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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Georgia Manhunt Ends; Guilty Pleas Reached in Enron Scandal; Colin Powell Reacts To Report On Weapons Of Mass Destruction
Aired January 8, 2004 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Paula Zahn.
The world, the news, the names, the faces, and where we go from here Thursday, January 8, 2004.
ZAHN (voice-over): Four people, one just 10 months old, are found murdered in Georgia. Now there's a desperate search for three others, young girls who have been kidnapped.
High-level guilty pleas in one of corporate America's biggest scandals. We'll be talking with the woman who blew the whistle at Enron.
PETE ROSE, FORMER MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER: That was my mistake, not coming clean.
ZAHN: And as Pete Rose's mea culpa hits the stores, I'll ask George Will if Rose can really convince people he is truly sorry he bet on baseball.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Those stories and more straight ahead, but first, here's what you need to know right now at the top of the hour.
Nine U.S. soldiers killed today when their Black Hawk helicopter went down in Fallujah, Iraq. A witness told CNN the chopper was shot down, despite being clearly marked with a Red Cross. The military says it has not determined what caused that crash.
U.S. officials tell CNN the national threat level may soon be reduced to yellow. At the same time, airline industry officials say they're prepared to stay on heightened alert even if the national threat level is downgraded.
Spirit continuing to send back captivating photos of a desolate landscape. Meanwhile, mission controllers are grappling with how to get the rover moving on the Martian surface. It turns out parts of its air bag could block it from moving down its main ramp.
"In Focus" tonight, Jerry William Jones, perhaps the most wanted man in the country tonight. The 31-year-old Georgia resident is believed to have kidnapped two of his daughters and stepdaughter. An Amber Alert is now in effect. The circumstances that apparently led to their abduction are gruesome and chilling. Authorities say Jones killed four people in the town of Ranger, Georgia, yesterday, including his estranged wife's parents and his infant daughter.
CNN's Martin Savidge is in nearby Calhoun, Georgia.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a crime that has stunned the community out here, Paula.
This community of Ranger is a relatively small and very rural town. This all began yesterday when a phone call came in from Oregon from a woman by the name of Melissa Peeler. Melissa Peeler is the mother of the children who are now abducted and also the mother of the one child that was found murdered.
She called in because Jerry Jones, the 31-year-old suspect in this case, had called her to say that he had murdered her parents, murdered her sister, and murdered the child and abducted three of the children. The woman couldn't believe it. She called authorities here and said, please, go check on my family.
The sheriff's deputies went out to the house, looked all around in the outside, didn't find anything unusual, came back and said that everything was fine. Several hours later, 11:15 last night, Melissa called authorities again and said, go back to the house. This time, they went inside and they made the gruesome discovery.
They found three adults. Several of them had been shot multiple times, according to authorities. And the infant appears to have been strangled. And then the later development, they found out that three other children were missing. Jerry Jones is the prime suspect in the murders. He is also suspected of allegedly kidnapping the young girls.
On top of this, police say he was very cold and calculated. He went from one home, where he murdered two people, then moved to the next house, hid the bodies, cleaned up the crime scene, and then sat down and waited for the oldest child, the 10-year-old, to come home from school, and then abducted her with the two other children.
There are developments that are happening at this hour. We are still waiting to hear from authorities exactly what those developments are. But they say they are sparing no expense and no shortage of manpower to try to find Jerry Jones and the three children, ages 10, 4 and 3 -- Paula.
ZAHN: Given fact that an Amber Alert is now in effect, I know authorities have to be guarded about what they tell you. But what is the latest thing they told you about the possibility of finding him or the three girls he abducted?
SAVIDGE: Well, they have said that the Amber Alert in the state of Georgia has only been used nine times since 2000. That was when it was implemented. And all nine times, it has worked.
So far, they say, they have not heard from Jerry Jones. And no one else has reported that they have seen him. There have been a number of sightings, but police have discounted those so far. But late news coming in now is that there may have been another more recent sighting, one nearby. And that is one they're investigating at this very moment. No word, though, on whether he is with any children -- Paula.
ZAHN: And I hate to ask you this, but, as you hear the gruesome details of the case so far, you've got to wonder what investigators are thinking about the status of these three young girls who are kidnapped. Are they hoping that they're alive?
SAVIDGE: They are hoping, but they stress that they are gravely concerned, especially since the 10-month-old infant was Jerry Jones' own daughter. So they realize that he has apparently no misgivings about killing children. That's what they accuse him of.
So they are very, very worried about these young girls, as are family members. But they say they are doing everything to try to find them, and especially him -- Paula.
ZAHN: The whole thing just makes sick. Martin Savidge, thanks for the update. We'll come back to you when more information is available to us. Thanks again.
Joining us now is Marc Klaas. He has devoted hid life to preventing crimes against children, since his daughter Polly was kidnapped and killed nearly 11 years ago. He joins us tonight from San Francisco.
I guess this reopens some old wounds, doesn't it?
MARC KLAAS, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION: Well, this is just a horrible situation, Paula. One can only pray that law enforcement can do everything necessary to recover these girls alive.
ZAHN: Well, let's talk about how the Amber Alert is expected to work here. Almost 16 hours passed from the time that the first call alerted police to the murders to the time the Amber Alert was issued. Why the delay?
KLAAS: Well, first of all, they had to find out, they had to realize that there were dead people. Then they had to get the knowledge that the other girls had been kidnapped. And I guess that took a while.
I think what's much more critical than that, though, is the fact that, once the Amber Alert was activated, things worked the way they were set up to work. But it's an absolute and total mess. You know as well as I do that, when an Amber Alert is activated, it's for a situation exactly like this, when little children's lives are endangered. Yet the way the federal government has set this up with MOUs, memos of understanding, states are not allowed to share information with other states until they receive permission per the MOU.
ZAHN: Marc, what's the rationale for that? On the surface, it makes no sense at all, does it?
KLAAS: No, it makes no sense to me either.
The permission should be implied, quite frankly, if you're going to have an MOU at all, because you want to get this information out as quickly as you can. So you wait eight hours. This guy could be in any one of 16 different states within an eight-hour driving period. Yet, within that eight hours, they receive permission from only five states to distribute the information.
It's an absolute mess. A system that was set up to save little children's lives has turned -- and, quite frankly, they claim that they're moving towards a seamless national system, but what they've created is a bureaucracy that slows things down much worse than they were before they got involved in the first place.
ZAHN: Do you have any idea how the system in Georgia stacks up against other states?
KLAAS: Well, I can tell you one thing, that three states, California, Texas and New Mexico issue Amber Alerts, and they will send Amber Alerts across state lines without consideration for MOUs or anything else.
They feel that it's a basic human right to share information about children whose lives are in danger and that it's more important to get that information out, than it is to worry about getting permission from another state to share the information. For instance, in Texas, they use -- in those three states, they use much more sophisticated technologies. They use the Internet. They use e-mail. They use broadcast fax. They use SMS.
ZAHN: Marc, if you wasn't mind holding that thought, we're getting some breaking news back out of Georgia.
ZAHN: Please stand by.
Let's go back to Martin Savidge, who is going to bring us up to date on what's he just learned from investigators -- Martin.
SAVIDGE: Paula, we've just heard from Georgia Bureau of Investigations that Jerry Jones is dead and the three young girls have been found alive.
Apparently, this all happened just a short while ago. There was a chase that began on Interstate 85. And it moved into Tennessee. Around the first exit of Tennessee, apparently, Jerry Jones then tried to get off the highway and lost control of the vehicle. There was some sort of accident. And Jerry Jones was found dead with what appears to have been a self-inflicted gunshot wound. But, again, the three girls are said to be all right, considering what they have been through. It is a remarkable development. And it has only happened just now. And those are the only details we have for you, Paula. But they are the most important ones.
ZAHN: All right, I want to make sure we're understanding this correctly. When Jerry Jones was shot, the girls were in the car with him at the time, when he lost control of the car? Is that what you're led to believe?
SAVIDGE: That's what authorities say, that, apparently, he was trying to get off the highway on a clover leaf, and then lost control. It was some sort of an accident. And then they say that he shot himself.
Now, this is just the first fragmentary information coming in from Georgia investigators here. But they say that there was some sort of chase that was going on at the time, crossing over from the state of Georgia into the state of Tennessee, and that this happened a very, very short time ago. But they stress, he is dead, but the girls are fine, at least as well as could be expected.
ZAHN: Martin, hang in there. We're trying to absorb this news.
As you were reporting this, I was looking at a shot of Marc Klaas as he reacted to this news. And I don't think I've ever seen the look of a father in that way, as a man who lost his own daughter to a kidnapping.
Marc, when you heard Martin just report that, what went through your mind?
KLAAS: The perfect resolution, Paula. This guy saved the state a lot of trouble and the little girls are alive. Who could ask for more? Isn't it wonderful?
ZAHN: It's a miracle.
KLAAS: It is a miracle.
ZAHN: Because I know Martin was saying, although investigators were holding out hope, I'm not so sure you thought that was the conclusion we were going to end up with here.
KLAAS: Well, he was an out-of-control maniac. And he had already killed one of his own children in a fit of jealous rage. What's that all about? These are very fortunate young ladies. This is so good.
ZAHN: Let's go back to Martin Savidge for a moment.
Martin, we've been trying as to piece together this story all afternoon. And there are a number of quotes from family members that would suggest this was a man who was under tremendous duress in his life. He had lost his mother and stepfather to that ValuJet crash down in Florida a couple years ago, had also lost a brother pretty recently.
And reports that there were actually some temporary restraining orders issued against him. Is there anything more you can tell us about the background of this man?
SAVIDGE: Well, he certainly had a criminal record that goes back quite some distance.
Back in 1989, he was arrested on burglary charges and then sentenced to about eight years in a Georgia prison. He was eventually released. But, even as of today, he is on parole for two other crimes. So this is a man who has a violent nature, who has threatened other people, made death threats in the past, and if police are right that he carried out these crimes they are alleging that he has done now.
One thing that should be pointed out, authorities, obviously, since this news is just breaking, say that they hope to be bringing the children back here. We're continuing to -- there's a lot of frenetic activity that is going on.
Stand by. Hold on one second. John can you -- John, can you talk to us briefly?
John, introduce yourself.
JOHN BANKHEAD, GEORGIA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: I'm John Bankhead of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
SAVIDGE: John, tell us what we know so far.
BANKHEAD: It's rather sketchy at this point.
But, apparently, Georgia operatives located him on I-75 heading north towards Chattanooga. They got in a chase with him. Several agencies joined into the chase. It went over into the Tennessee line. He took the first exit, the Ringo (ph) exit, and then apparently had a traffic accident.
There was apparently a gunshot heard. And we don't know any more than that. The kids apparently are fine. But he apparently is in bad condition, the suspect.
SAVIDGE: And so the gunshot, you believe, is self-inflicted?
BANKHEAD: Apparently, yes.
SAVIDGE: The children are going to be taken where?
BANKHEAD: That we have to decide on right now. The appropriate people are heading up there now to take custody of the kids.
SAVIDGE: But they are not injured by the accident?
BANKHEAD: Not that I'm aware of. They seem to be fine.
The first question that came back to us, do the kids need medical attention? And an ambulance is on the way to take care of that now.
SAVIDGE: What's been the reaction of the investigators and all the people involved?
BANKHEAD: They're just elated, elated, given the fact that the situation that they saw out there today, and the, you know, pressure that goes along with seeing a 10-month-old child murdered that way. They were just extremely concerned about the welfare of these other kids.
And so they are very elated about what has transpired, or what we think has transpired so far. These other three kids are fine.
SAVIDGE: What triggered the chase in the first place?
BANKHEAD: The law officers, apparently, they got a tip from somebody. And then we'll verify this, that the car was spotted on 75, or in that area. But we'll find out a little bit later more details about what exactly transpired about locating the vehicle.
SAVIDGE: So you're saying that he is not dead now, but he is in serious condition?
BANKHEAD: He's injured, right.
SAVIDGE: All right, John Bankhead, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, thank you very much.
BANKHEAD: Thank you.
SAVIDGE: Paula, there is the latest information on what has transpired here.
Obviously, a great sense of jubilation amongst the investigators here, tremendous sense of relief in the community, and especially for the family, given what they have been through already. They have suffered enough tragedy, certainly, in the past 24 hours without adding it to now. The reunion will be the moment that they savor, Paula.
ZAHN: Oh, I cannot even imagine.
Martin, if you would, stay with me, because we need to remind the audience that they're pretty much learning this information at the same rate we are. As you can see, it's kind of tough to pin down the details right now, but the suspect now believe to have been shot, the investigator telling you he is pretty sure that that wound was self- inflicted.
SAVIDGE: That's correct.
There was no reports of any gunfire that was being traded. Certainly not traveling along a highway like that, would they open fire. So it appears that was the way it happened. But, of course, these are the first reports, these are the first details. So we're waiting to get the full account of the investigation. And that's probably going to take some time.
ZAHN: Martin, I'm going to bring Marc Klaas back into the discussion.
Marc, one of the other pieces of information that we learned hours ago that was in fact that his common-law wife, his estranged common-law wife, gave some very important information over to in investigators, when he apparently had called her to say he had killed members of her family. And when deputies first went to that home, they didn't see anything amiss. Of course, upon further investigation, they found that horrific scene that Martin Savidge reported.
We are not clear at this point what the motivation was. But you were saying, based on everything you've learned about this case, this is a man prone to jealous rages?
KLAAS: You're talking to me?
KLAAS: Yes, that's exactly right.
Yes, that's everything that I've heard, and that that was his motive for going and doing the -- committing the crimes that he committed. But I think, you know, really, to get back to what we were talking about earlier, this has to be a seamless system. This guy was in a few miles of a variety of different states, and that information should have been shared. And it should have been shared very quickly.
And I think that the government's going to have to take a good, hard look at the way that they're implementing this so-called national Amber Alert and make sure that what has to be done does get done.
ZAHN: And for folks just joining us, Marc and Martin, let's quickly bring them up to date.
Georgia officials now confirm that the man they have had a massive manhunt for has now been discovered somewhere near the border of Georgia and Tennessee. They couldn't, in our last interview with the investigator, tell us exactly where. The suspect has suffered some kind of a wound, believed to be self-inflicted.
The miracle of all this is, the three girls that he allegedly kidnapped were in the car at the time that a chase took place. Apparently at some sort of traffic circle, the suspect lost control of the car. And we are told that these young girls did not sustain any major injuries. Now, once again, this is very preliminary reporting we're hearing right now.
Let's go back to Martin Savidge to see if he has learned anything in the interim -- Martin.
SAVIDGE: Well, the next step, obviously, is, one, to ascertain the welfare of the children, to make sure that they are in fact all right. The first glance may not be a real medical diagnosis. So that is going to be the first thing that happens.
They'll be taken somewhere. They will be looked over and they will be checked. The next step then is probably trying to reunite them with their mother. Their mother, as we pointed out, was in Portland, Oregon. She, we are told, has been on her way to get back here. Authorities have been very tightlipped about her schedule or her means of transportation.
But that no doubt is going to take effect. Jerry Jones goes to the hospital and they will monitor his condition there. As you have heard, he is said to be in serious condition. So, all of these factors are what are playing out rather late in the evening under a foul evening sky. But it has to be a tremendous relief for the investigators.
They have worked, going from one gruesome scene to then frantically trying to find these children. And they knew that, if the alleged suspect, Jerry Jones, was willing to kill his own 10-month-old child, they had to fear greatly for those three young girls, ages 10, 4, and 3, as everyone in this community has been. And now it appears now that they are free and that they are well and that this has all come to an end, Paula.
ZAHN: They are so lucky.
Martin, come back to a point that you made at the very top of the hour, just how methodically this man allegedly approached these crimes, pretty much staking out two different locations.
SAVIDGE: Two houses. One was a trailer, the other in a home, located side by side.
And authorities say that he acted as if he had all the time in the world, that he was not concerned about being discovered in the act, and that he killed the first two people -- that would be Melissa's parents -- in the trailer and then moved on to the other house, killing Melissa's sister and then killing Melissa's 10-month- old child, who was staying in the sister's care, and then, after that, decides to hide the bodies.
Authorities won't say exactly how. But this could play into why, when authorities first showed up on the scene to do that initial welfare check, that they didn't see anything out of the normal. He actually cleaned up the murder scene and then waited for the oldest child, the 10-year-old, to get out of school. She rides the school bus home. He greets her and then abducts her and the two other children. And that's when this whole ordeal began, certainly, for them.
And the other thing that you have to wonder, especially -- and, really, your mind doesn't want to go there -- but those young children, 3 and 4, were they in the homes when the murders were committed? Were they seeing any of this -- Paula.
ZAHN: Well, the other chilling part of the story is trying to imagine what his estranged common-law wife must have been thinking when he called her on the phone and essentially said, if you report these crimes I'm telling you about, then you can pretty much figure that I'm going to end the lives of these three other children.
SAVIDGE: And he threatened to kill her family, and, in fact, he made a good road down that path.
He killed her two parents, or her stepfather and her mother, and killed her sister and one of her children. So, there was no reason to doubt that he would not go ahead with his threat to kill the other three children.
ZAHN: All right, Martin, we're going to let you get back to do a little reporting. We're going to come back to you in a couple minutes.
I'm going to bring Marc Klaas back into the discussion here.
Marc, one of the things we have learned, that Jones was convicted of burglary and theft. Martin made reference to his record, apparently stealing a motor vehicle -- and then served 10 months in a prison for that. He was convicted again in January 1993 on various theft charges and released in 1997. And then his probation was revoked in August 2001 for possession of firearms. He apparently was also convicted of a misdemeanor theft charge in Orange County, Florida.
Perhaps the part of this issue that you are most concerned about is how the Amber Alert went into effect in this case. Now, once again, investigators were not able to confirm for us exactly where this traffic accident took place. But they did tell us, they got a tip which led them, we believe, to the Tennessee-Georgia border. But you were very concerned about the amount of time lost from the time the initial call was made to police informing them of this call.
KLAAS: Well, theoretically, an Amber Alert should be activated within three hours of the crime, so that they can put a net around the individual.
We believe, I believe that the way that should be done is through some kind of a radio distribution. You put the kidnapping in the middle of the scene and then you build a barrier around it and you try to contain the individual. Once you get into numerous hours, 16 hours, eight hours, something like that, at the rate of a mile a minute, these guys could be almost anywhere with these children.
I think it's very fortunate that this guy didn't just go in one straight line someplace and that they were able to contain him, and obviously get some kind of a decent resolution out of this.
ZAHN: And the miracle of this all, according to investigators, although, once again, this is not being confirmed at 100 percent at this point, investigators believe the gunshot wound to the suspect was self-inflicted. But the fact that these young girls would be OK is just amazing.
KLAAS: Well, OK. But, you know, you have to realize that they may have been witnesses to murder. Two of them may have been witnesses to a mass murder. And the third one, certainly the 10-year-old, was very aware of what was going on and probably understood that her life was very much endangered. So they're not out of the woods by any means. Neither is the mother, whose family has been just absolutely devastated.
The reunification and the level of counseling that's going to be needed by all of these people over the course of the next several years is really rather daunting, I would say. But at least they're alive. That's the good thing. They are alive. They were able to survive. And they will now be able to move forward with productive lives.
ZAHN: Yes, there will be many hours before we understand exactly what kind of wounds they have been exposed to.
Marc Klaas, thanks so much.
Martin Savidge, we appreciate his story as this story was breaking live on the air.
I believe we have someone who can join us now the can add some more information to the story, if my producers would be kind enough to let me know.
Actually, Marc -- bear with us, folks. We're trying to get you the latest information possible.
Marc, one other thing that I've got to tell you, I'm really having trouble getting my arms around here is, is this whole idea of how the states have to -- you talked about this memo that has to be issued to another state to get permission basically to get the Amber Alert into effect. I still don't understand why that has to happen. In certain states, that happens automatically, right? It will go out to a five-state radius?
KLAAS: Well, yes.
What I was saying earlier, before we found out how this thing is resolving itself, is that Texas did one distribution that hits parts of five different states. They did it without memos of understanding. And there were no complaints whatsoever. And the child was recovered. That's the important thing, making sure that you follow the criteria, you fit the criteria, and that you get the word out.
By getting involved in doing these memos of understanding and building these new bureaucracies around this thing, you're going to make it more difficult to recover missing children, not less difficult. And I think that -- you know, I would suggest that somebody goes to the OJJDP, the U.S. DOJ, and exactly what is the -- ask, what is the rationale behind something like that? Because, on a logical sense, it makes no sense whatsoever.
ZAHN: And then, finally, Marc, late into the investigation, Georgia authorities confirming that they brought the FBI into the loop.
What kind of a difference does that make in a case like this, where it really is a race against time, particularly when they knew that the fate of three young girls was hanging in the balance?
KLAAS: That's a very good question, Paula.
And I think it's critical that people understand that local jurisdictions don't deal with these kinds of situations on a regular basis. Maybe one time during an administration, they might be involved in something like that. But the FBI has protocols. The FBI has 56 field offices. And each one of those offices has special agents that are knowledgeable and dedicated to issues of recovering missing children.
They have the best resources in the world. They have the best manpower in the world. They have the best equipment in the world. And they have the best laboratories in the world. So, you get a situation like this, you want to bring the FBI in as quickly as you can, follow their protocols, which are team-based protocols. They don't come in and try to take over situations. They work with local jurisdictions.
And ever since Polly's case, those kinds of things have been refined and refined and refined, to the point that they work very, very effectively now. And part of the result is, things like the Amber Alert and the fact that we are able to recover missing children much more quickly. Law enforcement gets it. Government doesn't.
ZAHN: Marc Klaas, thanks so much.
ZAHN: One thing that law enforcement clearly gets tonight is that they have got their man, confirming that Jerry William Jones was wounded, apparently a self-inflicted wound, man apparently responsible, according to law enforcement officials, for killing four people, including his 10-month-old daughter, and abducting two other daughters and a third girl.
We are continuing to work this story. Details are coming in periodically. And as soon as we have more information that we think is worthy of passing on to you, we will.
Still to come, we're going to change our focus as well. We're going to look at a new independent report that says Iraq posed no immediate threat to the U.S. before the war and had no weapons of mass destruction.
And a judge's change of heart in the case against a former Enron executive and his wife.
And, as Pete Rose's new book hits the stores, we'll ask George Will whether an apology is enough to get Rose into the Hall of Fame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE WILL, COLUMNIST: Pete Rose, part of his appeal was that he was 99.44 testosterone, a man's man. But he comes on as a fugitive from "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: And we break into our regular programming here to bring you up to date on a story we've been following since the beginning of this hour.
A manhunt is over in Georgia tonight. A suspect in a quadruple murder in Georgia was captured. The three girls he abducted were found unhurt Thursday, following a police chase that ended in a crash in neighboring Tennessee, apparently that crashed pretty close to the Georgia-Tennessee border.
The suspect, Jerry William Jones, was taken to a hospital, authorities are telling us at this hour they believe with a self- inflicted gunshot wound. Law enforcement officials in Georgia had launched a massive manhunt. The FBI later got involved.
And they got a very lucky break when they got a tip from a caller who told them that he had spotted the vehicle Jerry Williams Jones was traveling in. And that led to a chase. A chase which ended up in this traffic accident. And the most amazing part of this story is that the three girls who were in the car at the time of the crash were apparently unharmed.
On the phone with us right now, Stacey Worthington, who is the son-in-law of the grandparents who were murdered earlier on in this spree.
Stacey, sorry you have to join us under these circumstances. First of all, your reaction to everything that has unfolded over the last 16, 17 hours.
STACY WORTHINGTON, SON-IN-LAW OF MURDER VICTIMS: Well, I'm just glad that the thing is finally over with. I haven't had much contact with the family today. My wife is with her family, which she'll be returning home sometime soon. I did notify them when I heard that the chase was going on, kept them updated, while I was listening to my police scanner throughout the whole chase. And then found, you know, come to find out, that, you know, they said that he was possibly dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
ZAHN: What would lead Jerry William Jones on the kind of spree that investigators are now accusing him of tonight?
A spree that ended up in the murder of four people?
WORTHINGTON: I have no idea. I could not comment on that. I do not know the boy. You know, I do not know.
ZAHN: And you don't have any idea why the grandparents would have been marked in any way, or why they would have been vulnerable?
WORTHINGTON: I have no idea. I don't have that much association with that side of the family that much. I do know them. But like I said, it was very little associating going on there.
ZAHN: Given that you didn't know the suspect all that well, I am sure, like most of us in the audience, you had to have a pretty emotional reaction to the news that the fact that these three girls who were with him at the time of this car chase apparently, at least physically are OK tonight.
Is that just a tremendous relief to you?
WORTHINGTON: Right. That's a big relief to us all. When I notified my wife and let them know that the girls were fine, you know, all of them was relieved. And it's just really bad that the little girls have to go through this. Not only the police chase, and the self-inflicted gunshot wound but the stuff they had to go through with the night everything first took place.
ZAHN: Is there anything else you can tell us about the family members affected by this?
WORTHINGTON: Excuse me?
ZAHN: Is there anything else that might shed some light on the rest of the family members affected by this, the estranged common-law wife and the fact that she was tipped off, according to law enforcement officials, that Jerry William Jones was threatening to kill these girls if she reported the murders he told her about to police?
WORTHINGTON: That, I couldn't comment on. Like I say, I don't know that much about, you know, that side of the family. I don't know really what was going on.
ZAHN: All right. Well, Stacey Worthington, we appreciate your joining us tonight. I know this has been a really tough night for your family. Again, thanks for your information.
WORTHINGTON: Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm confident of what I presented last year. Intelligence community is confident of the material they gave me. I was representing them. It was information they presented to the Congress. It was information they had presented publicly. And they stand behind it. And this game is still unfolding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Well, on to other news now. Secretary of State Powell's reaction to a report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, it says Iraq had long ago ended its banned weapons program did not have weapons of mass destruction and was no immediate threat to the U.S. Also the U.S. has now withdrawn a team looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
So is the game still unfolding, as Secretary Powell says it is, to getting Saddam Hussein, does it make it all worthwhile?
Or does it mean American soldiers giving their lives for a lie?
In Washington we're joined by former congressman, Tom Andrews, now who now heads the group, Win Without War. And Clifford May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Welcome gentlemen.
ZAHN: Tom, I'm going to start with you this evening.
Why do you think this team that was scouring Iraq has left the country?
TOM ANDREWS, NATIONAL DIRECTOR, "WIN WITHOUT WAR": Well, clearly they're leaving the country and we've heard that David Kay, who heads the inspection process, is planning to resign, because they haven't found the massive weapons of mass destruction. That the Bush administration alleged that was there.
They said that there were hundreds of tons of chemical and biological weapons, reconstituted nuclear weapons, dozens of scud missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles that had the capacity to deliver these weapons. None of it turns out to be true.
And it turns out that not only were we wrong, but as we learned from the report released today, that there was intelligence reports that this administration did not reveal to the American public.
It misrepresented existing intelligence reports to the Congress, and to the people of the United States, not including critical facts that would have presented a completely different picture than the ones that -- than the one that the Bush administration described.
So this hurts the credibility of the United States. Obviously we were dead wrong, and we deceived The American people, the Congress and the world in the process.
ZAHN: Being dead wrong is one thing but Cliff, that's a pretty powerful charge that Tom is making, that the U.S. public was deliberately misled.
CLIFFORD MAY, PRESIDENT, DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES FOUNDATION: I'm sorry, but it's a false charge. I know Carnegie and Tom were against this war before. They're against this war now. They've made these charges before. They're making these charges now. It's simply not true. We have the same CIA now that we had under Clinton. We have the same intelligence estimates that we did under Clinton. The one difference is that after 9/11, it was probably a good idea -- Tom might disagree -- to look at rogue dictators threatening us, and who were developing the capability to have weapons of mass destruction that they could give to terrorists with whom they were conspiring.
Now a year ago this was well understood. Almost exactly a year ago, "The New York Times" had an editorial and the editorial that said it makes sense to make the world safer, that President Bush's top priority is eliminate Iraq's ability to create biological and nuclear weapons. By the way Saddam did have these chemicals. He used them. He had biological weapons, we know that from UNSCOM, including anthrax. Well, what we don't know is what he did with them. Did he destroy them illegally and secretly?
That's a possibility and we don't know.
ZAHN: Tom, you were saying, it's not a question of what he did with them. You don't believe the premise of what Cliff is saying is true at all?
You don't think these weapons ever existed?
ANDREWS: Listen, we know they existed.
MAY: Thank you.
ANDREWS: And we know that they were destroyed and eliminated by the U.N. weapons inspection process.
MAY: Not at all.
ANDREWS: And we know what the U.N. weapons inspectors found with the resources...
ANDREWS: The legal resources, wait a minute. It took 15 months, $900 million, 1,400 inspectors. We couldn't find anything more than those U.N. inspectors found. But what's very important to note here is that we're lowering the bar in this debate, if you've noticed, Paula. We've gone from massive weapons of mass destruction, hundreds of tons of it, to, well, maybe they had weapons programs. Now maybe they had weapons programs capabilities. At this rate, if we just find...
ZAHN: Hang on. Cliff, here's a question I want to ask you. Tom made this pretty clear right off the top. You had nine months of intense searching by the U.S. Government without results. Now you have this 400 member essentially a search team leaving the country.
MAY: The search team, just like the inspectors, were not really detectives. We have right now... ZAHN: But what were they?
What were they doing there?
MAY: They were there to take what there was and destroy it.
ZAHN: So you don't think -- what you're saying, they didn't expect to find anything?
MAY: No, they hoped they would, but we may not. Some of the weapons we're talking about could be stored in a garage. Absolutely small. We have right now 10 miles worth of documents that we need to go through to find out more about what Saddam was doing and what he had. The idea that we could have waited, and we should have waited, and let the sanctions continue, which people like Tom are saying are causing Iraqi children to die, and see what happens.
See if Saddam did develop these biological weapons, which he was trying to develop. His son-in-law said so, UNSCOM said so. See if he used the chemical weapons again. See if he could -- by the way after 1999 he was still importing weapons, material, and equipment for nuclear weapons.
Now, he didn't assemble them. Look I want to make one other point, it was Saddam's obligation, it was part of the cease-fire of 1991 that had to disclose and show all the weapons, everything on the list, and he had to be transparent. He defied every U.N. resolution. We have to understand that. All Saddam had to do really is what Gadhafi is agreeing to do now, saying I don't want these weapons. I am giving them. I'm showing you everything I have. He defied us.
ZAHN: Tom, lets go to the final point that I think is interesting to balance this whole segment, and that is, the accusation that Iraqi scientists deliberately misled U.S. Government officials in telling them that weaponry existed that simply did not.
Do you buy that?
ANDREWS: Listen, there was a lot of deception that went on. But the fact of the matter is, that the intelligence community of this country, and certainly of the United Nations, found that we were not under a direct threat. Cliff is right, Saddam Hussein is a bad guy.
There are many bad guys in the world. They have lots of dangerous weapons. But we don't kill hundreds of Americans, thousands of innocent Iraqis, take hundreds of billions of dollars of our tax money to go after something when we had a system in place that was not only discovering those weapons and destroying them, but containing this tyrant...
ZAHN: I need to move on to break some news. Just very quickly.
MAY: Tom, at what point did the Taliban become a direct threat to us? Was it on September 9 or September 10? We can no longer have rogue dictators who threaten us, who try to kill us, who then have weapons and... ANDREWS: This invasion has strengthened al Qaeda. It's recruiting people.
ZAHN: OK, gentlemen. Tom Andrews, Clifford May, I hate to cut you off there, but we have to go back to Georgia. Thank you, gentlemen, for your time. We're bringing you up to date on a story of a manhunt being ended tonight in a very dramatic way.
A suspect in a quadruple murder in Georgia. Jerry William Jones. Captured. Three girls he had abducted and who were traveling with him were found unhurt Thursday following a police chase that actually was started as a result of a phone tip where someone had actually spotted the suspect on the border of Georgia and Tennessee.
A massive search was launched, and it led to this car chase. We are told that Jerry William Jones is in the hospital being treated for apparently a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Of course, if there is any good news out of this horrible, gruesome story, is the fact that the three girls that he had abducted, that he had threatened to kill, are at least physically OK.
Investigators are still trying to piece together tonight what exactly the three young girls were exposed to. I am going to try to analyze these pictures. They're being fed to us right now. I'm not sure how much context I can give you.
But this is at the end of the car chase that came about as a result of the phone tip law investigators were given. Now, at the time that they got this tipoff, they were in the process of putting into place an Amber alert. There's been some criticism that perhaps the system didn't work as quickly as it should have because of the special memos that you have to apply to for one state to get permission to announce the Amber alert onto an adjoining state. But we're all working on those details tonight.
I am assuming that this man you see on the stretcher is the suspect, Jerry William Jones. According to Martin Savidge, who was on the scene with investigators in Calhoun, Georgia, this is a man who is being accused of methodically pulling off a series of murders in two different locations, starting in a trailer, moving on to a home, actually according to investigators, picking up the phone, calling his estranged common-law wife on the west coast, apparently detailing for her the crimes that he had just committed and threatening to kill the three young girls he had abducted if she reported it to police. And that's exactly what she ended up doing.
Georgia authorities being credited, along with the FBI for pulling off this manhunt. There are still some confusing details surrounding this story. A motive is not clear at this hour. I'm seeing a young, beautiful blond child there in the back of the ambulance, who appeared to be crying.
But the two young girls you're seeing on the screen now are two of the kids that apparently were abducted. The suspect, Jerry William Jones has a history of having -- we're going back to that shot now, that young girl. He had been convicted of burglary and theft. He had had his probation revoked and then was also convicted of misdemeanor theft charge back in 1998. This case from the very beginning was a race against time. The brutality of the crime really is quite extraordinary.
I know a number of investigators have had difficulty talking about what they found once they arrived on the scene. It appeared some of the victims had been strangled, some of them had been shot. But once again, some of this information is quite preliminary.
We can tell you a little bit more about the victims. Once again, Jerry William Jones is accused of killing his in-laws, and his 10- month-old daughter. And then, of course, abducting the three girls whose pictures you've just seen on the screen.
Once again, those bodies, the three adults and 10-month-old girl, were found in a rural area outside of Ranger, Georgia. And that is about 75 miles northwest of Atlanta. The Georgia -- about all the Georgia Bureau of Investigation will confirm at this hour is that some of the victims were shot multiple times.
And the infant, the 10-month-old baby girl, appears to have been strangled. Let's bring Martin Savidge back into our coverage. He's had a chance to talk to a number of investigators working on this case. Martin, what else can you tell us?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you right now that inside the sheriff's office here in Gordon county, a lot of jubilation, a lot of celebration, a lot of very happy faces. This was certainly a case they were extremely worried about.
As much as everybody tried to remain upbeat about the fate of these three young girls. They also had a great deal of fear. There was one thing that was outstanding. That some investigators have pointed to. They had said that if Jerry Jones was going to murder these girls, why didn't he do it there on the scene.
And if he did not do it there on the scene, then maybe he wasn't intending to do it, or maybe not right away. So they had a window of opportunity. They didn't think that window of opportunity was going to last too much longer beyond 24 hours. And they were able to make it work within 24 hours.
The chase beginning in Georgia on Interstate I-85. Shortly around, well, 8:30 or so. Actually, earlier than that, it was about 8:00. And as they approached the Tennessee border, got onto what is called the Ring Gold exit. It is where Jerry apparently decided to get off and it was on that exit ramp that he lost control.
Weather conditions up here, it is raining, and threatening to sleet and ice rain. As a result of that, there was an accident. And then apparently, as you've heard from authorities, he shot himself and is in very serious condition. You've seen the play out after that. He was rolled away in the stretcher and the young girls are said to be fine. It's hard to get any more information out of the investigators here because they're huddled inside and focused on getting these young girls back and reunited with family members, and especially with their mother -- Paula.
ZAHN: Martin, let's try to piece some of these other pieces of the puzzle together. There's been some criticism that perhaps the Amber alert wasn't as effective as it could have been, because of the time lag. That basically what ends up happening is the time it takes for investigators to, first of all, discover the murder scene and then to get that information along to other investigators.
We are now being told that that tip, that the investigator told you about that led to this chase in fact came from a motorist. A motorist traveling along that Tennessee-Georgia highway who it actually seen the Amber alert. For those of you folks who are questioning the efficiency of the system, at least preliminary reporting would indicate that it was a huge help in perhaps breaking this case -- Martin.
SAVIDGE: Well, and here's the way the criticism went. They said if you discovered the bodies last night at 11:15, which is when it was reported that they were discovered, then why didn't you immediately then post the Amber alert. That's the question that was posed to authorities this afternoon.
And their answer was this, essentially, they said, well, we discovered the bodies. It wasn't, though, until a little bit later that they realized that three children were missing. Well, then they said, why didn't you put out the alert?
They said, in order to put the amber alert out, you must have some specific information. You cannot just say three girls are missing and leave it at that. First they needed the identities, the physical identity of each of the children.
Then on top of that, they were trying to ascertain what vehicle -- it is the vehicle that's most important, because that's what the public is likely to see. They even went to the point that once they figured out the vehicle, going into the local records department, the motor vehicle records department in the middle of the night, waking people out of bed and hand-searching through the records so that they could get the very vital license plate number.
And it was then when they had retrieved that in the very early morning hours that they had all the pieces to put together the Amber alert. And that's the way authorities say it broke down -- Paula.
ZAHN: Martin Savidge, please stand by. Joining me now on the telephone is David O'Donnell who is the brother-in-law of the suspect we've been talking about tonight. Jerry William Jones. Mr. O'Donnell, thanks for joining us. What have investigators told you about what has unfolded here?
DAVID O'DONNELL, FORMER BROTHER-IN-LAW OF SUSPECT: We know Jerry has been apprehended, and that my three nieces are okay, which we're elated about. We have been going through a nightmare all day. Well, basically we know that this part of the nightmare is over. I'm married to Kathy O'Donnell (ph) who is the older sister of Melissa Peeler who is the mother of the three children.
ZAHN: Now, is it your understanding that all three children were abducted at the same time?
O'DONNELL: Yes, they were all abducted from their grandmother's house at about 3:30 yesterday afternoon.
ZAHN: And David, I don't know whether you've been able to watch our coverage, but there is a small piece of tape where you catch a glimpse of a child in the ambulance, our emergency worker intelligently putting his back up against the window so we can't make out her face. Were you able to see any of these pictures?
O'DONNELL: Yes, that's Hope.
ZAHN: That is Hope?
O'DONNELL: Yes. The youngest of the three girls.
ZAHN: Describe to us what you thought when you saw that, that brief image of her?
O'DONNELL: Oh, I was just -- of course, I was glad to see a smile on her face, with what she's been through and everything. But I'm just so excited that all three children are okay.
ZAHN: And have investigators been able to determine exactly what these children have witnessed?
O'DONNELL: Well, they've witnessed a quadruple homicide. They've witnessed hours of running, being chased by police. Probably having guns pointed at their head. Probably being threatened themselves. And, you know, we're just glad that the nightmare's over for them, you know.
ZAHN: We have asked a number of investigators tonight if they had any idea what Mr. Jones' alleged motivation might have been. Why do you think this all happened?
ZAHN: Jealous, over what?
O'DONNELL: Melissa had made an attempt to leave Jerry Jones, and he had made idle threats that he would do exactly what he's done. We're just glad that, you know, the whole thing's over.
ZAHN: When you said he had made idle threats, no one took those threats seriously?
O'DONNELL: Well, you know, you hear people all the time say, you know, I'll kill (AUDIO GAP) ZAHN: All right. I don't know whether you can characterize the conversation that took place, but investigators have confirmed for us that Mr. Jones actually picked up the telephone and called his estranged common-law wife, and told her of the murders he had allegedly committed.
ZAHN: And then threatened her with killing these three girls if she took the news to the police.
O'DONNELL: That's correct. That's correct. That's straight from Melissa's mouth to me this morning.
ZAHN: Have you been able to talk with Melissa since you have learned of the news that these three young girls, at least physically, we know that mentally they've been exposed to some very harsh, ugly things, but at least physically, we're told that they seem to not have been hurt?
O'DONNELL: Right. I have not talked with Melissa since 8:30 this morning. It's my understanding she's en route back to Georgia from Oregon.
ZAHN: And just a final thought, Mr. O'Donnell, on Mr. Jones' background. And any other clues that you all might have seen along the way that might have ever made you believe that it could come to this?
O'DONNELL: Well, he's an idiot. That's the best way I can categorize him. He's not a mental patient. He has been known to use drugs in the past. And he is just a crazy person, you know.
ZAHN: And once again, you are saying that this horrible tragedy that was witnessed was nothing more than the result of a terrible jealous rage?
O'DONNELL: That's all it was.
ZAHN: And is there anything you'd like to say to law enforcement officials tonight? Apparently the case was broken as a result of someone seeing an amber alert and calling in a tip to police.
O'DONNELL: Of course, I've been with law enforcement all day. I've been with the Gordon County Sheriff's Department, with Jerry Davis, the sheriff, and the GBI investigators and they've all been wonderful. They've treated me with a lot of respect. And they did a great job tracking this thing.
Also, the Gilmore County Sheriff's Department, which is where I live up in Ellijay, Georgia. They have been here all day to protect my family. And the law enforcement couldn't have done a better job.
ZAHN: And when are you going to be able to see the little girls?
O'DONNELL: We're hoping that the authorities will see this broadcast and know that they do have family. We're willing to come pick the girls up, or to, you know, take them in, or whatever we need to do until Melissa returns to Georgia.
And that's what I'm trying to do is get in touch with the authorities, so that they know that the girls do have family that cares about them.
ZAHN: And finally, again, Mr. O'Donnell, if you could just confirm the ages of these girls who are miraculously found at least unharmed physically? Hope (sic) is 10. Brandy is how old?
ZAHN: And Hope?
ZAHN: Hope is the only one you caught a glimpse of so far in this videotape we've been playing tonight, right?
O'DONNELL: Yes, ma'am, so far.
ZAHN: Our thoughts are with you as at least part of your family is reunited. I know this has been a terribly exhausting and stressful day for you.
O'DONNELL: There's no way to describe the feelings that has been running through our heads all day. Of course, my wife is terribly upset. She's lost four family members in one day. And now we still have to put the lives together of the three children.
ZAHN: Very fragile lives indeed. Good luck, Mr. O'Donnell. Thank you for your time tonight.
O'DONNELL: Okay. If you need anything further, feel free to call me.
ZAHN: We might just do that. Again, thank you.
Let's go back to Martin Savidge. Martin, we just learned an awful lot from David O'Donnell. I know the investigators have to be careful when they try to project at this point what the possible motive was for these series of crimes. Mr. O'Donnell saying quite bluntly, this was nothing more than the result of a jealous rage over a split with Mr. Jones' common-law wife.
SAVIDGE: That's exactly. I talked to David O'Donnell earlier. He was out at the crime scene all morning long and all throughout the day, taking many, many questions from reporters. You might think that that would be something you wouldn't want to do. And quite frankly, as a parent, you would not. But he also realized the value of getting the message out there and keeping the public informed.
It was a very hard ordeal for him to deal with the media, but there is a payoff in the fact that there was a rescue of those three children tonight. It should be pointed out that since the Amber Law in the state of Georgia went into effect in the year 2000, it had been used a total of nine times until this particular case. And in all of those nine cases, they had had a successful resolution, meaning that the children had been found safe and sound. Now that number has reached ten.
I guess in light of events, you could say that is a perfect ten. However, that is not to downplay the tragedy that has already taken place in the community with the deaths of four people, including a 10- month-old child, Paula.
ZAHN: I'm glad you said that Martin, because it's hard for any of us to characterize the condition these young girls are in. We know investigators are telling us physically they appear to be okay. But David O'Donnell is saying, basically look, it's his belief that these three young girls, a 10-year-old girl, a 4-year-old girl, basically witnessed four quadruple murders.
He said it wouldn't surprise him that guns were waved at their faces. They witnessed this police chase. And of course ending up in the nightmare of this traffic accident. Again, martin Savidge, police are crediting the tip from a motorist for breaking this case, aren't they?
SAVIDGE: Exactly right, they say that they had throughout the day, once the amber alert went out in Georgia, and it was also posted in a number of neighboring states. That they had a large number of phone calls coming in from the public. There were people that said they had sighted the suspect perhaps in Louisiana, in other parts of the southeast. Authorities investigated, ran down as quickly as they could every one of those leads.
Then it turns out that it's a motorist on a highway. In this case, interstate I-85, heading toward Tennessee that seems to be the most vital tip of all. Someone who was informed either through the media or the amber alert, called the authorities and it led to the successful resolution of this particular indication. The system has worked for officials here.
ZAHN: And finally tonight, Martin, once again, investigators piecing this all together. But you have been told that the murders took place at two separate locations, that the suspect apparently was quite methodical. At least you're being told that by the investigators about the way he went about his business, actually appearing to have taken time after the killings to clean up one of the crime scenes?
SAVIDGE: Exactly. In fact, authorities tell us that he went into both crime scenes, cleaned them both up. They're not sure exactly when the murders may have taken place. They believe the time frame is anywhere from about 11:00 in the morning yesterday to 2:00 in the afternoon. But apparently the suspect did not believe he was going to be interrupted or did not care if he was interrupted.
And then in addition to cleaning up, also hid some of the bodies, and waited for the eldest child to come home from school. That is hard to imagine that kind of callous behavior.
ZAHN: It breaks your heart. Martin Savidge, thanks for clearing up a lot of the conflicting details on this story. Martin and I have covered dozens and dozens of stories, maybe not quite as gruesome as this over the years, but at least from my perspective, we can say if there's any one positive thing to come out of this, the manhunt was a success. Law enforcement has their suspect tonight.
Three girls, who law enforcement were very concerned could end up being killed, are indeed alive tonight. Witnesses to some very horrible things, but physically, we're told tonight, they are OK.
Thanks for being with us tonight. "LARRY KING LIVE" is next.
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