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Remains Found May Be of Autistic 14-Year-Old; Marine Mom Missing in Illinois

Aired January 20, 2014 - 20:00   ET


RITA COSBY, GUEST HOST: Breaking news tonight. We go off the top to stunning surveillance video which captures a teen boy with autism who cannot verbally communicate leaving his school in broad daylight. But nobody notices a thing. After a months-long search, a new development tonight. In the last hours, human remains have been washing ashore piece by piece. Is it 14-year-old Avonte?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s a heavy police presence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Human remains found with a possible link to 14- year-old missing teenager Avonte Oquendo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Size 5-and-half Nike Jordan sneakers and a size 16 jeans Avonte was wearing on the day he left.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s been heartbreaking! I just need to find my son!


COSBY: And tonight, to the Illinois suburbs, the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Marine mother Christie (ph) Williams. Williams was on the verge of watching her only son graduate from boot camp when she vanishes behind the wheel of her red Ford Escape. What happened to Marine mom Chrissy Williams?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please come home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The family of missing mom Chrissy Williams believes something must have happened to her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you`re still alive somewhere, if you`re being held against your will, I`ll find you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mom of a Marine in training, Chrissy was last seen in her 2011 Ford Escape with Illinois plates. According to the family, Chrissy may have been receiving threats in the days leading up to her disappearance.


COSBY: Also tonight, double murder and a missing person mystery in the parking lot of a popular San Diego mall. A 22-year-old fiancee whose soon to be brother-in-law both (ph) dead. Still missing, the dead fiancee`s 24-year-old sweetheart. Is a green Toyota Camry found abandoned 100 miles away with a male`s body in the trunk linked to the San Diego double murder?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two young people are gunned down in a San Diego mall parking lot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ilona and Salvatore found shot in their car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a third person has been missing ever since.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police have found another body.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now authorities have found the missing man`s car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the trunk, a man`s body.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His body was quite decomposed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are these the remains of the man authorities have been trying to locate?


COSBY: And we go to the Washington suburbs. Cops say Mommy goes berserk with a knife on a stabbing rampage. Her target, her four little children. At this hour, her 2-year-old toddler and 1-year-old baby dead. Why? Mommy allegedly claims she`s performing an exorcism.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A Maryland mom is accused of trying to perform an exorcism on her own children with deadly results.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allegedly stabbed two of her children to death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A neighbor reported seeing a knife and what appeared to be blood near Avery`s (ph) car, its door left open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mother allegedly claimed the devil was in her children.


COSBY: Good evening. I`m Rita Cosby, in for Nancy Grace tonight. Thank you so much for joining us.

First we go off the top to the months-long search for a teenage boy with autism. A new a very big development tonight. In the last hours, human remains have been found washing ashore, piece by piece. Is it 14- year-old Avonte?

Let`s go straight to Noam Laden. He is news anchor with WABC radio. First walk us through. How did little Avonte go missing, Noam?

NOAM LADEN, WABC RADIO (via telephone): You know, we don`t really know, but we do have this surveillance videotape that shows Avonte running out of his classroom, then out the front door of this building. And then he just vanished after that. And what we don`t know is -- the school took its time notifying the Oquendo family and notifying the police that he had run out of the building.

COSBY: Well, Noam, they took their time. How much time? Minutes are precious, especially with an autistic boy.

LADEN: You know, the family had claimed more than an hour. We don`t know for sure, but...

COSBY: More than an hour?

LADEN: Yes. Yes. I mean, hard to believe, you would think that a kid who can`t communicate...


LADEN: ... and he`s out on the streets and the family doesn`t even know that he`s missing from the school.

COSBY: The other thing, Noam, I understand that the mother, actually, when she did finally -- when they finally got her there, she made an announcement on the loudspeaker, calling for her boy. Imagine how desperate that must have been!

LADEN: Oh, yes. And you know, it was a story that captured everybody`s heart. I mean, you see the videotape of this boy. You know, it`s such a sweet picture of this child. And family released more videotape along the way, and you know, hundreds of people who didn`t even know Avonte over the last three months -- this happened back in October -- for those months on end, these volunteers from all over the place, all over the country, for that matter, were coming to New York to search for Avonte because, you know, they felt like it was one of their own.

COSBY: Absolutely. And by the way, I`m also the godmother of two autistic boys, so I know just how difficult this was. Also, I remember seeing those posters all over the subways, all over -- really, all over the city. Everybody has been looking. And we`re still praying that maybe there will be some good news in this case.

Let`s go to Justin Freiman, NANCY GRACE producer. Justin, what amazes me is what we just heard from Noam, that it took, what, an hour. Finally, the mother gets there. How does a boy, whether he`s autistic or not, any child, suddenly go missing out of a school?

JUSTIN FREIMAN, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER (via telephone): That`s exactly what the attorneys are asking, as well, because this shouldn`t happen. A child should not be allowed to just to walk out, especially in view of the security guards.

COSBY: Yes, in view of the security guards. Tell us about that because there`s surveillance video. Walk us through the timeframe as you know it, Justin.

FREIMAN: That`s right. There`s surveillance video, and on the video, as you`re seeing, he walks right out. And there`s also a guard near that door that can witness that happening. And just before he walks out the door, there is video of an adult going out that same door, which is one of the reasons they believe the door was unlocked at the time.

COSBY: So they believe, Justin, the door was unlocked. You`ve got autistic kids. And what I understand -- the ratio of students to teachers in this case, it`s actually -- you know, there`s not that many kids they`re watching. Obviously, it`s a lot of responsibility when it`s a child with special needs.

But I still am baffled, Justin. How could a child walk out like this and it seems like nobody notices the door`s unlocked?

FREIMAN: That`s right. And it`s -- reports say that there were three adults watching only 12 or 13 children with special needs at the time.

COSBY: Dr. Cathleen London, a doctor, a physician, I want to ask you -- again, as I pointed out, I`m the mother -- the godmother of two autistic boys, beautiful young boys. I think they`re super-smart, but they obviously have trouble communicating. That`s common with autism.

Describe, sort of, the disabilities, for all of us, that kids with autism, the extra care that they really need.

DR. CATHLEEN LONDON, PHYSICIAN: So there`s a whole spectrum that autism falls into, from very mild to very severe. But the thing that characterizes autism is an inability to communicate in a normal way, whether it`s to show their own feelings or to empathize. They don`t have that ability. And in Avonte`s situation, he could not communicate at all. So these are children that you need to watch much closer than, you know, my kids who -- who are very rowdy and all over the place, and you call, and even if they don`t want to, they`ll eventually answer.

COSBY: Absolutely. And it doesn`t even sound like they did the basic here, which is what -- it just really amazes me.


COSBY: Let`s go to David Perecman. He`s the attorney for Avonte Oquendo`s family. And I understand Mr. Perecman, you guys are talking about a lawsuit. We don`t know, of course, what`s going to happen. We`re praying that these remains that have washed ashore are not of Avonte. We`re all praying that there`s going to maybe some good news that comes out of this and it doesn`t determine to be connected to him.

But tell us the grounds you think -- just listening to this, I am astounded that there`s a door open, that there`s such a lack of supervision. It takes an hour for the mother to be informed. What is your basis and your thoughts and your concerns by the family?

DAVID PERECMAN, ATTORNEY FOR MISSING BOY`S FAMILY: We`ve been given the videotapes. I don`t think we`ve been given all of them, but from the videotapes, what we see is he enters a stairwell, and the children exit the stairwell about a minute later. And somehow, although there were only 13 children being watched by three adults, he got off the line.

So when they exit the stairwell going to where they were supposed to go, Avonte appears about a minute later exiting another stairwell on the first floor. He not only runs once past the security guard -- because he goes towards the back door, which I have a feeling was locked, and then turns around and goes towards the front door. And there`s a question about whether he was confronted by the security guard. We do hear information that she said to him, Where are you going? Go back to class.

But the worst part is he ran out that front door. That front door was open for 12 minutes. The videotapes we do have show that school safety agent walking over to that door and closing it about three minutes after Avonte walked out it. And I`m wondering why.

COSBY: Yes, David, what has the school said to you at all? Because this is amazing to me that that door would be open for any child, let alone a class with kids with special needs.

PERECMAN: Unfortunately, when there`s litigation involved, they don`t say anything. What they do is release what little information they`ve been forced to release through a Freedom of Information law request. We got some information. But the bottom line is it doesn`t explain it. It doesn`t explain what I saw as approximately a 12-minute gap before they notified the unit coordinator, more than a 20-some-odd-minute gap before they notified the assistant principal. The assistant principal then confronts the school safety agent, who tells them, I saw him go upstairs.

COSBY: Which, as it turns out, was completely wrong.

Let`s go to the defense attorneys, Trent Copeland, David Wolfe. Trent, what would you say if you were the school? I think they`ve got a tough case here against them.

TRENT COPELAND, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, I think they have a really tough case, Rita, and for a number of reasons, not the least is which that the security officer may have given information that was false, may have lied, and that...

COSBY: Yes, sounds like...

COPELAND: ... may have further...

COSBY: Let`s talk about...

COPELAND: That may have further impeded the investigation.

COSBY: ... the door. Trent? Trent?


COSBY: Let`s talk about the door being open, and...

COPELAND: Yes, there`s no question.

COSBY: ... this timeframe that we just heard from David Perecman, the attorney from the family -- that`s devastating, don`t you think, Trent?

COPELAND: I think it`s devastating, Rita, and I don`t think there`s any question that Mr. Perecman is on the right path here. I think there`s a problem with security. I think there`s a problem with the fact -- look, and I don`t have a problem with this. I don`t have a problem with the numbers of people that were there to watch these children. I think the ratio was probably fair and reasonable.

But where there is a real problem for this school is trying to identify what the security officer saw, when he alerted his supervisor...

COSBY: Yes, you`re right. You`re right.

COPELAND: ... that we have a child that was missing...

COSBY: And an autistic...

COPELAND: We have a lot of problems here and we there are gaps every...

COSBY: I agree.

COPELAND: We had gaps every step of the way.

COSBY: I agree. David Wolfe, real quick, your reaction.

DAVID WOLFE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It just seems curious to me that school was obviously in class. There were not a bunch of other kids in the hallway. And if, in fact, this group of children was being transported from one location to another with a 10-to-3 ratio, it seems as though the count should have been quite apparent that somebody was missing.

COSBY: Yes. Absolutely.

WOLFE: I do think it`s peculiar.

COSBY: There`s, I think, a lot of questions here.

Real quick, Dr. Cathleen London -- the sad news in this case is we`re hearing pieces are coming apart. We`ve heard, you know, legs, arms. There was a report even possibly of a skull. It`s just so sad to hear.

How long, do you think, until they ID this? And is there anything unusual if it turns out to be Avonte or anyone -- would you suspect foul play because there are pieces, as opposed to a whole body at this point?

LONDON: I would, actually, because that`s not a natural way of -- if it was just one limb that was separated off, that you can account for, but it would be very unusual to have a body coming piece by piece like this.

It`s going to probably be -- they`re estimating Wednesday to ID, to see whether or this is Avonte or not. And that has to do with trying to match Mom`s DNA to the DNA that they have to get from parts that are not so decomposed, that they still can get DNA from it. And then they need to compare the two to see if it`s a match. So that will take until about Wednesday, is what they`re saying.

COSBY: And of course, we are praying that it is not a match at this point.

When we come back, the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Marine mother Chrissy Williams, vanishing behind the wheel of her red Ford Escape.


COSBY: To the Illinois suburbs, the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Marine mother Chrissy Williams. Williams is on the verge of watching her only son graduate from boot camp when she disappears behind the wheel of her red Ford Escape. What happened to Marine mom Chrissy Williams?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can`t find her, her vehicle. We still continue to search on a daily basis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police are investigating the disappearance of young mom Chrissy Williams, whose family is desperate for answers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I won`t stop looking until I find you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The search for Chrissy continues.


COSBY: So what happened to Chrissy Williams? And there`s word that she felt threatened before all this.

Let`s go straight to Matt Zarrell, NANCY GRACE producer. Matt, give us sort of the lowdown of what happened with her.

MATT ZARRELL, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: Yes, Rita, 39-year-old Chrissy Williams was last seen leaving a home in the area in Illinois which her sister says is a friend`s parents` house. Now, the big thing here, Rita, is just days before she went missing, she had allegedly received threats, and apparently, the family is saying that she even notified police about these threats, and police are said to be questioning this person.

COSBY: What do we know about the nature of the threats, Matt?

ZARRELL: Well, we know that Chrissy had allegedly sent a friend a Facebook message saying that if she went missing, that a certain person was to be blamed. This was just a couple days before Chrissy went missing.

COSBY: Certain person to be blamed. Let`s go to Matt McClain, news director of Newstalk 94.3. Matt, give us the last physical sighting of her. We know that she had some text messages with her mother, but then she was what, with friends? That was the last time she was seen?

MATT MCCLAIN, NEWSTALK 94.3 WKYX (via telephone): Yes, Rita, actually, last seen on the night of December 2nd, leaving a Rosiclare, Illinois, residence, and just after 9:00 PM local time, where Williams`s sister Tami is saying that police are obviously continuing the search efforts, really kind of trying to find out what`s going on there. But that is the last place that they actually saw her, that people actually saw her prior to her disappearance.

COSBY: There was also a scent that was picked up, I understand, Matt. A dog picked up a scent. Give us a sense on that.

MCCLAIN: Yes (INAUDIBLE) her sister indicating that one of the dogs that obviously has been searching around, trying to find a scent, apparently got a hit sometime over the weekend of Chrissy`s scent along a portion of the Ohio River there in that county where Rosiclare is located. They`re saying that they`re returning to that site yesterday and on even today.

I know that some experts have been sent in from Louisville, Kentucky - - realizing this is in Illinois. This has actually been a bi-state effort, officials from both sides of the Ohio River have been assisting in this search, trying to find what`s going on.

But as far as where that scent has led, to be quite honest with you, we just got off the phone a short time ago with the Hardin County sheriff`s office. They`re not really giving us information, so we kind of have to rely upon Chrissy`s sister to give us that information because, quite honestly, the folks there -- they`re keeping things really close to their vest.

COSBY: And let`s go to Tami Jackson, sister of Chrissy Williams. Tami, first of all, our prayers are with you. I can`t imagine how difficult this must be. Was your sister very concerned? There was this threat that I keep hearing -- we were hearing from Matt Zarrell. How concerned was she that something could happen to her?

TAMI JACKSON, SISTER (via telephone): I believe she was pretty concerned. I mean, she had told her friend in the Facebook message that she had went to the police to report it.


COSBY: Chrissy Williams has not been seen, and her son, who she was very excited about, was about to graduate from Marine Corps boot camp. She was extremely excited, but she was getting some threats.

Let`s go back to her sister, Tami Jackson, the sister of Chrissy Williams. You know, what I can`t get over, what`s so odd about this case, Tami -- and I`m sure it`s so puzzling for you and the family. She`s missing, but also, what, her car is missing, too?

JACKSON: Yes. We have not been able to locate the vehicle or her or any trace of her. Her debit card has not been used. Her cell phone cannot be pinged anymore. It just now gives a busy signal when you call it.

COSBY: How is the family doing, too? And what do they suspect about this threat? Because you keep going back -- she was worried, and now suddenly, she disappears. Do they believe there`s anything to this prior threat, Tami?

JACKSON: We`re not sure. It may just be a coincidence. The threat come from a person in Galleton (ph) County. However, she went missing in Hardin County. And the last two people that my sister was with in Hardin County have changed their stories and their stories are not matching up.

COSBY: Oh, that`s concerning! So now let`s go to David Wolfe, defense attorney. Stories are changing, car is missing, no cell phone pings, apparently nothing taken out of bank accounts. Isn`t it odd, David, no car found, too?

WOLFE: Well, it`s very odd. And the cell phone triangulations are very important because it seems as though if she went to these people`s homes and their stories are sounding confused and there`s no pinging information from signals being sent from the phone leaving there, then that may be a better avenue to pursue than the perceived Facebook threat that had been made earlier.

COSBY: Yes, this missing story thing -- you know, when you hear this -- and you know this, David. You and I have, you know, covered so many cases. That`s a huge problem, when people can`t keep their stories straight. I would be zooming in and at least asking tons of questions to them.

WOLFE: Well, at the very least, the people whose home they were at, and she had just left, if she did leave, would seem to know precisely what was going on, what happened before she left and whether or not they had any thoughts as to whether or not she was in danger.

COSBY: Matt McClain, news director with Newstalk 94.3, WKYX -- real quick, she was very excited about her son who was graduating from boot camp in the Marines, right? She even took out money?

MCCLAIN: Yes, Rita, there`s no doubt that she was extremely excited, Dustin (ph) arriving home in mid-December after completing three months of boot camp, training for those U.S. Marines in San Diego. And they had made reservations for them to go see Dustin graduate from boot camp even for earlier this month.

And obviously, you know, that is not -- at this point, it`s just not happened. But yes, she was extraordinarily proud, from what we understand, of her son, and certainly understandably so. I know that the father has just tried to be very comforting, that he`s trying to be strong for his son, Dustin, obviously, in this situation for him. And certainly, our thoughts and prayers go out to that family, as well.

COSBY: Absolutely.

Well, when we come back, double murder and a missing persons mystery in the parking lot of a popular mall. Is a green Toyota Camry found abandoned 100 miles away with a male`s body in the trunk linked to the San Diego double murder?


COSBY: Double murder and a missing person mystery in the parking lot of a popular San Diego mall. A 22-year-old fiancee, her soon-to-be brother-in-law both dead. Still missing, the dead fiancee`s 24-year-old sweetheart. Is a green Toyota Camry found abandoned 100 miles away with a male`s body in the trunk linked to the San Diego double murder?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A grisly discovery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police in Riverside, California, respond to reports of a parked car with a foul odor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police have found another body.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A third body has been found.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an intentional murder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could this be the person they`re searching for ever since his fiancee and brother were shot to death outside a San Diego mall?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A car belonging to the older brother of the deceased male.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the trunk, a man`s body.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the case of double murder about to expand to a third victim?


COSBY: I`m Rita Cosby in for Nancy Grace. Let`s go straight to Cliff Albert, investigative reporter. Cliff, walk us through first what happened when the two people were found shot.

CLIFF ALBERT, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, what happened was, Rita, Ilona Flint, the fiancee, and Salvatore Belvedere, the brother of the man who was engaged to Ilona, they were found in the parking lot of a very popular shopping mall here in San Diego, Mission de Valley (ph) center, crowded area, although it was early in the morning, but it usually was a very crowded area. And they got -- police got a 911 call from Ilona, who was able to tell them that I`ve been shot, but that was about it. So they rushed to the scene. She was dead or shortly thereafter she had passed out and died there at the scene. Salvatore died later in the hospital from his wounds. Both had been shot. And witnesses said they saw a male walk into the back of the victim`s vehicle, get into a car and drive away.

COSBY: Do we know what that vehicle looked like, and do we know if that was the other person there, the fiance? Do we have any idea?

ALBERT: They did put out a description that it was, in fact, a Honda or Toyota, according to witnesses, so that`s what they`ve been looking for. So when they discovered the body in the trunk of the Camry up in Riverside the other day, obviously all the speculation immediately was that it was, in fact, the 24-year-old fiance to Ilona, Gianni Belvedere.

COSBY: Let`s go to Michael Christian, Nancy Grace producer. Michael, now, the body is found, give us the latest. Now this fiance`s body is found. Someone smells a strange odor, and it`s not nearby.

CHRISTIAN: That`s right, Rita. This car was parked in a strip mall parking lot. Witnesses say there was a very foul odor coming from it. They reported it to police. Police were able to link the car to Gianni, the fiance. It is his car. They popped open the trunk. They have found a badly decomposed male body inside, but they have not officially identified it as belonging to Gianni. They also cannot exactly say how this person died. We`re expecting an autopsy later this week, and hopefully that will be able to answer those questions.

COSBY: And Michael, what we understand is that at least the girlfriend, the brother-in-law, the soon-to-be brother-in-law, they were shot to death. It sounds like a hit, right, Michael?

CHRISTIAN: They were shot multiple times in the head and upper torso, so that certainly does suggest somebody who was intending to kill these people and certainly not some kind of accident or drive-by.

COSBY: Greg Cason, psychologist, what kind of a person does this? It doesn`t sound like an accident targeting these two people and now possibly a third.

CASON: No, this sounds like a crime of vengeance. Somebody had something against these people and went after perhaps Gianni specifically, and they wanted to hit his collateral or people that meant the most to him. This could also be a case, and this would be if this isn`t Gianni in the trunk, it could be a case of murder-suicide, which puts it in an entirely different category. Either way, this is one of the more tragic events I`ve seen in a while.

COSBY: It sure is. Greg Copeland, defense attorney. I think Greg Cason just hit on an interesting point. We don`t know at this point if it`s a double murder and a suicide, possibly, or if it`s a triple murder. How complex and how important is that to track down? How difficult is that to track down?

COPELAND: It`s going to be pretty hard to do at this point, Rita, because we just don`t have enough answers to some of the pivotal questions. How did that body get there? What was the manner of death? What was the cause of death? We just don`t really know. But look, I have a hard time imagining this is a murder-suicide, because how did the body get there? If it turns out to be -- God willing it`s not the case -- but if it turns out to be that this is the body of the fiance, then it`s unusual that he would have put himself into a trunk, that he would have somehow killed himself, maybe gunned himself down, and then he did that by putting himself in the trunk of a car. He didn`t need to do that if he intended to kill himself, by going to those means in terms of getting himself in a trunk, in a car, secreting himself and the car away . It just doesn`t seem to add up. It just does not seem to make sense. So my suspicion is that we`re going to - - this will turn out to be, if it`s, in fact, that story, that this will turn out to be a triple murder as opposed to a murder-suicide. But God willing those aren`t the facts as we know them yet.

COSBY: Trent, you do bring up an interesting point, somebody just doesn`t say I`m going to hop in a trunk.

Let`s go to Michael Christian, Nancy Grace producer. What is interesting, and I want to get the background, because they were living together, right? This fiancee apparently was very close. My first thought when I first heard this was, oh, is there a love triangle or something? It`s a big mystery tonight for all of us. What do we know about the relationship she had with her fiance and the brother?

CHRISTIAN: The Belvedere family was originally from Utah, as was the fiancee, Ilona Flint. Apparently they had all gone to high school together. The two brothers. They had all gotten along very well. They sound like the three musketeers the way people are describing them. The Belvedere family had moved to San Diego a few years ago, and Ms. Flint followed to stay with them, to be near her fiance, but apparently, from what I can understand, the entire family, other siblings as well, the Belvedere parents were all living in the same dwelling. So there doesn`t seem to be any kind of indication of a romantic triangle or any sort of dissension between the two brothers.

COSBY: And we have an update on country music star Trace Adkins, tonight. We can confirm that there was an incident on a cruise ship involving a Trace Adkins impersonator, but there were no blows and no blood. A rep for Adkins says he was able to restrain himself, leaving the cruise ship and checking himself into rehab after more than a decade of sobriety. Adkins plans to make it up to his fans on the cruise ship with a free concert, some tickets, rather, and also a meet and greet passes and also thanks them for their support during this difficult time.

When we come back, a two-year-old toddler girl and one-year-old baby brother stabbed to death. Why? Mommy allegedly claims she is performing an exorcism.


COSBY: We go to the Washington suburbs. Cops say mommy goes berserk with a knife on a stabbing rampage. Her targets? Her four little children. At this hour, her two-year-old toddler girl and one-year-old baby are dead. Why? Mommy allegedly claims she`s performing an exorcism.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police in Maryland say two women allegedly stabbed a one-year-old boy and two-year-old girl to death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police say the women believed they were performing an exorcism rite.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were confident and happy kids. How can they do this to a child?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officials say the mother claims she did it because the children had the devil and evil spirits inside them and required an exorcism. Reports claim the children may have been murdered in their sleep.

CALLER: In the car outside, there is a knife with blood. The car has the door open. The house has windows open up there. I heard loud noises and then I just wake up and I heard, like, jumping. I didn`t know, they had four children, so I don`t know if the kids just do that every day. So I didn`t just think anything, but this morning when I take my kids to school, I saw the knife with blood outside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where did you see the knife?

CALLER: The knife is on the floor, it`s behind the floor in the car. It`s just like somebody put it standing, and it`s bloody knife.


COSBY: I`m Rita Cosby in for Nancy Grace. Thanks for being with us tonight. Let`s go to Scott Wykoff, reporter with WBAL Radio. Scott, walk us through what happened here, and first of all, the cops arrive on the scene, what do they see?

SCOTT WYKOFF, REPORTER, WBAL RADIO: Well, early on Friday morning, what they saw was a car with the door open in front of this townhouse in suburban Maryland just outside D.C. And when they looked down, there was a bloody knife on the ground. What the police did, they found keys in the car. They immediately went into the house, and when they went in the house, they found blood all over the house, and as you said, the toddler and the baby dead, and a five-year-old and an eight-year-old badly injured, all stabbed repeatedly.

COSBY: Matt Zarrell, my understanding was this was not the first time the cops were called that night. And that`s raising a lot of red flags here, Matt.

ZARRELL: Rita, it was within about 12 hours. Thursday night. So Friday night is the when they get the second 911 call that the kids are in the house and are dead. So Thursday night, police respond to another 911 call by a neighbor reporting that one of the children was left unattended in a vehicle. Now, as officers were on their way, two women came out, told the neighbor to mind his own business, and then took the child and went back inside. When cops arrived, they knocked on the mother`s door. They got no response. When they didn`t see or hear anything suspicious, they called the county child welfare agency, and the child welfare agency was supposed to follow up on Friday, but they didn`t have time because they were going to go on Friday, but before that, the children were dead.

COSBY: Matt, the big question is going to be, what happened the first time? The cops knock on the door and no one answers and they just leave? Because a lot of people are going to say did the cops miss the mark here?

ZARRELL: We actually spoke to the police, and the police told us directly that it was something they did not witness. The child had already been brought back inside the house. They had very sketchy information at that point --

COSBY: But Matt, they had the neighbors saying they were hearing screaming, they were hearing noises. So they just left?

ZARRELL: No, the commotion that was heard by neighbors was actually heard in the overnight hours, and nobody called police. Neighbor only called about the child being left unattended in the vehicle, and then called again Friday morning about the knife outside the open car.

COSBY: When you hear this, it`s so heartbreaking. Scott Wykoff, give us a sense of the background of this family. There are four kids, correct, and two women inside this home?

WYKOFF: That`s right. The woman, the mother who has been charged with first-degree murder, 28 years old. She`s lived in Maryland, in Ohio for the last several years. A few years ago she moved to western Maryland, Hagerstown, about two hours from Germantown, where she`s living now. And her family had some financial problems, and they went to a church, and they received some help. The minister from that church said that she received mental health counseling while she was there. But they moved to the D.C. area. They moved into this townhouse in Germantown, and in the last several months, she befriended this other woman, the 21-year-old Monifa Sanford, who was also living in the house, and she is also charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Not sure their background together. Some people believe it was just from meeting at church. But what happened was, they were both arrested, and both taken into custody, and they have both told investigators that they thought an exorcism was necessary to remove the presence of the devil and evil spirits, and they thought they were performing an exorcism when they stabbed the children repeatedly.

COSBY: Scott, so they both told authorities they were trying to get the devil out of her own children, and they both basically said, we performed an exorcism? We did it?

WYKOFF: That`s right. They thought the devil was within the kids and they thought the evil spirits were within the kids, and that`s what they did, and that`s why they said the children were stabbed repeatedly.

COSBY: And Matt Zarrell, I have to ask you, because I think what is so significant, Nancy Grace producer Matt Zarrell, the cops come, this is the second time. They get there, they go in the house, they see the bloody knife on the vehicle, so then they put two and two together. They go to the house, they go inside. What happens? What does the mother do at that point?

ZARRELL: That`s where it gets a little interesting, because as soon as the cops open the door, they see the mother near one of the older children. As soon as the mother sees the cops, she bolts out the back door, cops chase her down and apprehend her.

COSBY: Greg Cason, psychologist, what kind of a mother does this to her own children, killing two of her kids? It`s just so heartbreaking, a two-year-old, a one-year-old, trying to stab the others?

CASON: Extremely heartbreaking. And I think we can only look at the fact that this mother probably has a very severe mental illness. We can look at this is probably a paranoid delusion that she believed her kids were in fact possessed by the devil, and it may have been a function of something even worse, like the fact she may have had schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or some other kind of psychotic disorder that she believed the devil was within them. Now, the fact that that other person in the house participated leads me to believe that that person may have had an influential role in this murder as well.

COSBY: Yes, clearly, and clearly was an active participant, agreed with it, told the cops, Greg Cason, that they were both performing an exorcism. It`s just unbelievable. The other thing I understand is that neighbors, prior to this incident, they did complain, of course, this night, but hadn`t heard anything before. What do you make of that? Now we are hearing there`s mental history. No noises in the house. What sort of person says, okay, I`m going to do an exorcism on my kids?

CASON: I have personal experience with this, because I used to live next to some witches who performed ceremonies. And believe me, they were quiet for months at a time, and all of a sudden--

COSBY: Wait, Greg, you were with witches who had ceremonies? What is this?

CASON: I lived next door to some people who actually claimed to be witches, would be perfectly wonderful neighbors--

COSBY: Were they friends of yours, Greg Cason?

CASON: They really weren`t friends of mine. I have to say sometimes you move into a neighborhood, and you find out who your neighbors are, and unfortunately or fortunately they left after a few months, so we didn`t get much of a participation. But I believe for a fact that neighbors didn`t see it because there might have been trouble brewing. The fact is then there started to become activity one night, and that`s when other people heard about it. But it doesn`t mean stuff wasn`t already happening in the house.


COSBY: I am Rita Cosby, in for Nancy Grace. Let`s go back to Matt Zarrell, Nancy Grace producer. I got to ask you, the mother was fleeing when the cops came. I just want to get that right.

ZARRELL: Yes. She was.

COSBY: She was fleeing. Let`s go to the defense attorneys. Trent Copeland. David Wolffe. Trent Copeland, how are you going to defend this mother? This mother and this other woman, we don`t even know the relationship. They met at church. I want to know what kind of church this is. Says it`s an exorcism, and then the mother is fleeing. She`s like hanging over apparently one of the other kids, about to kill the other kids. Kills two of her kids. Can you explain this? How do you defend this woman?

COPELAND: This is a really tough case to defend, Rita. Shades of Andrea Yates. Remember, it was Andrea Yates who said to law enforcement when they showed up at the scene, that God had told her to do it, God had told her to drown her children. So in this same instance, this woman`s indicating that maybe she needed to somehow get the devil out of her kids by stabbing them to death.

But look, I am a little concerned, because I don`t think you can immediately jump to the conclusion that a plea of insanity is something the prosecution in this case is going to very actively accept. The reason for that is look, when the police came, this woman seemed to run away.


COPELAND: The problem with that is --

COSBY: She`s conscious. Conscious.

COPELAND: There`s a problem, and there`s a consciousness of guilt that may be associated with that kind of activity. Leaving the house. So, I don`t know necessarily whether or not she`s going to be able to claim the guilty by reason of insanity defense.

COSBY: Let`s hear David`s opinion. David, can you get an insanity out of this? The other thing, too, and Trent, not just the running, but remember, the cops came earlier. Presumably they were in the house. No one answers the door, so they`re aware they were doing some fishy even at that moment, too. So there could be a couple of instances that show consciousness of guilt. And then right away, oh, we`re doing an exorcism, oh, what`s wrong, cops?

WOLFE: I`d be interested to hear what`s in the house. This idea of an exorcism --

COSBY: In the house were two loony toon women.


WOLFE: No doubt they had snakes in their heads, but the point I`m trying to make is that if you`re doing an exorcism, if that`s just not the story the two of you came with up, depending on how long the kids had been dead--

COSBY: So is there any defense, David?

WOLFE: Are there religious artifacts? Well, depending upon what evidence is in the house and what these people`s mental health is.

COSBY: What evidence? Wait, wait, what evidence? Like what, what somebody forced them to do it? Give me a break. They said they did it, they said they committed an exorcism.

WOLFE: You asked a question, let me give you an answer.

COSBY: Give a reasonable answer. Come on.

WOLFE: Just listen to me. There was a 5-year-old and a 8-year-old in there, also, that`s going to be able to give information about what was going on.

COSBY: That doesn`t help mommy.

WOLFE: I`m just saying to you, if there are religious artifacts and if there is holy water and if there are things that demonstrate that an exorcism might be actually going on, then you`ve got some sort of psychiatric defense.


COSBY: There`s holy heck for this mother who did this to her kids.


COSBY: A mom goes berserk, kills two of her kids. She and another woman claim, oh, it`s an exorcism. There are two knives found in the home, and I want to go to physician, Dr. Kathleen London. Can you determine which knives were used, which weapons were used? In this crazy, bizarre exorcism?

LONDON: Yes, by the depth of the wounds, also by the shape of the wounds. Different kinds of knives. Depending on the kind of label will change it. This could be postpartum psychosis, although that doesn`t explain the second woman. But you know, mental health being an area we don`t do very well in, in this country.

COSBY: Tonight, we remember the great civil rights leader who lost his life in the pursuit of justice for all Americans. Martin Luther King Jr. The cornerstone of the civil rights movement. King was a great preacher known for his groundbreaking speeches, nonviolent protests and marches on Washington, DC and Montgomery. Tonight, we honor MLK and his dream.

And we remember American hero, Army Second Lieutenant Michael McGahan. 23, Orlando, Florida. Bronze Star, Purple Heart, a University of Florida grad from a family of World War II vets. Loved military history. Parents, Tim and Carol, brother Max, widow and high school sweetheart, Miranda. Michael McGahan, an American hero. And also tonight, 11-year-old Florida girl Briana Vega (ph) fighting for her life. Battling leukemia and in need of a bone marrow donor. Please help. Contact Miami Children`s Hospital or Kendall Regional Medical Center for testing to see if you are a match.

Dr. Drew is coming up next talking about Dennis Rodman, his former patient, going back to rehab. Have a great night. See you tomorrow night, 8:00 p.m. sharp Eastern time. And until then, good night, everyone.