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Gabriel`s Mom Says FBI Has Tape of Adoptive Couple
Aired January 13, 2010 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Breaking news tonight, live, Arizona. A gorgeous 23-year-old mom takes off from her Tempe, Arizona, home by car for a 978- mile road trip with this beautiful 8-month-old baby boy, Gabriel. Mommy spends Christmas holed up in a local motel alone, San Antonio, calling the 25-year-old bio dad, threatening he`d never see the baby again, even telling him baby Gabriel is dead.
Turns out Mommy`s trying to give the baby away the whole time to an Arizona couple. Mommy alone, no baby Gabriel, hops a bus, heads for Florida December 27, the day after the last credible sighting of baby Gabriel alive, her car abandoned. December 30, Mommy`s located Miami Beach minus the baby. Car recovered Motel 6, San Antonio, baby`s carseat still inside. When pressed, Mommy says she gives the baby away to a random couple she bumps into at a public park, Texas.
Bombshell tonight. After repeatedly insisting she cannot remember what the couple looked like, Mommy has a sudden change of heart. In the last hours, she not only gives a description but claims the FBI has the couple and baby Gabriel on video. She claims they show up at the hotel, sign adoption documents and leave with the baby in a brand-new carseat. She also claims she`s begging cops to do a composite sketch.
Mommy all kicked back at the jailhouse, having daily visits from a lawyer, recreation time. She never misses a meal. Mommy charged with felony kidnap, child abuse, custody interference, but not murder. Why? Is there hope baby Gabriel is alive? Cops say the would-be adoptive parents from Arizona, Jack and Tammi Smith, holding back evidence, this after polygraph results inconclusive.
And now we learn Mommy tries her best to rewrite history to suggest 25-year-old Logan McQueary not the bio dad. We confirm he is. Police uncover time-stamped photos confirming Gabriel alive before Mommy heads for Florida, while a hotel clerk reveals Mommy checks in under a different name. Prosecutors lay out the scenario Mommy kills baby Gabriel, conceals his tiny body in a diaper bag and throws the baby boy in a dumpster.
Mommy discards Gabriel`s crib in the family shed out back. She gives away his baby clothes. Did she know baby Gabriel would never come home? Tonight, can we save this baby with an angel face, baby Gabriel?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breaking news in the case of missing 8-month-old Arizona boy, baby Gabriel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Baby Gabriel`s mother, Elizabeth Johnson, visited today in jail by Tammi Smith, who says she was in talks with Johnson to adopt Gabriel before he disappeared. Johnson allegedly told Smith she knows Gabriel is with a good family, and she also said the FBI has video of the couple who took the baby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A San Antonio hotel clerk who checked Gabriel`s mother, Elizabeth Johnson, into one of the hotels claims Johnson checked in under a different name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I recognize the picture, but that was not the name she used. That`s why I didn`t say anything earlier because I had saw it -- I was like, Wow, it looks exactly like a girl I checked in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The clerk believes Johnson had a Texas ID, but what name Johnson used remains unclear at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn`t Elizabeth Johnson.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where was the ID from? What state?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe it was Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The clerk says Johnson checked in between December 20 and 26th and the clerk never saw Johnson with little Gabriel. Johnson did allegedly bring in a baby carseat, but was holding it behind the desk so the clerk couldn`t tell if Gabriel was inside the carseat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have video confirmation she does not have the baby on the day that she left Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On December 27th, 2009, the date Logan that was supposed to get Gabriel from the defendant, he received a text message from her stating that Gabriel was dead.
ELIZABETH JOHNSON, GABRIEL`S MOTHER: Everything she said was so completely false.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right...
JOHNSON: I don`t know what else to say but that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: And tonight, is a public school making it virtually impossible for a little autistic boy to learn?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nine-year-old Scooter Givens has autism. Sometimes loud noises and crying kids cause him to have extended episodes in school, crying and flailing about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But his mother says when Madison, Scooter`s $12,000 service dog, is tethered to his side, everything becomes much easier.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He can just touch him, nuzzle him, lay on him. And for some reason, when we do it, it doesn`t work. But when Madison does, it works. And it calms him down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillsboro, Oregon, school district reportedly refuses to allow Madison, the dog, into Scooter`s classroom, citing Scooter is doing just fine without assistance. Scooter`s mother believes her child, who can be aggressive toward others and have temper tantrums, could learn better if the dog were present. But officials say the answer is still no. Now, Madison, the German shepherd, at the center of a complaint filed with the United States Department of Justice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don`t even know if it`s going to work. We just want the chance to try it. So yes, we`ll take it as far as we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us. Bombshell tonight. After repeatedly insisting she cannot remember what the couple that took baby Gabriel looks like, Mommy has a sudden change of heart. In the last hours, she not only gives a description but claims the FBI has the couple and baby Gabriel on video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In her own words, she stated that she killed Gabriel.
JOHNSON: Everything is just so false.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Elizabeth Johnson visited today in jail by Tammi Smith. Johnson allegedly told Smith she knows Gabriel is with a good family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She has been very quiet, very standoffish and has not assisted us in any way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re told that Johnson stayed at this hotel near the airport sometime between December 20th and the 26th. The clerk remembers Johnson checking in, and she may have had the baby with her sitting in the carseat. But one thing is for sure. He says Elizabeth Johnson did not use her own name.
TAMMI PETERS SMITH, HOPED TO ADOPT GABRIEL: Once we did start to talk to her, she said that her plan was to keep running. So just -- she didn`t want Logan to have the baby, and we couldn`t adopt the baby because Logan wouldn`t sign the papers. So her idea was to just keep running forever.
LOGAN MCQUEARY, GABRIEL`S FATHER: She put in the text, I killed him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That she killed him? Past tense?
MCQUEARY: Yes, I killed him is what she said.
JOHNSON: Everything is just so false, from the claim (ph) to everything that she said is so completely false.
TAMMI PETERS SMITH: Sunday morning, she was going to come back. We had offered to help her with an attorney so that she could keep the custody and the custody would not go to the father.
GRACE: And then out of the blue, she just takes off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elizabeth knows exactly what took place. And as far as what the Smiths hold, whether it`s the key or only just a little more information, I can`t tell you that until I get the information itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: The story becoming more and more bizarre with every passing hour. Straight out to Michael Board, WOAI Newsradio. Michael, why does Mommy suddenly have memory of what the couple looks like? How did this happen?
MICHAEL BOARD, WOAI NEWSRADIO: You know, it just blows your mind that all of a sudden, she can just remember. After she says, No, no, everything is completely false, now she remembers.
And a lot of things are going on with this investigation right now. We know that now she has stayed at two different Homegate Suites in San Antonio. She was booked into both of them, one under her real name, one underneath (SIC) her false name. Why would she do that? We figured out that she may have checked into one with a real ID. While she was in San Antonio, somehow she was able to obtain a fake ID.
GRACE: And she does check into the other one with the fake Texas ID, correct?
BOARD: That`s what we`re learning today. And we`re also learning more about how the police are investigating this. We know that from the beginning, we have not ruled out the possibility that she may have possibly murdered this child, put him in a diaper bag and tossed him in a dumpster. You know, she said that to the father.
We have learned that behind the scenes, police have been going around to different sanitation companies in San Antonio, trying to figure out who picks up the trash in different areas where she`s been. They`ve also been going around to different landfills around the city, trying to figure out where that trash has gone.
We know that they have focused their efforts on one landfill on the city`s east side. It`s important to note here they have not done a search of that landfill yet. We don`t know if they ever will do a search of that landfill. But as long as baby Gabriel is still missing, we have to realize that there is the possibility that she really did do what she said she did, which is murder this child.
GRACE: Well, obviously, the police are not taking it very seriously because all you got to do is follow the trash. When they come and collect it, you follow it. You see what land mine it -- what landfill it goes to and you start digging. Calling around is not impressing me in the least, Michael Board! If they were looking for a body, they would know which landfill got that trash. They would be there themselves with cadaver dogs and with experts. So time is going by. Every hour makes it more impossible to find the baby, dead or alive.
Right now to Tammi Smith, the would-be adoptive mother of baby Gabriel, who has spoken to Elizabeth Johnson behind bars. Tammi Smith, thank you for being with us. What did you learn? Hold on. My satellite is down. Let me know, Liz, when we get back with Tammi Smith. Are you there, Tammi?
Let me go to Matt Zarrell. Matt, what can you tell me? What did she learn?
MATT ZARRELL, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: Well, we learned that Elizabeth Johnson said that she believed and she is sure that Gabriel is alive. Now, she talked about -- not only giving a description of the couple, but she talked about how Gabriel was given to this couple. The couple apparently came to one of the hotel rooms, signed a document that was not notarized, had a new carseat with them, put the baby in the carseat and left. Now, she said that the FBI has video of this, but we haven`t seen any of this video, Nancy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The defendant took Gabriel from his father, concealed him, ran to Texas, and somewhere in Texas says she left Gabriel with strangers and/or killed him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you state your name and date of birth?
JOHNSON: Elizabeth Johnson, 7/24/86.
TAMMI PETERS SMITH: I just knew the second I saw her, there is something wrong there. And I just immediately, What do you want to do with your baby?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve been arrested on a direct complaint warrant alleging custodial interference, a class 4 felony.
JACK SMITH, HOPED TO ADOPT GABRIEL: We are for the finding of this baby. We are not on a side.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve also been arrested on new charges alleging child abuse, a class 2 felony, and one count of kidnapping.
TAMMI PETERS SMITH: You guys are saying things about a diaper bag and stuff, and we just don`t want to hear that.
JOHNSON: Everything she`s saying is completely false.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The defendant is the only person who knows where Gabriel is, if he`s dead or alive. And she refuses to cooperate and tell anyone where Gabriel is.
TAMMI PETERS SMITH: There would be nothing that they can charge us with because we have done nothing. We`ve done everything that the police have asked us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there anything you want to ask me or tell me?
JOHNSON: Ask you -- I don`t really know what to say, but everything is just so false.
GRACE: Do you think, Tammi, that she is capable of killing this baby?
TAMMI PETERS SMITH: You know, from what I know of her, I don`t believe so. But I`ve only known her maybe three or four weeks.
JOHNSON: When do I get a lawyer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ll be appointed a lawyer now. We`re going to give you instructions on how to contact your lawyer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: OK. Think that I`ve got the would-be adoptive mother, Tammi Smith, with me. Back out to Tammi Smith. Tammi, you spoke to Elizabeth Johnson behind bars today. What did you learn? Tammi, are you with me? Satellite down again. OK. Back to you, Matt Zarrell...
ZARRELL: I`m here.
GRACE: What did she learn, Matt?
ZARRELL: Well, we learned more not on the about the adoption papers but we learned more of a description. And not only that, we learned that the baby is in hiding, apparently. This is what the mother is saying. The mother is saying that the adoptive couple in San Antonio knew that this was an illegal adoption and told the mother they were going to keep the baby hidden and no one would recognize the baby in a few years. So she had nothing to worry about.
GRACE: Out to the lines. To Jeannette in Florida. Hi, Jeannette.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.
GRACE: Hi, dear. What`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need to know -- I know, you know, that we all know that -- you know, we want to pray that the baby`s still alive. But I need to know, is this -- (INAUDIBLE) really this couple that have taken this child, how much charges can they get? Because this is all over the news. How many charges can this couple get to conceal -- relatively hide that baby?
GRACE: Let`s unleash the lawyers. Joining us tonight, family law attorney Susan Moss, New York, renowned defense attorney out of Atlanta Renee Rockwell, and Alan Ripka, defense attorney joining us from New York. What about it, Sue Moss?
SUSAN MOSS, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: Well, certainly kidnapping and possibly child endangerment. So let me get this straight. She found a couple with a new carseat. Quite a feat. But I say it`s deceit. There`s just no way these random people had a new carseat unless they had another child, and then they would need two carseats.
GRACE: Renee Rockwell, weigh in.
RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Let me agree with Susan. And besides that, Nancy, if the child has been taken over state lines, they can be charged in yet more than one state. And certainly, now, if they were involved in something they thought was innocent initially and they`re seeing any of these newscasts, they certainly cannot say that they didn`t know what was going on.
ALAN RIPKA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You can`t discount the fact that she may have given this child over to some random couple because of the fact that when someone admits to killing their own child, they would know the details and they would have found the child by now, but they haven`t.
GRACE: But Alan -- put him up. That doesn`t even make any sense. Anybody that murders their child is not going to give details about the murder.
RIPKA: They wouldn`t have admitted it in the first place unless they may have given details about it, Nancy.
GRACE: OK, please explain yourself.
RIPKA: The bottom line is this. They say she climb claims she killed the child originally. Then she -- then she said that she gave it to a couple. If a woman is ready to admit she killed her child, generally someone is going to give the details of where the child are and they`re going to help the police because they were willing to admit it in the first place.
GRACE: OK, Alan. Now I understand what you`re saying.
Out to Michelle Golland, psychologist and expert on Momlogic.com. Michelle, thank you for being with us.
MICHELLE GOLLAND, PSYCHOLOGIST: Hello.
GRACE: Michelle, I`ve got a problem with her insisting all this time that she intentionally blocked her mind about what this couple looked like, what their car looked like, anything about them, because she didn`t want to be tempted to go back and get baby Gabriel. Now all of a sudden, she remembers.
GOLLAND: Right. Nancy, you know, what I`m seeing in this -- in this woman is what I -- in my opinion, is borderline personality disorder. This is a woman who has a chronic character issue. And she`s lying. She`s manipulative. She -- you know, clearly there`s chaos in her relationships. And she`s causing chaos. Look at -- look at all the chaos that she`s causing in endangering little baby Gabriel and bringing the Smiths in and - - this is a woman who has a serious characterological issue.
GRACE: To Michael Board, WOAI. What was the description she gives behind bars just today?
BOARD: It was a couple that apparently was caught on some sort of camera. We`re thinking it`s possibly one of the security cameras at the hotels. It was a couple, a woman with long hair, a man -- he wasn`t fat. He was a larger man with short black hair.
GRACE: So long blond hair, 5-2 to 5-3, 110 to 125. The man, tall guy, short dark hair from San Antonio. She`s just come out with this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The defendant in this case is currently facing charges of kidnapping, a class 2 dangerous crime against children, child abuse and custodial interference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She thinks that what she`s doing is keeping her baby safe. It`s crazy, but that`s what she`s doing.
GRACE: Take a look at where she speaks. This lady does not have a mental problem. She`s absolutely coherent. She sees what`s going on around her. She is answering his questions quickly and concisely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the child is in good hands -- and that`s a big if -- then the child will, you know, still be around, whether the child is in a home, whether the child has been taken across the border of Mexico, whether the child is at the bottom of the landfill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Let`s try Tammi Smith again, who spoke to Mommy behind bars today. Tammi, what happened?
TAMMI PETERS SMITH (via telephone): She was very confident and very comfortable with the conversation. I was very upset about what this has done to my family, you know, and I started to talk to her about that and I started to cry a little bit. And as I did that, her eyes welled up with tears and she got very upset and very, very apologetic.
I went on to ask her numerous questions. You know, you`ve got to remember this girl is a smart girl. She has a 4.0 GPA. She got a four- year scholarship to Southeastern. She knows what she`s doing, you know? And I honestly believe parts of what she was telling me, but other parts, I could tell, when she wouldn`t look at me and her eyes -- he eyelashes would flitter, that she was lying.
And I`m not an expert in lying, but you know, there`s a lot of what she said that sounded very, very truthful and very much the same as the way we all got together and how we met and how we took Gabriel home from her home.
GRACE: OK. You`re stating that she kept looking away from you, her eyes fluttering when she said certain facts. When in the conversation did that happen? What was she saying when she looked away from you?
TAMMI PETERS SMITH: Those were the parts, like, when I asked her about the GPS. And I said that, I believe you knew exactly where you were going. And at that point, I believe everything that she told me was a lie and I almost even didn`t listen to half of what she was saying, what her excuses were, because I didn`t believe her.
I honestly believe the facts about these parents. She did tell me that she did not tell anyone all of this because she didn`t want to talk until she had an attorney. Once she had an attorney, she gave him all of the same facts that she is giving me. But I mean, remember, she`s very smart. She wasn`t going to tell anybody these facts without talking to an attorney first, you know?
GRACE: Well, you know, that doesn`t make sense to me, Tammi, because when you don`t know if your child is dead or alive or what`s become of it...
TAMMI PETERS SMITH: Right. Right.
GRACE: ... why would you sit back and wait on a lawyer? That was her prime concern?
TAMMI PETERS SMITH: Exactly. And I even told her, I said, You know, I consider myself a normal person. And we talked about that. And she doesn`t consider herself normal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Disturbing clues in the desperate search for baby Gabriel Johnson right now. His mother Elizabeth Johnson behind bars. Charged with child abuse and kidnapping.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The 23-year-old is being held on a cash only $1.1 million bond.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She has definitely shown some unpredictable behavior in the past, so when she says that she killed that baby and threw him in a dumpster -- is that a credible threat? Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The defendant is the only person who knows where Gabriel is, and if he`s dead or alive.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We`re getting new insights into this mother`s cross-country trip, a trip where she returned without baby.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is this a homicide that occurred in San Antonio or do we have a kidnapping that occurred in Arizona? Or was it a kidnapping that led to homicide?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Days before, cops say she tossed the baby`s clothes, got rid of his crib.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If her decision was to kill that baby in Arizona, of course we know that she was trying to adopt the baby against the father`s will.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And now police in Texas are combing through the GPS system found in his mom`s abandoned car. It could help narrow down a timeline especially since cops say mom is not talking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She wanted to know where the bathroom was. She wanted some water. She wanted to know -- you know, how does she wanted to know how to survive her trip from -- you know, from Florida back to Arizona. That`s about it.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But you`re saying zero information about her missing baby?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Zero information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Back to Tammi Smith, the would-be adoptive mother who thought that she would get baby Gabriel. It didn`t happen that way. Now according to the bio mom she gave the baby away to a random couple she bumped into at a public park in Texas.
I see a lot of discrepancies in her story, Tammi. And I know you want to believe her. But it sounds like, for instance, she`s been watching this show and it`s come up with a story tailored to answer questions like, suddenly she says this couple just happened to have a brand new baby car seat and they show up to explain away why she didn`t give it to them.
Just so many different things that they came to the hotel to pick up the baby. That`s the first time we`ve heard that. Before today she said she handed it over in a public park. I mean, the story is not only just getting more facts, but it`s actually changing, Tammi.
TAMMI PETERS SMITH, PLANNED TO ADOPT BABY GABRIEL (via phone): I want to believe everything she`s saying and, you know, I`m at my house right now. I had to find a quiet room. And I`m actually in the baby`s room and all his stuff was put in the crib here.
And I`m sitting here staring at his little car seat that we bought for him. And when I asked her the color of the car seat she said, I think it was tan. And I don`t know what to believe anymore.
This car seat here is tan, you know? And it`s really freaking me out because I don`t know what to believe and if she`s that good of a manipulator, I don`t know -- I mean, I want to believe everything she`s saying. She looked so believable.
I had somebody from the media in there with me and they were like, oh my gosh, she looks -- she`s so believable. I believe her. You know, we`re both sitting there saying, I believe her.
And I just -- I want to believe her so badly because I want him to be alive and I want him with a family. You know, she said that we can all talk to her attorney and I asked her, can we please have a press conference tomorrow with your attorney and with a couple -- you know, couple people from the media?
And she said absolutely, I`ll get it set up with him. And I`ve told him to tell everybody everything. And I just -- I want to believe this so bad, but then I talk to you guys and listen to your show and I`m so torn. I`m just so torn, Nancy.
GRACE: Well, Tammi, what was the description she gave you, as best as you can remember, verbatim, of this couple that took baby Gabriel?
SMITH: She said they were in their mid-30s, about -- the man was tall, not fat but kind of big. He had short, dark, really dark hair. She had long blond hair and was about her size and frame which is about 5`2" to 5`3", 110 to 125 pounds.
And I said, well, so she looked kind of like you then, huh? And she said, well, our faces don`t look alike, but yes, she looks like me.
GRACE: What kind of car were they driving?
SMITH: I asked her that, I asked her what color was the car. She didn`t know. She said she didn`t know. She said she was in the room and they came in the room. And I said, were they loving on the baby and hugging and kissing on them like we do?
And she said, well, no, because I wouldn`t let them hold him. I wouldn`t let them hold him. She said I was holding him the whole time and I was very distraught and very upset and I felt very pressured.
And she said that she went ahead and signed the papers. She signed custody over to them and I asked her, was it notarized? She said no. And she said she put the baby in the car seat and they walked out the door with him.
GRACE: Can you think of anything else she said? All she can remember is the woman`s name is Sheryl?
SMITH: Right. Right. And we didn`t even talk about that today. We just talked about that in the last interview. I asked her, you know, do they drink Coke, did they drink coffee, tea? Did they have a big family? Did they have a small family? What did they tell you?
And I said, you know, we talked about stuff like that. And she said, I don`t remember us talking about that stuff. And I said, Elizabeth, we sat for almost four hours in your trailer and we talked before we left with the baby.
And she said, I don`t really remember -- I know we were there for a long time but I don`t remember what we talked about. So she`s not remembering what we have talked about.
I am not a psychiatrist, but I`m starting to see -- does she have some kind of a multiple personality that she can possibly remember parts but doesn`t remember all?
GRACE: OK, Tammi. She`s also saying the FBI has video of this couple. Where did the video come from?
SMITH: Her attorney is telling her that -- she said that her attorney said the FBI has videotape of the couple leaving with the baby.
GRACE: Where did this video allegedly come from? The hotel?
SMITH: I don`t know. I`m guessing obviously the hotel. But everyone that I speak to has no such video.
GRACE: Now, which hotel would it have been? The one where she was listed under the fake name or the real name?
SMITH: She told me that she was only in one hotel. And I told her that there is witnesses that she had two hotels and she swears that that wasn`t true and, of course, I didn`t believe her. You know? But -- and I -- and she even told me about -- I asked her about the fake license. She laughed about it and swore that that wasn`t true.
And you know, I don`t know what to think about that because that just sounds stupid, you know?
GRACE: OK, Tammi, when you spoke to her the first time, didn`t she tell you the only thing she remembered is that the woman`s name is Sheryl? Didn`t she tell you that?
GRACE: And now she`s remembering all this? Did she explain the sudden jog of memory?
SMITH: Yes. She told me that she didn`t want to say anything until she had an attorney. So that she could tell her attorney and I`m guessing it`s because she already knew she was in deep trouble.
GRACE: What have cops told you, if anything, about the fact that they are not looking for a body?
SMITH: Nobody has told me anything. I have left about 10 messages since Friday with three different Tempe police detectives and one of the detectives is detective Ramirez, the one who said -- they say that that is my detective that I am supposed to speak to.
Nobody ever calls me back. I`m borderlining on harassment and I`m afraid I`m going to get -- you know, put in jail for harassing the police department, but nobody will speak to me. I don`t understand it. I`m very, very confused.
GRACE: Tammi, are you and Jack considering taking another polygraph?
SMITH: I have asked him. I`ve left messages. I left messages the very day that we got results. Immediately I left messages saying we want another polygraph. Because a friend of mine who`s a nurse practitioner said that if you`re stressed out, if you have any feelings toward whatever`s being asked about, or if you`re tired then that could cause it to be inconclusive.
And we have all of those things. We -- literally the day that we took that test, the three days before that, we had about 15 hours sleep combined in three entire days.
GRACE: OK. Let`s go to the lines. Joey in Pennsylvania, hi, Joey.
JOEY, CALLER FROM PENNSYLVANIA: Hi, Nancy. Thank you so much for taking my call.
GRACE: Thank you for calling in. What`s your question, dear?
JOEY: Elizabeth seems like a very bright girl. I mean everyone`s saying that on the news and she went through all the trouble of trying to find adoptive parents. Is it possible she may have sold the baby and that`s why she came up with the story she did abandon her car? And have there been any checks on her saving accounts or if she had money unaccounted for?
GRACE: What do we know, Michael Board?
MICHAEL BOARD, REPORTER, WOAI NEWSRADIO: When she was found in a Miami Youth Hostel she had gotten her nails done, she had gone out shopping and she still had $500 cash left alone.
The police in Tempe, Arizona, the commander who`s in charge of this investigation says they ran the numbers. They figured out exactly how much money she would have had. They said, we -- no, that she should have run out of money a long time ago. The numbers don`t add up. They say she was getting money from somewhere.
GRACE: So, Tammi Smith, where do you think she got the money?
SMITH: I asked her that. She told me that when she left she had $2,000. She sold jewelry, her laptop computer, her dogs. She got $400 for rent and she got a check. I asked her if these people even -- I said, well, did the people even give you money to compensate for the trip that you had to make? And she said no.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma`am, I have appointed the public defender to represent you. I noted you shaking your head and disagreeing with the comments.
ELIZABETH JOHNSON, MOTHER OF MISSING BABY GABRIEL: Yes, everything she was saying was completely false.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please do not interrupt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Her face and her child`s face seem to be everywhere, but still no one knows the whereabouts of 8-month-old Gabriel Johnson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My first goal is to recover Gabriel.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: At one of the San Antonio hotels where Johnson stayed, clerks are just realizing she was a guest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She seemed like a fairly happy-go-lucky kind of girl.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you believe the child is alive? A lot of that has to do with we have, again, we have some photographs, time-stamped photographs. Herself had said that the child is alive. She just gave him away.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: For this San Antonio man it is unbelievable that he had contact with the woman in the middle of a nationwide search for this precious baby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not sure what to think. I personally think the kid`s all right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: You`re hearing the hotel clerk speaking just then.
Out to the lines, Michelle, Arkansas, hi, Michelle.
MICHELLE, CALLER FROM ARKANSAS: Hi, Nancy.
GRACE: Hi, dear, what`s your question?
MICHELLE: My question is for the Smiths. I want to know why in the world wouldn`t they contact the police after she left her baby with them. Just meeting them at the airport? You know why wouldn`t they just take that to the police and say, you know, this lady left her baby with us.
GRACE: Good question, Michelle. What about it, Tammi?
SMITH: That`s not what happened. I don`t know if Michelle`s been following the story. She didn`t leave her baby with us at the airport. She called us seven months later and she called us and we came to her house. We talked to her. We signed guardianship papers and had them notarized.
It was absolutely legal as far as we knew. She was the mother of that child. The police came out to her home that evening. They looked at our paperwork. They said, yes, this is absolutely legal. You keep this baby here safe because he doesn`t need to be with the mom or the dad right now. Until mom decides, you keep this baby.
GRACE: To Tom Shamshak, former police chief, private investigator, instructor at Boston University, why aren`t cops looking in landfills and trash dumps right now?
TOM SHAMSHAK, FMR. POLICE CHIEF, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR, INSTRUCTOR AT BOSTON UNIV.: Good evening, Nancy. Boy, you, at the top of the hour, hit it right on the money here. The law enforcement community is -- you know, they have to be prodded. The media has to be over their shoulder in order for them to get these things going.
Hope is not a method. They should be searching. They should be searching the automobile, they should be thoroughly searching the hotel rooms where she was at, looking to see if there was any kind of crime committed there.
And again, yes, they should be narrowing down the landfills and scouring those landfills with equipment and with cadaver dogs in an effort to find some shred of evidence. Physical evidence is what is going to crack this case -- Nancy.
GRACE: Tom Shamshak, don`t you believe if the FBI had this couple taking baby Gabriel on video, we would have heard about a description of them by now?
SHAMSHAK: Nancy Grace would have had it an hour ago.
GRACE: Yes. I mean, it would be all over the place. We`ve been trying our best as this story broke to try to get a description of this couple. And this woman you`re looking at right now, Elizabeth Johnson, has stonewalled not only us but police, the would-be adoptive mom Tammi Smith, who opened her heart to this girl.
She has stonewalled and only today suddenly comes up with description. And don`t you know, Tom Shamshak, the reason she said she held back is because she didn`t want the baby to ever be found and go back to the father.
But if that were true, why is she giving these details today?
SHAMSHAK: Again, I think the psychologist suggested earlier that this woman is afflicted with a significant personality disorder. I don`t believe anything she has to say. My -- from my perspective as a former cop and a private investigator, the law enforcement should be focusing on trying to locate where she was.
GRACE: Right. And to you, Dr. Evelyn Minaya, what dangers, if this baby is still alive, is it facing right now?
DR. EVELYN MINAYA, M.D., WOMEN`S HEALTH EXPERT: Well, you know, as you already know, Nancy, and all of us that are moms and dads out there, we know this baby cannot feed himself. The baby cannot even wrap himself up. You know he`s not even bonding with anybody.
We don`t even know where poor baby Gabriel is. Alive or not alive, it`s still not a person that can actually take care of himself. You know to even hold a little bottle, even if you were to prop him up, you still have to prop him up and you still have to help him out. That`s the point.
GRACE: Very quickly, everyone, I want to tell you about another story. Is a public school making it virtually impossible for a little boy with autism to learn?
To Stacey Newman, our producer on the story, what happened?
STACEY NEWMAN, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: Basically, Nancy, the parents of 9-year-old Scooter Givens -- they want their son who suffers from autism to be able to bring a specially trained German shepherd named Madison to school to help him deal with his autism. However, the school district says no.
GRACE: I want to go to the mom, Wendy Givens, she`s got Madison with her. Tell us, Wendy, how much better Scooter -- your son does with Madison as opposed to without Madison?
WENDY GIVENS, AUTISTIC BOY SCOOTER`S MOTHER: Well, Madison helps him with his behaviors which we believe would help him learn better in school. Sorry, he`s not used to being on the furniture. And he doesn`t like it.
GRACE: Well, tell me, when you say that he does better with Madison, how would Madison help him at school?
GIVENS: Well, Madison helps him by helping to keep him calm and -- sorry.
GRACE: Go ahead.
GIVENS: OK. So it helps him by keeping him calm and when he does have meltdowns it`s -- Madison is trained to help to stop those and to do behavior -- or to help with those behaviors.
GRACE: And to Dr. Evelyn Minaya, joining us out of New York, it`s a given that there will be, as she says, meltdowns with children who have autism. They can`t understand a lot of times what`s happening in the world around them. They suffer a lot of fear related to their environment when things are going on around them.
So as she says, meltdowns do happen. That`s a given. That`s not going to change, is it?
MINAYA: That`s not going to change at all, Nancy. And unfortunately, you know, as we`re trying to really solve the problem in terms of what is a better therapy for this little boy, he needs somebody there. OK?
Just like some kids need A`s in their school, well, you know what? This is not any different.
GRACE: You`re right.
MINAYA: . than the dog. I don`t understand what the big calamity is.
GRACE: I just do not understand why the Hillsboro School District there in Oregon is refusing to allow this little boy with autism to bring his service dogs. Blind people have service dogs. All sorts of people that deal with handicaps have service dogs in public places.
What`s their excuse, Wendy Givens?
GIVENS: Well, they`re saying that it`s not necessary, that he`s learning well enough without the dog. We have seen the behaviors aren`t improving in school. He was sent home from the bus twice in the month of December because of behavior problems and this is a special education bus with a trained aide to handle him.
And they turned around and brought him home because his meltdown was so severe that they couldn`t keep him on the bus.
GRACE: You know, Wendy, I just don`t understand their rational about not letting the dog in.
To you, Renee Rockwell, isn`t that unequal treatment under the law, when for instance a blind person gets to have a service dog but not little Scooter?
RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He can -- they can obviously say that there`s some discrimination here, but Nancy, what I think the school is doing is engaging in a balancing act. Because perhaps they think that this dog may disrupt the rest of the class and they`re thinking about the rest of the students that may not get an education.
GRACE: Well, you can say that about every service dog.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Autism is a developmental disability that causes impairment of social behavior and communication and can include unusual behaviors in interests.
The cause is still unknown. Most researchers agree it is partly genetic but what triggers autism is still not known.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Back to Stacey Newman, our producer on the story. Stacey, I don`t understand how this dog is different from other service dogs that are allowed in public places, including schools.
NEWMAN: That`s right, Nancy. But the Hillsboro district is saying that under a state statute, they do not consider Madison, this German shepherd, to be a service dog, that is a dog especially trained to provide assistance to someone with a disability.
GRACE: You know what? That sounds like complete B.S. and Hillsboro Oregon School District, you can quote me on that. This dog, Madison, makes a huge difference in the life of 9-year-old Scooter. Isn`t that true, Wendy Givens?
GIVENS: Very much so, yes.
GRACE: And you have observed that he -- that Madison calms the boy down. He doesn`t get twisted around and want to run away and leave. In fact, you can now take him out in public so much more easily than you did before without Madison.
GIVENS: Yes, we were actually able to take a vacation this summer and take Scooter up to Seattle and go on the ferryboats, which we would have never been able to do without Madison.
GRACE: Susan Moss, what the hay is wrong with that school district?
SUSAN MOSS, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY & CHILD ADVOCATE: Everything. Under the current ADA, this dog will stay. There was an amendment act to the ADA which deals with all disabilities, extending the definition of disabilities to, I believe, include autism.
GRACE: What about it, Alan?
MOSS: This is a service dog. He`ll stay.
ALAN RIPKA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The bottom line, Nancy, is there are many children with many, many different conditions and dogs like this may help them all therapeutically and I think the school district is worried about where they draw the line.
GRACE: They`re drawing the line on 9-year-old Scooter.
Let`s stop and remember Army Private 1st Class Robert Dembowski, 20, Ivyland, Pennsylvania, killed, Iraq. Awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal. Wanted to enlist since age 5.
At 18, gave a speech honoring local World War II vets. Loved outdoors, handing out candies to Iraqi kids, a history buff, loved listening to World War II stories from granddad, an Army vet.
Dreamed of building a log cabin. Remembered for a big heart, a smile that lit up a room and his laughter. Leaves behind parents Robert and Frances, three siblings.
Robert Dembowski, American hero.
Thanks to our guests but specially you for being with us. And a special thank you to New York friend of the show, Dawn of PB & J Designs for this necklace with Lucy and John David`s initials on it.
Thank you, Dawn.
Everyone, I`ll see you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. And please keep baby Gabriel in your prayers. Until then, good night, friend.