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London Bombings Reveal New Breed of Terrorist; Turning Point in Natalee Holloway Case?

Aired July 13, 2005 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Glad to have you with us. Appreciate your joining us.
Tonight, a frightening new era begins in the fight against terrorism.


ZAHN (voice-over): Britain uncovers a new breed of suicide bomber, the one who grew up right next door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've known him 25 years. And a lovely family. They were lovely children.

ZAHN: Has the war on terror made a deadly new turn?

The mystery in Aruba. Tonight, the Natalee Holloway case could be reaching a turning point.

And in the American heartland, a mother searches.

TERI KNIGHT, MOTHER: Somewhere in the next five, six days, we're going to drive past my children.

Tonight, a journey of hope, a journey of fear.


ZAHN: Get ready to change what you thought you knew about terrorism. After a day of police raids and new revelations, we have a much better picture of who is behind the London bombings that killed more than 50 people. It was the work of four suicide bombers, at least.

Police have named three of them, and the details of their new lives point to a new kind of terrorist. They weren't outsiders, like on 9/11 in the U.S., but men who were born and raised among the people they ultimately would attack.

Nic Robertson joins us from Leeds, England, the suspects' hometown.

Good evening, Nic.

Is it clear tonight how well these four suspects knew each other?


What we know and what has shocked the community here is that Shahzad Tanweer, for example, who lived at the house just behind me, was born into a relatively well-off family. The family owned various food businesses. He was born in Britain in 1982. He was raised here. He went to British school. He did well. He drove a red Mercedes car. He was very, very good at soccer. In fact, he was so good at soccer, his friends at school bumped him up, so he was playing in the age group about three years above his age.

He was so well in demand for his soccer that, just a week before the bombing took place, his friends had asked him to come and play for them, because he was so good. That is what is shocking the people in this neighborhood, and that shock is spreading out across the country, because he was a normal, average kid. That's what people here are telling us.

About half-a-mile away, Hasib Hussain lived in a very similar house. He was 19 -- he was in fact 18 years old. His house, like the house here, has been cordoned off by the police. They are sifting through it. And about 10 miles away, one of the other suspect bombers, Mohammed Sidique Khan, lived in a slightly more affluent neighborhood. Perhaps, the neighborhood has a slightly more Muslim feel to it, if you will. There are more Muslims, people in sort of -- in more religious clothing, walking down the streets there.

What set him apart was, he was 30 years old, older than the others. He was married and had an eight-month-old child. None of these characteristics I've described here have fit suicide bombers before. And, again, in this community, utter shock that these people who were living next door and the same street could have done this. People have said, why would they do it? They are British. They were born here. They grew up here -- Paula.

ZAHN: There are so many questions your reporting spawns here. Do investigators know how much contact these four suspects had with each other and the circumstances of their meetings?

ROBERTSON: No. That -- that's what we understand is being investigated.

What we do now -- and this is what investigators have said publicly -- is that the four plotters met together, travelled down to London, to the King's Cross Station, went their separate ways from the King's Cross Station, were captured on security camera video as they went into that King's Cross Station.

They went in there at about 20 past 8:00. They detonated their bombs. Three of them detonated their bombs, apparently, at 10 to 9:00. The other one apparently detonated his bomb about an hour later. Even people we've talked to in the community here, we have asked them, did Shahzad know Hasib? He didn't live far away. Did they know Mohammed? He lived in this community here until a few years ago, until moving a little further away.

People in this community here say they don't know that they knew each other. They are not aware that they were members of the same group. And, of course, this is what investigators are looking at. How well did they know each other? Where did they meet? Did they meet with other people? Which one of them made the bombs? Did they make the bombs? Is there a fifth person involved?

So, all of these are questions not just the investigators, but the local community are asking. And people that knew these young men well are saying, we don't think that they were capable of organizing a big plot. We think that there must have been some sort of outside help, help that would have helped them perhaps build those bombs, Paula.

ZAHN: Nic Robertson, a lot to consider tonight. Thanks so much for the update.

It's so interesting to note that Scotland Yard got a lot of help from the mother of one of the suspects, who was searching furiously for her son, went to the authorities, said, have you heard anything about him? And that is in fact what has triggered these arrests over the last 24 hours or so.

Now, investigators have learned so much about the suspects and so quickly because of modern forensic techniques, in plain English, scientific advances that let them sift through the debris and learn a lot from a very little.

To tell us how that is possible, I'm joined here by forensic science expert Lawrence Kobilinsky of John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Good to see you again. Welcome.

DR. LARRY KOBILINSKY, JOHN JAY COLLEGE: Pleasure to -- pleasure to be here.

ZAHN: Now, the fact is, when a bomb goes off, it blows the components to smithereens.

KOBILINSKY: Indeed it does.

ZAHN: So, what are London investigators piecing together at this hour?

KOBILINSKY: Well, remember, that this is not just an act of terrorism. This is a crime scene. This is a situation where there were fatalities and survivors.

So, the first thing is to try to protect those people that were injured and then to retrieve the bodies. But now to get down to the crime scene, they have to meticulously go through that scene. Basically, they lay out a grid at each of the bombing sites to make sure that they sift through all of the debris. Anything could be important evidence. There could be metallic fragments that metallurgists will look at.

There may be wires. There may be detonators. Obviously, the explosive is something that needed to be looked at, and explosive residue.

ZAHN: And what they are really looking for is some kind of signature, chemical or otherwise.

KOBILINSKY: That's correct.

Well, it's very critical that they identify the explosive. Explosives are not always the same. RDX, which apparently this explosive is, comes in different forms. There are different impurities. They should be able to trace back the manufacturer of the item. And, of course, then we want to know, how did the linkage take place? How did these individuals get the RDX? Who built the bomb? Did -- was there external influences?

This may not simply be a local London act of Islamic fundamentalism or radicalism.

ZAHN: I'm no investigator here. You're the guy who does that. But it seems to me there are a tremendous amount of contradictions here. On one hand, there -- there -- there seems to be a level of sophistication to have carried off the timing and synchronizing these attacks.


ZAHN: On the other hand, these dopes had their -- their identification on them. What does that suggest to you?


KOBILINSKY: That's true. These are not professional bombers.

These are radical Islamists with a mission. And they certainly needed to be provided with the bomb, the equipment to do what they had to do. But they were somewhat bumbling. The fact of the matter is that it is not only science that has he helped the Metropolitan Police, Scotland Yard, but it's sheer luck.

I mean, the fact that the mother of one of these bombers called in led to the examination of the CC -- the videotapes. And that led to the identification of the individuals, which now leads us to their homes. And, once you are in their homes, you have their computers, you know what phone calls they have received or what phone calls they have made. There is going to be more information about each of these bombers than anybody could imagine.

You want to know who they are associated with, what connections they have to the outside world.

ZAHN: There was an early report today that would have suggested that these guys communicated more on their personal computers than you thought that they should have and perhaps they should have been at some Internet cafe doing their business.

KOBILINSKY: Well, that's exactly correct. There are ways to trace computer communications. There are these cafes that are very difficult to search and follow the pattern. So, I think the fact that they have the home computers, they can see what communications were being made, not only among themselves, but to others. So, this is just the beginning of a long investigation.

ZAHN: Professor, I need a really brief answer to this one. Were you surprised when you heard the investigators in the early hours of this process come out and say they didn't believe suicide bombers were involved?

KOBILINSKY: Well, that's true. I heard there were detonators. And that kind of was very misleading.

Apparently, you know, this is something new for London. And it's something that the world has to understand. This is the new way of terror. So, unfortunately, it's happened in Israel. Now it's moved to Iraq, of course, and now to London.

ZAHN: Well, we appreciate your insights tonight.

KOBILINSKY: My pleasure.

ZAHN: Really fascinating to look at, Lawrence Kobilinsky.


ZAHN: Now that everyone knows the suspected bombers are homegrown and are from England's Muslim community, a new kind of fear is growing, a fear steeped in the new reality that terror can come from right next door.

Here's Zain Verjee in a London neighborhood where everyone feels the pressure.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Edgware Road and Church Street, a well known crossroad in London's Muslim community, just blocks away from one of last week's bombings. Latifa Aibi is originally from Morocco, but she'll tell that you her home is here. She moved to London from Casablanca 10 years ago, met her husband, and had three daughters.

LATIFA AIBI, MOROCCO NATIVE: I'm England. If somebody hurts my country, I want to hurt him.

VERJEE: Latifa tells us, the day of the bombings, she was confronted by a white neighbor. "He accused me," she says, "because he sees the scarf."

AIBI: I need peace for everybody.

VERJEE: Latifa leads me down the block, past butcher shops where meat is prepared according to Islamic tradition, stores offering Moroccan couscous and Lebanese pita bread, windows papered with deals for locals to phone home to relatives in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and into the Jabal Amil (ph) grocery.

The owner says business has been slow since the terrorist attacks. Ali Farhad's customers come from all over the Middle East and central Asia.

ALI FARHAD, GROCERY STORE OWNER: This is Iraqi, meat with lime. You know?

VERJEE: He tells us he has quite a few English customers, too. This is, after all, a secular, middle-class neighbor, not a hotbed of extremism. Still, Ali tells me that Muslims here are under exceptional pressure.

FARHAD: We have to keep ourselves as good as we can to show them that we are, you know -- really, want to live with them in peaceful, and just want to do our best to show them that we are good people.

ADDEL KADIR, FISH SELLER: What happened here has happened to us as well.

VERJEE: One of the bombs went off just a few blocks from here, where Addel Kadir sells fresh fish every day. Addel says he deplores the attacks, but points to the growing frustration in the Muslim world.

KADIR: There's hundreds of thousands of people died in Iraq. But nobody count for that. Hundred of thousands people died in Palestine. Nobody count for that.

VERJEE: In front of this tube stop, a memorial to the lost, flowers and notes, many written in Arabic, a message to the dead from Iraqi Muslims: "All our mosques are praying for you."

Over a smoke of apple tobacco from a bubbling shisha pipe, 18- year-old Abdul Islami, a student, tells us what he says happened when he visited the memorial at Edgware Road.

ABDUL ISLAMI, STUDENT: And I was taking a picture with my phone and two English ladies were like, oh, it's not something to laugh about. Do you know what I mean? And, obviously, they looked at our skin color and they make assumptions that we're laughing or we're taking a picture for jokes. But it is not like that.

VERJEE: He says he couldn't understand why anyone would think he had made a joke of the terror.

(on camera): What does this paper say?

(voice-over): Near the subway, a newsstand where Arab newspapers outnumber British ones.

FARHAD: Don't make Muslim the scapegoats.

VERJEE (on camera): Is that what you think? Are you worried that Muslim will be made the scapegoat?

FARHAD: Yes, of course. They are.

VERJEE (voice-over): Ali insists the bombers cannot be true Muslims.

FARHAD: But they are brainwashed. Believe me. And the people, they know that. And the politicians, they know that. And you know that as well.

VERJEE: Walking down Edgware Road, it was clear to me that, though Muslims we talked to here condemn the bombings, they also fear a backlash against an entire community for the actions of a few.


ZAHN: And a fear, it seems, that is quite warranted. That was Zain Verjee reporting.

Since the London bombings, more than 100 revenge attacks have been reported against Muslims all over Great Britain

More news in just a minute. It was a no-go for the space shuttle today, but when will NASA try again?

And tomorrow could be a very important day in Aruba. We'll have the very latest on the search for missing American teenager Natalee Holloway and the investigation into her disappearance.


ZAHN: This is the scene from Kennedy Space Center in Florida tonight. The shuttle Discovery was supposed to be in orbit by now, but there it was sitting on the launch pad at this late hour. Its return to space has been delayed by a problem with a sensor.

Miles O'Brien is standing by at the Kennedy Space Center to tell us what went wrong, when they might fly again.

Good evening, Miles. You've been covering this for the last 24 hours or so. How big of a blow is this for NASA?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's disappointing, Paula. Let's face it.

But I guess it -- when you consider the other option, flying with something unsafe, it's not that big a disappointment. What NASA tells us is, there was a problem with a sensor right at the base of this orange external fuel tank. It's sort of like the legal you have in your car which tells you, you are running low on fuel.

It's when they're running low on rocket fuel in this case. And the idea is to make sure that the main engines of the space shuttle around here, which are fed by that external tank, don't run dry. These main engines can suck up a standard swimming pool in 25 seconds, if they were fueled on water.

And, as a result, them running dry would be a very bad thing. About 1:30 this afternoon today, as they were going through that routine count, we were all focused on how bad the weather might be. One of the engineers at a console here looked at the readings and realized that this sensor was stuck. And within about five minutes time, it was all bets off for the seven-member crew of the space shuttle Discovery.

They were sent packing back to the crew quarters, told it would be a scrub for a little while, 72 hours minimum, which means possibly a Saturday afternoon launch. But they are looking very carefully at this problem right now, don't fully understand it. It is quite possible the space shuttle Discovery will have to be rolled back into the hanger to fix this particular problem. If that's the case, Paula, it could put them into the September time frame before they have an opportunity to launch.

ZAHN: But, Miles, you were pointing earlier today that this is a problem that was discovered at one point a couple months ago. They thought the problem was corrected.

So, how much ammunition does this give to critics of the shuttle program, who say this program is too costly, not only in terms of the monetary investments, but in terms of the human lives its cost, and, in addition to that, what it's delivering scientifically?

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, in a sense, the debate really, though, is already over, Paula, because we are talking about the end of the era for the shuttle now. It will be retired in 2010 and there will be 15 or perhaps 20 flights to fly.

The idea is to fly it as safely as possible, try to honor as many of the commitments as possible to build the International Space Station. But, yes, there were some hard questions today of the engineers. When you consider the fact that they tested another external tank several weeks ago, same problem cropped up, swapped in a new tank with some other design issues changed. Same problem crops up.

Now, they didn't test that new tank on the orbiter before they went for the launch today. Should they have gone for the test? I think the answer in hindsight is yes, for sure. But, nevertheless, what NASA will tell you is, hey, we had a big problem, a problem we would never fly with, and we didn't attempt to fudge it. So, you can look at it both ways, I guess.

ZAHN: I always count on you to give it to you us both ways as well.

Miles O'Brien, thanks again.

Just a reminder that Miles said, at the earliest, the shuttle could fly on Saturday if it flies at all. And you can look for Miles first thing tomorrow morning on "AMERICAN MORNING."

Right now, we're moving up on just about 21 minutes past the hour, if I can actually read that digital clock 100 yards away.

Let's go straight to Erica Hill at Headline News for a look at some of the other top stories.

How is my eyesight tonight, Erica?

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The eyes are still working, Paula. You're doing all right.

ZAHN: Good. Without my bifocals.

HILL: That's not bad. That's not bad.

ZAHN: Right here. See?

HILL: It's that internal clock.

ZAHN: Yes. Exactly.

HILL: You just know what time it is.

ZAHN: That we live by.

HILL: Yes. Exactly.

We are going to start off, actually, with another big story in the news today, one many people are wondering about, but still no word on the condition of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, 24 hours now after he was taken to the Northern Virginia hospital. He was taken there after complaining about a fever. Rehnquist, who is 80, has been undergoing treated for thyroid cancer since last fall. So far, no indication of just when he might be released.

In Baghdad today, a suicide car bomb kills 27 people. The bomber pulled up next to an American convoy. The soldiers were there handing out candy to children. And most of the casualties were in fact children, as well as one U.S. soldier. Three others were wounded. The American death toll in Iraq now stands at 1,756.

On the CNN "Security Watch," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says he wants more attention paid to transportation security. So, he's ordered a review of the Department of Homeland Security, along with better plans to respond to chemical, biological and nuclear contamination.

And former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers shedding tears in court after being sentenced to 25 years in prison for his part in the $11 billion accounting scandal. It was the biggest corporate fraud in American history. Ebbers is 63. The upside, though, if you want to look at it that way, he could have actually gotten 85 years, Paula.

ZAHN: Somehow, I don't think he is looking at it that way tonight.

HILL: I think you're right.

ZAHN: Thanks, Erica.

HILL: Right. ZAHN: See you in about 20 minutes or so.

Coming up, a cross-country trip to solve a mystery.


T. KNIGHT: This drive in is what exactly I'm looking for, a grass path that he would have led into.


ZAHN: So, exactly what is she looking for? Well, I will tell you, it is something that no parent should ever have to face.


ZAHN: Somewhere along the road in the Midwest between Pennsylvania and Iowa, a brutal crime was committed two years ago. Someone confessed and even gave the police several clues about where it happened. But the main question has never been answered. Where are the victims?

Now one woman is determined to find out.

Keith Oppenheim joined her cross-country quest.


T. KNIGHT: These are very, very thin.

KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She is not afraid to stop people and ask for help.

T. KNIGHT: Hi. I'm Teri Knight. And two years ago, my children Sarah and Philip Gehring -- I don't know if you remember the case -- they were murdered.

Go in there.

OPPENHEIM: Or to pull off the side of a road looking for landscapes that match a haunting description in her mind.

T. KNIGHT: This drive in is what exactly I'm looking for, a grass path that he would have led into.

OPPENHEIM: Teri Knight is on a journey no parent should ever have to make. With the help of her husband, Jim.

JIM KNIGHT, HUSBAND OF TERI: I think the opening is too large. I think it was a smaller opening.

OPPENHEIM: She is taking a long ride through the Midwest, looking for the makeshift graves of her children, 14-year-old Sarah and 11-year-old Philip, both murdered by their father, Manuel Gehring, Teri's ex-husband, two years ago.

(on camera): Perhaps this is asking the obvious to a mother, but why do you feel you need to find them?

T. KNIGHT: I guess the best answer I've been able to come up with is that, you know, Sarah and Philip didn't deserve this. This is the ultimate act of violence. It was done by their father. They don't deserve to be buried on the side of a road. I don't deserve to have them buried on the side of the road. And we need to find them and bring them home.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): Teri's home is in Hillsborough, New Hampshire.

T. KNIGHT: The day of our wedding, these kids were just -- Sarah and Philip were awesome. They were just...

OPPENHEIM: Just weeks before the murder, Teri got remarried to Jim Knight. She was then pregnant with her twin daughters, Molly and Mallory, now 2 years old.

T. KNIGHT: My girls.

OPPENHEIM: But while Teri Knight was rebuilding her family life, her ex-husband, Manuel Gehring, was getting ready to destroy it. He had recently lost his job and was fighting Teri over custody.

(on camera): Sarah and Philip were seen with their father, Manuel Gehring, on July 4, 2003, near Concord, New Hampshire. When the kids didn't return home to their mom, Teri, police began to search. Investigators tracked Manuel Gehring's credit card purchases and could tell from his many stops here in Illinois and other places that he was heading west on Interstate 80. One week later, Gehring was arrested in California, but his children were not with him.

(voice-over): Authorities said Gehring confessed.

JEFF STRELZIN, NEW HAMPSHIRE ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: He said he got in the passenger side of the minivan, that he took out the .22 gun, that he pointed it at Sarah.

OPPENHEIM: That he shot, killed, and buried both of his children. Recently, the FBI released tapes of his description of where he had dug the graves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you feel like you were on someone's property? Or did it feel more like you were just...

MANUEL GEHRING, DEFENDANT: It looked like abandoned property. It was like a dumping area. There was a large building fairly close to it.

OPPENHEIM: Gehring's account, while full of minute details, lacked the most important of all, the precise location of where he buried the bodies. And then, seven months later, while awaiting trial, Manuel Gehring hanged himself in a New Hampshire jail cell. Teri Knight had only the words of her ex-husband as a guide to find her murdered children.

(on camera): How much can you trust any of this?

T. KNIGHT: Well, when you get into some of the details, I don't think he could have made up some of the details.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): The details included a site near the highway with a yellow building, an opening in tall grass, some wire fence and large willow trees.

Based on his confession and other evidence, police believe the site is likely to be somewhere near I-80, somewhere along a 700 mile stretch between Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Iowa.

On the second anniversary of the murders. Terri and Jim Knight decide to search for themselves, retracing Garian's (ph) path. This was a stop for the media in Joliet, Illinois.

T. KNIGHT: Somewhere in the next, you know, five, six days, we are going to drive past my children. We believe that.

OPPENHEIM: Over six days and six states, the Knights went looking for the graves, but, also, publicity, getting the attention of reporters from Boston to Des Moines, Iowa.

T. KNIGHT: We started just getting a feel for the environment, for the landscapes.

OPPENHEIM: Explaining to anyone what who would listen what they are doing and asking for help. Along the way, various police officers joined the search. One private detective volunteered her time.

T. KNIGHT: He said he got off of 80, made a right, made another right.

OPPENHEIM: But as much as Terri Knight appreciates the help of professionals, it is regular folks she is trying to reach.

T. KNIGHT: We're trying to get the word out there...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless you. And good luck.

OPPENHEIM: Hoping that someone who knows something, or stumbles across it, will make the difference.

(on camera): Do you think you are going to be successful during this journey?

T. KNIGHT; Yes. I'm going to be successful in making sure that when I leave, someone else, and many other people are going to be looking.

OPPENHEIM: We travelled with Terri and Jim Knight all the way from Northern Indiana to this reservoir near Iowa City, Iowa, where police believe her ex-husband went swiping, possibly after the murders.

T. KNIGHT: I wanted to just to keep the truck going. I am not done yet.

OPPENHEIM: Always brave on camera, we knew off camera Terri had private when she broke down in tears. And by evening, after a long day of searching, both she and her husband looked exhausted but, no less determined to find Sarah and Phillip.

(on camera): You believe you'll do it?

T. KNIGHT: Got to. Got to. It's not something that just goes away.


ZAHN: Her determination is breathtaking, given how fresh their pain is. Keith Oppenheim reporting. Terri and her husband returned to New Hampshire on Monday. Terri says hundreds of tips have poured in since she began the search. Her job now, she says, is to review those tips and what she has learned on her trip and narrow that very wide search.

Moving on now, what is new in the search for Natalee Holloway? It turns out, a lot. Find out why tomorrow could be a critical day in the case.

And then, a little bit later on, people go to hospitals to get well, so, what killed this woman? And, could it happen to you?


ZAHN: It has been 44 days since Natalee Holloway vanished in Aruba. Members of a Texas search team haven't given up. They are staying through at least Sunday. And tomorrow could be a very important day for the suspects in the case. A judge is set to decide whether two brothers who were picked up, questioned, jailed, and then set free should be rearrested.

We also expect some rulings on 17-year-old Joran Van der Sloot, the young man in the plaid shirt there, who many consider to be the main suspect. Yesterday, his defense lawyer requested that he be released.

So, what could actually happen in the court room? Arlene Ellis Schipper is an attorney who knows the ins and outs of Aruban law. Good to see you.

We should make it clear that Joran Van der Sloot is the man that Natalee Holloway's mother thinks, not only is he lying, but that he is withholding a lot of information. What do you think the judge will do? Will he release him?

ARLENE ELLIS SCHIPPER, ATTORNEY: Well -- it is very difficult to speculate. We don't know the case file. From what we know, is that there is very thin evidence. There is -- that he was the last one to see Natalee. Other evidence has not been confirmed yet. So, we really have to wait and see what else they would have on file. And what else is presented. ZAHN: So, if the evidence is as thin as some people are telling you, and, Mr. Van der Sloot is released, how big of a blow is this, or would this be to the prosecution?

SCHIPPER: Well the problem in this whole case is that it's thin to begin with, because it is a suspicious of a crime. It is not been determined yet what criminal offense has been committed. And Mr. Van der Sloot is a suspect of that suspected crime.

So, blow to the prosecuting office, they are apparently convinced that there is enough probable cause that he has something to do with the disappearance of Natalee, and that there is enough strong objections to his release.

So, that would be a blow if he is released, yes.

ZAHN: And then, finally, the judge may also decide to rearrest the Kalpoe brothers, two men who were arrested earlier, then released. What are the chances of that happening?

SCHIPPER: Well, it is going to be a complete reassessment of the case. The judge has instructions that assess the case and has decided that the brother should be released because they are not enough probable cause and not enough strong objections against their release. That is going to be reassessed by a three-panel appeal court. And, of course, the newest evidence is in file, as well, if there is any.

ZAHN: Arlene, I need real brief answer to this question. Do you think we will ever know what happened to Natalee Holloway?

SCHIPPER: It is very hard to determine that. As the case is now, as we know it, as bystanders, there's a probability that it is going to remain a mystery, because there's just so little at this moment.

ZAHN: And that is a mystery her family certainly does not want to have to endure. Arlene Ellis Schipper, thanks for giving us some insight as to what may happen tomorrow

Coming up next, a hospital visit with a tragic outcome. What made an apparently healthy woman fatally ill?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE; By Sunday she told my dad she had never felt so sick. What could be wrong?


ZAHN: So, exactly what happened to her? And could it happen to you? How can you protect yourself when you go to the hospital?


ZAHN: So, imagine checking into a hospital for a routine treatment and never checking out. Well, it happens all the time and often hospital infections are to blame.

A new report released today shows just how serious the problem is. Pennsylvania officials say 12,000 patients contracted infections in Pennsylvania alone, last year and that at least 1500 of those patients died.

Now, Pennsylvania's the first state to put actual hard numbers on a problem that may be spinning out of control because an infections number of infections are becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Randi Kaye tells us about one Indiana family's troubling challenge.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Marilyn Thomas was in great physical shape for her age; an avid golfer and grandmother of five.

MARGARET BARANOWSKI, MARILYN'S DAUGHTER: Mom was a healthy, active, 72-year-old woman, who had a joy for living; full of energy, very -- always on the go.

KAYE: Last September, Mrs. Thomas chose elective surgery to reposition her bladder and a hysterectomy. He husband John said she expected to be out within a couple of days and when time for the surgery came, she was inpatient.

JOHN THOMAS: She said: Get that doctor out here and let's get this show on the road.

KAYE: The Thursday-afternoon surgery at St. Vincent's Hospital in Indianapolis went fine, but by the weekend, Marilyn Thomas, still in the hospital, felt terrible.

BARANOWSKI: By Sunday, she told my dad she had never felt so sick and what could be wrong?

KAYE: Short of breath, she needed oxygen.

BARANOWSKI: I knew that, you know: Mom's a strong woman, she's healthy. She came in here healthy. What's going on?

KAYE: Her condition quickly deteriorated. She needed a blood transfusion; fluid repeatedly had to be drained from around her lungs. She had trouble with her vision.

BARANOWSKI: We were in a state of shock. We couldn't believe that this was happening to my mom.

KAYE: Doctors soon found the source of it all: A staff infection. But, not just any staff infection, one resistant to antibiotics.

(on camera): And what was your reaction?

BARANOWSKI: What is it? What does that mean?

KAYE (voice-over): What it meant was a nightmare. During the next seven weeks, as the infection ravaged her body, Marilyn Thomas would need a procedure to remove infected fluid from her eyes; open heart surgery; even a pacemaker.

(on camera): St. Vincent's declined to be interviewed by CNN about the case of Marilyn Thomas, but infections like hers happen at hospitals around the country. Experts say about two million people every year, become infected in hospitals; 90,000 of them die. That's more than homicides and car accidents combined.

THOMAS: I never gave any thought to something like that happening to my wife Marilyn. She truly was a very, very healthy, very strong country girl. She had never been sick. She came from a long line of people in her family that lived for a long, long time.

KAYE (voice-over): John Thomas' wife was put in isolation. All visitors had to wear gloves, gowns and masks.

(on camera): What was it like for you to see your mom go through this?

BARANOWSKI: It was terrible. She got very sad when she was in the hospital. She was so frustrated. She couldn't believe this ordeal was going on. She wanted her life back to how it was. She was very scared.

KAYE (voice-over): For two months, Margaret's mother fought the infection.

BARANOWSKI: And then the big accomplishment was, like the middle of November, when we were told: You're done with your IV therapy. You are free and clear of staph. Have a great life. And unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

KAYE: Marilyn Thomas was sent home, but instead of getting stronger, her family says she remained weak. Then, right before Christmas, Margaret Baranowski took her mom to the emergency room.

BARANOWSKI: I fully expected that when I kissed her good night and said goodbye, I would be seeing her the next morning and she'd be doing much better and she'd come home.

KAYE: But the next day, December 22nd, Marilyn Thomas died. An autopsy showed her body was riddled with infection. According to her long-time doctor, Marilyn Thomas, "continued to have deep-seated collections of staph nestled in her organs."

Today, the family believed she, like millions of Americans each year, acquired her deadly staph infection while in the hospital.

(on camera): Are you convinced she didn't have a staph infection before she went into the hospital?

BARANOWSKI: Definitely convinced. My mom was playing golf right up -- like, a day or two before she went into the hospital. She was so healthy. She was clipping flowers from my dad's rose garden to give them to other people, other friends who were sick.

And, I remember her saying: I'll be back in no time. You know, she had plans. My parents were going to be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this summer.

They -- I know that she got it there. I don't know how and at what point, but it was fairly early on and unfortunately, they didn't catch it.

KAYE: While St. Vincent's Hospital declined to be interviewed for this story citing patient privacy, the hospital said it has, "a comprehensive patient safety program that places a high priority on safety of all of our patients."

Today, hospital-acquired infections, especially those resistant to antibiotics, are widely recognized by experts as a serious problem.

Dr. Benjamin Chu, a board member of the American Hospital Association, says hospitals are working on the problem, following recommendations from the Centers of Disease Control.

DR. BENJAMIN CHU, AMERICAN HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION: I have absolute confidence that we can cut it down. And I think that the hospital world is actually understanding that there's a lot that we can do and certainly, I see a lot of progress being made.

DR. BARRY FARR, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Most hospitals in this country do the minimum that they are required to do for infection control, because there's all these pressures -- health care is expensive and they're all these pressure to hold down the cost.

KAYE: Dr. Barry Farr is an epidemiologist at the University of Virginia and an expert on antibiotic-resistant infections. He says such infections have increased 25-fold in the last 25 years.

FARR: Antiboitic resistance is fostered in the hospital setting especially, because people go -- health care workers go from bed to bed to bed and they can move microbes and infections from patient to patient.

KAYE: Dr. Farr says patients should be routinely tested when admitted to the hospital and immediately isolation required for anyone with antibiotic-resistant infections, as is already done in northern Europe. Margaret Baranowski says she would now think twice before having surgery like her mother.

BARANOWSKI: Well, there's just days where I can't believe that she's not here. I expect the phone to ring or if I have a question or I want some advice, I can just pick up the phone or ride me bike over to the house and ask her what she would do. What does she think about a situation. And then I realize, that I can't do that.


ZAHN: So sad. Randi Kaye reporting.

We do have some tips for surviving hospital stay so you don't have the to go through what that family went through. First, bring along an advocate, a family member or a friend, who can actually keep track of what's going on around you, like medication for example.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Get a list in writing of all the medicines you will be taking; check them out thoroughly. And if you are having surgery, mark the area of your body that's supposed to be operated on.

And finally, don't be afraid to ask the hospital staff to wash their hands.

Still ahead, the last thing you'd expect to find in the phone book: his honor's home phone number.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said, Mayor Bloomberg, is that you? He said, yes.


ZAHN: Coming up, why was she calling the mayor in the first place? And why did he answer?


ZAHN: We've got some breaking news out of Southern California to share with you right now. Check out these pictures. There is a serious wild fire under way. It's near a subdivision called Rancho Palos Verde. That's about 25 miles south of downtown L.A, which you can't tell from the shot. It has some incredible views of the ocean.

Right now it is threatening some 300 homes. We are told that about 50 to 100 acres have burn so far.

Right now, there are some 250 firefighters that have been set to the scene, four helicopters at this hour are also dropping water. And if you look really closely here, you will even see some home owners using garden hoses to wet their land.

The fire itself is not very big, by wild fire standards that ravage this part of the country, but the wind is blowing off the coast, about ten miles an hour. And the line of flame is racing up and down the hills of the peninsula where that subdivision is located.

So far, there are no reports of any injuries. We'll keep an eye on this to see if anything changes, as the night goes on.

So, if you had a problem with city hall, who would you call?


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: Somebody call med about a housing problem at home last night, fortunately, just as I turned out the light and not ten minutes later.


ZAHN: Coming up next, Jeanne Moos lets her fingers do the walking. Can she get the mayor on the line too? Let's see.


ZAHN: All right. For all you movie buffs out there, in one of Alfred Hitchcock's thrillers, "It Was Dial M for Murder," but, for New Yorkers, dialing M connects them to the city's highest earthly power. Our Jeanne Moos checks it out.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Can you call this story Dial M For Mayor. You've got a problem you want to chew the mayor's ear off about?

SHEILA POWSNER, PHONED MAYOR BLOOMBERG: I said, Mayor Bloomberg is that you? He said, yes.

MOOS: Sheila Pownser managed to reach the most powerful man in New York City, at home in bed a little after 10:00 pm.

BLOOMBERG: Fortunately, just as I turned out the light and not ten minutes later.

MOOS: As the "New York Times" put it, who has Bloomberg's number? Anybody with a phone book.

AUTOMATED SERVICE: The number is, area code 212...

MOOS: Talk about accessible. But when he's not home, calls get forwarded to his City Hall voice mail.

BLOOMBERG: Hi, this is Mike Bloomberg. I'm sorry I'm not at my desk at the moment.

MOOS: Sheila called the mayor to ask him to help her 94-year-old Aunt Dotty avoid eviction. And it seemed to work. But it got us wondering, who else would be so accessible?

(on camera): Hi, in Chappaqua, New York, Hillary Clinton.


MOOS: Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I don't suppose there's anything just for Dr. Phil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, Greenspan is the last name?

MOOS: Alan Greenspan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that a person or business? MOOS (voice-over): He's the chairman of the Federal Reserve. And unlisted.

(on camera): S-C-H-W-A-R-Z-E-N-E-G-G-E-R. Schwarzenegger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, ma'am, I do understand. But...

MOOS (voice-over): Arnold, the governor, was likewise unlisted.

Just when we were getting demoralized.

(on camera): OK. Let's do Oprah.

(voice-over): She sure seems open.

(on camera): Hi, is Oprah there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. But, let me give you how to reach her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE; Hello. And thank you for calling "The Oprah Show."

MOOS (voice-over): They told us to visit her on her Web site.

As for the Mayor Bloomberg's voice mail.

(on camera): Mike, it's Jeanne Moos from CNN. You can ignore this message.

(voice-over): But his press office nevertheless checked back with us. Thanks to all the publicity about his listed home phone, the mayor had over 100 messages. As for Sheila Powsner?

POWSNER: Do you have a number for the White House?


MOOS: The White House suggested we e-mail the president.

(on camera): And you don't have a cell phone number for him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. He doesn't carry a cell phone.

MOOS (voice-over): You can't expect to call the president. But, we do like Mayor Bloomberg's philosophy.

BLOOMBERG: I think too many times government forgets who is working for whom.

MOOS: The mayor is a billionaire who often takes the subway to work.

(on camera): OK. Who we going to call next? Pope Benedict XVI?

AUTOMATED SERVICE: Please hold the line.

MOOS (voice-over): Even directory assistance in Rome wouldn't answer the phone. And when we finally dialed the Vatican's number...

(on camera): It's almost 9:00 at night. The Pope is probably in bed.

(voice-over): The Vatican was too busy answering prayers to answer the phone.


ZAHN: Yes, Jeanne, that's what was going on.

Thank you all for being with us tonight. Hope you'll be with us tomorrow night, same time, same place. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.



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