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Suspect's Secret Call To Wife; Phillipos is a Friend of Tsarnaev's; Mom Abandoned Kids to Go Homeless; Five-year-old Fatally Shoots Sister
Aired May 2, 2013 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. I'm Brooke Baldwin, live here in Boston, as the search for answers in the Boston Marathon bombings now turns to the suspect's laptop. This is a new development today.
The FBI has found that this laptop belonging to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Although we're not sure exactly where they found this laptop, they have it. We know his college buddies accuse - of this accused terrorist, they are now sitting in jail today for what they're accused of doing after the Boston bombings.
And as the world watched in horror, these two young men from Kazakhstan are accused of helping Dzhokhar Tsarnaev by getting rid of key evidence from this dorm room that they had shared. Dzhokhar's backpack, stuffed with fireworks, and the laptop that federal investigators now say they have found. All of this as the feds hunted him down. One other young man I want to tell you about, an American, also age 19, like the others. This young man is accused of making false statements about what he knew.
But one of the questions today, again, is this, were they the only ones who lied to the feds? You're looking at a picture of Katherine Russell after she was arrested -- this was back in 2007 -- on shoplifting charges. Investigators now know she had a phone call with her husband, the elder of these two brothers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, after she saw this picture of him plastered on national TV. A wanted, but at the same time, still nameless man.
Today, the 24-year-old widow was spotted heading to her lawyer's office in Providence, Rhode Island. And I want to go to CNN's Deborah Feyerick who joins me near UMass Dartmouth, where these young people had attended school.
Deb, what are you learning in terms of the specifics of this phone call that Katie Russell had with her husband? And what might this potentially mean for her?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's very interesting, whenever we see pictures of Katie Russell, normally we see her accompanied by her lawyer. There's some serious talks that are going on right now as they're strategizing to determine exactly what Katie Russell is going to do because she is still considered a suspect. Look, everybody's considered a suspect until you're no longer a suspect. And so right now we understand that she's having meetings with her lawyer. She is key to all of this because she can tell investigators, for example, who her husband was associating with, where he traveled, how long he traveled for, whether he was sort of leaving the house at certain times of the day or night. You know, also, you know, we have not heard anything about a computer belonging to Tamerlan Tsarnaev or a cell phone, for that matter, that was uncovered belonging to Tamerlan Tsarnaev. So the suggestion is, is that she would know where those two items are, if he ever had them. But also, she herself has a computer. So she is a - she is just a treasure-trove of potential information. And she's right now in a bargaining position in the sense that if she helps investigators, she could help them with making very, very strong case by testifying against her brother-in-law, Brooke.
BALDWIN: What about also, Deb, these 19 year olds, these three 19 year olds, who we saw they were in that federal courthouse not too far from me just around this time yesterday. We've read through this criminal complaint, you know, and it says that when these friends took items from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room at UMass Dartmouth, that they knew he was the guy plastered all over TV, he was the guy involved in the bombings. But, Deb, the attorney for one of these young men says, no. So where exactly do the stories differ?
FEYERICK: Yes, well, the stories differ if you listen to their lawyers or if you read the criminal complaints. And in the criminal complaint it says that, in fact, when one of the suspects, who has -- really was questioned and even before his friend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was caught, one of the suspects, Dias Kadyrbayev, he saw his friend on the television, texted him, and they exchanged a couple of messages and then they -- he went to the dorm room. And he said to the other friends, come on, let's go to the dorm room. And that's when they found the backpack with the fireworks, which had been emptied of the black powder. A black powder that authorities believed was used - a similar kind was used to build this particular device. Also saw the laptop. And so they took it. And they tell investigators that, according to the criminal complaint, they thought that they wanted to help their friend, they wanted to protect their friend, but they also realized that he may have had something to do with it, and that was a direct comment from this man, Dias Kadyrbayev, Brooke.
BALDWIN: OK. And, again, just to be crystal clear, we know that they found this garbage bag tied with the Vaseline and the fireworks and the homework assignment from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, but we're being told from federal investigators that they are now in possession of his laptop, that the laptop was not found in the landfill.
Deborah Feyerick, thank you so much.
We are also learning a little bit more about this third American suspect, the 19-year-old Robel Phillipos, arrested for lying to the feds. He is the one who came forward. He admitted they were not being forthcoming about what they knew and what the other two did in the aftermath of the bombing here on Boylston Street. CNN's Ashleigh Banfield has more.
Ash. ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, we've all been trying to learn more about these three suspects who have been brought in to custody with regard to what happened after the bombings. And when it comes to the two Kazakh students, it's clear by the complaint that they met Tsarnaev at UMass Dartmouth. But when it comes to the third suspect, the American in this case, Robel Phillipos, the relationship between himself and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may have gone back farther than that. In fact, all the way back to high school.
We discovered that the two of them both were in the graduating class of Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. That's over in Cambridge. In fact, one of their classmates spoke with us and told us he knew both of them. He knew Dzhokhar. He knew Robel. He did not know if they were close friends, but he certainly played basketball with Robel, said he was a good guy. Said - you know, described him as talking smack on the basketball court, but that that was about it. When it came to Dzhokhar, he said he was also a good guy, a little quiet. But apart from that, they definitely have mutual friends.
We also saw the high school pictures in the high school yearbook and we found the graduating class photograph that clearly shows Dzhokhar and Robel seated next to each other in that massive class picture. In fact, one on a higher level, but clearly next to one another. And we also found the class portraits, not only of Dzhokhar, but also of Robel Phillipos.
Regardless of what their background, it's what they're facing. Robel Phillipos is facing the more serious charge of lying, which carries with it a potential of eight years in federal prison. The Kazakh students are facing a charge of obstruction of justice, which could carry a maximum of five years.
BALDWIN: I want to talk about the Jodi Arias trial now because it could all boil down to what happens today. Right now, closing arguments are under way in Phoenix, and we have heard four months of testimony about sex, about lies, and underwear. And it may all come down to Arias' mental state.
The defense is arguing that Arias had post-traumatic stress disorder when she killed her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in self-defense. On the other hand, the prosecution says Arias had a borderline personality disorder and that the killing was premeditated. Alexander was found dead in the shower with a bullet to his head and 27 stab wounds, and a slit to his throat. Jodi Arias spent 18 days on the stand pleading her case. And now lawyers are making their final closing arguments.
Now, some attorneys like to save a surprise sometimes for closing arguments because it's the last thing those jurors may hold on to. And if we hear any surprise fireworks, obviously, inside that courtroom, we will let you know right away.
Coming up next, though, this is a story that everyone is talking about today. I was talking about this just this morning on a plane. A mother reappears suddenly after being gone for more than a decade. Just up and leaves her life. She says she couldn't take her family life anymore. And we're about to speak live with the investigator to whom she confessed. The investigator who had been tracking her for all these years.
Plus, a five year old accidently shoots and kills his little sister with his very own gun. That's coming up, as well. Stay here.
BALDWIN: A Pennsylvania woman turned herself in now to authorities, not after a crime, but after an offense some would consider worse. She up and left her family. She had two children. Eleven years after she went missing, Brenda Heist showed up at the sheriff's office down in Key Largo, Florida. This was last Friday. Take a look at the picture and we'll show you Heist. This is from 2002. This is -- that was her on the left back 11 years ago. Picture on the right is her today, age 54.
Now, her daughter was eight, her son was 12 when Heist chose to walk away from her life. You'll soon hear at least why she says she did it. The mother's disappearance launched this swarm of local and state and federal investigators questioning dozens and dozens of people. Where could she possibly be? And as we often see it played out this way, her husband, Lee, at one point, even became a suspect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE HEIST, EX-HUSBAND: There were people in the neighborhood who would not allowed their children to play with my children because of what they perceived I might be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: On the phone with me now is Detective Sergeant John Schofield from the Lititz Police Department in Pennsylvania, a detective.
My goodness. I know you have been on this case ever since she vanished, you know, 11 years ago. And before we get into the, you know, the back story, here is a woman who up and left her family. They at one point definitely thought she was dead. Here she is OK. You've been in touch with them. Are they furious?
DET. SGT. JOHN SCHOFIELD, LITITZ BOROUGH, PA., POLICE DEPARTMENT (via telephone): Are they furious? Yes, they're pretty furious. But there's a part of them that they're happy that she's alive and that they may have another chance to meet and talk with their parents -- with their mother. But they're still in shock. They are.
BALDWIN: Take me back, detective, because here you were, what, 11 years ago, you're assigned to this case, she -- this woman goes missing. What happened?
SCHOFIELD: Well, it was an investigation that started as a missing person. We put every resource available trying to figure out what happened to her and where she went. And as time went on, that case, you know, we were fearing the worst. We were fearing it was going to turn into an unsolved homicide after months and years of an investigation.
BALDWIN: So here you are pouring, you know, blood and sweat, as well as I'm sure many, many other investigators, trying to track this woman down for this family, who I imagine is grieving for, you know, the - what seemed to be the loss of this mother. It turns out she had a - she was, what, crying her eyes out on a park bench over some family issues, some financial issues. Gets an offer to go hitchhiking down to Florida and she says, yes.
SCHOFIELD: Right. And, you know, that's got to be probably the last thing we expected that happened to her that day. And for her to tell me that the other day when I interviewed her that she just left on a split second whim and decided to just leave and turn her back on her family and on her life and pursue a life with these homeless people, to hitchhike down to Florida and, you know, it's something that it's going to take a while for her children to get over, the fact that she just left on her own to join these people she didn't know and to live a life, a new life, without them, without her family.
BALDWIN: Not even a phone call home saying, hey, I'm OK. You know, don't reach out to me. No nothing. And the thing is, you know, she's not facing charges. I know as you've pointed out, you know, walking away from your life isn't a crime. But as you mention, you know, here she is. She appears at a police department in Florida. You fly down -- after all these years investigating this, you fly down to Florida. What did you say to her?
SCHOFIELD: Well, it was first good to say, we're glad that she's alive. I wanted her to understand all the time and effort that went into looking for her and all the people that have been worried about her and looking for her all these years. But I also wanted to find out what exactly she did for the last 11 years and how she left and who financed it, possibly, where she went to, and just what she did all these years rather than making just that one phone call to let somebody know that she was OK and that she was down in Florida. So, I was glad she spoke with me, and she kind of filled in the blanks as to what happened here. And now as this story's going on, we're learning a little bit more each day as to what she was actually doing and how she was living down in Florida.
BALDWIN: What was she doing? I read she at some point was living under - she was homeless, living under bridges, met someone. Did she have much of a life?
SCHOFIELD: Well, there was part of that that she actually enjoyed that kind of a life down there, living on the streets. But, you know, as time is going on, we're learning that it wasn't just living on the streets where, you know, she would - I don't want to say she was getting some sense of sympathy from people around here of how hard that could have been living on the streets, but now we're getting calls here today from people who knew her down there and are saying, you know, that's just not true. In the past two years that, you know, they've known her and they knew where she was living and she wasn't living on the streets. Now, I'm sure she lived on the streets for a while. I believe that. But I believe that her life was a little bit more enjoyable and better than what she was portraying that to me the other day.
BALDWIN: All the while her family still sits in Pennsylvania wondering where their wife and mother had been. Detective Sergeant John Schofield, thank you so much for joining me. I know a lot of people, you know, at any point in time think, gosh, wouldn't it be nice to walk away from my life just for a half second, but you don't do it. And I want you to stay with me because next hour I will actually be speaking live with the ex-husband of this newly found woman. As the detective just said, you know, the family is in shock. I can tell you, this ex-husband is furious. That happens 3:30 p.m. Eastern. Don't move for that.
Also, this. A May Day rally turns into a melee. Coming up next, details on what caused the violent clash between police and protesters there in Seattle.
Plus, an American sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in prison in North Korea. Could his fate be a bargaining chip for North Korea? That story, next.
BALDWIN: Now to some of the hottest stories in a flash. Roll it.
First up, violence erupted at a May Day protest in Seattle. Take a look. This was yesterday. Police using flash-bang grenades and pepper spray to sort of quell the crowds, bring it under control. Protesters, though, tossing bottles and rocks, even a skateboard at one point in time. Seventeen people were arrested. Eight officers were injured. And across the world, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched for better working conditions.
A U.S. citizen has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea. Kenneth Bae, A Korean-American shown here on a memorial from FaceBook, was accused of committing, quote/unquote, "hostile acts" against the country, but no details were given. A U.S. official says Bae was a tour operator who had been in North Korea previously and had a visa. Experts say he could be used as a bargaining chip by the new young leader Kim Jong-un.
That song by rap duo Kris Kross topped the charts, let me bring you back to 1992. One half of the group, Chris Kelly, died last night of a possible drug overdose in Atlanta. I actually saw these two guys perform not too long ago at the so-so def (ph) anniversary concert back in February in Atlanta. They opened the whole show. Kelly and Smith were 13 when they were discovered in a shopping mall.
Third annual CNN i-Report award voting underway. We have scoured thousands of our i-Reports submitted in 2012 and we thank you for them. We have gone through them. We have selected the most compelling examples. And now we're giving you a chance to pick the one you think best enhanced CNN's storytelling by voting for the what we call the Community Choice Awards. Take a look. These are the nominees in the in-depth story category. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see all the devastation of the houses, but people now have hope.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lake Pontchartrain is back in its banks, but over the yard is an entire debris field.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: And there are only two days left to vote. We want you to cast your vote at cnnireportawards.com. again, cnnireportawareds.com.
Next here, this is just a horrendous story out of Kentucky. A five- year-old little boy gets a gun for his birthday and now his two-year- old sister is dead. And now some critics are lashing out against companies and their marketing for these little kids when it comes to guns.
BALDWIN: In Kentucky, a two-year-old girl was accidently shot to death by her five-year-old brother inside their home. We have a picture I just want to show you. This is the girl and her big brother. Their mother apparently had just stepped outside their home for just a couple of minutes Tuesday afternoon and her world tragically shaken within those mere minutes. Her son was playing with the .22-caliber Cricket rifle that was given to him for his fifth birthday. Accidently went off with the bullet striking his sister. Here is the uncle's reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID MANN, UNCLE: I mean, it's just tragic. It's just - it's something that you can't prepare for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: I want to bring in Martin Savidge, who's covering this story for us in Atlanta.
And, Martin, the family says they thought the gun was in a safe place. Are authorities looking toward any negligence here?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Brooke. Hello. The authorities are looking at that. Right now it's being handled by state officials in Kentucky. And what they are doing is launching a full investigation. The prosecutor says he hasn't decided whether there will be charges. He's going to wait to hear that full report. And it's possible there could be perhaps gross negligence in the use of a weapon, not storing it properly, not locking it up, or maybe, in some way, that parental negligence. That has not yet been determined as yet. We just don't know.
BALDWIN: So, as we're reporting, this little boy got the gun as a birthday present. Do we know exactly how he, literally, got the gun that day, how he had it in his hands?
SAVIDGE: Yes. Well, according, again, to the family, the gun was sort of -- they didn't believe it was loaded and it was in the corner of the house, they said, in a safe area. But the gun apparently was loaded. It's a single shot. The Cricket Rifle Company is the manufacturer.
This has raised, again, the issue of gun control. And there are those in this country who say, look, if the laws were tighter, you wouldn't have this tragic accident. There are others who say, look, no law would have prevented this. In fact, you can listen to Ben Ferguson. He's a conservative radio talk show host. He was on Piers Morgan last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN FERGUSON, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: If you want, you know, legislate parents being dumb or not dumb, you figure out how to do it and we'll see if it works. But you can't blame the gun for the situation where you have a dumb parent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)