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Did Family Think Janitor Could Get Ill Girl Help?

Aired March 26, 2014 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, breaking news as the nationwide manhunt escalates for an alleged murderer and kidnapper of 8-year-old Relisha Rudd. We are learning brand-new stunning information about why this little girl`s mother let this kidnapper take her daughter.

Good evening, I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, coming to you live.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our primary goal right now is to find the little girl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know why he didn`t bring her back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Believed to be with this man, Khalil Tatum.

NANCY GRACE, HLN ANCHOR: Did not report to school for weeks. And no one reported her missing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is hour by hour, minute by minute.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody failed this child.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Relisha was last seen February 26, the very same day this hotel surveillance video was taken.

Now, earlier that day, the family let this guy, Khalil Tatum, the janitor at the Washington, D.C., homeless shelter where they were living, take their daughter, Relisha, to live with him at his house. But as you can see from this video, taken that very evening at 7 p.m., Tatum instead took the 8-year-old to a hotel. Ominous indeed. Cops say he later murdered his wife. Ominous, as well.

Relisha has now been missing since last month. But it was her elementary school and the homeless shelter, not her own mother, who finally reported her missing just a week ago. Here`s her mom.


SHAMILA YOUNG, RELISHA`S MOTHER: I just want to know where my baby`s at. I want to know if she`s safe and is she OK.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Again, this Khalil Tatum character took the child February 26. It wasn`t until March 19, almost a month later, before the school noticed Relisha was not in class. In that time, nobody reported her missing.

Outrage building tonight as people ask why did Relisha`s mother give her child away to this janitor. But tonight, what we`re learning on this show is that friends are now coming to the mother`s defense, and saying she`s not a bad mom. That Relisha was sick, and her mother thought the janitor could get her daughter the care she needs. Plus, brand-new claims that relatives talked to the little girl on the phone just last Wednesday, the very day she was reported missing. These are big developments.

What do you think? Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

We have a fantastic Lion`s Den debate panel tonight. But first to my exclusive guest, Brenda Pringle. Brenda, thank you for joining us tonight.

You`re a friend of Relisha`s family. You`ve known Relisha since she was a year old. I know this is very difficult for you, but tell us the other side of the story that you were telling us earlier today that we just were so floored by. Because we had no idea that Relisha had been ill. And that apparently, the family tried to get her help, but they couldn`t afford to get her what she needed, and this janitor, who they considered a godfather, stepped in. Tell us what you know, Brenda.

BRENDA PRINGLE, FRIEND OF RELISHA`S FAMILY (via phone): Thank you for having me.

As far as what I was told, Mr. Tatum was Relisha`s godfather. And we had no problem with him getting her, because he never gave us a reason to doubt or a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) taste in our mouth for us to say maybe. Know (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Relisha, know she`s not allowed to do nothing with him no more. To the family, he was a good guy. He never gave us no bad signs, nothing.

As far as Relisha`s illness, to my concern, before she moved into the D.C. shelter, she never had a migraine; she never had a seizure. Once they moved into the D.C. shelter, my niece started having seizures. She started having migraines. Her mother and her stepfather took her to the hospital, and they could not figure out why she was having migraines, or headaches. They was giving her medication for it.

But obviously, the medication was not working, because she almost fell out in front of my eyes. That was cause sometimes for her not to go to school. Because I would call my sister and tell her she`s not feeling well, she`s dealing with a migraine...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Brenda, let me ask you this. Now, they - - the mother of Relisha and her stepdad wanted to get her a CAT scan is my understanding. But they couldn`t afford it. So they were trying to help their daughter.

Then how does this janitor/godfather, this janitor at the homeless shelter where the family is living, how does this man who is considered a godfather, step into the picture and offer to help them out of their predicament of not being able to afford to get the medical tests that they need for their daughter?

PRINGLE: Well, from my understanding, Relisha is on Medicaid. And I guess Medicaid could not afford it. So I guess Relisha`s mother and the godfather, Mr. Tatum, I guess they had a conversation about it. And from my understanding, to my knowledge, Mr. Tatum was supposed to put Relisha on his Kaiser plan for her to get the CAT scan to see what was causing her to have migraines, what was causing her to have seizures.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So he offered to put her on his insurance, and that was one of the ways he said, "Well, let her come and live with me at my house, so then I can put her on the insurance." Is that right?

PRINGLE: No, he -- she was never supposed to be living with him. Right?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, when she doesn`t come home the first night -- OK, February 26, he takes her. So she`s never supposed to be living with him. Why not on the evening of February 26, when she doesn`t return back to the shelter, do they not call authorities ASAP?

PRINGLE: To my knowledge, I thought she was with her mother, because...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But she wasn`t. I can tell you that. I can tell you that. She was not. The last time she was seen was February 26.

This man takes her to a hotel. It`s on surveillance tape. And she is not physically seen.

Now, you told us that a week ago somebody spoke to her on the phone. Tell us about that. And then we`re going to get some input from our panel. But that`s another big piece of the puzzle. Because she`s been missing, last seen February 26. That`s when he takes her. That`s when she`s seen at the hotel with him, going into a hotel room. But it`s not until the next month, the 19th, that she`s reported missing.

Now you`re saying, well, really, on that same day, you spoke to her, or somebody in the family actually spoke to her?

PRINGLE: Her grandmother and her aunt. Mr. Tatum called my sister and the grandmother at 9:07 in the morning, and they asked could they speak to Relisha. He said, "Hold on, I`m going to tell you what Relisha and my granddaughter did."

They said, "OK, what did she do?"

He said they woke up that morning, Relisha and his granddaughter, they woke up and they cooked breakfast. They cooked scrambled eggs...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait, wait, wait. Did he say that? Or did she say that? In other words, did you -- did they talk to the little girl, or was he saying, "Oh, yes, the little girl made breakfast for me"? The two -- because he has a granddaughter. The two little girls made breakfast.

PRINGLE: No, first they talked to Mr. Tatum. After they talked to Mr. Tatum, then they talked to Relisha. Relisha clarified what Mr. Tatum was telling them at first, that she had cooked breakfast, she had cooked scrambled eggs and toast. They asked if she burned down the place. She said, "No, Grandma. No, auntie, I did not burn down the place, and actually it was good."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. I have to stop you right there. You provided such great information. Thank you, Brenda. Don`t hang up. Because we want you to weigh in.

Now I want to bring in my expert panel. Let me fill you in on the most -- one of the most shocking aspects of this case. OK. The 19th, right? You just heard, oh, the little girl`s talking to relatives. Well, that was the very day that cops started looking for this guy, because the school finally said, "She`s not here."

Less than 24 hours after cops start hunting for little Relisha, tips lead cops to a local hotel. Instead of finding Relisha, they find the body of Mr. Tatum`s dead wife instead. They believe he murdered her.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once we got on scene, we checked several rooms. And we came across a deceased adult female suffering from trauma to the body.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, to add another twist, documents revealed that this guy and his wife had filed for divorce just days before he agreed to take the child in. And Tatum killed his wife. Again, right around the time cops finally start searching for this child.

Now, I`ve got to bring in Lisa Lockwood, one of the top investigators in America, author of "Undercover Angel." Is it coincidence? Is it coincidence this child`s not seen eyeball to eyeball for a month, and then the very day that they start looking for her, this guy`s wife turns up dead?

LISA LOCKWOOD, INVESTIGATOR/AUTHOR: Well, I`ll tell you what. Initially, Mr. Tatum looked like a super hero. I`m embracing this child. I`m taking her on home visits. I`m buying her things. I`m going to try to get her on my medical insurance. Everything sounds great. He talked to the family a week ago, checking in. She`s cooking a meal.

Until you find out the fact that there`s a murdered body. His wife is dead, and she filed for divorce. So what happened? What was the grand scheme? What was the plan in all of this?

It could go several ways. One of them, was it his entire plan the entire time to get custody of this child and to go off into the sunset and raise her? And he had grandiose visions of having this child, who is giving him love. Let`s just keep completely away from the fact that this may be a case of a sexual predator. And file for divorce?

Or did his wife actually see something happening that she didn`t approve of, and he acted violently and ended up killing her and leaving with the child?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you think, Kirby Clements, former prosecutor out of Atlanta?

KIRBY CLEMENTS, PROSECUTOR: This youngster, it`s a lot of speculation as to what actually happened inside that hotel room, except for the wife being murdered.

But I want to go back to this. How does a school not report a child missing for almost a month? Somebody should have been checking up a long time ago. This image that we`re seeing right here should never have been allowed to take place without that child falling (ph) to some child welfare authority trying to explain why she wasn`t in school.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, a couple of things. One, this family friend is explaining that the child was sick. So perhaps because the child had been sick with migraine headaches, et cetera, et cetera, that`s why they felt maybe she was sick.

But remember, this image is taken on the very day that she is given away. It`s not a month later. The same day that he takes her, supposedly so he can better provide insurance, which is not how insurance works, by the way, he ends up in a hotel with her. What does that tell you?

Popular -- by the way, we`re just getting started on this. We`ve got the calls lining up. We`ve got other experts. So stay right there. There`s more pieces to this puzzle.

Now later in our show, popular TV judge, Joe Brown, you know him, right? He doesn`t hold anything back. Well, guess what? He`s going to talk to me live in a little while. We`re going to get his side of the story, because he got into big trouble, getting into a face-off with a magistrate in court. He was held in contempt. He wound up behind bars. What does he have to say for himself?

But again, we`re just getting started on the search for Relisha Rudd. What are your theories at home?


WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I know you don`t like blaming victims. Nor do I. But the victim here is this child. OK? And I know his wife is a victim, too, but let`s focus on the child. We`re not blaming the child. We`re blaming her damn parents! Who lets the janitor take the kid? Who does that?




MELISSA YOUNG, RELISHA`S GRANDMOTHER: He says, "Oh, since school is closed, I`m going to keep her for another week."

I says, "Mr. Tatum, school is closed today, but she`s got school tomorrow."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A lot of people are speculating. Is there more to the story than just an alleged abduction, which is bad enough in itself?

Last night on this very show, our investigator Jon Leiberman said that his police sources said they were extremely frustrated by what they called a hampering of this investigation by some people very close to it, including, unfortunately, the little girl`s own mother. Listen.


JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: They have not been able to nail down exactly when the last time this mother saw her daughter was. They know when this video was, and they know when this girl was last seen in the homeless shelter. But they don`t know exactly -- and they`re saying it could have been into the first week of March, that somebody other than Mr. Tatum had contact with this little girl.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now, a lot of people on the Internet are wondering, you know, what is the family`s involvement, if anything? Kelli Saindon, former prosecutor, some people even suggesting maybe there was some kind of nefarious transaction between the mother and this man.

KELLI SAINDON, FORMER PROSECUTOR: That`s what I can`t help but think. As a prosecutor, you see everything. Did mom want to get her child out of the shelter? Did she want to get her medical care? Did she get money in exchange for her? And that`s why she may be hampering the police investigation? You look at all of these things; you add them up, and it does not jive. Missing 8-year-old; sick or not, you don`t hand over your child based on insurance. Like you said, that doesn`t work that way.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and I mean, Elizabeth Espinoza, CNN Espanol anchor, is it possible that they were just naive and they didn`t realize, well, you can`t just take a child and suddenly she -- some random person is on your insurance, and it doesn`t work that way? The innocent explanation is, well, they don`t know a lot about insurance. They`re living in a homeless shelter; they`re struggling. But yes, does it pass the smell test?

ELIZABETH ESPINOZA, ANCHOR, CNN ESPANOL: Well, here`s the thing. You know, there`s something called common sense, right? And if you`re a parent, you know that you probably shouldn`t just hand your child to someone who you really don`t know.

And let`s think about this. Hmm, he`s a janitor at the homeless shelter. You know what, Jane? Here`s what`s happening here. Once again, I don`t want to bring it up every time, but it`s the truth of the matter. It`s the race card and also the class card in this.

Because here`s an 8-year-old girl who I feel the system, everyone failed her. The school. Police should put out Amber alerts in surrounding cities. You`re right, police can`t figure out time lines.

Her family, how dare her parents say, "She needs medical help. We`re just going to give her to this guy." And now we know that the man she`s possibly with is a murderer, and God knows what he`s done to this child, as we speak.

I think everyone has failed this child. And something has to be done in terms of how we look at every child who goes missing. Because OK, so she`s in D.C. and lives in a homeless shelter, 8 years of age.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, yes. And you know...

ESPINOZA: Let`s get on it quick.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you. Kimberly Priest Johnson, criminal defense attorney, they`ve been living, reportedly, in this homeless shelter for a year. To me that`s a red flag. I mean, my heart goes out to them, but still. I would think the Department of Children and Families would be all over this man, especially because they have not only this child but three boys, and they`re living in this family? And apparently, she can`t get the medical treatment she needs?

I mean, from what I know about Medicaid, if you really need a medical procedure, and you`re poor, you can get that procedure. It`s not based on, well, Medicaid will not cover something. If it`s life-threatening, if it`s really needed, they should -- they should give it to you, don`t they?

KIMBERLY PRIEST JOHNSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right, Jane. There are several things that are odd, to say the least, about this mother. One of the most tragic things about this story is that the mother essentially fed her daughter to the lion.

I will say, though, that there`s classic signs of being a pedophile with Tatum. And what we see here is that he gradually did nice things for Relisha, and kind of won the family over. You`re talking about someone, clearly, that`s in significant economic need. And that`s what pedophiles typically do. They prey on people in significant -- with significant means, win them over. That disarms the natural parental instinct to say, "Why are you showing so much interest in my child?" And I really think what we see here is a classic pedophile.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And I don`t use analogies like "feed them to the lions," because lions are not predators in this sense. They`re not sick sexual predators, which many fear this man is. And we`re going to have a story about lions as victims coming up later in the show. It will blow your mind what is being done. Unbelievable.

But we still have more. We still have Brenda Pringle, the friend. She`s got even more information.

Here`s my question. Why is somebody who`s a janitor at the homeless shelter the godfather? How does that happen? I mean, why is that very important designation given to something who is essentially a stranger?

And also, was this guy still coming back to work as a janitor? If he was, wasn`t that a red flag? And if he wasn`t, wasn`t that a bigger red flag? On the other side.


M. YOUNG: The Lawrences (ph) would never feed them, because the parents wasn`t available. Mr. Tatum took notice that the Lawrences (ph) would never give them breakfast, and he started feeding him. And the Lawrences (ph) told him not to do it.



ANTONIO WHEELER, RELISHA`S STEPFATHER: Relisha`s very smart. She`s got a big heart. She likes to make friends. She`s not a bad little girl. I just want to know why he didn`t bring her back. I asked him to bring her back. I just want to know why he didn`t bring her back.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s the child`s stepfather, who was in the homeless shelter living with the child`s mother, the child, three brothers. And then on February 26, because she had medical problems that she said they couldn`t afford to pay for, the family gives the child to this guy, the janitor at the homeless shelter. And he`s supposedly the godfather at this point.

I want to go back to Brenda Pringle, the friend of the family. Now, I understand that this guy keeps going to work. She`s missing. OK? She starts going missing on February 26. Nobody sees her again. They may talk to her, but they don`t see her. But this guy keeps going back to work at the homeless shelter every day. So didn`t they ask, "Well, where is Relisha? Why isn`t she going to school? Bring her back?"

PRINGLE: Well, as far as I know, I don`t know if anybody asked him that. But I know as far as when everything went down the first day, he was at work. Because his supervisor had seen him and was trying to approach him and he ran.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh! That`s big information, Lisa Lockwood, investigator. So he keeps going to work the entire time this child`s missing. And I guess he`s giving this family some story about she`s sick, who knows what? And then, when the cops finally get on the case, or the school calls the homeless center and says this child is missing, the shelter goes up to this guy, and he takes off running.

LOCKWOOD: So that leads me to think, is his wife deceased at that point, or had his wife been taking care of the child? Was his master plan to abduct her and get away? And at that point, he felt he had no recourse so he, I guess, went ahead and executed his ex-wife and took off, because it was his chance.

So his alibi had been great all along: We`re taking care of her; we`re attempting possibly to get her on a medical plan. We have to prove and show that she`s living with us, whatever cockamamie story he came up with to make the parents feel safe that their child is not there and has been gone for three weeks. And then ultimately his only recourse was to get out of there fast so that he can execute the plan that he originally had.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ten seconds, Kimberly Priest Johnson.

JOHNSON: I totally agree with what Lisa just said. I think we`ve got a pedophile, as well as a murderer on our hands. And I just hope that we can speed up this investigation and do everything we can to find this poor little girl.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The best news we`ve heard so far is that she was spoken to last Wednesday, exactly a week ago. I pray that this little girl is still alive.

Sir, Mr. Tatum, if you have her, let her go. Go on your way. This is a mess. But don`t make it any messier. Leave the girl at a convenience store, at a hotel lobby, and take off.

We`re staying on top of this one.

A baffling mystery coming up. A popular high school student stabbed to death inside her home in an upscale gated community. Who wanted her dead?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I first heard the news, I cried. Because it was very hard to know a 16-year-old girl who had a lot of things ahead of her. And, you know, for her to -- for her to be gone so soon, you know.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The teenager was found dead by the homeowner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s hard to understand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police say they don`t have a suspect in custody.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened, who did it, and why.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The 16-year-old was found dead inside her home in a gated community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wouldn`t say if there were any signs of forced entry into the home inside this gated community.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The medical examiner now says she was stabbed to death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re all here for her. We all love her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I first heard the news, I cried.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her death is being treated as a homicide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our whole community has been rocked.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a community reeling from the mysterious and gruesome murder of a bubbly, popular, altogether wonderful high school student. 16-year-old Arrijana Hill was found stabbed to death inside her Houston area home in a well-to-do gated community.

Hundreds of people had a candlelight vigil are demanding answers and they are demanding justice. Who could have wanted this innocent girl dead?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t understand why somebody would do that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I first heard the news, I cried because it was a very hard thing (ph) to know a 16-year-old girl who had a lot of things ahead of her and, you know, for her to be gone so soon, you know. It`s very devastating.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look at this girl. She did so much at school -- managed the team. Her body was found in her home on Friday at about 5:00 in the afternoon. A classmate said she had been in school earlier that day. By all accounts, Arrijana was a wonderful girl, popular, a model student, a very loving daughter, never in any trouble; so a thousand questions come to mind.

Did police find the knife used to kill her? Were there signs of forced entry? Any signs of a struggle? Was anything stolen from the house? Is there surveillance video of a potential suspect going through the security gate? We have spoken to police repeatedly and they will not give us a single answer to any of those questions at this point.

One thing we do know, there are security cameras at the gates to the neighborhood. Does the video hold any clues, or are the answers to this hideous crime closer to home? Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to my exclusive guest, the victim`s pastor, Christopher Hartwell from Crossroads Community Church. First of all, I understand the victim`s parents are staying with you. I just want you to know that our heart goes out to them and to the entire community in mourning. We`re covering the story to help this family find justice and solve this case. Putting a case in the news is the most effective way to do that, Pastor.

Tell us about Arrijana. She was in school earlier that day. Everything seemed normal. What can you tell us, sir?

PASTOR CHRISTOPHER HARTWELL, CROSSROADS COMMUNITY CHURCH: Arrijana, she`s -- she was on the track team, manager for the track team. She was also on the volleyball team. She was in culinary arts as well as in the choir. And that was at school. But then at our church, she was on the praise dance team -- just a fun, loving, beautiful princess.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did she have a boyfriend?

HARTWELL: As far as we know, she had several friends, you know -- male and female.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So nobody that she was going steady with necessarily? Not that that`s necessarily relevant but that`s one of the things police always have to look at the personal relationships.

HARTWELL: Sure. Not that I know of.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is so, so, so gut-wrenching. Because this young lady was, to all accounts, you know, one of the good people -- one of the kids doing everything right.

HARTWELL: Exactly. Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Like you said, she was a manager of a track team, popular, attended church, just all-around beloved -- look at the turnout. Look at the turnout. Do you have any thoughts on, you know, what may have happened here? I know you don`t want to talk to the investigation -- I absolutely respect that, Pastor. But a 16-year-old was found stabbed to death in her home inside a gated community at 5:00 in the afternoon.

Was she alone at that time? Did she come home like a latchkey kid and go home -- you know, like many kids, like I did when I was a kid. I would come home and parents were out and my dad was at work and my mother was out dancing. She was a dancer. I`d come home myself and make some food and watch TV or read. Was that pretty much her scenario? Or did she have brothers and sisters?

HARTWELL: No, she does have two brothers, an older brother and she has a younger brother. But again, the investigation is still going on. And I think so we can ensure that justice is done, and to ensure that this tyrant, this murderer is found, and discovered. I think it`s just in our best interests to just do what the police in Pearland are doing, and that is keep a tight lip until they find something.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I understand, sir. I just have one other question to ask you and I know this is difficult. I understand that the family is so devastated, the parents that they`re not staying at the house. I totally understand that. They`re staying with you.

HARTWELL: Right. Correct.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How are they doing?

HARTWELL: I`ll be honest with you, there has -- every hour we`re shedding tears. Because, you know, she was their daughter. She was their only daughter. And there`s no -- there`s really no way that I can find words to articulate the level of emotions that they`re going through, the intensity of all of this, the burden and the pain, the brokenness, the stress because it`s an unexpected tragedy.

There are people out there who you would expect to get in trouble, because they have, you know, deviant behavior. But when you think about a precious, innocent 16-year-old little girl, even yesterday while we were together, I said, what are your most fondest memories of Arrijana? And both mom and dad said her smile and her giggle.

And again, you know, while we`re there together, any -- you know, nothing has to be said, or nothing has to be done. We`ll just think. And all of a sudden we`ll start crying, you know, because she was that bright light in the family.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I understand, Pastor. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. And again, our hearts go out to her parents, her family, her brothers.

Police won`t tell us if they think Arrijana`s murder started as a home invasion, a botched robbery. The 911 call came in about 5:00 in the afternoon. Is the afternoon a time of day that burglars strike a gated community that has security guards and surveillance cameras?

Of course, there`s another terrifying scenario. Was Arrijana targeted?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It kind of made me wonder if it was somebody that she knew. And that would be even more a very sad thought to think that that could happen to that sweet girl right at the end of the school year.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Criminal defense attorney, Adam Thompson, this is a gated community. But it`s adjoining reportedly a golf course. I know that golf courses are very easy to -- even to get into a gated community through a golf course. There is a way in for those who don`t belong there. And many people go in to gated communities for legitimate reasons.

ADAM THOMPSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: They have to really pay attention to who is coming in and out of this complex. The key factor in this case is going to be whether or not they find any kind of forced entry. If it isn`t, it could have been someone she knew.

But what a lot of people don`t consider is in gated communities, every day you have people coming in to do work on homes. There could be cable people. There could be landscaping companies. A lot of times the security at the front gate waves these people through without even, you know, asking for ID. And it could have been people that were working in the community for weeks or months that sees the pattern and this girl coming and going and thinking that she`s an easy target. Or the home is an easy target to rob or, you know, burglarize. And that could be really who`s behind this. So, you now, as you get more --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And briefly --

THOMPSON: -- forensics we`re going to find out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- briefly, Kelly Saindon, former prosecutor, it could also be as simple as, she went home after school and walked into a burglary in progress.

KELLY SAINDON, FORMER PROSECUTOR: You`re absolutely right. That could be what happened. She caught someone off guard that was in there robbing the family. And she was an unintended victim. But they on their way out, she would have be able to identify them, or they panicked.

So it`s tragic no matter what the reasoning is. I mean think of all these cases right now where friends are killing friends in high school. She could have been in a fight with a friend that she brought home. We don`t know yet. It`s just heartbreaking.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is heartbreaking. And we want to -- we want to get justice for the family. That`s really priority number one right now to find out who did this, and why.

Up next, Judge Joe Brown -- he`s in the middle of a huge controversy after a heated showdown in court, a face-off with a magistrate. We`re going to talk to him next, and get his side of the story. Why do critics say he totally lost it -- totally lost it -- in a courtroom? There he is, Judge Joe. He tells his side of the story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen, you might learn something.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s famous for being a TV court judge. But Judge Joe Brown was on the other side.

JOE BROWN, TV COURT JUDGE: Excuse me. You need to straighten yourself up.

Guess what, you might not be operating tomorrow.




BROWN: If you want to get into this, let`s get into it. This sorry operation needs to stop.

If you listen, you might learn something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s three days.

BROWN: You can do all you want.


BROWN: You don`t have the jurisdiction I had to do it.

LARRY SEIDLIN, JUDGE: He`s used to ruling his courtroom.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight superstar TV judge, Joe Brown joins me after being cuffed and hauled to jail for his now infamous courtroom meltdown the other day. He`s out from behind bars and ready to set the record straight right here -- his side of the story in a moment.

The former judge was slapped with a five-day jail sentence on Monday after he went head-to-head screaming and yelling at a magistrate. Judge Brown was in a Memphis courtroom representing a child support case. When he found out his case was not on the schedule, he lost it. The magistrate gave the TV judge five warnings and then threw him in the slammer.

Listen to part of this courtroom rant.


BROWN: If you want to get into this, let`s get into it. This sorry operation needs to stop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 24 hours, Shelby County Jail for contempt. You may have a seat.

BROWN: Excuse me. What you`re trying to do here is you need to straighten yourself up.

BROWN: Ok, ok. Tell you what, I`ll be out here shortly on a petition of habeas corpus and I`ll bring up all these problems.

And guess what, you might not be operating tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have a seat, sir.

BROWN: Ok. As a courtesy to the officers, I`ll do that.

All right. This is a circus, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s three days.

BROWN: You can do all you want --


BROWN: You don`t have the jurisdiction I had to do it. You have to be up above --



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Out to my special guest, Judge Joe Brown. I give you a lot of props to go on the show. You know I`m not going to go easy on you. A lot of people are saying you were out of line and disrespectful. And I have to ask you, would you want somebody talking to you like that while you were on the bench?

BROWN: Actually, I wouldn`t have caused that. If you understand what`s going on. This is the same juvenile court that was famous for the judge selling children, slavery. 1963 she was replaced by a judge who did not even have a high school diploma, and was captain of the vice squad. Because the state Supreme Court said --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I understand -- the history aside, sir.

BROWN: Wait, wait, wait. You need to -- listen, listen --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I mean a history is one thing but your interaction --

BROWN: Don`t go there. Don`t go there. Don`t try to be cute with this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, I`m not trying to be cute --

BROWN: I`m trying to lead it up to you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s leave the 60s out of it.

BROWN: The person in question had been stood in front of me before when I was a judge. He knew that he was disobeying the law. I closed the place down for real myself. Several other judges have. I filed habeas corpuses over the last 30 years and closed that operation down quite a few times.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m talking about your tone.

BROWN: Listen, listen. My tone was appropriate. He is not a legitimate magistrate. He`s just a lawyer with a part-time job. So I`ve tried cases in front of him, as a referee, where his status was questioned.

The Justice Department found the operation down there was grossly and egregiously in violation of people`s civil rights. And they`re under an edict right now where they have a compliance monitor.


BROWN: The last time the compliance monitor -- you want to know what happened or do you just want to put on a song and dance?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I do. But you know, it`s an hour show. I want to move on to one other thing because a lot of people are saying on social media --

BROWN: Well, you want to hear what happened.


BROWN: If you heard the rest of it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- let me ask you. Some people say --

BROWN: I`ve got the court order right here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. All right.

BROWN: I`ve got the court order right here where it says they have to do certain things. This guy summarily denied it because he owns stock in the private company that runs the place. What was going on that you did not hear in this edited tape was a bit about why are you trying to make money off of your stock interest by compromising this woman? I took this woman`s case pro bono.

Because -- you know why?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Let me just say a couple of things -- that we have to say --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- this judge is invited on our show, this magistrate, anytime, to tell his side of the story because you said some pretty serious things.


BROWN: Bring him on. You can bring -- look, you can bring that clown on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. You`re calling him a clown.

BROWN: Would you like to get the story straight?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, some people are saying this is a publicity stunt on your part because you`re running for DA. I want you to get the opportunity to respond to that.

BROWN: Well, let`s put it this way. I went down there to investigate what was going on, and I didn`t want to run for D.A. People asked me.

There was a case where 12,000 women had been raped, but the D.A. had neglected to have the rape kits tested. It really hit the fan when one serial rapist could have been caught before it started after just two rapes committed almost 30 in the intervening time, because they hadn`t tested them. I raised a bit of hell. And they managed to test one-fourth of the 12,000 rape kits, pending up to 15 years, in all of 3 1/2 weeks.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What does that have to do with representing a woman pro bono on a family issue?

BROWN: Because when I went down there, hat in hand, the federal court order finding that the place was egregiously in violation of people`s civil rights. And they have a monitor that is going to close the place down. Now the (inaudible) has been egregious for the last 50 years.

When I walked in there, I asked this woman, why do you want me to go in there? She told me, she says, "Please, you say you protect womanhood. I said at that point, "You got me. Let`s go see what we have." I pulled the jacket and the first thing that says she`s the mother of a child, where some man is claiming to be the father, and he wanted this daughter brought down to be tested. First off, she doesn`t even have a daughter. So we don`t have a birth certificate. We don`t have a --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re not talking about this woman here. This is just a clip from your TV show. Let me ask you about one of the most controversial things that you did.

BROWN: Wait a minute, you wanted to know what I was doing, or do you not? Are you playing with this just to get entertainment ratings?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, but you`ve been on television for 15 years and you know that --

BROWN: That`s exactly right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- an hour show ends after an hour, so I want to give you the opportunity --

BROWN: Ok fine. It does end after an hour.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I want to give you the opportunity --


BROWN: But you haven`t given me an opportunity. You`re shutting me down.

I`m representing this woman -- look, the woman shouldn`t even have been there. The court had no jurisdiction. And you don`t even have anything but one-third of this whole tape which, by the way, had a video. What they did today is attempted to get me rearrested after the case has been taken from them and I was released. They filed false documents to get me put into custody.

This person that did it doesn`t have the authority to put me into custody for something like this. He can only find him. So what they did is they sent over paperwork saying I had found guilty of failing to pay child support. They didn`t even have a document on me for contempt.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re out -- we`re up against a hard break, Judge. You know you`re on TV. We`re going to have to take a break.

BROWN: Nice, nice, nice --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s called the hard break, and you know what that is. We`ll be back on the other side. More time for you on the other side.



BROWN: I`m a little hot under the collar. In 40 years, I`ve never seen such a circus as they`ve got down there.

This is politically motivated.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Along with all the media just happening to be at the courthouse at the time of this confrontation. Your campaign team, you`re running for district attorney, swapped out your Facebook profile picture with Martin Luther King, Jr. being arrested.

Got to give you a chance to respond to this one, Judge, a lot of people are outraged that you would compare yourself to this historical civil rights figure, this hero, because you got in what some people are calling a hissy fit and argued with a magistrate.

BROWN: Well, you can say what you want. However, you aren`t very interested in the facts. Is there anything I can do to help entertain you? Or make this a little bit --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, I want to give you a chance to respond to that.

BROWN: Well, first off, you have to understand -- first off, you have to understand. My opponent`s nephew was down there, and he`s a minor clerk. So when I`m reading the file, I hear him have a conversation with this so-called magistrate, and I hear him say, let`s see where we can get him to where he has to be back down. This will be good for my aunt`s campaign. So it was politically motivated.

Second thing which you`re not getting is I actually locked up the criminal -- well, excuse me, the juvenile court judge myself on contempt. Had him handcuffed and brought down, and this is the first time I`ve had any contact with him in 25 years.

So I would imagine this is also retaliatory, and this is the first chance this person who I jacked up, too, that I was dealing with had a chance to get his hands back on me. So it`s interesting that this thing is actually part of an audio and visual tape, and they edited the audio and then falsely claimed they do not have a visual, which they do, and if you saw the whole thing, he got up, turned around and put his back to me, and I said, look, I`m talking to you. This woman is down here on a ridiculous matter. She`s been arrested.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re out of time, Judge, but we love you. All is forgiven.