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Interview With Indiana Congressman Steve Buyer; Army Launches Investigation Into Pat Tillman's Death; Can Dogs Smell Cancer?

Aired March 6, 2006 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Glad to have you with us.
Tonight, a very strange and, in many ways, disturbing new breed of protest -- why would anyone want to shower military families with abuse as they bury their dead?


ZAHN (voice-over): The "Eye Opener" -- unbelievable, but true. Why would Americans go to a soldier's funeral and say this?

FRED PHELPS, PROTESTING AGAINST HOMOSEXUALITY: Every time a soldier gets blown to smithereens in Iraq with an IED, we rejoice.

ZAHN: But some people have had enough, and they are fighting back -- tonight, the showdown in Dodge City.

"Outside the Law" -- tracking down a criminal who promised to save his son's life, and then just vanished. Could a dramatic new development break the case?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm positive they saw them, the -- the details that they gave us. I -- I do believe that they are there.

ZAHN: We follow the trail south of the border.

And "Vital Signs" -- the canine lifesavers. Do dogs really have an amazing ability to sniff out disease?

NANCY BEST, CANCER SURVIVOR: But I am sitting here alive today to tell you that, if it weren't for Mia (ph), I would be gone.

ZAHN: Could a wet nose save your life some day?


ZAHN: There are some new developments to talk about tonight in a story we first brought you a couple of weeks ago about protesters who have started disrupting the funerals of U.S. troops who died in Iraq.

Now, I want you to understand, these protesters aren't against the war. But, as unbelievable as this sounds, they are a group of Christian radicals so opposed to homosexuality, they are convinced God is punishing this country's tolerance of gays with the deaths of our troops. These protesters show up at funerals to shout and condemn the fallen.

It has so outraged so many families that groups are now staging counter-demonstrations, and funerals are becoming battlegrounds, like the funeral our Ed Lavandera attended over the weekend in Kansas. He had unprecedented access to everyone involved, including the protesters and the dead soldier's family.

Here's tonight's "Eye Opener."




ZAHN: Well, I don't want you to think there's anything wrong with the television set. Unfortunately, we're having a problem with one of our servers, and that whole story has gotten frozen in our equipment.

But we really hope we can bring it back to you a bit later on, because it's very important to sort of understand all the countervailing forces at work here.

Once again, these protesters are staging these protests at various funerals all over the country. And because of the intensity of those protests, there now are counter-demonstrations surrounding these funerals.

And, earlier today, they were prepared for the absolute worst in Kokomo, Indiana. More than 400 people showed up to bury Sergeant Rickey Jones, killed by a roadside bomb last month in Iraq.

The Patriot Guard motorcycle riders -- those are the ones that turn out in full force to condemn the protesters that are there shouting horrible things to the families of the fallen -- and Indiana's governor was there, who has just signed a new law imposing fines and jail time for disorderly conduct at funerals or burials.

Now, the protesters didn't follow through on their threat to picket today's service, but, even as far away as the Pentagon, officials are getting very worried these confrontations will turn violent.


BRIGADIER GENERAL VINCENT BROOKS, CHIEF OF ARMY PUBLIC AFFAIRS: It hasn't gone over the brink yet, I don't think. But I -- I worry about the direction we're headed at this point. It's getting more and more prevalent. It's getting more and more visible. And it's getting more and more concerning.


ZAHN: And with me now is Indiana Congressman Steve Buyer, who was at today's funeral for Sergeant Jones in Kokomo. Thanks so much for being with us, sir.

REP. STEVE BUYER (R), INDIANA: You're welcome, Paula.

ZAHN: If we had, had that piece, people would have seen that Rickey Jones' family has to endure a tremendous amount of pain. Their home was egged while their son was being transported home from Iraq. In addition to that, a message on their telephone answering machine said, "I am glad your son is dead."

How disgusted are you by these protests?

BUYER: Well, as disgusted and appalling as it is, these people who are very extreme failed. They failed, because the pride of a city, a pride of a state and a nation was on display today and said that we will not permit anyone of such obnoxious -- obnoxious and extreme behavior, Paula, to define who we are as a country.

And this was a -- Rickey Jones' father is a Vietnam veteran. And, you know, a lot of these Vietnam veterans, when they came home, weren't treated very well, with respect. And now we have Vietnam veterans burying their sons and daughters, and there is no way they are going to stand for this. And over -- you had -- thousands of people turned out in Kokomo today.

Not everyone was from Kokomo. They were from all over. But these Patriot Riders that you referred to, you just had to feel good. I -- I was very proud to be an American today, to say that we will not be defined by -- by such abhorrent behavior.

ZAHN: So, just based on the turnout today, it -- it shows that your constituents, some of whom, like you said, live very far away from Kokomo, are equally outraged about this. They see the signs where they're saying "Thank God for dead soldiers," "Thank God for IEDs."

BUYER: Well, Paula, the -- the scenes that you are showing here, it wasn't -- it wasn't very good weather today in Indiana. It was misty, cold, rain. Snow is on the ground. And a lot of people just turned out to -- to show -- to stand with this family and show their support.

And, you know, we don't know if we can link it to these people from Kansas. We know that this is -- I don't care were they are from. We, as Americans, have to -- have to set the acceptancy -- the levels of decency, and -- for any mother to have to go -- or for any family to have to go through something like this is beyond the pale, Paula.

I mean, I can feel it in your voice. And -- and, had you been there, you would have been just as moved as I -- as I was. I was very pleased that the -- that the family gave the governor, and I, and -- and Chris Chocola, and the deputy secretary of the V.A., and the undersecretary of the V.A., to come, to stand with this family, to say that, as a nation, this is unacceptable behavior.

ZAHN: Congressman, if you would be patient with me for a moment...

BUYER: Sure.

ZAHN: ... I now think our machine is unfrozen, because I think it's really important for our audience to see what happened when Ed Lavandera went inside this funeral over the weekend in Kansas, where he had this unbelievable access to the protesters, who are condemning these soldiers, and then some of the Freedom Riders that we were just talking about as well.

So, we will watch this all together. Let's listen.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Army Sergeant Jessie Davila lived a quiet life in rural southwest Kansas. He joined the Marines at 18, had a daughter, then joined the Army. After three months in Iraq, a suicide bomber killed him. Davila was 29.

His funeral was supposed to be a private family affair, ending with a burial in Dodge City. This is the story of how that all changed.

Saturday morning at the Phelps' Topeka home looks like any morning in America. But breakfast in this house is served with a side of biblical doom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God is America's terrorist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... behind that kind of lying propaganda into a bloody war in Iraq.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, that was awesome.

LAVANDERA: A video pep talk to inspire even the youngest members of the family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Well, let's roll.

LAVANDERA: It's just after 7:30 on a Saturday morning, and almost 30 of them are embarking on what's become a family tradition. Fred Phelps says American soldiers deserve to die, because, in his view, they are fighting for a country that supports homosexuality. Today's target is Sergeant Jessie Davila.

FRED PHELPS, PROTESTING AGAINST HOMOSEXUALITY: He's not a hero. He's in hell now. He lived in defiance of God almighty.

LAVANDERA: Phelps is the pastor of a small Baptist church. Most of the congregation are members of his family. So, armed with Bibles, the Phelps are on the road to shock and disturb.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go one more time. And you start folding her up. LAVANDERA: At the same time, on the other side of the state, the roar of motorcycles is shattering the early-morning silence.

RALPH ROJOS, PATRIOT GUARD RIDERS: Everybody good to go? OK. We're going to go to Dodge City.

LAVANDERA: Some describe these riders as the guardians of decency. They are the Patriot Guard, a volunteer group created after Phelps started protesting military funerals.

ROJOS: They are here for Sergeant Davila and to show their respects. It just -- it touches you. It does. It's great.

LAVANDERA: Ralph Rojos is leading the charge. He has organized 700 people to escort Sergeant Davila's family from the memorial services to the grave.

But part of their mission is to also make sure Davila's family doesn't see or hear Fred Phelps.

ROJOS: I'm so glad we have a lot of people here, a lot of people come to show their respect and support. It's going to work. It's going to be a good day.

LAVANDERA: There is reason to worry. Phelps and his family have heckled military families at more than 100 funerals since last June.

Linda Claus first heard of what they were doing shortly before her son's death.

LINDA CLAUS, MOTHER OF SERGEANT Jessie DAVILA: I would imagine how I would feel. Little did I know that, within two weeks, that I was going to be faced with that. These people come with these warped ideas, and they kind of overshadow your life. And, before you know it, you can be engulfed in that because you -- you're not paying attention.

LAVANDERA: But, at this point, there's no chance Phelps will turn around. As they roll toward this showdown in Dodge City, they revel in the discomfort they cause.

PHELPS: We put new words to familiar tunes and patriotic tunes, like "God Bless America." We sing "God hates America."


ROJOS: When she comes out, so we want as many of the bikes up there as we can get.

LAVANDERA: The Patriot Guard is just miles away from the church where family and friends gather to pay their respects to Sergeant Davila. Word of Phelps' appearance has inspired a massive turnout. The Patriot Guard Riders are determined to make sure Phelps doesn't spoil the day.

ROGER POOL, PATRIOT GUARD RIDER: I don't care what they have got to say. It doesn't deserve the right to disturb somebody's peace, when they are trying to bury a loved one. It just -- it's plain wrong.

LAVANDERA: Fred Phelps has another plan. The day is playing out just the way he likes it.

PHELPS: Love it. Love it. You got to love it. It's showtime, guys.

LAVANDERA: It only takes a matter of seconds for the fiery exchanges to erupt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first rule of war, you coward, is to know your enemy. They are coming home in body bags. The lord your God is not through dealing with you, you arrogant, stiff-necked, rebellious coward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank God you live in America, though, mister. Thank God you live in America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a hero, you slime!

LAVANDERA (on camera): But, quite frankly, they are here because they find you despicable. You know that.

PHELPS: Well, wonderful. I don't care why they are here. They're here. Every time a soldier gets blown to smithereens in Iraq with an IED, we rejoice. We are ordered to rejoice.

LAVANDERA: You rejoice?

PHELPS: Rejoice. We are ordered to.

LAVANDERA: I think, to most Christians in this country, they would find that completely backwards.

PHELPS: You don't know enough about the Bible to put in your eye.

POOL: Just trying to ignore the clowns.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what -- what do you think about them screaming behind you guys?

POOL: I don't hear anything. Do you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, now those motorcycles can give me some noise.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): No matter how ear-piercing the sound for Sergeant Davila's family, it was much sweeter than listening to Fred Phelps.

And Linda Claus is grateful. CLAUS: It's just like having Jessie here. When I saw that sea of flags, I was overwhelmed. I just stood out there and cried. He was real. It was almost like he was breathing. It was wonderful.

LAVANDERA (on camera): At this point, you might be struggling to figure out why exactly Fred Phelps chooses military funerals to espouse his anti-homosexual views. Well, to him, it makes perfect sense. And anyone who questions it is a pervert...

(voice-over): ... as I found out after Phelps grew tired of my questions.

PHELPS: Look, I am not going to talk to you if you don't get sensible.

LAVANDERA: I'm just trying to...


PHELPS: No, you're not.


PHELPS: You're a...

LAVANDERA: I am trying...


PHELPS: ... pervert.

LAVANDERA: You have never...


PHELPS: Oh, you're a pervert.

LAVANDERA: How do you say that? You just met me.

PHELPS: I know when you lied...


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Phelps says Sergeant Jessie Davila is doomed to hell. So, I made one final attempt to understand how he says that without having met Davila.

(on camera): Never met him?

PHELPS: No, I know him. Of course I know him. He's a Christ- rejecting pervert who died for a pervert army, defending a pervert nation.

LAVANDERA: Help -- help -- help me understand.

PHELPS: And now he's in hell. LAVANDERA: Help me understand how you...

PHELPS: No, I'm not going to help you understand. You know doggone well what I'm saying.

LAVANDERA: I want to...

PHELPS: You know doggone well what I'm saying.

LAVANDERA: How do you come to that...

PHELPS: Look...


LAVANDERA: ... conclusion without ever having met the guy?

PHELPS: Look, it's got nothing to do with him.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): With that, the Phelps family packed up and left Dodge City, with a promise to continue targeting more military funerals. But, after today, Linda Claus feels the momentum is turning against the Phelps.

CLAUS: I pray to God that things like this that's happening tonight will take the power out of their misguided word, misguided thoughts. When people begin to know what they are really doing, killing the American dream, they won't be around very long, because nobody is going to let them. They will drown -- they will drown them out. They will be gone.

LAVANDERA: The Phelps left here just in time for Jessie Davila's family and friends to bury the Army sergeant on a hillside, quietly, the way he lived his life.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dodge City, Kansas.


ZAHN: And still with us now to react to Ed's report is Congressman Stephen Buyer of Indiana, a state which has just recently enacted a law that makes disorderly conduct at a funeral a felony.

You were expecting the worst at this funeral today in Kokomo that was very important for you to attend. This group did not show up. What do you say to those protesters who say, well, you are violating our First Amendment rights if we can't do -- as despicable as you find what we are saying -- if you won't let us continue to protest at these funerals?

BUYER: Well, first of all, Paula, let me say that the -- the piece that you just showed was -- is what I would call responsible journalism, because what you are trying to do here is to set a standard of decency for a country, a country that enjoys freedom.

Those of us that have -- that have worn the uniform and wear the uniform and have fought for this nation's freedom -- you know, in America, you can act as stupid and ridiculous as you can, but, at some point, we have to set the standards of decency. And that's why I was proud that Indiana passed this law.

Governor Mitch Daniels, the family asked for him to ride shotgun in the hearse, as that -- as Sergeant Rickey Jones was taken to the cemetery, laid to rest.

And I think, because thousands of people turned out, very similar to the scene that you just showed there in Kansas, the protesters did not come to Indiana. And, so, more people will turn out to set the standards for decency for our nation. We can drown out the extremists.

And I want to thank you for bringing this to the attention of the American people.

ZAHN: Well, we want to thank you for staying with us, as we tried to queue up that report twice, sir.

And thank you again for your...

BUYER: Thanks, Paula.

ZAHN: ... time tonight. We really appreciate it.

BUYER: Thank you.

ZAHN: We're going to change our focus quite a bit now. A Kentucky teenager needs a new kidney. He might die if he doesn't get it. What kind of father would volunteer to be the donor and then run off to Mexico?


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I'm Ted Rowlands in San Jose, California, where Pat Tillman grew up. Coming up, we will have hometown reaction to the Army's criminal investigation, which has been launched into Tillman's death -- that as PAULA ZAHN NOW continues.


ZAHN: A little bit later on in this hour, it could be a medical miracle. Can dogs actually smell cancer? We will be talking to a couple former cancer patients, who say, if it weren't for their dogs, they might not be alive.

First, though, on to our countdown of the top 10 most popular stories on Nearly 20 million of you logged on to our Web site today.

At number 10 -- the University of North Carolina graduate accused of running down nine people on the Chapel Hill campus today charged with attempted murder. Police say the native of Iran told them he did it to avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world. Number nine -- the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee is retiring. Representative Bill Thomas helped turn many of the president's economic initiatives into law -- numbers eight and seven right after this.


ZAHN: Welcome back.

Tonight, investigators are focusing in on Mexico, as they try to track down a convict who was let out of jail because he promised to donate a kidney to his very sick son. This case has everyone wondering what kind of father would go on the lam while his son is in dire need of a life-saving transplant?

National correspondent Susan Candiotti is tracking the story for us tonight. She joins us now with the very latest in tonight's "Outside the Law" -- Susan.


Since we first told you about this story a week ago, viewers have been calling in to try to offer help to 16-year-old Destin Perkins. He's that Kentuckian who is badly in need of a new kidney. And U.S. Marshals now have their first hot lead in about a month's time.

A couple returning from vacation in Mexico saw the story on CNN, and called the authorities, and said, we were just vacationing with these people in Mexico. Now, because of tattoos and other details, investigators are sure it's the same couple.

That couple from Washington state had just met them in a little fishing village south of Puerto Vallarta. The couple says Perkins was a smooth operator, enjoyed drinking at night, was meticulous about his appearance, and even had his girlfriend iron his T-shirts. His girlfriend was afraid of the water. They had lots of books about Mexico with them. They said they were from Arkansas.

Now, Perkins convinced locals his money and credit cards were stolen. And a cafe owner let him run a tab for food and drink and a place to stay. Perkins left in the middle of the night a week ago and stiffed those good Samaritans for about $500. Byron Perkins also bragged about his son, but, say the tipsters, he never once mentioned his son was sick and needed a kidney.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He talked about what a great man he was going to -- to grow to be and the fact that he aspired to be a Marine. And he was just very, very proud of him, and -- and talked incessantly about him for the -- the four days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish I would have known then what I knew now. I -- I just think he's the most despicable person I have met in a very long time.


CANDIOTTI: Now, at that couple's request, we agreed to hide their identity to protect them, for their own privacy.

Now, Perkins is not traveling lightly. Witnesses say they last saw the couple on a highway headed out of town in the middle of the night, traveling with a suitcase the size of a trunk and several other bags. So, authorities may have a tough time trying to find them. The question is, how will they get out of town? On a bus? On a taxi?

Who knows at this point, but authorities are looking for them -- Paula.

ZAHN: Susan Candiotti, thanks so much for that update.

And, right now, we're going to turn to one of those authorities who is trying to track down Byron Perkins. It's deputy U.S. Marshal Dawn Izgarjan. She joins me now from Louisville.

Good to have you with us tonight, Dawn.

So, are you confident you're going to catch this couple?

DAWN IZGARJAN, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE: We're very confident we're going to catch this couple.

ZAHN: How close are, do you think, to nabbing them?

IZGARJAN: We have several leads we're looking at, we are investigating right now.

As Susan reported, we -- we do have confirmation they were in Boca. We do have confirmation that they were hitchhiking, traveling further south into Mexico. And we have been -- we have been inundated with phone calls from people in Mexico at this time.

ZAHN: Based at the speed at which they are traveling, did you have any reason to believe they are getting any help from the outside?

IZGARJAN: I -- you know, Paula, I really don't think that they are getting so much help from the outside.

And, if they are getting help from the outside, those individuals will be investigated, and that information will be forwarded to the U.S. attorney's office for prosecution, anyone that is -- is assisting them. But, at this time, all indications lead to them just basically eliciting assistance from the local people and the -- and the generosity of the locals in the small towns that they are traveling through.

ZAHN: Finally tonight, Dawn, I spoke with Byron Perkins sister earlier tonight. And she said she feared that he's not going to go down without a fight, and she's really worried this may end in violence. Do you share that concern?

IZGARJAN: Oh, of course, Paula, we do. Based on the letter that he has written, based on the comments that his mother has said, and -- and also inmates that we have interviewed from the jail, he has -- he has reported that he is not going to go back to custody, he's not going to go back to jail, and that this will not go smoothly.

And that's how we feel. We -- we don't think that it's -- it's -- we're cautious, I guess I should just say.

ZAHN: Well...

IZGARJAN: We are cautious.

ZAHN: ... we wish you continued luck on this case, Dawn...

IZGARJAN: Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: ... Izgarjan.

Thank you so much for your time tonight.

IZGARJAN: Thank you.

ZAHN: Why has the military opened another investigation into the death of a pro football player who became an Army Ranger? And why is the new probe into Pat Tillman's death a criminal investigation? We will try to answer some of those questions for you a little bit later on.

But, right now, now on to number eight on our countdown. The president says he will push for a new law giving him line-item veto power that would allow him to strike specific items from spending bills.

Number seven, a new tape believed to be from Osama bin Laden's top deputy reveals a growing focus on economic terrorism. Ayman Al- Zawahiri tells followers to prevent the West from -- quote -- "stealing Muslims' oil" -- numbers six and five straight ahead.


ZAHN: Tonight, the Army says it will open a criminal investigation into the battlefield death of one of the most famous heroes on the war on terror. Pat Tillman was an NFL star who gave up a $3.6 million contract to become an Army Ranger after 9/11. He died in Afghanistan in 2004.

The circumstances surrounding his death have been something of a mystery, because the military changed its story about how he died. Now, this new investigation into his death isn't the first, but it is the first one that could lead to criminal charges. And Tillman's family and friends will be watching it very closely.

Here's Ted Rowlands.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ROWLANDS (voice-over): At Pat Tillman's old high school in San Jose, California, his football jersey hangs in a glass case, and the football stadium is named in his honor. People here are very proud of their hometown hero.

PAT DANDO, TILLMAN FAMILY FRIEND: We're proud of what he accomplished in those few years. But I have a feeling that, had he been given the gift of life for a longer period of time, he would have given us so much more.


ANNOUNCER: The lateral to Pat Tillman.


ROWLANDS: When Pat Tillman left the National Football League, where he was earning millions, to join the Army after September 11, people around the country were moved by his patriotism and bravery.

Here's what Pat Tillman said at the time about himself.


PAT TILLMAN, U.S. ARMY RANGER: My great-grandfather was at Pearl Harbor. And a lot of my family has given up -- you know, has -- has gone and fought in wars. And -- and I really haven't done a damn thing, as far as laying myself on the line like that. And, so, I have a great deal of respect for those that have.


ROWLANDS: When Tillman was killed in April of 2004 in the mountains of Afghanistan, the nation mourned.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: While many of us may be blessed to live a longer life than he did, few of us -- few of us will ever live a better one.

ROWLANDS: Since Tillman's death, the army has told significantly different stories as to exactly what happened. Initially it was reported that Tillman died a hero, possibly saving others, during a fierce firefight against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then, a month after his death, they said this.

LT. GEN. PHILIP KENSINGER: The investigation results indicate that Corporal Tillman probably died as a result of friendly fire while his unit was engaged in combat with enemy forces.

ROWLANDS: It turned out that top Army commanders knew within days of his death that Tillman was killed by friendly fire, but they didn't tell anyone, including the family, the truth for weeks.

Tillman's family was livid. His father told The Washington Post, "The Army realized that their recruiting efforts were going to hell in a handbasket if the truth about his death got out. They blew up their poster boy."

Over the course of three investigations, the Army has revealed that not only was Tillman killed by his fellow soldiers, but the next day his uniform and body armor were burned, possibly destroying evidence about his death. Seven soldiers have been reprimanded to date for their roles in the incident. The Pentagon has now ordered the army to conduct a full criminal investigation. Some of those soldiers involved could face jail time if there's proof they were negligent.

EUGENE FIDELL, MILITARY LAW ATTORNEY: All it requires is simple negligence. The same level of negligence you might have in an auto accident.

ROWLANDS: Besides the criminal investigation, there's also a separate Pentagon probe to see if evidence was intentionally covered up. Tillman's father, who declined an on-camera interview, did tell CNN he doesn't have much faith in the Army's current or former investigations.

He says he doesn't think he'll ever really discover what happened to his son.


I talked with Mr. Tillman this morning here in San Jose. He is clearly frustrated by the way the Army has handled his son's death, calling the investigation, the latest one, quote, B.S., and as pessimistic as he is, the hope here in this area where Pat Tillman is clearly a hometown hero, the expectation and the hope is that this last investigation or next one, will be the final investigation, and they can finally get some real answers as to what happened.

ZAHN: And we'll be following all of this very closely from here. Ted Rowlands, thank you so much for that report.

We change our focus once again. A graduate student was studying to be a police detective. Now detectives are trying to figure out who killed her. Who are they questioning tonight? Is there a suspect?

On to number six in our countdown, South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds today signed a bill to ban nearly all abortions in the state. That bill is in direct conflict with Roe v. Wade. The South Dakota law is set to take effect July 1st, but legal action will probably prevent that from happening on that time scale.

Number five today, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that colleges must allow military recruiters on campus or risk losing all federal funding. Number four just ahead. Please stay with us.


ZAHN: We are being told a break could come soon in a horrific crime here in New York that's made headlines all over the country. A 24-year-old graduate student, Imette St. Guillen was last seen at a bar in Manhattan over a week ago. Her body turned up hours later in a desolate section of Brooklyn.

Now we have learned the police have been questioning a bouncer at that bar and they have searched his home. Allan Chernoff has been working this story all day long. He's just filed this report.


ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Imette St. Guillen's Manhattan apartment hung a plaque that reads, live each day as if life had just begun. Indeed before she was raped and murdered after a night at a trendy Manhattan bar two Saturdays ago, it appeared a bright new life in New York was just beginning for the 24-year-old graduate student.

AMY FISCHER, JOHN JAY COLLEGE STUDENT: I never saw her not smiling or not being happy with other people. Even if she didn't know you. She was very brilliant and just a happy person.

CHERNOFF: New York City police tonight are holding and questioning a bouncer from the bar where Imette was last seen, a man who has served time for armed robbery.

Detectives, using the same forensic science techniques Imette had studied, are piecing together evidence, hoping to soon file charges. That evidence includes hair and skin fragments collected from the bar as well as the bed sheet in which Imette's body was wrapped.

Imette had lost her dad 16 years ago and was close with her mom Maureen and Sister Alejandra who eulogized her at the funeral in Boston this past weekend.

ALEJANDRA ST. GUILLEN, SISTER: Of course I wish I could turn back time and observe each moment, special or ordinary, wrap it up and deliver it to you. All I can say is that you are extraordinary.

CHERNOFF: Imette St. Guillen touched many people here at John Jay College and students and faculty have been sharing their memories and thoughts in these memorial books. One classmate writes, "This graduation will not be the same without you. We'll miss you and forever love you."

JESSICA LORIA, JOHN JAY COLLEGE STUDENT: She was very intelligent and she was an asset to this school.

CHERNOFF: Imette was a star throughout her academic career. She graduated magna cum laude from George Washington University. At her wake, friends from the prestigious Boston Latin High School remembered a classmate who loved board games and socializing.

PAMELA LEINS, BOSTON LATIN CLASSMATE: Everybody knew her. Everybody knew who she was. Your ideal Boston Latin Student, basically.

CHERNOFF: Memorials in her honor stand in the corridors of John Jay, the same halls that she walked only days ago. Both her grad school and high school are raising money for Imette St. Guillen scholarships. Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.


ZAHN: So terribly sad.

We now turn our attention to some of the latest polls showing two-thirds of all Americans are against the deal to let a Dubai company run operations at six U.S. ports. But is there a way the deal could still go through? We're going to tell you about a very important new proposal. Whether this compromise will fly we'll see.

Also, why could a dog be an unexpected weapon in the fight against cancer? You'll find out why.

First, though, number four in our countdown. Police in Boston are searching for two people who attacked a homeless man Sunday while he slept in a city park. They say the suspects set his legs on fire. He's in critical condition tonight.

Number three is next.


ZAHN: Well, despite the house of outrage across the nation and in the halls of Congress tonight, it looks like there's a compromise in the works to let a Dubai company run operations at six U.S. ports.

Dubai Ports World wants to take over terminals in New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami and New Orleans. But since the company is owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates, lots people have concerns about our national security.

Congressional correspondent Ed Henry joins us now to explain what the compromise might look like, and whether it has any chance of flying.

Hi, Ed.


That's right. This compromise is being pitched by Republican Peter King, by which D.P. World would not operate the U.S. ports. Instead, that job would be subcontracted to American companies.


PETER KING, CHAIRMAN, HOMELAND SECURITY CMTE: A separate American company could do it so long as there was no access to the information or to the operations at all by Dubai Ports. Dubai Ports could still be the contractor, but the actual work and access to everything would be controlled by a totally separate American company.

HENRY (voice over): Peter King presented the compromise to the White House with a warning, sign on or the whole contract may go down because of lingering concerns about the United Arab Emirates past support for the Taliban. KING: My concern is people that are working within the company, people within the government who just four and a half years ago were allied with our sworn enemy.

HENRY: A similar plan is being pushed by another top Republican, Senator Susan Collins. So far the White House has been noncommittal. But in this election year, Republicans find themselves under heavy pressure from Democrats who are using the port flap to burnish their credentials on national security.

Democrat Harold Ford Jr. running for the Senate in Tennessee, taped this campaign ad at the Port of Baltimore in Maryland.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Bush wants to sell this port and five others to the United Arab Emirates, a country that had diplomatic ties with the Taliban, the home of two 9/11 hijackers whose banks wired money to the terrorists.

HENRY: Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid vows other candidates will jump on the bandwagon.

SEN. HARRY REID, MINORITY LEADER: It's resonating because people have come to the realization that the Bush administration is basically incompetent.


HENRY: This whole controversy is also giving Democrats an opening to propose an extra $1.7 billion in port security funding. They charge that the White House has fallen far short in actually providing enough funds -- Paula.

ZAHN: Sounds like this is going to continue to be one bruising ride.

Ed Henry, thanks so much for the update. Appreciate it.

We have a quick item of breaking news for you right now. CNN has confirmed that baseball hall of famer Kirby Puckett has died. He was an outfielder for the Minnesota Twins, led them to a pair of World Series victories. He suffered a stroke yesterday at his home in Arizona. Kirby Puckett was just 44 years old.

Now we turn our attention to Erica Hill who has our "Headline News Business Break" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, if AT&T does become the biggest telecom company, it's going to do so with fewer workers. The proposed $67 billion merger with Bell South would mean a loss of 10,000 jobs at AT&T. Now, the company says many of those would come through attrition.

And while telecom stocks did see some gains today that push didn't rub off in the market in general. The Dow lost 63 points. The Nasdaq was down 16. The S&P down 9. GM is selling part of its stake in Japanese carmaker Suzuki for $2 billion in cash to help balance its bottom line. And word is GM may also soon sell its stake in another Japanese carmaker, Isuzu. Troubled times for the automakers, Paula. That's a look at your business break headlines. Back over to you.

ZAHN: Thanks so much Erica.

A fascinating new study could have you looking at your dog with even new respect for those of us who love our dogs already and respect them. Can your four-legged friend actually smell cancer early enough to save your life? We've got some patients who say they wouldn't be alive if it weren't for their four-legged friends.

Now, on the number three in our countdown the big fashion show on the red carpet before the Oscars. You can see much more by going to See who tripped on their gown too.

And number two, the federal investigation into this weekend's fire in a smokestack at a power plant in West Virginia. One man was killed. Three others were hurt.

Number one is next.


ZAHN: One of the most intriguing new weapons in the fight against cancer may be wagging its tail at you right now. Now we all know that dog's noses are small miracles, they can sniff out drugs, explosives and now maybe even early signs of cancer. Here's medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen with tonight's "Vital Signs."

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We live with them...


COHEN: ... Play with them and rely on them. But a new study is making extraordinary claims that just may change the way you think about your four-legged friend and that curious wet nose.

That's because dogs could be the newest weapon in the war against cancer. Researchers in California say they trained five dogs to smell the disease on a person's breath, with an amazing degree of accuracy -- 99 percent of the time with lung cancer, 88 percent of the time with breast cancer. Results that are raising hopes, creating international headlines, and making stars out of the dogs involved in the study.

Michael McCulloch was lead researcher.

(On camera): Were you surprised by how accurate the dogs were?

MICHAEL MCCULLOCH, LEAD RESEARCHER: We were very surprised by how accurate they were. COHEN (voice-over): Dogs' sense of smell is legendary, so strong, so reliable, that we count on it to sniff out bombs, detect drugs, and find the missing and deceased, when no human can.

So, researchers like McCulloch say it's entirely possible that, sometimes, dogs know our bodies better than we do.

MCCULLOCH: Because a dog may be telling the person something about them that they don't know yet.

COHEN: This is Kobi, a walking, wagging, tumor detective, and one of the five dogs McCulloch and his team trained to sniff out cancer. How did they do it?

We asked McCulloch and his team to stage a sample test, so we could see for ourselves. It starts with five people, four healthy and one with cancer, exhaling into plastic tubes like these.

Inside the tubes, fibers capture microscopic particles from their breath. The tubes are then placed in bowls one yard apart from each other, while dog and handler wait outside. The rest is up to Kobi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go to work. Let's go to work.

COHEN: Time after time after time. Six times out of six attempts, Kobi gets it right, sitting at the cancer sample to mark his discovery.

(On camera): These rates are actually higher than mammograms, higher than Pap smears.

MCCULLOCH: Well, the results were so high, we were just astounded.

COHEN: Donald Berry, the head of biostatistics at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, has authored more than 200 articles on cancer.

DR. DONALD BERRY, HEAD OF BIOSTATS, MD ANDERSON CANCER CENTER: It may be true. I would be astounded if it were true. It's not impossible. It's just quite unlikely.

COHEN: But wait. Is this just Western establishment medicine looking down their noses at a study done by a small alternative medicine clinic?


COHEN: That's what Nancy Best thinks.

BEST: That I'm sitting here alive today to tell you that, if it weren't for Mia, I would be gone.

Mia, good girl. COHEN: Mia is Nancy's dog, an untrained yellow Lab who she says sniffed and sniffed at Nancy's right breast, until she finally paid attention.

BEST: Mia came running in, and jumped up on my lap, and dove with her nose into my chest. And that's when I found the lump, because it hurt when she pressed her nose there.

COHEN: Sure enough, a lab confirmed Nancy had cancer, stage-two carcinoma in the exact spot where Mia had sniffed. Nancy needed surgery and chemotherapy.

(On camera): That must have blown your mind, when you...

BEST: ... That blew my mind away when the diagnosis came back positive. And, then, I -- it really hit me, that this is what she had been trying to tell me all along, was that I had cancer, and I just wasn't listening.

COHEN (voice-over): That was six years ago. Today, Nancy is cancer free, she says, because of the early detection.

(On camera): Did Mia save your life?

BEST: Yes, she did. I know she did.

COHEN (voice-over): Researchers admit there's a lot of more work to be done. But if dogs can actually sniff out cancer before it spreads, it would certainly give new meaning to the term man's best friend.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, San Anselmo, California.


ZAHN: Absolutely fascinating. We're going to introduce you to a new series tonight about people who are reinventing themselves and affecting others along the way. Tonight, meet a man who had a new career just fall into his lap, literally. Here's Linda Stouffer with tonight's "New Beginnings."


LINDA STOUFFER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): For several years, Mike Paranzino was the breadwinner in his family and enjoyed a successful career on Capitol Hill.

MIKE PARANZINO, FULL-TIME FATHER: I was the chief of staff to a Congressman. I did some political campaigns. I was press secretary to Elizabeth Dole.

STOUFFER: But these days, instead of meeting with politicians, he supervises play dates for his children Cameron (ph) and Emily (ph).

PARANZINO: What do you guys want? We have goldfish, cheese and crackers? STOUFFER: Mike is a stay-at-home dad, or what he prefers to call, full-time father. His wife Heather (ph) decided to go back to work as a neuroscientist after Cameron (ph) was born and Mike quit his job because he felt so strongly about one parent staying home.

PARANZINO: I had loved my own childhood and my brothers and I always had mom around. In fact, we often had dad around, too. It was an adjustment. It took me about a year to feel comfortable in my skin.

I took a baby singing class in a pool with my son. It was a bunch of moms getting over their pregnancies and me. And it was fairly ridiculous. I have not done that since.

One day I was changing a diaper on my son and Ari Fleischer was on T.V., that was my last political boss. So my boss is holding a worldwide televised on CNN news conference and I'm changing the world's poopiest diaper.

I wanted to be with my kids and I prayed for them to come into this world and I hoped for them and longed for them. And so I've just decided to raise them myself.


ZAHN: Good for dad. Coming up at the top of the hour, "LARRY KING LIVE." Forensics expert Dr. Henry Lee and attorney Mark Geragos on the mysterious disappearance and gruesome death of a graduate student in New York City.

Now No. 1 on our countdown, the day in New Orleans lower Ninth Ward, teams went house by house to search for Katrina victims before condemned homes are demolished. Yesterday one victim was found in the attic of a home just a few miles from the French Quarter. We'll be right back.


ZAHN: And 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. I hope you'll join us then. Until then, have a good night. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.


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