Burden of Proof
Baltimore Fugitive Manhunt: Suspected Killer Eludes Police and Federal AgentsAired March 13, 2000 - 12:30 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM TERRELL, VICTIM: In time that I may never see life again, I may never come back home again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wouldn't come out this morning until I saw the police cars. I stayed in because I was afraid, naturally.
PATSY LONG, SUSPECT'S MOTHER: Please Joseph, I know you are tired, I know you are weary, and I know you are sorry for what you have done. I don't want you hurting no more people, because when you hurt people, you hurt me.
BILL TOOEY, BALTIMORE COUNTY POLICE: He is a skilled and resourceful man. He has experience living in the woods. He has acquired some equipment for living in the woods, and it is going to take a while, but we are confident we find him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER COSSACK, CO-HOST: Today on BURDEN OF PROOF: Amid pleas from his mother to surrender, a suspected killer eludes police and federal agents. Investigators are warning Baltimore County, Maryland residents of danger and searching the woods for a fugitive.
Plus, Ken Starr may have left the Office of the Independent Counsel, but the president could still be in legal hot water from the investigation.
ANNOUNCER: This is BURDEN OF PROOF with Roger Cossack and Greta Van Susteren.
COSSACK: Hello and welcome to BURDEN OF PROOF.
More than 100 people are searching Baltimore County, Maryland for a suspected killer. Local police and federal agents suspect 31-year- old Joseph Palczynski, an avid outdoorsman, is using his survival skills to survive in the woods.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CO-HOST: The suspect is a convicted felon with a history of mental illness. Last Tuesday, he allegedly shot and killed three people while kidnapping his girlfriend. Police believe Palczynski shot another victim while stealing a car on Wednesday, and then made his way to Virginia.
COSSACK: Investigators say he forced a Virginia man at gunpoint to drive him back to the Baltimore area. Police have used auto dialers to warn 1,700 residents of Bowley's Quarters, Maryland.
And joining us today from Boston is private investigator Joseph Moura.
VAN SUSTEREN: And joining us here in Washington, David Mahaffey (ph), former federal prosecutor Steve Berk and Adam Ferullo (ph).
And in our back row, Joanna Pats (ph) and Sven Hougdahl (ph).
And joining us on the phone is Bill Toohey, who is the spokesman for the Baltimore County Police Department.
Bill, first to you, what is going on right now in terms of locating this man?
TOOHEY: Well, our search continues today. We are focusing on one area, a heavily wooded area that juts into the Chesapeake Bay, called Dundee Salt Peter Park (ph). It is a narrow peninsula actually, and we've got about 60 police officers in a line right across that peninsula, moving from one end of it to the other, hoping we might find Mr. Palczynski or some trace of Mr. Palczynski.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bill, why are you looking there, I mean it is a big area, Baltimore area, what focused your attention on this area?
TOOHEY: Well, we know he's a bit of an outdoorsman, and that he likes to live and work in that particular area. The specifics of what has drawn us to that peninsula, however, I would rather not go into at this moment.
COSSACK: Bill, what do you know about his movements prior to where you are conducting the search today?
TOOHEY: Well, we don't know a lot. We've been getting a lot of reports from the public, people saying they may have seen him there, they may have seen him someplace else, but do we believe he is most comfortable in this wooded area, not far from where he grew up, and that he is going to continue to operate within that area.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let's go to Joe Moura, who is in Boston.
Joe, what advice would you give to Baltimore. Obviously, you know, this is an experienced police department, but what kind of -- how would you help search for this man?
JOSEPH MOURA, NATIONAL INVESTIGATION BUREAU: Well, sometimes in the work I do I'm very critical of police procedures, but I will tell you what, on this particular type of situation, law enforcement is very good at what they do. They obviously understand the situation they are involved in, but with the coordination between the different departments, this is probably one area where law enforcement does their best work.
COSSACK: Joe, what -- in terms of searching for someone like this, are there any kinds of telltale signs or things that you might look for?
MOURA: Well, obviously, you want a profile on the individual, and the more information you have on that profile, you certainly are going to be able to take those leads into areas in particular counties or cities that he would probably visit, maybe have some friends or acquaintance for some assistance.
It appears to me that law enforcement here has that type of profile. And obviously, he's a woodsman-type of individual, and they are in that area right now.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let's go to phone to Nancy Youssef of "The Baltimore Sun."
Nancy, you have been following this story. What can you tell us about the man the police are searching for?
NANCY YOUSSEF, "THE BALTIMORE SUN": Well, not more than what the police has already told you. The people that I've talked to say, he's volatile and that they, you know, kind of to elaborate on what Bill said, that he's someone who would likely stay in this area.
COSSACK: Bill, are you collecting a profile on this man, and what have you done to do that?
TOOHEY: Well, we have talked to his family members, he has a number of family members in this area. We have spoken to them at length, as you had at the beginning of this segment, his mother was in, we have dealt with her. So we've gotten a pretty good idea of this man, his law enforcement background, or his criminal background, and his personal background. We've dealt with a number of people now who know him very well.
VAN SUSTEREN: Steve, you were a former federal prosecutor here in the District of Columbia, which is adjacent to Maryland, where this ongoing investigation is being held. What kind of cooperation does the District of Columbia provide in this instance?
STEVE BERK, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I mean, there obviously is a lot of coordination as the special -- not prosecutor, but the investigator states between mostly law enforcement at this point. And I'm sure that the District of Columbia police officers and the police department is involved, but the prosecutor's office probably would not be involved at this stage yet. There has to be determination. But I think they are probably coordinating, at least on the searching issue or at least the warning issue, in terms of where this guy is, and he coming to this area.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, would there be calls like from the police to a prosecutor's office to make sure that the search is conducted consistent with everybody's constitutional rights. I mean, is there this sort of on-going relationship between the police and the D.A.'s office during a manhunt like this?
BERK: Absolutely, there would be, but it would not be with the District of Columbia, it would be with probably Baltimore County or district attorney offices. And they would want to coordinate and make sure that they are not infringing on anyone's Fourth Amendments rights, because you don't want to make a mistake in an arrest like this, particularly in such a high-profile case.
COSSACK: Bill, there's been reports that this man has been riding the trains or has ridden the trains. Should people who are riding the trains be concerned about him?
TOOHEY: No. First of all, we cannot confirm that he's ridden trains. This is based on really some speculation, some deduction. Secondly, that is purely freight line, it is CSX freight line, and there's no concern at all about him being problem to anybody on the trains.
I just want to, if I may, follow up on something that's been mentioned earlier, and that is the coordination of the law enforcement here. It is very close, and it has been very effective. We've been working very closely with the FBI from day one because it started with the kidnapping of the girlfriend. Maryland state police have been immensely helpful. And as we work through the woods down, there the Department of Natural Resources has law-enforcement rangers, rangers who are trade as police officers who are working side by side with us.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bill, do you have any information whether this man has been spotted in the last 24 hours?
TOOHEY: We are working on what is kind of his trail. We really haven't spotted him specifically, but some information that we find that he may or may not have been in a certain area, but we haven't really seen him.
VAN SUSTEREN: What is he currently armed with, to the best of your knowledge?
TOOHEY: To the best of our knowledge, he has a .22-caliber handgun. When he went to Virginia, he broke into a house and took a shotgun and the handgun, but left the shotgun behind when the car he also stole broke down.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. We are going to take a break.
Police have received almost 500 calls since setting up a hotline four days ago, and hundreds of calls on 911 lines. But will civilian tips help investigators find a suspected killer? Stay with us.
(BEGIN LEGAL BRIEF)
The first presidential impeachment trial (defendant Andrew Johnson) began on this day in 1868.
(END LEGAL BRIEF)
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VAN SUSTEREN: The FBI is aiding Baltimore County investigators in their search for a suspected killer. On the run is 31-year-old Joseph Palczynski. He has eluded the police for six days.
Steve, we've got the Baltimore County police going after this man, looking for him, the FBI is involved. Who actually would be in charge, would it be the FBI or would it be the state conducting this investigation?
BERK: Well, it's always discretionary. It usually is the first law enforcement agency that's involved. So if the Baltimore County folks were involved first, they will bring in the FBI, and the FBI will play a more subordinate role. It may well be in other cases a different situation, where it will be an FBI investigation and they will bring in the state authorities.
It sounds like, here, this is a local investigation, where the FBI is providing support and manpower and what not to the role.
VAN SUSTEREN: It seems to me there are almost two issues here, there's the manhunt to get this man who is on the loose, but the community actually has reason to fear. What do the police or what can they do or the FBI to sort of protect the community? They got a man out there with a gun who apparently has killed already.
BERK: Well, it sounds like, in this case, and in many cases, it is really just informational. I mean, you want to be able to provide real-time information to folks about what his whereabouts are, what he looks like, what his profile is, all sorts of things like that. The problem, though, Greta, is is that you really have to be careful about raising hysteria and causing people to be too concerned, and so there's a balance there.
VAN SUSTEREN: But can you be too hysteria? I mean, I got to tell you, if I had a gunman on the loose in my neighborhood with a gun who has killed before, I'm not sure that I could get anything but hysterical, and I think it would be justified.
BERK: Well, it is a tough balance, it really is. I mean, there is no easy answer to it. It seems to me that what you want to do is, within the concentric circles, within the small area where they really think this guy is, they want to sort of be more protective of the public in that area, whereas if you go out from that circle to 20, 30, 40, 50 miles, you can be certainly less concerned and just provide information.
So on that peninsula, where the manhunt seems to be centered, it appears to me that maybe they are going house by house, maybe they are talking to people, maybe they are really doing more than they would be doing in other areas in the county.
COSSACK: Joe, oftentimes, in situations where there's a defense, and we don't know what's going to happen in this case, of course, lawyers will hire private investigators to assist them in gathering facts for that defense. How would you go about doing that in this case, what would you be looking for?
MOURA: Well, again, it all starts with how law enforcement handled the situation from the start. And it appears in this particular case, right now, it is a situation where they are just trying to find him. And obviously, they are worried about prosecution down the road, but right now it is take the danger out of the community, and put this guy behind bars.
Now, if I was called in for the defense of this, we obviously start from the very beginning. What took place in the initial killing, and what was the circumstances involving his running away, and then committing secondary murders. It is a tough situation, and of course, once he does get caught and he obviously has a right to a good defense, and hires good attorneys, and possibly hire good investigators. But right now, I think that the basic concern is, get him off the streets, to find out what took place and what went wrong with this gentleman.
VAN SUSTEREN: As a practical matter, Joe, is finding this man like finding a needle in the haystack? or, you know, are they going to find him, do you think?
MOURA: I think they definitely are going to find him. And I don't think it's going to be that difficult. They have a good feel for the situation right now. And again, he's probably traveled hundreds of miles in the last few days, to my understanding, and he is capable of doing that continuously. Even though you're going to focus in a certain area, you have to understand he could get away from that area.
I think law enforcement...
VAN SUSTEREN: And he has already...
MOURA: ... has to be aware of it.
VAN SUSTEREN: ... he's already gone from Maryland to Virginia. So, I mean, at least he has some level of mobility -- I mean, he's gotten around already.
MOURA: Absolutely. And he's got the capability to do that. He has no qualms, whatsoever, about shooting someone, about putting a gun to someone's head, and getting in their car and taking off. He's done it already; he will do it again. And I think, you know, the public should not had -- get hysterical about it, but they have to be very cautious. This man has killed, and I don't think he would have any qualms about killing again. So, it is something that, really, the public has to be very cautious out there about.
COSSACK: Joe, the fact that he is a person who is comfortable in the outdoors, they know that he has supplies, a sleeping bag, it seems to me that that makes it even more difficult to think that this person will be caught.
MOURA: Well, that's true. And I do think, again I will say it, law enforcement is terrific at these type of situations. And sooner or later, they will have him; he will have to make a move. But I have full confidence in this particular type of situation in law enforcement, especially if they are cooperating the way they are down there.
VAN SUSTEREN: And, you know, I bet, Roger, too is that, at least it would seem to me, is that they are going to have dogs out there, you know, scouring, looking for scents and trying to help find him. I actually think it would almost be more difficult if he were hiding someplace with a gun, holding someone hostage. And the man has, obviously, demonstrated that he's done that before...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... you know.
COSSACK: You can only imagine how frightening this is for these people that are looking for him.
Let's take a break. Up next: President Clinton survived a trial before the Senate, but he still may face legal troubles from the independent counsel investigation after he leaves office. Stay with us.
Q: How is the publisher of John and Patsy Ramsey's soon-to-be released book, "The Death of Innocence," keeping it out of the hands of the tabloids and others?
A: Armed guards are standing over the books in a trailer in Nashville.
COSSACK: There's news this week on the ongoing independent counsel investigation of the president.
And, of course, joining us now with those developments is CNN correspondent Bob Franken.
Bob, good to see you. What's new?
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's new is those who thought that the president's legal trouble were over, particularly after he survived the Senate trial, may be wrong. CNN has learned that the independent counsel, Bob Ray, who succeeded, of course, Ken Starr, is actively investigating whether to indict President Clinton after the president leaves office -- soon after the president leaves office next January.
The charges include those involved in the Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones matters: obstruction of justice and perjury. As I said,he is investigating whether to indict the president. No comment whatsoever from Bob Ray or anybody in his office. The information, though, is from sources familiar with the investigation.
We do have confirmation from Ray's office that they expect this week to issue the first of several reports on this long, long investigation -- independent counsel investigation. This will be the FBI files matter. It's expected this week under seal, delivered to the three judge who supervise independent counsels. It will conclude, we're told, that Mrs. Clinton did not have any appreciable role in the FBI files matter where files were in appropriately gathered on political opponent, that mistakes that were made were actually the work of mid- and low-level staff members. No criminal charges expected there.
This summer, early this summer, we're expecting another report. This one on the travel office firings. This one is a little more complicated. There is still contradictory information about any role that Mrs. Clinton might have had in the dismissal of the travel office workers. That report is still a work in progress, as is the Whitewater report. That's the Arkansas phase of the investigation expected late this summer, before Labor Day, we're told. That is the one in which Mrs. Clinton was described as a central figure in the investigation over its many years. It also is released, not to the public but to the judges, about two months before Mrs. Clinton stands for election for the U.S. Senate in New York. Sources say it will be sealed, but others say that there's a good possibility it could be leaked.
And, finally, the report on what's called sexual harassment -- that would be the one where decisions are made on President Clinton, soon to be the private citizen.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bob, let me dissect some of this. Let's go first to the FBI report that's going to the three-judge panel. Didn't Ken Starr, when he testified in November of 1998, which is a year and a half ago, say that the FBI investigation was over and that nobody had done anything wrong except low-level people? So why, a year and a half later, is this news?
FRANKEN: Well, these are lawyers.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, fair enough.
FRANKEN: It takes lawyers a while.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well then let me ask you a second...
COSSACK: So there's -- just to follow up on what Greta said, there's nothing new here, right?
FRANKEN: Nothing new here on the FBI files matter at all.
VAN SUSTEREN: Except that they've spent a year and a half, and presumably taxpayer money, doing more from what we already knew, but we'll leave that for another...
FRANKEN: I return to my first comment.
VAN SUSTEREN: Right. All right, let me ask you a second question: You said that Bob Ray, who's the current independent counsel, replaced Ken Starr, is actively investigating whether to seek indictments against President Clinton.
COSSACK: Considering -- I think he said considering.
VAN SUSTEREN: Considering.
FRANKEN: No, investigating is what I said.
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, that's what I -- that's the words I wrote down that he said.
COSSACK: OK, OK.
VAN SUSTEREN: I actually wrote it down on my card.
VAN SUSTEREN: What does that mean?
FRANKEN: Well, that means that the possibility is still a good one that there could be indictments, or at least they'll go to a grand jury with the information as they normally do, and that they're going to wait until President Clinton leaves office, but they're aiming for shortly after he leaves office.
VAN SUSTEREN: But is that more of the sort of the lawyers talking or is this really a serious, you know, progressive step? You know, I'm not sure. You know, we hear so much in Washington as to what's sort of real and what's sort of lawyers talking, as to sort of characterize what you might say.
FRANKEN: Well, I would sort of hope that what I'm reporting is real. It seems to be, in fact, a very, very active investigation.
COSSACK: Steve Berk, with all due respect to my colleague, Mr. Franken, it's hard for me to believe that any second prosecutor, Bob Ray in this case, is really going to do anything about indicting the president when he leaves office. It would seems to be almost an impossible case. You're a former federal prosecutor.
BERK: It is probably an impossible case. I mean, so much has been said and done. But you have to remember that, as a legal matter, there was always the constitutional hurdle of whether or not you can indict a sitting president. Well, that legal hurdle, that constitutional hurdle, will be gone when Mr. Clinton leaves office. So now the issue will be, should we play it out in terms of the facts? Now, my sense is that, you know, you'll never see a prosecution of the president after he leaves office, but I do think that this second independent prosecutor, the successor to Mr. -- I can't even remember his name anymore...
COSSACK: Starr, Starr.
BERK: ... Mr. Starr. Mr. Ray will probably want to play out, at least factually, the end of the road on this thing.
COSSACK: Bob, is this a trial balloon? Is this just a, you know, let it -- run it up the flagpole and see if anybody salutes, or are they really serious about this?
FRANKEN: Well, they seem to be serious about it. Remember, there are such sensitivities -- for instance, rule 6-E -- that trial balloons are hard to come by. It seems that the argument is, look, this man was protected by the fact that he was president of the United States, and if there is a factual basis for an indictment, the reasoning seems to be, that it should be pursued. And the first opportunity for that comes the day after inauguration day.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Steve, given the choice, boy, I tell you, I'd like to come out of retirement to try that case from the defense perspective because it seems, you know, like such a weak case. Would you ever, as a federal prosecutor, knowing what you know, would you bring charges?
BERK: Well, you know, you have to decide before you bring charges whether or not it's a winnable case, and it appears in this situation that it isn't a winnable case. It becomes very...
VAN SUSTEREN: Why isn't it winnable?
BERK: Well, I think it's the merger, the intersection of politics and law...
COSSACK: Of course.
BERK: ... and it really becomes much more a political matter than a straight legal matter. And then you have to talk about who's been harmed here and whether or not there's been -- you know, what would the prosecution basically accomplish here? So it seems to me that, yes, the...
VAN SUSTEREN: Can I tell you, I -- you know, I'll tell you, I can't imagine in a million years that a prosecutor would bring this because I've got to tell you, I've looked at this record inside and out and I can tell you that there is simply not the evidence to support it.
COSSACK: Oh, I think there's evidence, I just don't think you could convict the defendant.
But that's all the time we have for today.
Ha, I got the last word.
Thanks to our guests and thank you for watching.
Gasoline prices in the United States are rising at a record pace. How high can they rise? Tune into "TALKBACK LIVE" today at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time, noon Pacific.
VAN SUSTEREN: And we'll be back tomorrow with another edition of BURDEN OF PROOF. We'll see you then.
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