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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Congress Investigates Walter Reed Problems; Clinton vs. Barack in Alabama
Aired March 5, 2007 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Whatever you think of drugs, it's a safe bet you wouldn't want your toddler using them. Yet, that is exactly what was caught on tape: a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old smoking pot -- not on their own of course. Two-year-olds don't just light up. In a moment, we will show you how this came to be and what happened next.
First, though, our top story: outrage over substandard conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPECIALIST JEREMY DUNCAN, U.S. ARMY: The conditions in the room in my mind were just -- it was unforgivable for anybody to live -- it wasn't fit for anybody to live in a room like that.
ANNETTE MCLEOD, WIFE OF SPECIALIST WENDELL MCLEOD: My life was ripped apart the day that my husband was injured. But, then, having to live through the mess that we lived through at Walter Reed has been worse than anything I have ever sacrificed in my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That sentiment is being echoed across the country -- vets and those who love them calling attention to problems at other military and VA hospitals, demanding action.
And, today, at congressional hearings on the grounds of Walter Reed, generals and congressmen promised to do better.
CNN's Joe Johns tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."
JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the campus of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, an indictment of the outpatient system from soldiers who sacrificed.
Staff sergeant Daniel Shannon was shot in the head and lost an eye.
STAFF SERGEANT JOHN DANIEL SHANNON, U.S. ARMY: The system can't be trusted. And soldiers get less than they deserve from a system seemingly designed to run -- and run to cut the costs associated with fighting this war. JOHNS: And, from the top brass, apologies, including a mea culpa from a commanding officer who was canned, even though he was only there for six months.
MAJOR GENERAL GEORGE W. WEIGHTMAN, FORMER COMMANDER, WALTER REED ARMY MEDICAL CENTER: Our soldiers deserve better.
JOHNS: And another apology from Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL KEVIN C. KILEY, U.S. ARMY SURGEON GENERAL: I am personally and professionally sorry, and I offer my apologies to the soldiers, the families, the civilian and military leadership of the Army and the Department of Defense and to the nation.
JOHNS: But, of all the witnesses, Kiley was in perhaps the toughest position of all, because some of the most serious problems seemingly happened in a building right under his nose, when he was in charge at Walter Reed.
REP. MICHAEL R. TURNER (R), OHIO: So, what went wrong?
KILEY: Sir, I don't -- can't explain that. It's been pointed out, I live across the street. But I don't do barracks inspections at Walter Reed in my role as MEDCOM commander.
JOHNS: Hard to swallow for some, because news reports and audits by the Government Accountability Office going back years have documented the failures frustrating injured vets.
One GAO report a year ago zeroed in on the process for determining which injured soldiers are eligible for temporary or permanent disability, and recommended improved oversight by the Defense Department.
But it was much more than just that. What happened at Walter Reed was the perfect storm. As floods of injured were returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the hospital was going through a dramatic transition: outpatient care privatized; people started looking for new jobs; a yearlong battle over whether Walter Reed employees or an outside company could save the most money; and then the announcement that Walter Reed would close in 2011, further destabilizing the hospital, and making the task of recruiting a nightmare.
GENERAL RICHARD CODY, U.S. ARMY VICE CHIEF OF STAFF: And you're trying to get the best people to come here to work. And they know, in three years, that this place will close down. And they're not sure whether they will be afforded the opportunity to move to the new Walter Reed National Military Center eight miles away. That causes some issues.
JOHNS: Now some are saying the decision to close Walter Reed in the middle of a war should be reconsidered, though they admit that the hospital's future plans are no excuse for what happened there.
COOPER: Joe, why were they talking about closing Walter Reed to begin with?
JOHNS: Well, obviously, there's an issue of cost savings there. This is all part of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission study that's done every so often. This was back in 2005.
They decided that Walter Reed had to go, along with a number of other bases. They were basically going to fold all of its responsibilities into Bethesda Naval Hospital, which is a few miles down the road -- Anderson.
COOPER: Is anybody talking about now about legislation to -- to keep it open?
JOHNS: Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.'s delegate in the House, said she is planning to introduce legislation to repeal the closure of Walter Reed. She said in a statement tonight that the bill is needed to help stabilize base personnel, who, of course, as you see, tend to scatter once they believe a base is about to close.
There does appear to be at least some talk of that over on the Senate side, too. Senator Joe Lieberman said on CBS yesterday, he thinks Congress needs to take a second look at the decision -- Anderson.
COOPER: Joe, I want to bring in another guest who testified today who knows first-hand the problems at Walter Reed.
You heard a bit from Annette McLeod at the top of the program. Her husband was treated at Walter Reed for a head injury, after being sent to the wrong place, I should first point out, when he came back from Iraq.
We spoke earlier tonight.
COOPER: Annette, your husband served for 16 years in the National Guard. He was in Iraq for 10 months, before he got injured in the head. You described it as -- as going through a nightmare with the Army medical system.
What was the -- the most difficult part for you?
MCLEOD: Actually, I think the most difficult part was the fact that they were so eager to prove that everything was so preexisting, and that they were not as eager to treat his injuries as they were to get rid of him and turn him off onto the VA.
COOPER: At the hearing today, you talked about how frustrating it was when you tried to help your husband.
I want to play, for our viewers, some of what you said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCLEOD: I was tired of fighting the system. I was tired of trying to help him get well.
At the same time, they didn't seem to really care. They wanted him out of here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: At the time, who did you complain to? And did they hear your complaints at all?
MCLEOD: I went to the case manager, every case manager that he had.
I told social workers. I would talk to the platoon sergeants. I would talk to whoever would listen at that point. I was grasping at straws. I went to command, anybody that would listen. And, finally, I got to the point where I just couldn't take it anymore.
Our command sergeant major saw me when I was crying on day, and he gave me a telephone number. And he told me -- he says, call this number. And I did and got ahold of Ms. Grace Washbourne (ph) with the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. And she works for Representative Tom Davis. And that's where everything started for me.
COOPER: You know, what do you think is -- is going on here? Because, I mean, every politician, for years, has said, our men and women who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan deserve nothing but the best. We're giving them nothing but the best.
When you hear that now, what do you think?
MCLEOD: As long as your injuries are visible, I do believe you get the best optimal care. Their thinking, to my perspective is, if it's visible, we can treat it. But, if it's not visible, if you don't see it, then it must not exist.
COOPER: Do you think they're -- they're making the changes? Last week, they fired the major general, George Weightman, as the -- he was fired as the facility's commander. Do you think that's enough? Do you think he's really to blame?
MCLEOD: I think he was the scapegoat, because our situation was way before he ever come in, because he didn't come in until August. And we were getting ready -- already in the med board and getting ready to leave.
I think they just used him to cover up their own stupidity.
COOPER: Who do you think is to blame? I mean, does this go all the way to the top?
MCLEOD: They can't say they didn't know. That's the thing that really bothers me. General Kiley said today: I didn't know.
Where has he been all this time? Somebody had to know.
COOPER: How is your husband doing now? MCLEOD: We take each day one day at a time. He has good days. He has really -- when we have bad days, they're really bad. And, then, you just pray the next day that it will be a better day.
COOPER: Well, he's lucky to have someone as strong as you by his side. And you have made a difference today. And, Annette, I appreciate you -- you talking to us. Thank you.
MCLEOD: Thank you.
COOPER: I wish you and your husband the best.
MCLEOD: Thank you.
COOPER: So, Joe, with the spotlight getting wider and hotter, I guess the question is -- is, what comes next?
JOHNS: That is the question.
And, you know, there is the suspicion up on Capitol Hill that this is really just the tip of the iceberg, that, if you look across medicine in the military, you're going to find other examples of this. So, a lot of people right now are getting e-mails, telephone calls, what have you, on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, saying, take a look at this place. Take a look at that place.
And there's also that bipartisan presidential commission that's tasked to look not just at Walter Reed, but across the system, to see whether there are other problems like this that haven't come to the fore.
COOPER: It's so fascinating, because, I mean, all these politicians, you know, visiting Walter Reed, and President Bush visiting Walter Reed, everyone saying, our soldiers deserve the very best -- and I think everyone in America agrees with that. And, yet, this seemed to be happening right under their noses. And -- and none of them seem to be saying that they knew about it.
And it's also stunning, when you think about it, because there are those reports out there. The GAO has been looking at this for a long time. There have been some news reports out there as well. Salon.com, I think, did a little bit on this.
And you have sort of this drumbeat over the years of issues in military medicine that are going unaddressed. And now everybody is shocked and surprised. But it's really not a surprise at all.
Joe, appreciate it. Thanks, "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.
A few more facts about the VA's health care system -- here's the "Raw Data." It is the largest in the country, with more than 200,000 employees, more than 1,400 hospitals, clinics and nursing homes, last year, had a budget of more than $34 billion, and served 5.5 million vets.
The battle for the White House is next. And what a weekend it was. Ann Coulter uses a slur, and the conservative crowd she was talking to ate it up.
We will also look at the Selma showdown between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
And outrage, plain and simple, over this -- take a look.
COOPER (voice-over): Four years old. Two years old. And it's not cigarettes they're smoking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pass the weed. Now he wants it.
COOPER: Drug abuse and child abuse caught on tape. So, where was mom? And what happened to these poor kids?
Also: He terrorized a nation and taunted police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like killing people because it is so much fun.
COOPER: The Zodiac killer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm feeling, not the knife blade. I'm feeling the hilt. I'm feeling his hand on my back.
COOPER: Now a survivor speaks out about the case never solved and the killer never caught -- only on 360.
COOPER: Well, that is conservative cable news creation and perennial book promoter Ann Coulter speaking at a Republican gathering this weekend. Tonight, she's been speaking out again. We will have that in a moment.
But plenty of buzz, also, about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's trip yesterday to Selma, Alabama, on the anniversary of the 1965 voting rights march, arm in arm, but also engaged in hand-to-hand combat for the African-American vote.
I spoke about all those stories earlier with CNN's Candy Crowley and John King.
COOPER: So, John, over the weekend, you have the two Democratic front-runners, Clinton and -- and Obama, vying for African-American votes in Selma, Alabama. Who came out on top? I mean, did -- did Bill Clinton's presence help Senator Hillary Clinton?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think President Clinton's presence certainly helped Senator Hillary Clinton.
But I think the fact that he needed to be there is the lead of the story, in the sense that she is very much threatened by Senator Obama's continued inroads and advancing inroads in the African- American community.
John Lewis, a congressman who is a hero of the civil rights movement, quoted in "The New York Times" last week, saying he was leaning Obama's way -- then, President Clinton called him and said: Well, give my wife a chance.
So, the fact that she needs to play the Bill card so soon in the community where he is so beloved is a sign of weakness, not strength.
COOPER: And, Candy, I want to play this excerpt from Hillary that has generated a lot of buzz.
Let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: CLINTON: And, President Steele, I could have listened all afternoon.
CLINTON: That pulse that you found so faint, you have brought back to life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Some commentators are saying she is sort of playing up a Southern accent down there.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think what this does do is feed to that image that Hillary Clinton is very, very studied, that she does everything with a purpose, and that she makes her message so that it points toward a particular audience. So, that's where the harm is in this.
COOPER: How -- John, how relevant -- turning to the Republicans, how relevant was what happened at this -- this conservative meeting?
You had the leading presidential -- Republican presidential candidates, all except for John McCain, gathered for the Conservative Political Action Conference. Mitt Romney came out on top in the straw poll, closely followed -- you had Giuliani, Sam Brownback, Newt Gingrich. How relevant was the meeting?
KING: Well, CPAC is always a big event for conservative activists and the organizations involved with the conservative movement.
How relevant is it? I would remind you that, at last year's event, the winner of the straw poll was Senator George Allen, now former Senator George Allen, who, at the time, was viewed as a rising star, as a potential presidential candidate, who is now out of politics altogether.
So, Mitt Romney should celebrate this as a success. Politics is a business about momentum. So, if you get one win in a straw poll, perhaps it leads to a second win a straw poll. But does this jump him by the others, give him any huge advantage? No.
But, if you're Mitt Romney, you change your position on abortion. You're questionable on gay rights to many conservatives. Being able to say, "I won this straw poll" certainly helps.
COOPER: It certainly helps, Candy, Giuliani, that he did relatively well.
And -- and, then, you have this strange story over the weekend where his son, Andrew, basically talked to "The New York Times," talked to other reporters, saying their relationship had become distant recently. A, why would the son go out and do that? And -- and how has Giuliani handled it so far?
CROWLEY: I think Giuliani did really well. He sort of stepped up to the plate and said: Look, this is my fault. I -- we're trying to work this out. And we would like to work it out in private. Thank you very much.
So, as bad as this situation may be, I think he handled it as well as he could.
COOPER: Ann Coulter obviously making a lot of news over the weekend for comments she made at this same meeting.
Let's -- let's play some of what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, "GODLESS: THE CHURCH OF LIBERALISM": I was going to have a -- a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word "faggot." So...
COULTER: ... I'm...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: John Edwards now sending a fund-raising letter, seeking Coulter cash to -- to fight back against what he calls the politics of bigotry. John, what do you make of all this?
KING: Well, it shows you the power of the Internet and the blogosphere, number one, in spreading what Ann Coulter said, number two, in John Edwards trying to step immediately into a controversy, and, while criticizing her, trying to make some advantage of it, trying to say: Hey, if you're offended by what she said, send me money.
COOPER: It's interesting, though, because there was a large round of applause, people laughing. Certainly, to the audience, at least, it seemed to play pretty well.
KING: Well, she is a very popular figure among the people in that room. Did they endorse that specific word? I wasn't in the room.
But she is someone who is very colorful, very combative. And, again, whether you're David Keene, who organized that event, or anybody, whether you're Anderson Cooper, hosting a show, John King, looking for an interview, you know, if you're sitting down with Ann Coulter, you're not going to get, you know, vanilla ice cream.
KING: You're going to get something a bit more colorful.
COOPER: Well, you probably won't get Ann Coulter on this show either. So...
COOPER: John King, Candy Crowley, thanks, guys.
KING: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, Ms. Coulter was asked about her remarks tonight on FOX's "Hannity & Colmes."
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HANNITY & COLMES")
COULTER: ... I say something, the same people become hysterical. And that's the end of it. I mean, I think the lesson young right- wingers ought to draw from this is, it's really not that scary to attack liberals. This is about my 17th allegedly career-ending moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: If you were looking for the words "I'm sorry," you would not have heard them. She went on to say she wasn't calling John Edwards gay, that it was just a schoolyard taunt, and that she would say the same about any of the Democrats now running.
Well, still ahead, a 360 exclusive: A man who was nearly stabbed to death by the Zodiac killer tells his story for the first time.
Plus, something you just have to see to believe: two children -- we're talking about young children -- 2 and 4 years old, smoking pot, pot that was given to them by their own uncle. How could it happen? -- the story next on 360.
COOPER: A bombing in Mosul more than two years ago in Iraq killed 22 people, many of them American soldiers. They thought they were safe inside their mess tent. But they faced an unexpected enemy. Now their families want answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to know how and why. I want to know the last words he spoke. I want to know all of it.
It won't bring him back. But, maybe, by asking the questions and demanding the answers, it will prevent it from happening again, and it will prevent another mother from getting that knock at the door that ends life as you know it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A mother seeking answers -- in depth tonight, what happened on that day and the search for the killers, coming up in a special edition of 360. "The Lion in the Village," we're calling it. That's at the top of the next hour, about 30 minutes from now.
Right now: It's one of the most outrageous caught-on-tape stories we have ever seen. In Texas, two little boys are in protective custody -- we're talking about a 2-year-old and a 4-year- old -- tonight, because of what police found on a home videotape. The video turned up in a burglary investigation. And it is truly disturbing.
Take a look.
COOPER (voice-over): This teenager is facing felony charges for what you're about to see. That's not a cigarette he's lighting. Police say it's a joint, marijuana. And watch what happens next. That little boy is his 4-year-old nephew. And, yes, that's the same joint. This other little boy is also his nephew. He's just 2 years old.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pass the weed. Now he wants it.
COOPER: Police arrested their 17-year-old uncle and his 18-year- old friend, who also appears in the video. BRUCE URE, WATAUGA, TEXAS, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: I have never seen anything like this quite -- quite so disturbing. They were essentially trying to get them high. They're laughing. The -- the children are stumbling. They're falling down. They're -- they're significantly impaired. It is -- it's just a horrible video.
COOPER: One of the most disturbing things about the video is that the two little boys already seem to know how to smoke a joint.
URE: He's holding it like he's done it before. He's inhaling. And it's -- this isn't the first time.
COOPER: The mother of the boys says she was asleep in the next room, after taking a painkiller for a toothache.
URE: The only thing I can say regarding the mom is that we're still -- we're still investigating that particular aspect of it.
COOPER: For now, the children are in the custody of protective services, safe from the dangers caught on this videotape.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want that candy? You got the munchies?
COOPER: Well, police say the person who is behind the camera shooting that video is a minor, hasn't been arrested, though the investigation does continue.
As for the little kids on the tape, authorities plan to do drug- testing on both of them this week, 2 years old -- they're a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old.
The boys are just so little, and it's hard not to wonder what harm may have been done to them, permanently.
Joining me now is Dr. Drew Pinsky, Discovery Health host and an addiction specialist.
Dr. Drew, good to have you on, although I can't believe we're talking about a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old smoking pot.
The -- the kids' uncle, Demetris McCoy, spoke on camera today to one of our affiliates. And I just want to play -- this is the first time we have heard from him, so let's play some of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEMETRIS MCCOY, ACCUSED OF GIVING POT TO MINOR: You go to the hood, man, it's something that people doing all the time, you know, so -- give their kids weed. You know, people give -- I could see if I was would gave them alcohol. Some people give their kids alcohol when they're young and stuff. You know, I didn't do nothing like that. I ain't give them -- at least I ain't -- like, some people give their kids -- let them smoke ice, and methamphetamines. That is stuff that is going to kill them right there. Weed ain't going to kill them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He's basically saying what he did wasn't so bad because it wasn't crystal meth. It wasn't...
COOPER: It wasn't ice. It wasn't alcohol.
Have kids lost perspective in some ways?
PINSKY: Oh, they absolutely have. It doesn't surround -- it doesn't surprise me.
There's such a sort of mystique surrounding marijuana, where people substantiate their use by saying: It's good. It's natural. It's good for you. Anybody should be able to do it, certainly no worse than alcohol or cigarettes -- which is probably true.
But the fact is, these are all bad drugs. And they are certainly especially bad for a developing brain. And I have heard of many cases in the 8- to 12-year-old range. It's not unheard of at that age. But this young, it really is incredible, when you take a look at it.
COOPER: And -- do we know what marijuana smoking does to a kid who is 2 years old or 4 years old, and to their body?
PINSKY: We -- we don't, because it's so unusual. It's not as though it's something we can study. We don't have a body of 2- or 3- year-olds who have been exposed, at least that we know of. According to this young man we had on the screen here a few moments ago, maybe we will have a few going forward.
I can tell you that, for adolescents, particularly under the age of 15, there has been some reasonably good evidence to show that the frontal parts of the brain don't develop normally if there's even modest exposure to marijuana.
And that's the part of the brain that's developing socially and emotionally during development, particularly rapidly during adolescence.
COOPER: You know, it's easy on TV to be alarmist about a drug like marijuana and -- and to be up in arms. Just realistically, factually, what is the problem with marijuana? I mean, is it that addictive? Is it really a -- a gateway drug?
PINSKY: Well, marijuana addiction syndrome is very characteristic, and it occurs almost the same in every human being. It does -- it's not addictive to everybody, make no mistake about it. But it is addictive. It does induce panic. It can cause depression. And the syndrome is very characteristic. Somebody gets exposed to it a few times -- there seems to be some priming effect of this drug on the brain before you get the euphoria.
Then you get the euphoria, and then that's all you can think about from then on. And you use it every day, or you pursue it every day. And somewhere way down the line, somewhere between one, maybe 10, 20 years later, the effects start wearing off. People start getting panic, anxious, have difficulty motivating, initiating actions. They start getting very depressed. And they start looking around for something else.
That's when they find their way to other drugs. It's not really a gateway. It doesn't sort of open the gate to other drugs. If the marijuana had kept working the way it did initially, people would probably just stick with pot. And it would have plenty of consequences, but they wouldn't move on to other things. It's just the fact that it -- it becomes -- people become resistant to the intoxicating effects and become profoundly depressed and anxious.
COOPER: The other question, of course, is, you know, where are these little kids' parents in all this? Where is the mom in all this? Apparently, she was sleeping in the bedroom next door.
But, clearly, it looks like they have done this before.
PINSKY: Oh, very clearly, this is not the first time.
And, if you notice what was said on the tape by the police officer was that she -- or somebody mentioned on the tape that she was in the other room, having taken a pain medication.
And taking a pain medication, when you're responsible for children, not a great idea -- living it -- leaving it in the hands of these young men, clearly, not a great idea. So, this whole situation is kind of a mess.
And, you know, it's hard to understand. You try to figure out, why would a young person do this to their little children? And, you know, part of it is, when people are around drugs they do reprehensible things. I mean, these two guys are on drugs. They're marijuana addicted. They may be doing things that they will one day regret.
The other is, in fact, the fact that pot has this sort of bravado about it. People think it's OK. They can do anything they want. What's the big deal? Everybody's entitled to this.
Then finally, the more serious thing, is when people who tend to get in drugs and alcohol, sometimes, they can be very exploitative. And he's the guy who is just there for their enjoyment and entertainment.
COOPER: Clearly. They're videotaping it. Dr. Drew, appreciate your expertise. Thanks.
Straight ahead tonight, another kind of childhood nightmare. Sex abuse. And Headline News' Thomas Roberts' remarkable story of survival.
Also tonight, coming face-to-face with a serial killer and living to tell about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He terrorized a nation and taunted police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like killing people because it is so much fun.
COOPER: The Zodiac killer.
BRYAN HARTNELL, SURVIVED ATTACK BY SERIAL KILLER: I'm feeling not the life. I'm feeling the guilt. I'm feeling his hand on my back.
COOPER: Now, a survivor speaks out about the case never solved. And the killer never caught.
HARTNELL: And from normal to nightmare in the blink of an eye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just a huge explosion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It rocked -- the ground physically shook.
COOPER: One deadly moment in Iraq. Lives lost, lives changed, lessons learned, hearts broken. A 360 special report, tonight.
COOPER: I want to let you know about an extraordinary report we've been working on. It's called "Sins of the Father". It airs next Monday, a week from today. It's the story of one of our colleagues, Headline News anchor Thomas Roberts, and what happened to him decades ago when he was a young teen, it's an event that still haunts him to this day.
Here's a preview.
COOPER (voice-over): In the fall of 1986, Thomas Roberts started his freshman year at the prestigious Calvert Hall. He adjusted quickly to the new school, but the strain of his parents' divorce was a constant source of struggle.
THOMAS ROBERTS, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: My relationship with my parents, through that time, with my mom going back to work and all these changes, I pulled back. I kind of disconnected from my family environment. COOPER: By Thomas' sophomore year, his mom, Michelle, realized the emotional and financial difficulties at home were too much for her son to deal with alone. Struggling herself just to make ends meet, she looked to a familiar face to help mentor her son, someone she felt she could trust. She turned to the man who'd already helped Thomas get into the school, Father Jeff Tuey (ph).
MICHELLE ROBERTS, THOMAS ROBERTS' MOTHER: I thought he was a good influence. And who better than a Catholic priest, who is charming and kind and wonderful. You know? I wanted Thomas to be just like him.
COOPER (on camera): Who better?
M. ROBERTS: Yes.
T. ROBERTS: That night, I remember getting dropped off at Father Jeff's house. And we began a conversation in his den, where he just started to ask "What's going on with you?"
And so he took a kind ear, you know, and listened to me. I remember it was a conversation that I cried. I let Father Jeff know that my relationship with my parents wasn't where it should be.
From this conversation forward, he pretty much knew I was a kid without anybody, you know, to talk to.
COOPER (voice-over): No one to talk to, except, of course, Father Jeff. After that first conversation, Thomas believed he finally had someone he could confide in. He trusted Father Jeff and continued to return to the priest's house on Cottage Lane.
(on camera) When you see that house, what do you think?
T. ROBERTS: I wish I had never seen it. I wish I had never seen this house. Never.
COOPER: What happened inside the house would test Thomas Roberts in ways he never imagined. Don't miss "The Sins of the Father" next Monday at 10 Eastern.
The new movie about the Zodiac killer was No. 2 at the box office this weekend. Tonight, you'll hear from one of his victims. It is a 360 exclusive. He was left to die by the serial killer and has never told his story, until now.
The memories are vivid and horrific. But they might offer clues to catching the madman. CNN's Dan Simon has the report and the exclusive interview.
BRYAN HARTNELL, SURVIVED ATTACK BY ZODIAC KILLER: I couldn't see, you know, I kept blacking out. My legs kept getting weak. DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He survived an attack from perhaps the most infamous serial killer of our times.
HARTNELL: I felt my life, my energy just darkness, just coming in and I was just kind of like waiting to die.
SIMON: A moment so terrible he had decided he would not revisit it until now.
(on camera) You haven't talked about this case in 35 years.
SIMON (voice-over): Bryan Hartnell was 20, then a college student stabbed repeatedly by the Zodiac Killer. Though he has not talked about it in decades, the memory is still vivid.
HARTNELL: I see him pull his knife, and in just kind of in one fell swoop, I feel the knife buried in my back.
SIMON: As much as Bryan has tried to forget that day, he can't erase the images, most notably those of his attacker in his eerie costume.
HARTNELL: He had some clip-on glasses that were either affixed to the hood or affixed to glasses underneath. The circle on the chest was a perfectly formed circle.
SIMON: That symbol, crosshairs and a gun sight, terrified San Francisco and the entire Bay area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Zodiac Killer has come to San Francisco.
SIMON: Hollywood is now retelling the story, as well. Bryan calls the new film stunningly accurate. It's motivated him to break his silence about that September afternoon that nearly cost him his life.
HARTNELL: Why would anybody stab a total stranger?
SIMON: The attack on Bryan was not the first. The killing spree actually began months earlier with another act of random violence.
Late December 1968, two young lovers were murdered in the small town of Vallejo, the victims apparently forced out of their car and shot. Then, six months later, it happened again just two miles away, two more young victims shot in a car.
No one realized the murders were connected until the killer claimed responsibility and promised even more bloodshed in a series of letters to newspapers. He called himself Zodiac, accompanied by what would become his trademark symbol. The letters were taunting. He seemed empowered by the fear he caused.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the Zodiac speaking. I like killing people because it is so much fun. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It appears to us that he is killing just for the thrill.
SIMON: His correspondence also featured cryptograms or ciphers. They seemed to be clues, but most were never decoded.
Robert Graysmith has written two best-selling books chronicling the Zodiac and serves as the main character in the movie played by Jake Gyllenhaal.
ROBERT GRAYSMITH, AUTHOR, "ZODIAC": In the newsroom itself Zodiac was all they talked about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine surviving something like that?
SIMON: He worked as a cartoonist for the "San Francisco Chronicle", but the case became his obsession.
GRAYSMITH: It was so tantalizing. He gave us so many clues, and the fear was so great.
SIMON: And for good reason: Zodiac was not finished.
(on camera) It was here in the heart of California's wine country where Zodiac chose his next victims. Two college students were sitting on a picnic blanket enjoying a pretty afternoon. But the mood suddenly changed when a man appeared wearing a black hood.
HARTNELL: I see him walking, not running but walking deliberately with some speed toward us.
SIMON (voice-over): September 27, 1969, Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard took an afternoon drive here to Lake Berryessa. It's a romantic setting.
In the film, director David Fincher painstakingly tries to create precisely what took place. Watch what happens when Cecelia notices they're not alone.
PELL JAMES, ACTRESS: He's watching us.
PATRICK SCOTT LEWIS, ACTOR: Well, we're very good-looking.
JAMES: Where did he go? Right behind that tree.
LEWIS: All right. So he's taking a leak.
JAMES: He's coming towards us. He has a gun.
SIMON (on camera): What goes through your mind when you see the guy's pointed gun at you?
HARTNELL: Well, you kind of stop, and he says, "Don't worry about it. All I want is your money and your car. There's nothing to be concerned about." SIMON (voice-over): And Bryan says at the time he thought it was a simple robbery, even after the hooded man has both of them hog tied, their hands bound to their feet with this very clothesline.
HARTNELL: I was never concerned that anything bad was going to happen other than maybe being stuck out there tied up all night. Never -- never crossed my mind.
SIMON: Then suddenly a swift movement.
(on camera) He stabbed you without warning?
HARTNELL: No, without a warning. Without saying a word, without saying, "I'm going to get you," without anything, just boom.
SIMON (voice-over): Bryan was stabbed eight times, his lung punctured. Blood everywhere.
HARTNELL: I'm feeling not the knife blade. I'm feeling the -- heel, I'm feeling his hand on my back.
SIMON: For Cecelia, it was even worse, stabbed between 10 and 20 times.
DAVE COLLINS, RETIRED DEPUTY, NAPA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: I've never forgotten it. It doesn't go away.
SIMON: Bryan recently went back to the crime scene with the two Napa County sheriff's detectives who investigated the attack. For Dave Collins and Ken Narlow, the savagery they found that day is indelible.
KEN NARLOW, RETIRED DEPUTY, NAPA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: I can't imagine myself ever going through that. It was a terrible, terrible tragedy.
HARTNELL: I mean, I didn't know how badly I was injured. I just knew I'd been stabbed a lot of times, and -- and I felt I was dying and then it stopped. It just kind of came to a stop. And I can still remember thinking, well, I'm still thinking. Maybe you got a shot here.
SIMON: But the Zodiac wasn't done. Once again he left behind another chilling message.
COOPER: That message made it clear just how close police may have come to catching the Zodiac Killer, and as you'll see next, the terror was far from over.
Also tonight, at the top of the next hour, terror in Iraq. A suicide bombing in an American base. How lives both there and at home were forever altered in one terrible, blinding flash of light.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARTNELL: I see him pull his knife, and just kind of in one fell swoop I feel the knife buried in my back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's Bryan Hartnell describing how he was attacked by the Zodiac Killer. For the first time in nearly 40 years he's sharing his story.
Like the Son of Sam, the Boston Strangler, BTK, the Zodiac became a media sensation. Unlike the first two, Zodiac could still be on the loose.
CNN's Dan Simon continues his exclusive report.
SIMON (voice-over): With his two victims, Bryan Hartnell and Cecilia Shepard, bleeding on the ground, the Zodiac calmly walked away, leaving footprints size 10 1/2 behind him.
He headed to Bryan's sports car, a Volkswagen Carmengia, and with a felt tip marker, scribbled on the passenger side door. It's a declaration, as if he's saying, "Make no mistake. I killed all these people, and here's proof." He wrote the dates of his murders, indicating he did the latest one with a knife. And the door is adorned with his trademark symbol.
Even more brazen, the Zodiac used a pay phone to call the police to report his own crime.
GRAYSMITH: He slipped through the police hands at least two times. They came so close that the phone he used and left hanging from the hook was still wet with sweat.
SIMON: Somehow, Bryan made a full recovery. Cecilia died in the hospital but not before giving a description of the killer's appearance. This is the original composite.
(on camera) How did the community react?
NARLOW: Well, they were very fearful and justifiably so. I mean, this guy was making threats of killing people, and he was doing it.
SIMON (voice-over): In his next attack, the Zodiac struck in the heart of San Francisco. He murdered a cab driver in a wealthy neighborhood. It's a real shift from his other killings. Before now, he'd only attacked young couples in remote locations.
He penned another letter and, less there be any lingering doubt there's one Zodiac, he included a piece of cloth torn from the cabby's shirt. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the Zodiac speaking. I am the murderer of the taxi driver over by Washington and Maple Street last night. To prove this, here is a blood-stained piece of his shirt.
SIMON: By now the community is well aware of the Zodiac, but the terror escalated still further with an ominous warning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Schoolchildren make nice targets. I think I shall wipe out a school bus some morning just to shoot out the front tire and then pick off the kiddies as they come bouncing out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since the reception of this note and up till now and continuing we have a number of plainclothes officers following buses in the morning and in the evening.
SIMON: The anxiety was extreme. The pressure was on to find the killer.
"Zodiac", the movie, focuses heavily on this pursuit and the clues leading to one suspect. His name, Arthur Lee Allen, a schoolteacher. Author Robert Graysmith championed that theory. The evidence seemed promising. He had the same shoe size identified at the lake. Allen even had a watch with the Zodiac symbol.
GRAYSMITH: The only place in the entire world that you could find the cross Zodiac symbol and the name Zodiac was on this expensive watch.
SIMON: But Allen's fingerprints and handwriting don't match the killer's. DNA testing did not yet exist, and years later DNA testing did not link him to the crimes. Allen died in 1992. He always maintained his innocence.
ARTHUR LEE ALLEN, SCHOOLTEACHER: I'm not the damn Zodiac.
SIMON: To this day police have never arrested a suspect. The Zodiac went on to claim he was responsible for more than three dozen killings, but authorities could only link him to five.
(on camera) How frustrating was it to have this guy still at large and still at large to this day?
NARLOW: It's frustrating, there's no doubt about it. I'm not sure that's the right word. I think it goes deeper than that. I mean, it's become an obsession. This guy was challenging us to catch him, and so far we haven't done it. So he says you'll never catch me. I'm smarter than you guys are. And so far I guess he's right.
SIMON (voice-over): Even so, there is new hope of one day catching the Zodiac. Envelopes believed to have the killer's DNA are being resubmitted for testing on the chance of a match in a computer database.
No one knows if the Zodiac is still alive. If he is, it's believed he'd only be in his 50s or 60s.
(on camera) Emotionally, how do you think you were able to recover from this?
HARTNELL: Ignoring it. Putting it behind me, moving forward.
SIMON (voice-over): Bryan has moved forward. He's an attorney now, married with children. He sees the attack as just one chapter in his life.
HARTNELL: But I'd sure hate for that to be what I'm remembered by or what I'm thought of or that's the defining piece about Bryan Hartnell. That's something that happened to a 20-year-old kid 40 years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the Zodiac speaking.
HARTNELL: The Zodiac seemed to crave publicity. How else to explain the letters and puzzles? So with a new movie bearing his name, if he is still out there, he seems once again to be getting his wish.
Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.
COOPER: You can read more about Bryan Hartnell and the Zodiac on our blog. Just logon to CNN.com/360blog.
The "Shot of the Day" is coming up, but first Kiran Chetry joins us with a "360 News and Business Bulletin."
KIRAN CHETRY, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Hi there, Anderson.
Detroit police say a man accused of killing his wife and chopping up her body has confessed to that murder. Police found Stephen Grant in the woods of Northern Michigan this weekend, after he disappeared from the family home. Police say that Grant admitted killing his wife, Tara Lynn Grant, while their two children were home.
Concerns about sub prime mortgage markets helped push stock prices lower, continuing last week's worldwide slide, the Dow falling more than 63 points. The S&P 500 down 13. And the NASDAQ falling 27.
Wal-Mart has fired a technician for taping telephone calls between the company's P.R. department and a "New York Times" reporter. Those calls were made over a span of four months. Wal-Mart has reported the matter to federal authorities.
And that's a quick look at your news and business.
Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: Let's take a look at "The Shot" now. It definitely falls in the category of don't try this at home. Or even don't try this while trying to break out of prison. The guy hanging from the wall in a tangle of barbed wire is one of three inmates who tried to escape from a prison in Germany. He was the only one to actually make it over the prison wall, but he did not get much farther than that. He was finally cut free by the fire department. Yikes. His injuries were described as severe, as you might imagine.
Well, we want to give you "The Shot" a shot. If you see some amazing video, tell us about it. CNN.com/360. We'll put some of the best suggestions on the air. How about that?
After the break, an hour of stories that will make you proud to be American but might also break your heart. A focus on some men and women who went to Iraq only to be present at one of the war's deadliest moments. They are unforgettable stories, next.
COOPER: In the middle of a normal day in Iraq, if any day there can be called normal, hundreds of American soldiers are taking a break for lunch. They crowd into a large mess tent. They talk and laugh. When a man walks in unnoticed, standing among them. What he does next shocks people all over the world.
It may sound like the start of a novel, but it is a true story. It happened in 2004.
Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, tens of thousands are brave, young Americans have served with honor, fulfilling the mission that we've asked them to do. If we had the time, we'd tell you the story of each and every one, because their sacrifice and commitment deserves no less. But with so many serving so well, that's impossible, so we've chosen to tell you this one story instead.
It's not about whether this war is good or bad but simply about remembering all the men and women who fight under our flag and in our name.
Here's Tom Foreman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: December 21, 2004.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Even the brave souls who were there can not say precisely what happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes. They're all out.
FOREMAN: Some say he walked in among friends. Others say he rode in with foes. Some say the place was half empty. Others say it was nearly full.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, all I know is... FOREMAN: No one recognized his face. No one called his name.
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