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Royal Baby Watch; Raging Monsoon Waters in Arizona; Powerful Earthquake Hits China; Gruesome Murder Case in Cleveland; White House Weighs in on Zimmerman Case; Woman Dies on Texas Roller Coaster

Aired July 22, 2013 - 11:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Ashleigh Banfield. It's so great to have you with us this morning.

Well, it looks like it might be the royal baby's birthday today, July 22. The Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine, went into labor very earlier this morning. And now we are all just waiting for word of whether it will be a little prince or a princess.

We've got Max Foster standing by at the hospital in London. Max, I can imagine it is quite a circus out there outside the Lindo Wing. It has been more than ten hours since Catherine arrived there at the hospital. Set the scene for us. What is it like?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, that's really the forefront of everyone's mind. She's pretty much into this process of labor.

Of course, it's different for everyone, but a sense of anticipation, partly because of the build up that we could have an announcement of some sort today.

If we do, this is why we're so fixated on this door, the earliest sign we'll have is someone coming out of that, a palace official. We'll recognize them, will have a piece of paper which will be sent to Buckingham Palace.

We do know the Queen is in residence at the Buckingham Palace. The only thing the palace will say on that is it's business as usual.

But she's there, ready to see this notice delivered to the forecourt where the world will hear about it.

Certainly there's a big crowd of the public here really gathering, still outnumbered by the media, I have to say, perhaps, the media literally from all over the world. We've got -- I was speaking to a few networks.

All the German, French, Polish networks, for example, are all here, and even a Slovakian set of TV reporters as well, three of them. So this isn't a purely American story or a British story.

BROWN: Absolutely, and it's still a waiting game there as you mentioned, Max.

How long do we think it will take between finding out the birth of the baby and when the public will find out? How long do you think that will take for the public to find out more?

FOSTER: Well, I have seen a few of the senior palace officials popping in and out, and what will happen is, once they've had the baby -- we're sort of making an educated guess here, but we think William will ring Charles and the Queen, pretty much straight away.

Then you have a whole list of people who have to be notified before the public's told, and they include the prime minister, the archbishop of Canterbury and all of the commonwealth realms as well.

So you have 16 countries in total where the Queen is head of state. They all have to be notified. And only after that will the notice leave the hospital for the formal public announcement at Buckingham Palace.

BROWN: All right, quickly, Max, do we know who is by her bedside right now?

FOSTER: Just William. He's the only member of the family there apart from this quite substantial medical team, a much bigger team than you'd expect for a baby, but you know, this is a royal baby, so there are royal surgeons in there as well as all the consultants from the hospital and the midwives.

BROWN: Certainly a special occasion. Max Foster, thank you so much.

And coming up later, we're going to go back to London for much more on the royal arrival.

In other news this morning, flash floods swept through parts of Arizona as monsoon rains pound the state. In some areas this weekend, cars were nearly swallowed whole by floods as helicopters whisked drivers to safety.

Stephanie Elam has more.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Raging monsoon waters flooded parts of the Phoenix area on Sunday, leading firefighters to a series of dramatic rescues caught on camera, at least half a dozen people brought to safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is pretty bad. I think the worst I have seen so far. I've been up here for a few years now.

ELAM: Emergency crews braved the thigh-high flash flood waters that swallowed whole cars in its wake, one rescue after another after another.

Watch as emergency crews rush to the aid of these two 19-year-old boys in Apache Junction who crawled out of their submerged SUV to a small patch of land nearby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At that point, the natural instinct is to bail out and get out of the vehicle. And at that point, they're going with the flow of the water, which is very powerful.

ELAM: A helicopter hovers above, lowering a harness, lifting one of the teenagers across the rising waters to safety.

The second snaps pictures of the scene, even appearing to take a self portrait, mid-rescue.

Firefighters conducting rescues by air and land, lowering a ladder from a fire truck to rescue this couple stuck in a pickup truck for nearly an hour before following a safety line to land.

And just west in Scottsdale, a firefighter carries this woman to dry land as the water consumes her car. A similar fate for this Corvette carried some 100 yards by the floodwaters, the driver rescued.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He got out of the vehicle and was sitting on top of it. The -- you couldn't -- the water was sitting so high that you couldn't see the vehicle at all.


BROWN: And Stephanie Elam is live in Apache Junction there in Arizona. And Chad Myers in the CNN Weather Center.

Stephanie, we're going to check in with you first here. As we saw there in your story, there were some very scary rescues. Did everyone make it out OK?

ELAM: Unbelievably when you look at some of that video, Pamela, yes, everyone made it out. There were no injuries reported. And at this point, everyone is in cleanup mode.

In fact, as you can take a look behind me, there is a big plough, a bull dozer, and he's kind of pushing the mud around, trying to get the streets cleared because it's a particularly dicey little bit of land here.

And we were told that this fence over here to our side here was actually locked. It was locked and closed and then the mud and the rain, all of that water came pushing through and actually broke the gate open and leading to a lot of the mud here.

So people are being cautious around here, but still a lot of mud to clean up in certain areas. It's starting to get hotter here. It's supposed to be about 99 degrees here today. That will help dry out a lot of it, but more rain expected later, Pamela.

BROWN: That's not good news. Stephanie Elam, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Now we're going to check in with Chad Myers in the CNN Weather Center. Chad, out of curiosity, is this sort of instant flooding there in Arizona, is that unusual?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No, it happens all the time. It happens every summer.

And there are even places where these roadways, these streams, these creeks -- they're called arroyos -- they are dry 363 days a year, but then one storm sits on top of a mountain or on top of a high ground and it washes into these arroyos, into these stream beds.

And many places, even in Texas, too, and a lot of the Southwest, there's not even a bridge over the arroyo. You just drive down and back up the other side because there is just no point of building a bridge for only two days. People are supposed to know not to go in the water when it is up.

But it came up yesterday in a lot of places, Carefree, back over to Phoenix, and into Scottsdale, almost the entire state of Arizona picked up some type of rain yesterday.

Here's radar now. Nothing showing up on it. I suspect a lot of the rain today will be Vegas back towards Flagstaff and even into the hills to the west of Hollywood. There could be rainfall even in the Hollywood Hills area.

It's monsoon season. This is the area that brings up Gulf moisture across Texas into New Mexico and right into Arizona, so these showers, they pop up. They come and they go.

And they make these dust storms, too. There have been a few dust storms where these storms refuse to leave, makes a big cloud of the dust, and the dust blows around and all of a sudden, you've got a big -- they are called haboobs out there, but we just call them dust storm.

There you go. Vegas, you are under a flash flood watch right now, Palm Springs just to the east of you, as well.

High pressure over Denver and low pressure to the west and this is where the rain will develop right here in the desert Southwest.

It's a desert for most of the year, but not all of the year.

Pamela, good to have you.

BROWN: As we have seen. Thanks so much, Chad.

A powerful earthquake rocked northwest China this morning. Chinese media report at least 89 people were killed and more than 500 injured there.

The U.S. Geological Service says it was a 5.9-magnitude quake. The area was also hit with several strong aftershocks.

David McKenzie has more from China.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This powerful and shallow quake struck northwest China early on Monday morning. it was followed by a series of aftershocks that could have been quakes in their own right.

Look at this security footage which shows the immediate effect of this quake as it struck. The tremors lasted for at least a minute, causing people to rush out of their buildings for safety.

Gansu Province is one of the poorest in China. One of the worst affected areas appears to be (inaudible) county where many of the dead were found. Entire buildings were destroyed and homes heavily damaged.

Tragically, it was the elderly and the very young, according to state media, who were affected the worst because they couldn't run from the debris as it fell in time.

The Chinese government and the Red Cross have mobilized hundreds of rescue and relief workers to the area to try and assist and to find any of the missing.

This area has seen torrential rain in recent days and more rain is forecast which could make rescue efforts and relief efforts that much more difficult.

David McKenzie, CNN, Beijing.


BROWN: Thank you so much, David McKenzie.

And take a look here. Here are some more scenes of the quake's destruction. You can see right here the damage in a grocery store. Take a look at this, liquor bottles flying off store shelves.

And checking other stories we're following this morning, flames shot up 30 feet in the air after a natural gas fire caught on fire in a Virginia neighborhood. Only one house was damaged last night and officials say no one was in it, fortunately.

Firefighters evacuated nearby homes and sprayed them with water to keep the flames away. Officials say the fire was probably caused by a lightning strike.

And a California mother is headed to court today on child cruelty charges after allegedly chaining up her 10-year-old son. Police say Irma Navarro wrapped a chain around the boy's ankles to keep him from getting into trouble.

He was found in the apartment complex courtyard. The boy and his two siblings were taken by social services.

The U.S. Coast Guard had to shoot out the engine of a high-speed boat trying to smuggle drugs into Miami. Police seized $35 million worth of South American cocaine. A Coast Guard helicopter had to chase down and shoot out the boat's engine when it refused to stop. Police arrested four people.

And new information this morning about the decomposed bodies of three women found within a few blocks from each other, we're going to take you live to Cleveland to get the latest details just released by police in this disturbing story.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


BROWN: At this hour, Cleveland police are working a gruesome murder case. They found the bodies of three women, each wrapped in plastic, in three separate places.

A suspect is now under arrest, but there are fears that there may be more victims.

Anna Coren has more.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Police and cadaver dogs scour a chilling scene, an area in East Cleveland, Ohio, where three bodies were found, all wrapped in layers of plastic and taped up.

Neighbors are in disbelief.

BERNADETTE BASS, NEIGHBOR: Just very, very upsetting.

COREN: And, now, mounting evidence that there could be more women, more bodies, more tragedy.

GARY NORTON, EAST CLEVELAND MAYOR: I hope and pray that we do not find more bodies.

However, we are dealing with a sick individual, and we have reason to believe that there might be more victims.

COREN: Shaeaun Childs knew the foul stench coming from the garage wasn't just a blocked up sewer.

SHAEAUN CHILDS, NEIGHBOR: I couldn't put up with the smell. I didn't know if I wanted to throw up or, you know -- but it was that bad. It was a smell that no one want to smell, you know, something rotten like that.

COREN: Customers at his cable business had complained. And when he opened the door to search for a dead animal, there were indications of something far more sinister.

CHILDS: That was my fear because the smell was that bad. And I know an animal don't last that long when it is rotten.

COREN: Police were called to the scene and made the grisly discovery, a young woman's body wrapped in plastic garbage bags.

Another body was found in an open field, the third in the basement of a nearby abandoned building.

Police arrested 35-year-old Michael Madison, a registered sex offender and owner of the garage.

The father of two is well known in the community.

VANESSA JONES, NEIGHBOR: It's scary. It's heartbreaking to know someone that you think that's close to you or your friend could turn out to do something like this.

COREN: Madison told police he was inspired by serial killer, Anthony Sowell, who was convicted in 2011 of killing 11 women in Cleveland and is now on death row.

The case was known as the "House of Horrors."


BROWN: And Anna Coren joins us now from Cleveland. Anna, it's nice to have you with us.

Tell us what makes police think they might find more bodies related to this case?

COREN: Well, Pamela, as you heard in that piece, this is a man who considered Anthony Sowell, a serial killer in Cleveland, one of his idols. He really sort of looks up to him.

So police believe that he was influenced by his and they obviously have received information from Michael Madison that perhaps suggests that there could be more bodies in East Cleveland.

Now, the search for bodies will resume tomorrow. That is what we are hearing from authorities. In fact, Pamela, just to give you an idea of this neighborhood, one of the bodies was found in the basement of the abandoned house behind me. They have searched this area extremely thoroughly. They will now be moving to other areas.

But as far as information, there is a press conference that is about to be starting any moment now. We have crews that will be monitoring that coming in live. So we believe that police will be filing charges against Michael Madison who will be making a court appearance. We also believe there will be a medical examiner at this press conference so that certainly indicates that perhaps the identities of some of the victims might be revealed.

And, Pamela, some of the families of missing girls in this area, a number of women have gone missing in recent weeks and months, approached us yesterday and they've handing out flyers obviously looking for loved ones. And they are eagerly awaiting to find out if their family members, if the ones that they love and who have been missing for quite a while, are among the dead. Pamela. BROWN: You mentioned the number of missing women there in the area. In fact, according to the Northeast Ohio Missing Persons Database, 27 missing persons reports filed in that area just in the past couple of weeks. Anna, do you know if there is anything linking these victims? Do we know anything more about the victims?

COREN: Unfortunately, Pamela, we don't know anything about the victims at this stage. Police have remained very quiet in relation to that.

As I say, some of the family members approached us yesterday. They handed out these flyers. There's a girl who disappeared a couple of weeks ago; she is 18 years old. Her family desperately wants to know where she is. And they obviously have been waiting from authorities. They have certainly been in touch with authorities over the weekend.

But we understand that the bodies of these victims were very badly decomposed. You know, they were wrapped in plastic. They were taped up. Last week, it was extremely hot, as we well know, a heat wave across much of America and certainly here in Cleveland. So the composition of these bodies not so good, so it's going to take a while for the coroner to work out the identities of these victims.

But certainly the fact that a medical examiner will be appearing at alt press conference certainly indicates that perhaps the identities at least of one of the victims might be revealed. Pamela?

BROWN: We certainly hope to learn more information on that front. Anna, thank you so much.

People take to the streets and voice their opinion about Stand Your Ground laws across the country. So what's the next step in this discussion? An update from the White House when we return. Stay with us.


BROWN: A week after a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin, protesters took to the streets across the country over the weekend. The demonstrations Saturday came the day after President Obama urged Americans to try to understand the killing of Trayvon Martin case from the view point of African-Americans.

Here is White House correspondent Brianna Keilar.


KEILAR (voice-over): In Houston late Sunday, some tense moments as Trayvon Martin supporters marched close by a group backing George Zimmerman and stand your ground laws.

PROTESTERS: No justice, no peace!

KEILAR: Earlier, emotional rallies in some 100 cities across the country. Echoing President Obama's extraordinary personal comments, trying to explain the pain African-Americans are feeling. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.

KEILAR: Protesters demanding federal civil rights charges and supporting the president's call for states to reconsider stand your ground laws.

OBAMA: If Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened?

KEILAR: Republican John McCain says stand your ground laws need to be rethought.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: And I'm confident that the members of the Arizona legislature will, because it is a very controversial legislation.

KEILAR: Beyonce and Jay-Z came out to stand with Trayvon's mother, Sybrina Fulton.

And Friday night, Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake ended a Yankees Stadium concert, dedicating the song, "Forever Young."



KEILAR (on camera): You may notice President Obama did not opine about the outcome of the George Zimmerman trial. Instead, he talked about a national conversation where all Americans should do some soul searching in their families, in their work places, and in their churches, being honest about whether they judge people by the color of their skin. Pamela?

BROWN: Brianna, thank you.

And coming up, a woman falls to her death while riding a roller coaster. Safety experts say amusement parks need more oversight. Our legal panel weighs in.


BROWN: Welcome back. Well, going to an amusement park is supposed to be fun and safe, right? That was not the case at Six Flags over Texas. A woman making her first trip to Six Flags fell to her death from the Texas Giant coaster. Now the question this morning is were the victim safety concerns ignored?

CNN's Ed Lavandera has more.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Texas Giant starts with a spine tingling drop. This is where witnesses say they saw Rosie Esparza fall from the wooden roller coaster. Carmen Brown was next in line to get on the ride when she heard the horrific screams.

CARMEN BROWN, WITNESS: She goes up like this. Then when it drops to come down, that's when it released. She just tumbled.

LAVANDERA: Some witnesses told local news media that Esparza told a Six Flags employee she was worried that her seat restraint had not locked properly. Esparza's son and other family members rode along with her. They had to ride out the 2-minute roller coaster fearing the worst the rest of the way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were screaming when they came back and they are trying to get out of the restraint. They were screaming we got to get my mom.

LAVANDERA: Six Flags over Texas Hurricane Harbor refuses to answer questions on camera, but in a written statement says we are committed to determining the cause of this tragic accident. It would be a disservice to the family to speculate regarding what transpired. According to a National Safety Council analysis of amusement park injuries there were just over 1,200 ride-related injuries in 2011.

About 4 percent of those caused serious physical harm. Roller coaster accidents accounted for about 28 percent of the injuries. But industry observers say amusement parks are loosely regulated and that it is Six Flags that will be in charge of conducting the investigation, not an outside independent agency.

KENNETH MARTIN, AMUSEMENT PARK SAFETY ANALYST (via telephone): Whatever organization comes in, whomever comes in, their work is the property of Six Flags and it will remain the property of Six Flags because there's nothing in Texas or many other states that make them have to release that information.

LAVANDERA: The Texas Giant wasn't the only weekend amusement park accident. At the Cedar Point Amusement Park In Ohio, seven people were injured when a boat on the Shoot the Rapids ride flipped over.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Arlington, Texas.


BROWN: Joining me now is our legal team, defense attorney Danny Cevallos and former criminal prosecutor Faith Jenkins. Thank you both for being here with us.

All right, Faith, I want to start with you. If I understand this correctly, there is oversight with inspections at these amusement parks but not with investigations for accidents like this. So what's the next step here in this investigation?

FAITH JENKINS, FORMER CRIMINAL PROSECUTOR: Well, as of now, Six Flags is actually conducting this internal investigation themselves and also the German manufacturer of this roller coaster has sent people in to investigate the roller coaster to see if there was a defect in the roller coaster when this accident happened. Obviously they're concerned about accountability and liability in this case in terms of someone bringing a civil lawsuit for negligence and perhaps product liability.

BROWN: All right, so in light of that, Danny, in light of the fact that Six Flags as of now will be conducting its own investigation into this accident, what is the level of Six Flags liability here?

DANNY CEVALLOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Pamela, in a case like this, you're going to have a virtual jubilee of liability. Because not only is Six Flags potentially liable, this is what personal injuries, what we call many levels, many layers of liability, of coverage. Because beyond Six Flags is the manufacturer. And if the plaintiff can prove that negligently designed it or that it had a manufacturing defect, there may be additional liability.