHN: It`s 47 miles long, all told. And it runs all the way through the all the -- you know, some of the major parts of the -- of pretty -- what is now a pretty urban area. It started -- it`s kind of what the whole community was built on, that and a couple other canals, and has been around for 100 years. And it`s giant, I mean, feeds thousands of acres. I mean, it used to feed even more farm acres before the -- before growth kind of hit here.

And it -- yes, it`s a very powerful -- especially this time of year, there`s a lot of irrigation going on, the heat of the summer, it is a big, deep, strong, occasionally wide -- you know, it varies, but it`s a powerful body of water.

CASAREZ: All right. To Clark Goldband, Nancy Grace producer. We are awaiting confirmation if this is, in fact, the body of little Robert Manwill, but I understand an autopsy was performed today?

CLARK GOLDBAND, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: Yes, Jean, that`s our understanding, as well. We have some breaking news. We`ve received part of the autopsy report from the county coroner, and we understand that the cause of death is being listed as unknown and pending investigation. But also important is the place of death is unknown, investigators still trying to determine exactly where Robert may have died.

CASAREZ: All right. Let`s go out to Dr. Marty Makary, physician and professor of public health. You know, Dr. Makary, there has been so much inconsistency, I should say, about this little boy because first we heard he wandered away from home, then police said they believed it was suspicious circumstances. When you perform an autopsy, how easy or difficult would it be to find that a little boy drowned by just falling into a canal?

DR. MARY MAKARY, PHYSICIAN, JOHNS HOPKINS: Well, that`s a situation which is essentially impossible to tell with all of modern science. We can tell if there`s a bruise, if there`s DNA evidence of a cross-contaminated person involved, or if there`s a sign of a struggle of any kind. But a simple drowning, it would be almost impossible to know if the child simply fell or was pushed into the water.

CASAREZ: OK, back to Clark Goldband, Nancy Grace producer. Just minutes ago, there was a press conference by law enforcement in Boise, Idaho. And they had some -- some worlds in that press conference that just seemed to turn this investigation in a different direction. Talk to us about that.

GOLDBAND: It seemed to shock everyone in the room, law enforcement not saying that this hasn`t concluded, but the investigation is actually just getting started. They are gearing up the search for who did this. They said they will find them. They will take their time. And they will make sure whatever happened, if there was a criminal act, those people will be brought to justice.

CASAREZ: All right, Clark, let`s let everybody listen to that press conference. It just happened a short time ago. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve received word from the Ada County coroner`s office that a tentative identification has been made of the body found in the New York Canal as that of 8-year-old Robert Manwill. Preliminary autopsy results are still being evaluated. We are also still awaiting positive identification of the body that the coroner`s office says must come from comparing dental records, a process that is still under way.


CASAREZ: All right, back to Greg Hahn from "The Idaho Statesman." It was just last weekend a home in your area was actually searched even with dogs. Explain all that.

HAHN: Well, there`s actually two homes, the home of Robert`s mother, Melissa Jenkins (ph), and her boyfriend was searched. That`s an apartment on this Vista Boulevard you`ve been hearing about that is nearby this canal, less than a half a mile away. But there was also the search at an acquaintance`s house, a guy who we talked to and he said, I don`t really know what they`re looking for. I know my car was stolen. it was stolen on Wednesday before Robert disappeared on a Friday night and was mysteriously returned. He called police on Monday and said, I think I found it, but you guys look through it (INAUDIBLE) somebody took it.

A few days later, police came out to his house and did a pretty drastic search. They dug up the back yard. We still don`t know what they found out of either of those two searches. And incidentally, that second house is also not far from where the body ultimately was found. Of course, the canal winds its way through the city, so even though they`re pretty far away, the apartment and the house, they`re both sort of near this body of water.

CASAREZ: All right. To Detective Lieutenant Steven Rogers, Nutley, New Jersey, New Jersey Police Department, former member of the FBI joint terrorism task force. Put this together for us, all right? A body has just been found. It is tentatively identified as Robert Manwill. There is now a press conference saying the autopsy is performed. The investigation is starting a new. This is an active investigation. Cause of death, manner of death -- both are pending. What does it say to you?

DET. LT. STEVEN ROGERS, NUTLEY, NJ, POLICE DEPARTMENT: It says to me that the turn of events has now led the police to conduct a very thorough homicide investigation. That`s the direction I believe they`re going in, and that`s how they`re going to probably conclude this if they get all these pieces of evidence together.

CASAREZ: And when can a death investigation actually become a homicide investigation?

ROGERS: Well, as soon as they get enough evidence that connect the dots. Now, they searched the home. If they find blood trace evidence in that home, DNA in that home, connect it to the body, you have a body which now becomes evidence. You might have a homicide on your hands.

CASAREZ: And there is a lot more to talk about on this. But first, are you guilty of being Nancy Grace`s number one fan? Plead your case. Send us your extraordinary story as to why you are Nancy`s biggest fan. We are looking for those stories that stand out. If your e-mail or iReport is featured on air, you will win an autographed copy of Nancy`s book, "The 11th Victim," and a chance to meet her right here in New York on the set. Get your videocameras, your e-mails ready. Go to



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Authorities looking for 8-year-old Robert Manwill focused their efforts on this Boise home and blue Suburban.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was pretty devastated that my truck is being -- being, you know, considered part of this -- part of this murder -- this case with Robert.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The homeowner, Evan Wallis, says he has three boys of his own and is an innocent bystander in the investigation. He says he welcomed authorities to his back yard to search for anything that may lead them to the little boy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I mean, whatever -- whatever lead helps. I mean, I have complete cooperation with them because (INAUDIBLE) it`s a little boy that needs to be found.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wallis says police searched his home after bloodhounds picked up a scent on his Suburban. He says his truck was stolen on July 22nd, just two days before Robert disappeared. Then it turned back up on Monday and Wallis notified the Ada County sheriff`s office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that`s what led them to come back here and get a warrant to dig up our back yard. And I told them, Go ahead, as long as you just leave things the way they were when you`re done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wallis says he hopes the investigation helps lead police to 8-year-old Robert Manwill and is glad he was able to help.


CASAREZ: I`m Jean Casarez of the legal network In Session, in for Nancy Grace tonight. We are awaiting confirmation at any moment of this little body that was found floating in a canal in Boise, Idaho. Let`s go straight out to Greg Hahn, editor of "The Idaho Statesman." Thank you so much for joining us. Who exactly found this little boy`s body in the canal?

HAHN: You know, we know it was two different people, just folks who were out there. I don`t know if they were the ditch riders. Canal folks have to pay a lot of attention, especially this time of year, to make sure that everything`s going all right, or if they were just regular people. The canals go past people`s houses, past a lot of roads.

We`ve been trying to get our hands on 911 calls and other documents, but they`re kind of holding them all back as part of the investigation. But we do know the first sheriff`s deputy there -- and we don`t know whether he thought that the boy was still alive or if he could kind of tell right away what was going on. He just jumped right in, swam over there, and -- and pulled him out, which is a fairly gutsy thing to do because, like I`ve said, it`s a pretty big thing. In fact, the reporter just handed me a note. It was a road crew and a home owner who called in and reported that. So it was a couple people. Like I say, everybody`s been paying a lot of attention.

CASAREZ: To Dr. Leslie Austin, psychotherapist. There were 2,300 volunteers in this search. That entire Boise community got out searching. And two passer-bys happened to see this. What is the effect on the volunteers of what has happened to someone in their community?

LESLIE AUSTIN, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, these are obviously good people with a mission to help, and they`ve got to be devastated that, first of all, any little boy was found and that it might be the little boy that they were looking for. But kudos to them for putting their butts on the line and going out and looking. It`s very important to be supportive of the family and find out what happened.

CASAREZ: You better believe it. To Sheeba in Illinois. Good evening, Sheeba. Hi. What`s your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. I was just wondering, during the autopsy, did they find any bruises or any strange marks, anything like that?

CASAREZ: Well, that`s a good question, and they are keeping that under seal at this point. We don`t know what they found, what they didn`t find. But let`s go to the attorneys, Susan Moss, family law attorney, child advocate out of New York, Ray Giudice, defense attorney out of Atlanta, and Tamara Holder (ph), defense attorney out of Atlanta.

First to Susan Moss out of New York. We don`t know what the autopsy findings were, but coincidentally, press conference now saying this is an active investigation, this is a new investigation. Timing could be everything here. Your thoughts?

SUSAN MOSS, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: Absolutely. But without a timeline, they`re working this case blind. What I don`t understand about this investigation is why it hasn`t been released to the public, the timeline of when exactly this little boy was last seen by his mother. This case needs clues, and clues come from people who have seen something, who maybe were in the neighborhood. Maybe they`ve seen a suspicious vehicle going by. If we don`t let out to the public the exact timeline, or as closely as we can, we are losing these valuable clues and we are losing time.

CASAREZ: To Clark Goldband, Nancy Grace producer. What do we know as far as the timeline? Who were the last people to see this little boy, and where?

GOLDBAND: Jean, our understanding of the exact timeline situation is Robert was last seen around 10:00 PM that Friday night. It`s not clear if he went to go to a birthday party, as had first been reported, or just wandered off to play. There`s a jungle gym type area in that apartment complex.

However, we do believe that he was with his mom and her boyfriend. Mom does not have custody, but she does have some visitation rights.

CASAREZ: And that`s going to be a big key there because did this little boy wander off, fall into a canal? If it is identified to be Robert Manwill, could there be foul play?

Melody in Ohio. Good evening, Melody. Your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good evening. My question being about the mother, the behavior of the mother. Is she seeking psychiatric help? And is she on any psychotropic medications at this time?

CASAREZ: All right, to Greg Hahn, editor of "The Idaho Statesman." I do know that during the press conference today, they kept saying that the family wants their privacy at this time. Anything else you can tell us about the family or the mother?

HAHN: You know, we`ve tried -- you know, like you guys have reported on a few nights, I mean, she does have a criminal history. She was charged -- she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, a felony injury to a child, of a younger -- of a younger boy. But we don`t -- we haven`t been told anything about -- either by the family...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finding Robert will not be the end but just the beginning of an entirely new investigation. Our priority remains finding answers for Robert`s family and this community.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do believe that Robert may be a victim of a tragic event.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The body of a small boy has been recovered from a canal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can tell you the body is that of a young boy approximately the same age and size as Robert Manwill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We ask that you remember that there is an empty seat at our table. Please pray and continue to think about Robert so we may bring him home so that we can share him with you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robert`s family, who has been incredibly strong throughout this ordeal, has been notified that a body has been found.


CASAREZ: I`m Jean Casarez of the legal network In Session, in for Nancy Grace. We have more information coming in about this little body that was found floating in a canal. The office of the coroner is reporting that the place of death at this point is unknown. That is very important information coming out of the office of the coroner.

To Ray Giudice, defense attorney out of Atlanta. You know, Ray, it had been demonstrated earlier that there are more than 100 sexual offenders in this area of Idaho where this little boy lived. Do you believe that investigators should re-interview them, or at this point launch some type of investigation?

RAY GIUDICE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Jean, I agree with what Sue said earlier, but I think this investigation is going to work from the autopsy now backwards. As Sheeba, the caller, said, if there is some sign of trauma or sexual assault on this young boy, it`s going to bust this investigation wide open. They`re going to be able to re-interview all those alleged sex offenders and family members. And I think that`s the key to this, and I think that`s the prosecution and law enforcement used the language that they used today in this press conference.

CASAREZ: I agree. I agree, big messages. To Marc Klaas, president and founder of Klaas Kids Foundation. Out of everyone, Marc, I truly think that you are our expert tonight. With everything you`re hearing, give us your thoughts.

MARC KLAAS, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION: Well, I think that the mom`s response to finding out about the little boy, to having to be supported by other people and leaving the police station in tears and requesting privacy, is very consistent with somebody who just probably had the shock of their lives.

I can tell from firsthand experience, Jean, that losing a child truly is a parent`s worst nightmare. And just in the first few hours after that, you are so overwhelmed by grief and by the other various -- I guess you could call them negative emotions, that it`s almost impossible to function. It`s almost impossible to function.

CASAREZ: Well, it is very, very difficult. Very quickly, Aleena in Iowa. Your question, please?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I was kind of curious as to why he was allowed to be with his mother, since she has a felony abuse charge against her?

CASAREZ: All right, that`s a good question. She actually had visitation and so she had a right to see her son.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Idaho, police say a body pulled from a local canal, the New York Canal, is the approximate age and size of the missing local boy, Robert Manwill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A citizen called police dispatch after seeing a body floating in the New York Canal near Cloverdale Road just north of Deer Flat Road. As deputies were responding, another citizen reported, also seeing a body floating just west of the initial location.

The First Ada County deputy responded to the citizen`s sighting, saw the body floating. Jumped into the canal and pulled the body out of the canal as it flows just east of Deer Flat Road and Stewart Road east of Kuna.

I can tell you the body is that of a young boy approximately the same age and size as Robert Manwill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The 8-year-old vanished on July 24th under what police call suspicious circumstances.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The sheriff`s office and the police department, they tell me as of now there are no other known missing people or missing children cases here locally aside from little Robert Manwill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have received word from the Ada County Coroner`s Office that a tentative identification has been made of the body found in the New York Canal as that of 8-year-old Robert Manwill.


JEAN CASAREZ, GUEST HOST: I`m Jean Casarez of the legal network "In Session" in for Nancy Grace tonight. We are receiving word from Boise, Idaho tonight that the body of a small little boy has been found floating in a canal in Boise, Idaho. The office of the coroner is saying cause of death unknown. Manner of death unknown. Place of death unknown. At this point.

Let`s go out to Greg Hahn, editor of "The Idaho Statesman." Greg, take us to Boise right now so we can visualize it, the canal where this little body was found, tentatively identified as Robert Manwill.

Where is the canal or an entrance to the canal from the apartment that Robert was last seen? And where is that as opposed to where the body was found in the canal?

GREG HAHN, EDITOR, IDAHO STATESMAN; COVERING STORY (via phone): The entrance and the place where he was found are pretty far away. It would take you half an hour to go there, especially if there was traffic. Maybe even longer. It`s probably a 15-mile drive. And it`s about that long in the water. About 18 miles, we`ve been told, by the canal company.

To get there from that apartment is less than half a mile. It`s -- you`d have to go up a pretty steep hill. It`s kind of run through Boise on a top of a hill. And then it kind of winds its way around the valley. This used to be a big agricultural valley. In fact, it still is. But it`s grown dramatically over the last, you know, 100 years. And certainly over the last couple of decades.

It`s a big powerful canal that feeds thousands of acres of farmland even now. And the canal company people say, you know, it`s possible that something could go that far.

CASAREZ: So it`s a big, powerful canal. The entrance to the canal that`s closest to where the apartment was, is it something that a little boy could just walk up to and start to play in? Or is it something that has gates or fences around it?

HAHN: You know that`s a pretty good question. And I haven`t really walked around myself up there. It`s -- the canals come through town. In some places they`re easy to get to. In other place, they`re really cordoned off pretty heavily.

And this one actually comes under the street. So -- and it really is an urban part of town. If you didn`t find a place there, you could wander around and find a spot. They really don`t want anybody in there. There`s stretches they try to keep everybody out of. But, you know, anything`s possible. I was an 8-year-old boy once.

CASAREZ: Sure. And I think we`ve been seeing some pictures of that canal in Boise, Idaho. To Dr. Marty Makary, MD, physician, professor of public health at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C..

When a body has been in water for an extended period of time -- and we don`t know how long the body was in water at this point. Can you still find DNA or is that washed off?

DR. MARTY MAKARY, PHYSICIAN, PROF. OF PUBLIC HEALTH, JOHNS HOPKINS: Oftentimes there is DNA actually. Especially when there`s been misconduct involving a body orifice, body fluids will be checked, the DNA, and in fact, they`ll actually look within any clothing that`s in that person to look for any DNA evidence.

CASAREZ: Well, Doctor, this body was found because it was floating. When a body enters the water, does it go down to the base of a canal first and then rise? And when does that rising take place?

MAKARY: Yes, that`s a good question. A lot of people wonder, do dead bodies float or sink? And actually, they do both. They sink. And at a certain point, the density will actually change space on the air in the lungs and the bodies will then surface later, either hours or days later.

CASAREZ: During an autopsy, can you determine how long a body was in water or do you need to bring in a forensic specialist to determine that?

MAKARY: Usually within the first 24 hours you can nail it down to a series of hours. A six-hour window. When you get a week out, which it may have been in this situation, usually you can get as close to a couple of days. The further out you go, the more wide the window of specificity.

CASAREZ: OK. We want to tell everybody, a forensic dentist is being called in to examine dental records for a confirmation of the identity of this body.

To Dana in Virginia, hi, Dana, good evening. What`s your question?

DANA, CALLER FROM VIRGINIA: Hi, thank you for taking my call. I love the show. And my question is -- where is Robert`s mother? And couldn`t she be brought down to the coroner`s office to I.D. the body? Or would they -- you know, if she was willing to?

CASAREZ: Boy, that`s a great question. What an obvious great question. To Greg Hahn out of "The Idaho Statesman" joining us from Boise, Idaho. What about that? Has the mother been taken to the coroner`s officials?

HAHN: If she has, we haven`t been told about it. But I would say -- I don`t think the coroner would have released the tentative I.D. if they didn`t have a pretty good visual confirmation. I think they -- you know, depending on where this goes, they want to have all their I`s dotted and their T`s crossed.

And I think that`s why they`re taking this extra time. But we`ve never seen, at least from our corner here, a kind of interim identification. That would indicate to me that they`ve got a pretty strong idea that they do have the right I.D.

CASAREZ: You are -- I think you`re right. That does make sense. To Cathy in South Carolina. Good evening, Cathy, your question.

CATHY, CALLER FRO SOUTH CAROLINA: Yes, thank you so much for take my call. Have they released whether or not there was fluid found in little Robert`s lungs?

CASAREZ: You know, they have not released any of that.

To Dr. Marty Makary, what would it mean if there was fluid found in the lungs of this boy or would it naturally be found because he was in the water?

MAKARY: Actually, the absence of fluid in the lungs often indicates a struggle or something that would cause a spasm therefore allow it to sort of seal off the lung as an airspace. So the absence of fluid often indicates a struggle.

CASAREZ: Very interesting. To Tamara Holder, defense attorney out of New York, there are no suspects in this case. There are no persons of interests. It is not known the cause of death. But Robert`s mother has pleaded guilty already to a domestic violence child abuse issue with one of her children, bashing the head -- skull of another child into a hard object.

If you were an attorney in the area, do you believe that she is someone that should seek counsel at this time or not, unless approached by law enforcement?

TAMARA HOLDER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think anybody who`s a person of interest or could be a person of interest should always have legal counsel. But I don`t think that we should focus on the mother`s past conduct right now. There`s too much information that is directly linked to this boy missing.

We have a bloodhound. We have 120 sex offenders in a two-mile radius. We have three different locations. We have where he was found. We have this backyard. We have where he lived. So in focusing on the mother`s past conduct with another child is not important right now. It may be in the future. But not know.

CASAREZ: All right. To Leslie Austin, psychotherapist, what is this family going through right now?

DR. LESLIE AUSTIN, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, there`s no way they`re going through anything other than hell, whether anybody from the family is implicated or not, it`s still devastating for different reasons.

We have to assume until we know differently that this family is just going through a horrifying loss. And this is no closure for them. This is just the beginning of the grieving process. And some people never get over it.

CASAREZ: Absolutely horrifying.

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It took me years to write this book. I started when I first left felony prosecution. And I missed it so much. Since then I wrote another book and published it. Launched this show with my producer, Dean. Got married. Got pregnant. Gave birth. Nearly died. Didn`t. And finished the book.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An Ohio couple faces a slew of charges after authorities allege they were operating a meth lab in their home with six children inside. Police have arrested Ronald Copeland and Sasha Archer on drug and child endangerment charges after investigators say they discovered chemicals in the home used to make methamphetamine as well as a loaded 45 caliber handgun.

Five of the six children are under the age of 12 and are all in state custody.

Archer and Copeland are being held at the county jail where they are facing decades behind bars.


CASAREZ: I`m Jean Casarez of the legal network "In Session," in for Nancy Grace tonight.

We take you to Akron, Ohio. A meth lab, a loaded gun, and six children, all in the same home. Let`s go out to Phil Trexler, reporter of "The Akron Beacon Journal."

Thank you for joining us. Start from the beginning. What was happening and what was found.

PHIL TREXLER, REPORTER, AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, COVERING STORY, (via phone): Good evening, Jean. What was happening was, apparently, according to the police -- Akron Police Department, Sasha Archer and Robert Copeland were operating a meth house out of their home where they had a blended family of six children ranging in age from 17 all the way down to 2.

They received a tip that once again a house in Summit County was making methamphetamines and they went there last week to raid the house. They were let inside. And they discovered the chemicals used in the process and, as you said, a weapon. And also, all the children.

And the latest here in Akron is that the six children are in foster family setting. They were examined by medical professionals and all were deemed to be healthy. We`ve learned that the Summit County Children`s Services Board has been asked to investigate the welfare of the children nine times in the past nine years, but they were never able to determine that the children were abused or neglected.

I think that`s going to change after last week`s arrest. But in the meantime, Archer and Copeland remain in Summit County jail and they`re facing, as you said, drug and child endangerment charges.

CASAREZ: All right. Many, many years they are facing. Let`s go straight out to law enforcement, someone that was there at the home when it was raided. Lieutenant Brian Simcox, Akron Police Department.

You have investigated this alleged meth lab, what was at the home. What did you find? And furthermore, how did you get in the home?

LT. BRIAN SIMCOX, AKRON POLICE DEPARTMENT, INVESTIGATED ALLLEGED METH LAB (via phone): Well, Jean, Akron and Summit County, the Akron Police Department, we have a clandestine meth lab team that goes out and searches for this stuff.

\We had received a tip that a meth lab was there and we went to the house. Officer Crockett, one of our officers on our team, knocked on the door and we were let inside by an aunt and an uncle of Ronald Copeland. When you get inside with a meth lab, Jean, you know, you can smell it, you can see it. You can`t hide this stuff.

And we developed enough probable cause to believe that there was a meth lab there. And indeed, we did recover a full working meth lab. We got, you know, iodine and red phosphorous and acetones and muriatic acid and sodium hydroxides, all chemicals that are used to cook the drugs.

CASAREZ: OK. One question I have. You not only found a meth lab, you found a loaded gun?

SIMCOX: Yes. All of the kids were staying in the basement with Ronald Copeland and Sasha Archer. And in that basement is where we found red phosphorus and acetones and the alcohols. And there was a loaded gun underneath some covers near one of the children`s bed that was located. It was a .45 caliber pistol. Very dangerous.

CASAREZ: Near one of the children`s bed you found the gun. Where did you find the children?

SIMCOX: The children were all in the basement where much of the lab was and where the gun was. You can see, if you look at the pictures, you should see children`s beds and mattresses that are down in that basement.

CASAREZ: OK. Let`s go to Dr. Marty Makary, physician, professor of public health. First of all, enlighten us, educate us all about methamphetamine. First of all, and I`m thinking about the welfare of the children here. How do you ingest it in your body, first of all? And what are the toxins that can be breathed in or gone into the internal organs of a child?

MAKARY: Well, it`s one of most addictive substances on the black market. It`s often injected to get the most euphoria or high. People will also snort it. They do eat it, although the absorption is so low they often are driven to inject it or snort it instead.

And of course, these fumes were in the home. The kids would have been exposed to the fumes. They would have been obviously at great risk for this high or this dopamine rush which gives your body this surge. And that, of course, is very unhealthy for their development.

The gun in the homes, of course, all of the public health research shows that a gun is most likely to be used by one family member against another family member than it is ever to be used against a stranger or an assailant that would come into a home.

CASAREZ: Especially if it is allegedly loaded under a blanket near one of the children`s beds.

To Leslie Austin, psychotherapist. First of all, children can want to emulate their parents, right? And if you can ingest methamphetamine in a variety of ways, inhaling, snorting, injecting, even taking it by mouth, I understand, you can do. Couldn`t children want to copy their parents and do something like this?

AUSTIN: Oh, absolutely. And one of my concerns is that they`re bio chemically already, acculturated to being high from the fumes alone. So their neurological systems may already be disrupted. The older the child, the harder it would be for them to recover from this environment. The youngest ones probably have the best chance with some really strong counseling and some help.

CASAREZ: OK. To Ellie Jostad, NANCY GRACE producer, we`ve got some criminal backgrounds here. I know you did your research. And what can you tell us about Ronald Lee Copeland, 37 years old, who now has been arrested?

ELLIE JOSTAD, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER, COVERING STORY: Well, Ronald Lee Copeland has arrests going back to 1992. Convictions going back to 1998. Possession of marijuana. Trafficking of marijuana. Cocaine possession. Convicted of disorderly conduct. Convicted of domestic violence. Convicted of tampering with evidence.

A long list of conviction here, just there in that county in Ohio.

CASAREZ: All right. And the charges now, I know that you`ve done your calculations. And at least 47 years for Copeland if convicted at this point. What are some of the charges he`s currently charged with?

JOSTAD: Right. Well, he and Sasha Archer are both looking at six counts of endangering a child. They`re also looking at manufacture methamphetamines, assembly of chemical, possession of methamphetamines, possession of marijuana, possession of criminal tool, possession of paraphernalia.

And those charges, if you put them all together, convicted on all charges, 47 years. Now Copeland is also looking at an additional charge of ownership of a gun by a convicted felony.

CASAREZ: All right. To Sarah in Pennsylvania. Good evening, Sarah. Your question?

SARAH, CALLER FROM PENNSYLVANIA: Good evening. You may have just answered one of my questions. You flashed something up on the screen (INAUDIBLE) if that was a registered firearm. And I`m curious what the officers had said to the aunt and uncle, knowing that there was a meth lab in the home, that they invited the police officers in.

CASAREZ: Good question. To Lt. Brian Simcox. Your response?

SIMCOX: Yes. It`s our belief that the aunt and uncle were not aware that the meth was being cooked in the house. There`s an elderly -- Ron Copeland`s elderly grandmother, who is bedridden, is in the house, and the aunt and uncle care for her upstairs. Sasha and Ron and the six children were in the basement.

You know when we explained to them the dangers of meth labs, the flammability and the toxins and the chemicals and how it can impact the children, they let us in and granted us consent to search their home because Copeland and Archer were there, we also got consent from them and recovered all of the material that you`ve seen the pictures of, as well as the gun.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ohio police made a shocking discovery. After responding to a tip, they arrived at a local home where they say they found six children, a loaded gun, and a full meth lab inside. Authorities arrested a couple who were living there on both drug and child endangerment charges.


CASAREZ: We are learning that there were six minor children in the home when this alleged meth facility was found along with a loaded gun. 2 years old, 4 years old, 5, 7, 10, 17 years old.

To Susan Moss, family law attorney, you know, it was reported that Child Protective Services had visited the family nine times. Explain that, Susan.

SUSAN MOSS, CHILD ADVOCATE, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: That means there were nine separate calls that should have alerted the authorities that something very, very bad could have been happening there.

Let me tell you something, six kids you grab when they`re living in a meth lab. Whatever happened to just making moonshine? This just goes to a level of endangerment of all six children that is so horrible, so dangerous, and so disastrous that both these people are going to be in jail for those 46 years.

CASAREZ: To Jamile in Arizona, your question, Jamile?

JAMILE, CALLER FROM ARIZONA: Yes, I just wanted to how long they were actually aware of this before they investigated and do they think that the 17-year-old might also be one of the people dealing?

CASAREZ: To Lt. Brian Simcox, very quickly?

SIMCOX: We had known about this specific location for about one week. We were doing a special detail when we went to this house. Ronald Copeland had moved from a different address, as had Sasha Archer. So we were aware of this address with this lab for one week.

We hit it immediately within the first five or six days we knew of it and got this stuff out of there.

CASAREZ: All right. Thank you so much. Arraignment is tomorrow and this story will be continued.

And tonight, let us stop to remember Navy Captain Michael Scott Speicher, 33 years old, from Jacksonville, Florida. After an 18-year search, Speicher`s remains have been positively identified.

He was the first American shot down in the first Persian Gulf War. A graduate of Florida State University, the school named their tennis complex in his honor. He leaves behind his widow, Joann, his two daughters.

Michael Scott Speicher, truly an American hero.

Thank you to all of our guests, to you at home for being with us. See you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. Until then, good night, everybody.