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Man Discovered Frozen in Time; 16-Year-Old Arrested in California Murder Case; Hurricane Wilma Heads For Florida; Drowning Tragedy in San Francisco

Aired October 20, 2005 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone. Glad you could join us.
Tonight, a mystifying new development in a high-profile murder.


ZAHN (voice-over): A break in the case: Was the killer the boy next door?

JIMMY LEE, SPOKESMAN, CONTRA COSTA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: A 16-year-old male juvenile has been arrested for murder in connection with the killing of Pamela Vitale.

ZAHN: A shocking arrest in the murder of a famous attorney's wife. Now, a new mystery: What's the connection between the teenage suspect and the victim?

State of emergency -- as Wilma zeros in on Florida, the warnings turn ominous.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: Floridians should prepare for the possibly of a major hurricane.

ZAHN: The flight from a killer storm begins.

And, frozen in time -- a warrior from the past preserved in ice. Where did he come from? What stories will he tell?


ZAHN: In a moment, we are going to bring you the very latest on Category 4 Hurricane Wilma, including its current position and where it might be headed.

But, first, we start with an arrest in the murder of the wife of high-profile defense attorney and TV legal analyst Daniel Horowitz. It is a bizarre and chilling story that is just beginning to unfold.

For starters, the suspect is only 16 years old.

Our Ted Rowlands has been covering this story all week long. He joins me now from Martinez, California, with the very latest.


Daniel Horowitz found his wife dead on Saturday night at 6:00. This afternoon, he buried her. And now, tonight, finally, he knows who investigators think killed his wife.


ROWLANDS (voice-over): According to a law enforcement official familiar with the case, the 16-year-old boy arrested last night used a piece of crown molding to beat 52-year-old Pamela Vitale to death. We are told he also carved a crucifix into her back, though, at this stage, investigators are not sure why.

The boy lived near the Northern California estate where Vitale and her husband, high-profile lawyer Daniel Horowitz, were building a dream home. According to the law enforcement official, investigators believe Vitale may have confronted the boy on her property, and that confrontation may have led to murder.

LEE: He was booked at juvenile hall, where he remains. We are still trying to establish the exact motive.

ROWLANDS: At the boy's high school today, police provided extra security. Students who know him say he stood out in school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like, he just wore a black trench coat, all black pants, black shirt, spiky, like, backpack and stuff like that, painted his fingernails black.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so -- but he still was a -- he still had a good personality. So, that -- that's the weird part. Like, he dressed that way, but he didn't act that way.

ROWLANDS: Daniel Horowitz found his wife dead Saturday evening on their estate and, since then, has been open about his grief. Today, Pamela Vitale was laid to rest after a private ceremony.


ROWLANDS: Pamela Vitale was found dead just inside her home. What is unclear is how the 16-year-old boy got inside the house.

We do believe and we do understand, through law enforcement officials, that there was a struggle inside the house. But there are a lot of questions still remaining tonight -- Paula.

ZAHN: So, Ted, I guess the most important question is whether investigators think anyone else was involved in Pamela Vitale's murder.

ROWLANDS: At this point, they're not ruling it out.

But, according to the source that gave us the information about this case, they don't have any specific information which would lead them to believe that. That said, there was another friend involved at some point, in terms of possibly harboring the young man. He was staying at a friend's house in an adjacent city. And that's where the arrest was made last night.

But, at this point, they don't have any evidence. And they do believe that he acted alone. There are still a lot of questions, though, as why he would kill her, and kill her so brutally.

ZAHN: Ted Rowlands, thank you so much for the update.

Joining me now from San Francisco is a friend of Daniel Horowitz and his wife, Pamela Vitale. Like Horowitz, Michael Cardoza is a criminal defense attorney and a well-known TV legal analyst.

First of all, my condolences, sir. Thanks so much for being with us tonight.


ZAHN: I know you haven't had a chance to talk with Daniel Horowitz since this arrest was made. But he has said, since the day of the murder, that he had a pretty good idea of who murdered his wife. Did he ever mention this young suspect's name to you?

CARDOZA: You know, quite simply, no, he never did mention him.

Dan actually suspected someone else. So, obviously, it even caught him off guard as to who it was.

ZAHN: I know you were hoping for an arrest to happen quickly. Were you surprised by the speed of this?

CARDOZA: Pleasantly surprised by the speed of it. I thought it would take a little bit longer. But Dan said all along that he really was appreciative of the Contra Costa County Sheriff's and how hard they were -- I mean, he said they were working 24/7. They were bleary-eyed. They wouldn't give up on it. And he was very appreciative of that.

And, obviously, all their work hard paid out. Unfortunately, this is one of the stories that you go, boy, doesn't this ring like things that have happened in the past, when you listen to those teenagers describe this young man?

ZAHN: And -- and I'm sure you're probably privy to some information we aren't at this hour. Is there anything you can share with us about what this young man might be accused of, in addition to murdering Pamela Vitale?

CARDOZA: Well, I think one of the things that is going to be interesting -- remember, he's a juvenile. He's 16-year-old -- 16 years old. So, he's subject to juvenile law.

But, even at that age, he can be brought up to the adult court. I would think the district attorney of Contra Costa County is going to think long and hard about that. And my guess is -- I'm an ex- prosecutor -- they're going to bring this young guy up and prosecute him as an adult. And that would make him subject to a 25-to-life sentence.

And that's right where this thing should go. I mean, everything that I have heard about this, the way the back of the skull was crushed in, the way it happened, the carving of that in the back, I will tell you, this kid should not be tried as a juvenile. They have got to send him up.

ZAHN: What does that suggest to you? You -- you know basically what we know at this hour, that this man is accused of being involved in some sort of credit card fraud scheme.

CARDOZA: Well, you know, I mean, what's it mean?

He -- he -- he carves a crucifix in her back. Was he a -- a member of some sort of gang, where, you know, he -- he was putting a gang sort of sign on it to basically put his signature to it? Who knows? I mean, it is such sick activity and it's so repulsive. When you hear something like that, one never knows what's going through his head.

But I'll tell you, when he left the scene, from what I have -- told, he cleaned it up. And all that evidence is going to go in against him, showing -- if they can prove that this is actually the guy, it will be to show his mental state, that he was well aware. And all that walks him right into a first-degree murder.

ZAHN: Finally, tonight, do you think this means Daniel Horowitz is off the hook? While he was never described as a person of interest or suspect, clearly, he was the -- part of the focus of this investigation.

CARDOZA: Well, of course.

I mean, and Dan knew that. I mean, he and I spoke about that. And, you know, we -- we know, as criminal defense attorneys, that the first people that the police look at in a -- in the homicide of a spouse is the other spouse.

I mean, it -- it's rung true. Look at Peterson. I mean, they looked at Scott Peterson right away. They had to look at Dan. Dan understood that. Dan threw open his files. He talked to all of his clients. Each one of them said they would waive their privilege and said, go ahead and look at us. Dan knew that.

That -- Dan was very accepting of that. And he made a lot of television appearances, as you know. And he said: I know a lot of people are going to think it's me. But I didn't do it.

And he was very vociferous about that. So, you know...

ZAHN: Yes.

CARDOZA: ... certainly, all our hearts went out to him. And all his friends, especially the lawyers that I knew, I -- sort of, we formed a solid line behind him and said, look, you didn't do it. We will all help you through this. ZAHN: Well, we appreciate your joining us. I know this has been a really tough couple of days for you.

Michael Cardoza...

CARDOZA: Yes, for everybody.

ZAHN: ... thanks.

CARDOZA: Thank you.

ZAHN: Now we are going to move on to our other top story tonight.

At this moment, Category 4 Hurricane Wilma is starting to unleash her furry on Mexico's tourist hot spots of Cancun and Cozumel. And, after that, the killer storm likely to make a bullseye run towards Southwest Florida. And the hurricane watchers are warning, it could strengthen once again to a Category 5 storm.

Right now, people in the Yucatan Peninsula bracing for the full force of the storm. Here is what they can expect, sustained winds of 150 miles an hour, perhaps two feet of rain and a 10-foot storm surge, high enough to swamp the second floor of coastal buildings.

We have live reports on the urgent preparations under way in Florida, as well as when the storm might hit.

But we start with where the storm is right now.

Susan Candiotti in Cancun, already feeling Wilma's affects -- Susan.


I think, just a little while ago, I heard Chad say that some gusts and outer bands were reaching us. And, in fact, we're feeling a tiny bit of a squall at this hour, but no heavy rain for the last few hours. But we are experiencing some gusty winds.

And, as perhaps you or many of your viewers might be familiar with that strip of land that runs up and down the beach, the Gulf of Mexico, along those -- near those luxury hotels, it is nearly deserted now. We are seeing only seeing a handful of cars every now and again -- here goes one now -- mostly police vehicles from time to time.

In fact, we even saw some road crews taking down traffic lights. But, when you -- the reason it is so quiet now, Paula, is because authorities have ordered out about 20,000 tourists off of this strip of land that -- that is right on the ocean. Many of them headed to the airport to get whatever flights they could out of here. By now, the airport is closed down.

We got in just as the last flights were coming in, as a matter of fact. Some tourists, however, do remain. They have been bused out of the hotels, some of them taking -- taken to the inner city, where they're holing up in other hotels that are doubling -- some of the ballrooms -- as shelters -- Paula.

ZAHN: They're certainly smart to react now.

Susan Candiotti, thanks so much.

For what is happening with Wilma right now, let's go straight to our severe weather expert, Chad Myers.

That is quite a wide storm you got your eye on tonight.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Twelve hundred miles, Paula, from Orlando, all the way down south of El Salvador. That's how far the clouds stretch out.

I'll tell you what. If you want to put somebody in harm's way, Susan Candiotti is in harm's way right now. We have to make sure that she gets to a safe place before this thing makes landfall tomorrow, probably midday for Cozumel and for Cancun -- the area going to get slammed by east winds, the worst possible winds for a north-south facing shoreline.

There's Cozumel. There's the island right there -- Cancun right up on the top. And the area there is going to get slammed with those winds that will approach Category 5, 150, 160 miles per hour. The storm took a little breather today. It, what we call, had an eye wall replacement cycle. That means that the very tight eye wall that it had yesterday, even right there, it went away. It was replaced by a larger eye wall that now has to shrink down again.

And, as that eye wall shrinks back down, it is going to get back up to a Category 5 before it makes landfall here. Look, you can see the eye. Here's the Cancun radar now. Here's Cozumel, Cancun. There's the eye itself. She just talked about how it wasn't raining. Exactly. It is not yet. But there's another large squall within two hours. That will be coming on shore. The winds in that squall could easily be 70 miles per hour.

And, as she gets into other squall lines, you could see one, two, three, maybe four or five, and then the eye wall itself -- the eye wall now with winds at -- up at flight level, Paula, where the planes are flying, they just recorded 167 miles per hour. Those winds don't get all the way down to the ground. And that is why the storm is held at 150. It is still a Category 4 right now, but certainly very dangerous, making the turn into Florida -- a -- three or four long, long days for the people in South Florida, figuring out whether this is going to go north or south -- some of the newest computer models now, actually, as far north as Tampa.

So, don't let your guard down that far north -- Paula.

ZAHN: We hope everybody is listening to you tonight.


ZAHN: Chad Myers, thanks so much.

Now, if Wilma sticks to its projected course, it could slam into Florida's Southwest Coast some time Sunday, as Chad just explained.

Jeanne Meserve is in Naples, Florida, right in what now looks like the possible bullseye.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the storm path so uncertain, the course of action for local governments is also uncertain.

In Collier County, where Wilma is currently forecast to make landfall, the debate today was over imposing a mandatory evacuation.

FRANK HALAS, COMMISSIONER, COLLIER COUNTY, FLORIDA: We are looking at the potential of a storm surge of 16 feet, sir. That is what our biggest concern is.

MESERVE: In the end, the county commissioners opted for the cautious course.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All in favor, please signify by saying aye.


MESERVE: A mandatory evacuation will begin at noon tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Information hot line. This is Ann (ph). May I help you?

MESERVE: At the county's emergency operations center, the phones are already buzzing with inquiries from citizens concerned about Wilma's impending arrival.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most of them are calm. They just want to know what to do, which -- where to go and what next steps to take.

MESERVE: On Naples' historic pier, the overcast skies weren't the only sign that rough weather lies ahead. There were no birds and no fish.

CHARLES MILLER, RESIDENT OF COLLIER COUNTY, FLORIDA: Nothing. Nothing today. I think the fish know it's coming, too. They -- they took off.


MILLER: They -- they -- they headed north or out into deep water. I don't know where they went.

MESERVE: But Charles Miller hasn't decided whether to take their cue and get out of Wilma's path.

MILLER: We are concerned, you know, and -- and we're keeping an eye on it. And we are -- we will know what we will do tomorrow morning, for sure. We will -- whether we will go north of Saint Cloud or stick it out. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Come on. It's going the rain.

MESERVE: Because of a young visitor, grandson Jake (ph), he thinks it's likely he will ultimately opt to leave.


MESERVE: Paula, here in downtown Naples, you see this cafe. It's open. It has customers. But then, you move just a couple of doors down. There's an import store here that is shuttered.

It's a reflection of the ambiguity people feel here about Wilma and what she is up to. They just haven't known whether they should go or where they should go -- Paula.

ZAHN: It sounds like they may to have to wait for another day to -- to have definitive answer to that.

Jeanne Meserve, Thanks so much.

Fort Myers, Florida, is another town that could find itself in Wilma's bullseye.

I'm joined now by the mayor of Fort Myers, Jim Humphrey.

Good to see you, sir.

What is going to be your biggest challenge if this does make landfall anywhere near your city?


And our biggest challenge, of course, is to try to protect our citizens and prevent loss of life. As you have heard the others say, it's difficult to try to get people to realize the seriousness of this storm and to evacuate.

So, we're working on that. And we're also ensuring that -- that people, our elderly and our low-income that do not have transportation, will be able to evacuate. And we will provide them adequate shelters.

ZAHN: And, of course, you have to worry about once the storm hits and some pretty major flooding that might be caused. How afraid are you of that?

HUMPHREY: We sure do. Yes, we sure do, because we -- our city is located along the Caloosahatchee River. And much of the area along the river is actually below eight feet mean high tide.

So, we are talking about low lying areas that, if the surge is anything like that's being predicted at our last meeting, we have some serious concerns. And, so, we're set up to require mandatory evacuation of that area, if this storm continues on the path that's been projected. ZAHN: And, if that path continues, we -- we are very sorry that some of the folks that got waxed the last time by Hurricane Charley could potentially get hit again.

Mayor Humphrey, good luck to you.


ZAHN: I hope people heed your warnings.

HUMPHREY: Well, thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: We will be watching.

And we want to remind you to keep it right here on CNN, your hurricane headquarters, for the very latest on this dangerous storm.

Still ahead, an amazing and mysterious discovery -- a body of a soldier frozen in the California mountains for decades, who was he? And how did he get there?


ZAHN: Much more ahead tonight, including a brutal murder -- six Mexican immigrants killed. The suspects are all black. But why isn't the case being called a hate crime?

First, though, at 19 minutes past the hour, time for some of the other top stories from Christi Paul at Headline News

Hi, Christi.


A U.N. report is said to put Syria behind an assassination that plunged part of the Mideast into more turmoil. A bomb killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri last February. Just last week, the head of Syrian intelligence service committed suicide after he was accused of involvement.

As mug shots go, it's not a bad one. Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was photographed and fingerprinted in Harris County, Texas, all part of indictments alleging money fraud.

A regional FEMA director says the agency was in a state of shock when he reported that levees were breached in New Orleans. The Senate Homeland security Committee is looking into the poor emergency response to Katrina.

And New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg, a strict fiscal conservative, can apparently loosen up a bit. He won more than $850,000 in the Powerball lottery by picking five of the six winning numbers. The senator said his wife already told him she has plans for that cash. The $340 million Powerball winner still has not come out of hiding just yet -- Paula, back to you.

ZAHN: And I don't think I would any time soon.

Coming up next, we change our focus to six murders in one bloody night.


VERNON KEENAN, GEORGIA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: Brutality that was displayed in this case was some of the worst that we have seen.


ZAHN: So, the suspects are black, the victims Hispanic -- so, why won't they call it a hate crime?


ZAHN: This morning, many of us turned on the news to hear the story of three small children allegedly thrown into San Francisco Bay. The body of one toddler was found, but divers are still looking for the other two tonight. Their 23-year-old mother in custody, facing three counts of murder.

But the troubling question remains: Why would anyone do this?

Rusty Dornin has spent the day looking for answers. She joins me now.

Rusty, what are investigators telling you about what might lead a mother to do this?

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, they're really being very tight-lipped.

But I talked to a "San Francisco Chronicle" reporter who got here just 10 minutes after this thing happened. And police told him that she told them that she heard voices that told her to throw the children into the bay. We have spoken with other family members and also neighbors, who say that she did suffer from serious mental health problems, including schizophrenia.

One her cousins said that, apparently, she had been on medication and they took her off the medication. We talked to a neighbor who said, last year -- she hasn't seen her in a year -- but, last year, she had apparently started to become paranoid, putting furniture against the wall and that kind of thing.

Meantime, of course, again, they did find one of her toddlers, two-and-a-half years old, last night four hours he was thrown into the bay, had already drifted two-and-a-half miles from this spot. They have been looking for the two other -- the bodies of the two other children.

There's really no hope for survival in this water. It's 55 degrees. They say no one could survive probably more than about two hours, and certainly not a toddler. So, they have been looking on -- with helicopters and jet skis and divers. The city says it's dedicated -- really, the mayor, Gavin Newsom, is saying they're intent on retrieving the bodies of these children just to bring some kind of closure, not only to the family, but to the city itself.

Of course, this is so incredibly disturbing to everyone. And adults and city officials say they are concerned about children hearing this story, about a mother allegedly throwing her children in the water in the bay.

ZAHN: Sure.

DORNIN: So they're -- they're saying, look, if you need help, go to even a fire station. Come anywhere and they'll offer mental health counselors to help out -- Paula.

ZAHN: Well, it's one of those stories that kind of leaves you numb.

Just very, very briefly, Rusty, Lashaun Harris, the mother, I'm sure is creating some anger among the folks you have talked to, too.


The thing that is interesting here is, we are in an area that's a very high tourism area. Many people have not heard about the story. They're just not watching television. And that people that come up here are just shocked when they hear about this. They have been leaving flowers and that sort of thing -- but just utter disbelief that something like this could happen.

And, yes, Lashaun Harris has been charged with three counts of murder of her children.

ZAHN: It's so tough to understand.

Rusty Dornin, thanks.

Now we move on to a story with very troubling racial overtones. In Georgia, six people are killed. A woman is raped, other men assaulted -- the victims, all Mexican immigrants, the suspects, all black. Authorities say race had nothing to do with it. But some people aren't buying that.

Drew Griffin has more.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They came in the middle of the night to this mostly Hispanic trailer park in Tifton, Georgia, and they were armed, carrying baseball bats, a gun, a hammer and rage.

Efrain Navarro was inside a trailer when the killers arrived.

"It was 1:00 in the morning" when he first the scream, he says. It came from just outside his bedroom. It was his friend, Paulino (ph). "Then they came to our room. I was standing behind the door. They left me alone," he says, "because Armando turned on the light."

In the room they shared, Armando became the single target. He was killed with one blow. Shaking behind that door, Efrain Navarro didn't know he had just escaped one of the most violent nights this South Georgia community had ever endured.

KEENAN: Brutality that was displayed in this case was some of the worst that we have seen in the history of the GBI.

GRIFFIN: Six victims in one night in one terrifying string of attacks at three separate trailer parks, one victim shot, the other five beaten to death with a baseball bat and a hammer.

And police believe, on the same night, some of the same suspects shot and beat another man in another mostly Hispanic trailer park, while also sodomizing his wife. Every victim was an immigrant Mexican worker. Every suspect under arrest is black.

The state of Georgia has no hate crime statute. And every single law enforcement authority refuses to say this had anything to do with hate.

KEENAN: They are easy targets because they do not speak English. They're undocumented workers. They keep cash on their persons, in their homes. And they are reluctant to report crimes to law enforcement.

GRIFFIN: There have been a growing number of attacks by blacks on rural immigrant Hispanics in South Georgia. The question is why. There's little competition for jobs. Unemployment here is lower than in the rest of the state.

But the new Hispanic arrivals are seen as outsiders who don't speak the English and, according to locals, are not integrated.

SHIRLEY STRAWTER, PASTOR AND PHYSICAL EDUCATION TEACHER: It is a lack of communication or finding the time to get together, to sit at the table, and to bring up some issues, and talk about some things that we can do to bridge the gap, because there is a gap.

GRIFFIN: Father Alfonso Gutierrez has been working in Tifton for the past three years. He has seen the gap and the violence it is creating.

FATHER ALFONSO GUTIERREZ, OUR DIVINE SAVIOR CHURCH (through translator): The first visit I ever made to an Hispanic family was one that had been attacked by a couple of African-Americans. They had a gun and they held it to their 3-year-old son's head and said, give us your money or your son dies. I don't want to think it is about racism. I don't want to think about it.

GRIFFIN: Few people want to think race is behind these attacks, and that, to newspaper reporter Pilar Verdes, is a dangerous mistake.

PILAR VERDES, SENIOR REPORTER, "MUNDO HISPANICO": Because the authorities are not viewed as somebody who has empathy for their plight. I think that's extremely dangerous.

GRIFFIN: To Verdes, there can be no other conclusion than hate is behind the attacks in south Georgia. The only reason, she says, this is not a hate crime is because the suspects are black.

VERDES: If this were, like, mainstream Anglos, I'm thinking it would be, like, more covered, don't you think?

GRIFFIN: At the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery Alabama, Mark Potak keeps track of hate crimes and hate groups across the country. He admits black-on-brown crimes may be getting little public attention.

MARK POTAK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: I think there has been a reluctance on the part of many people to talk about black-on-white or black-on-Hispanic hate crime. I think that is true. You know, that's not the story you typically see in the newspaper.

GRIFFIN: In fact, of 28 articles in 15 publications, mentioning the arrests in the south Georgia murders, only "The Atlanta Journal Constitution" identified the suspects as being black. All of the rest, including "TIME" magazine, "USA Today," and "The New York Times," failed to include the suspects' race, while all identified the victims as Hispanic.

Mark Potak says the news media and the authorities are ignoring the obvious, and that will make a solution harder to find.

POTAK: If you look the truth square in the face, it allows you to deal with it. And I just think it's a terrible mistake to pretend that these things are not happening.

GRIFFIN: In Tipton, Georgia, authorities say they are continuing to investigate, but so far, see no hate motive in this heinous crime.

Efrain Navarro says he is scared. Because, he says, I'm sure those guys had friends. He survived that awful attack in the middle of the night but wonders now who will be next.


ZAHN: Horrible thing to have to live with. Drew Griffin reporting.

When we come back, just look at these pictures. The body of a soldier encased in ice for decades, and just found in the California mountains. Now, we all want to know, who was he? And how did he get there?

Also, can huge men in skimpy shorts join baseball, football, and NASCAR as America's favorite sports? Well, two dozen sumo wrestlers hope so, and they're ready to make their New York debut.


ZAHN: Beautiful night in New York City. That's Columbus Circle we're looking down on, right outside this building that we're broadcasting from.

Now, I want to tell you about a mystery from the days of World War II that could be solved soon, thanks to an amazing discovery in California. The case involves a man missing since 1942, and the answer may have turned up in an icy mountain range.

Our Thelma Gutierrez has more.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a military mystery, high in the Sierra Nevada mountains, deep in the granite and ice. A team of highly trained National Park Rangers climbed some 13,000 feet in King's Canyon National Park and chipped away for six hours to remove the frozen body of a man, a man who may have been missing for more than 60 years.

J.D. SWED, CHIEF PARK RANGER: Good mysteries, we don't solve them overnight like we do on TV, of course.

GUTIERREZ: Two ice climbers made the discovery over the weekend. The man was face down, his head, shoulder, and arm peeking out of the snow at the bottom of a glacier. The climbers relayed their GPS position to park rangers. When they arrived, they found clues as to the man's identity. His skin, blond hair, and teeth are all preserved.

ANNIE ESPERANZA, SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK RANGER: In the ice and snow, biological processes move really slow.

GUTIERREZ: There were more clues. The man was wearing a military green sweater and long-sleeved green underwear. He also had an unopened silk parachute with a number, 1984. An anthropologist with the government Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command says the frozen man is likely a World War II Army airman whose navigational training plane crashed back in November 1942.

The wreckage was found five years later, and so were the bodies of four passengers. Was this man part of that ill-fated flight, or was he on one of dozens of military training flights that went down in that mountain range during the war?

ESPERANZA: I think it is more the mystery that everyone is intrigued by, the fact that here's this plane that crashed 63 years ago, and there's still someone up there.

GUTIERREZ: The mummified body, almost entirely encased in 400 pounds of ice and granite, was flown to the coroner's office in Fresno.

LORALEE CERVANTES, FRESNO COUNTY CORONER: We've had him X-rayed to the extent that we can to see if possibly we would be lucky enough to find dog tags.

GUTIERREZ: No luck yet. At least, not until they melt that block of ice. Fresno coroner Loralee Cervantes says she believes the man died as a result of the crash, and says in her 20 years as coroner, this is a first.

CERVANTES: We see a lot of awful things, and in this scheme of things, this is a pretty happy event, in terms of finding someone that's been missing this long. And returning the identified remains to the family provides the completion of the circle of the work that we do.


GUTIERREZ: Now, the coroner's office held a news conference a short time ago. They say that it'll still be several weeks before they release the identity of that serviceman. They say first, they have to thaw out the body in cold water. They're in the process of doing that right now. And then, secondly, they have to take those remains, and then they have to fly them to the joint POW-MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii. That's the office that tracks all the missing service people.

And then, after that, the forensic experts have to study the dental and skeletal remains and then compare those records against the files of the missing people. So even if they do find dog tags on the body, or perhaps some kind of other identifying marker on the body, they will not release that ID until they conduct these exhaustive forensic studies, Paula.

ZAHN: Yes, it sounds like that could take a long time. But I understand the coroner's office has gotten some pretty strong response from the public, people wanting to know if this might be one of their loved ones.

GUTIERREZ: Well, that's exactly right, Paula. In fact, they say that they've already received a half-dozen calls from all over the country, asking about the possibility that this might be a loved one. And they say at least one of those calls appears to be something that they're looking into. All that information's going to be turned over to the military. And hopefully, they'll be able to track that service member and the family, Paula.

ZAHN: That will be great if they can. Thelma Gutierrez, thanks.

Now, as they try to identify this body, and you just heard Thelma describe how long that might take, the experts are using tools that no one dreamed of just a few years ago. It's a fascinating process.

Technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg walks through some of the advances of modern forensics.


DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In 21st century wars, the idea of an unknown American soldier has disappeared. Dog tags are still used, but since 1992, name, rank, and serial number have been backed up by genetic code. Every soldier submits a DNA sample. Of course, that won't help with an airman who served more than 60 years ago, as is likely the case with the remains discovered in a Sierra Nevada glacier. That's where forensic anthropology comes in.

RICK SNOW, GBI FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: The first thing you're going to do is develop a biological profile. And the big four of that is age, race, sex, and stature.

SIEBERG: Snow is the forensic anthropologist at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. He's worked on identifying bodies in places like the mass graves of Kosovo and from last year's tsunami in Thailand. After the tsunami, many cases were solved with fingerprints and medical records, but those may not be available with the unknown airman. Snow says the key to identifying remains is through bones and dental records, whether by X-ray or physical examination.

SNOW: This is the decomp room. This is where we do the badly decomposed bodies.

SIEBERG: The Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii is the forensic headquarters for the military. When the remains arrive, examiners will begin by looking for personal effects that may have survived, like a uniform, a driver's license, or photographs in a wallet. The freezing may have helped preserve these items.

SNOW: They've got the skull, apparently. They might be able to make a match through dental records. There could very well be a military identification on the body, dog tags. And if there is a parachute involved, and I understand that there is, there could be a packing card which indicates when the parachute was packed, who packed it.

SIEBERG (on camera): Dog tags sound like a sure bet, but some soldiers remove them, or they may have fallen off. The proof is actually in the teeth, should they be intact. Beyond that, they could actually use DNA testing, if they can find a living maternal relative.

SNOW: The fact that it's encased in ice indicates to me that you've probably got pretty much a complete skeleton.

SIEBERG (voice-over): When a soldier's remains are found, the focus is on identification. But frozen remains often also reveal fascinating stories. Analyzing the 5,300-year-old "Iceman" found near the border of Austria and Italy in 1991, scientists, by examining his tools and clothing, learned more about his culture.

His female counterpart, the "Ice Maiden" of Peru, dates from about 1,000 years ago, and experts determined she was likely bludgeoned and pushed into a volcano as a sacrifice.

As they try to decipher the story of the World War II airman, examiners in Hawaii say they'll try to be as noninvasive as possible. After all, he is a rare and precious find.


ZAHN: And we wish that team luck. Daniel Sieberg reporting. Still ahead tonight, the sumo invasion. Japan's biggest sport hits the U.S. Could it be as big -- salient word -- as NASCAR?


ZAHN: All right, sports fans, are you ready for some sumo? Well, that Japanese sport, where really big guys wearing really skimpy outfits push each other around in a circle. Well, 8,000 pounds of sumo wrestlers are hoping to conquer the U.S. and turn us all into big fans. NASCAR, watch out.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Better to laugh with them rather than at them. Hold the traffic. The sumos have come to town.


MOOS: They're storming the talk-show circuit. Even Regis donned a thong.

REGIS PHILBIN, HOST: Can't take your eyes off me, can you?

MOOS: They're doing photo-ops at the Carnegie Deli. "When Deli Met Belly," says "The New York Times." Average intake...

RONNY ALLMAN, SUMO WRESTLER: Six meals a day, 10,000 calories.

MOOS: Which brings us to the weigh-in, on a scale normally used for meat and cattle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three hundred eighty pounds.

Four hundred eleven...

Four hundred sixty-one pounds, even.

MOOS: Even we were swept off our feet.

(on camera): So I weigh about half of you?


MOOS (voice-over): He's Norwegian, he's German. They come from two dozen countries. The mission, to make Americans fall for this ancient Japanese sport, but jazzed up, sort of like pro wrestling. Well, maybe sumo won't be quite as pumped up as wrestling. Its promoters say the Battle of the Giants won't be fake and will stick to traditional Japanese rules.

JEFFREY DANIELS, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, BIG BOY PRODUCTIONS: This is going to be an absolutely spectacular theatrical sports entertainment event, the likes of which no one has ever seen before. MOOS: Yes, but can it beat that Pepsi commercial featuring sumo chickens? Can it outdo Austin Powers? And will Americans be able to get over that outfit?

(on camera): You never get self-conscious about your bottom hanging out?

RONNY ALLMAN, SUMO WRESTLER: In the beginning, it was a little bit strange.

MOOS: This Hawaiian sumo confesses to being self-conscious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do, that's why I wear this.

MOOS: Who knew the thong comes in yellow, it comes in orange?

ALLMAN: My (INAUDIBLE) gets cold. It's a -- it's a -- I think (INAUDIBLE).

MOOS (on camera): (INAUDIBLE) credit card?

(voice-over): These days, you never know what you'll find in a mowahi (ph).

You may hear a sumo ring out of the ring. These guys may have a spare tire in front, but the back is a flap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), it's just way too early to be seeing this right now.

MOOS: We may be gung-ho for sumo, but please, don't turn around.


ZAHN: That's a lot of derriere, isn't it?

Oh, by the way, did you see the name of their production company? Big Boy Productions. Jeanne Moos reporting.

Please stay with us. We are tracking Hurricane Wilma tonight. The record-breaking storm about to hit Mexico, then take a turn for Florida. How bad will it be?


ZAHN: Still ahead, we are going to get another update on Hurricane Wilma, the huge storm that seems to be on course to hit southern Florida.

First, though, time for a Headline News business break. It's Christi Paul -- Christi.

PAUL: Thanks, Paula.

There was a selloff on Wall Street today. The Dow fell 133 points, the Nasdaq also dropped more than 1 percent, after a regional Fed report showed inflation running at the highest level in 25 years. But there were exceptions, and Google is one of them. It wowed analysts by reporting a 14 percent jump in earnings last month. Google soared to a record high of $323 a share.

Wal-Mart says it will start holding its overseas suppliers for environmental and worker standards. Critics have said those lowest prices often come at a cost to worker and environmental safety.

President Bush says he will sign a bill that makes gun makers bulletproof against lawsuits filed by shooting victims or their families. The Republican majority passed that today with help from some Southern Democrats.

And a panel of health experts say those antibacterial soaps are no more effective than a good scrubbing with regular soap. They did call alcohol-based hand sanitizers an alternative, when soap and water is not available.

That's it from Atlanta. Paula, back to you.

ZAHN: Christi, thanks so much.

Coming up next, where is Hurricane Wilma headed? The latest on the record-breaking storm's track as people in the Florida keys already get set to evacuate.


ZAHN: Now back to Hurricane Wilma. The category form killer -- that is, category 4 killer, is just starting to strike Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. From there, it looks set to make a lethal turn toward southern Florida. And people in the keys are already getting out.

Kareen Wynter joins me now from Key West.

The folks are taking these warnings seriously, aren't they?

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They were earlier in the day, Paula. Good evening to you. But that's changed quite a bit. I'll explain in a second or two.

But first, don't let the background behind me fool you, the boarded-up business. It's still really business as usual here on the busy downtown DeValle (ph) Street in Key West, Florida. In fact, all evening long, we've been seeing families, individuals weaving in and out of restaurants, really enjoying the evening. It's hard to believe possibly a major hurricane is just days away.

Now, we learned this evening from officials here on the island that they've actually postponed those mandatory evacuation orders from Friday until Saturday. And so, many people here are taking somewhat of a complacent attitude. Earlier in the day, Paula, there were people boarding buses out of the island, going to higher ground, in essence, to a shelter set up near Miami. They were taking it quite seriously. And now, because of this delay, because of those mandatory evacuation orders, which perhaps won't go into effect until Saturday, people are saying that it's safe to be here.

So we're seeing that bit of complacency on that end, Paula.

ZAHN: And you're sharing the screen right now with pictures of some pretty horrendous traffic. That was a huge problem during Katrina. Do Florida state officials think that they've remedied that at all?

WYNTER: They absolutely believe that it won't be a problem. According to the fire chief, they say they've learned from past mistakes in other areas, from, as you mentioned, Katrina, that they have the necessary resources in place. But that's one question I asked. Will there be a mad rush on Saturday, for example, once this orders take place? Paula, they're telling us no.

ZAHN: We hope they're right. Kareen Wynter, thanks so much.

And for what's happening with Wilma right now at this hour, we go back to severe weather expert Chad Myers, a very busy man.

MYERS: That's right. Yes, good evening, Paula.

This storm now spreading its arms all the way into Florida, all the way south of El Salvador. I just did a distance on this, 1,200 miles now from top to bottom on the storm. And there are already some showers coming into the Florida keys across parts of Cuba right now as well.

We'll zoom into the map just a little bit for you and show you that the storm is getting very dangerously close now to Cozumel, and also into Cancun. Those areas going to be under the gun for winds that could be category 5 strength by tomorrow morning.

The storm has been intensifying just this past couple of hours now. We had an eyewall replacement, which means the small eyewall that was going very fast yesterday blew itself apart, really got torn up by an outer eyewall that redeveloped on the outside and choked off the energy to the inner eyewall. That disappeared, and now the newer one, the smaller one, is now getting more strong, getting stronger here.

Here's the storm itself. I want you to notice this black line, because this was the direction the storm was going until about three hours ago. Look at that right turn, look how this thing has just been drifting to the north. And if it continues to drift, that's where it's going, Cozumel, right on into parts of Cancun, and then after that, it could be even up toward the United States by Saturday into Sunday.

There's Cozumel's radar, see it in rain showers, thunderstorms, moving right onshore right now. More on the path coming up in my (INAUDIBLE).

ZAHN: Chad Myers, thanks for the update. Appreciate it.

And keep it right here on CNN, your hurricane headquarters, for the very latest on Wilma.

That wraps it up for all of us here tonight. Thanks so much for being with us. We'll be back same time, same place tomorrow night.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.


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