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Report: Intruder Made it Deeper into White House; Fear of Massacre as ISIS Closes in on City; Protests Continue in Hong Kong; Air Travel Disrupted; The Science of Work; Hannah Graham Case Leads to "Significant Break" in Another Murder

Aired September 29, 2014 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: the White House intruder. A new report says the man who jumped the fence and ran inside actually made it further inside than previously known. How deep into the executive mansion did he go?

ISIS closing in. Militant forces now just about two miles from a terrified town right near the Turkish border. Will it fall to the terrorist onslaught?

Violent clashes. Dozens of people injured as thousands of pro- democracy protesters take to the streets of Hong Kong. Can their movement survive a fierce police crackdown?

And cases linked? The arrest of a man suspected in the disappearance of a Virginia college student yields what police call a significant break in the killing of another young woman. Are police dealing with a serial killer?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking news stories right now, including ISIS forces. They are right now on the verge of capturing a key Kurdish city in the northern part of Syria just across the border from Turkey.

We're also looking into a brand-new report that the man who jumped the White House fence and made it inside the White House actually went much further into the president's home than previously known.

We're covering all the breaking news with our reporters. Our guests this hour, including State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf. But let's go to Brian Todd first. He's got more on the White House intruder.

Brian, this is pretty shocking what we're discovering. What are you finding out?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Shocking indeed, Wolf. We're learning now that the White House intruder, Omar Gonzalez, made it much further into the White House than previously known. "The Washington Post" tonight reporting new details of this incident.

"The Post" citing three people familiar with the incident as saying that Omar Gonzalez not only got into the front door but made it much further inside the White House than previously thought.

According to "the Post" and its sources, Gonzalez made it all the way to the East Room of the White House, that he ran into that, ran past a stairway that led up toward the first family's living quarters. He ran past that stairway, according to the "Post," and then into the East Room and was not subdued until he had gotten to the far southern end of the East Room of the White House.

"The Post" reporting that he barreled past a Secret Service officer, then made it into the East Room of the White House. This is the entrance hall here. He apparently barreled past the officer somewhere here, made it past a stairway,, got into the East Room of the White House, and was tackled -- finally tackled by Secret Service agents on the southern end of the East Room, much further into the White House, Wolf, than we had previously been led to believe.

The White -- the Secret Service had previously indicated that he had been captured just after getting into the entrance. But now we're learning, again from "the Washington Post" tonight, citing three sources familiar with the incident, that Omar Gonzalez, the intruder, got into the East Room before he was subdued by Secret Service officers.

I just spoke to the Secret Service spokesman, Ed Donovan, on the phone. He said they are not commenting right now because of an ongoing investigation -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's pretty shocking. To think he got all the way to the East Room of the White House.

All right, Brian, stand by. I want to get some more. Our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, is with us, the former assistant director of the FBI.

You think about that, Tom, that he not only gets up the stairs at the North Portico, runs into the lobby there, if you will, but also at the same time manages to get all the way into the East Room. He's armed with a knife. We didn't know it at the time. The Secret Service didn't know it. He's got a lot of rounds of ammunition in his vehicle. This is pretty amazing when you think about it.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Right, Wolf. This story is incredible if it turns out to be true, that so many layers of security were breached and didn't work as they should have worked that night.

First of all, a lot of people have breached the fence, jumped over it and ran across the yard. So, you know, that's not an uncommon occurrence. But the dog's not released, so the officers don't run close to intercept him in the grass.

Then he gets to the door, which is an unlocked. He gets through the door. And we're told originally that he's stopped at the door. Then we find out he's run all around on the first floor of the White House, the main floor, and that the red alarm button that they have for the officer to hit to sound the warning of an intruder being loose inside the building is disabled because other staff employees complained about the noise. So that also, if it turns out to be true, is incredible all by itself. So multi-levels of security are breached, and they're chasing an individual through what should be the most secure building in Washington.

BLITZER: And what are the rules of engagement for Secret Service personnel at the White House? They see a guy running into the executive mansion with a knife. At what point do they try to shoot -- they try to shoot this guy?

FUENTES: That's a good question. I think at this point, whether they have a clear shot. What we don't know is -- we know he wasn't shot at the door. He gets through the door. He runs through them -- past them so quickly that they couldn't get a clear shot and had to literally run after him. And eventually tackle him in the East Room of the White House. That will have to be determined also.

But again, the fact that the dog's not released. He's not stopped at the front door. He's not shot at the front door, obviously. The alarm bell isn't sounded, and he's on the loose through the first floor of the White House. All of that's incredible.

BLITZER: And what concerns me and I'm sure a lot of other folks, especially Secret Service personnel and people at the White House, does this embolden terrorists when they hear these kinds of reports, that someone could not only jump over the fence, run all the way into the White House, the door is unlocked, get inside and roam around in there until eventually he's stopped? It sends an awful message out there to bad people.

FUENTES: It certainly could embolden terrorists and just the copycats. The fact that we could have an onslaught of people trying to do this, trying to outdo him to see if they could get to multiple floors of the building or other parts of the building. So -- and also have the possibility of people trying to do this who are more heavily armed than just carrying a small folding knife. Not that that's not bad enough. We could be somebody carrying firearms or explosives and running around that building and, you know, committing a worse act than what happened here.

BLITZER: You could only imagine if the first family or other guests were there in the East Room of the White House when this happened. Fortunately, that wasn't the case.

All right. We're going to have a lot more later in THE SITUATION ROOM. Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who's been investigating the Secret Service, he's going to be joining us live. That's coming up later.

Thanks very much, Tom Fuentes. Very, very disturbing.

BLITZER: Breaking news. Let's go to the White House right now. Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us. Now what, if anything, are you hearing about this latest, very

worrisome development?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, at this point, as you might imagine, this -- this story really caught a lot of people by surprise over here at the White House.

I did touch base with a couple of spokespersons for the U.S. Secret Service. They are flat-out not commenting at this point. The only thing that a spokesperson would say is that the director of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson, will be testifying about this tomorrow in front of the House Oversight Committee that was a previously scheduled hearing on this fence jumper incident.

And I did talk to one White House official who was called away, who said he had just gotten off the phone with the Secret Service. So it sounds as if they're trying to sync up what the White House knows versus what the Secret Service knows. But this White House official said to me he did make it inside the building, referring to Omar Gonzalez, "but we don't want to comment as to how far at this point."

I think that's because some people here at the White House, Wolf, are trying to get to the bottom of exactly what the Secret Service knows at this point.

BLITZER: It's amazing that someone not only could -- not amazing that someone could jump over the fence. Because, as Tom Fuentes reports, that has happened all the time, including the nearly eight years I covered the White House. What's amazing is that a person could get all the way into the White House, the door is unlocked and not only get into the White House but get to the East Room. If you've been in the foyer there, you've been through the main floor of the White House, you know that's a very, very worrisome development.

ACOSTA: Past the entrance to the residence of the White House, which is very, very concerning.

BLITZER: The residence is up on the second floor. But this is a very disturbing development, indeed. We'll have a lot more on this story.

Jim, I know you -- the other major story, the breaking news you're following, involves ISIS and the president admitting the U.S. misjudged the threat. What are you hearing about that?

ACOSTA: Wolf, aides to the president say he was not throwing the intelligence community under the bus in his comments on "60 Minutes" last night and that, when it comes to protecting the American people from ISIS, the White House aides say the buck stops with the president.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Asked whether the rapid rise of ISIS took him by surprise, President Obama punted to his director of national intelligence on "60 Minutes." The moment was hard to miss. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think our head

of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that they may have underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.

ACOSTA: White House press secretary Josh Earnest insisted the president was not fixing any blame.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That is -- that is not what the president's intent was. Ultimately, the president's commander in chief, and he's the one who takes responsibility for ensuring that we have the kinds of policies in place that are required to protect our interests around the globe.

ACOSTA (on camera): Does the president have confidence in the intelligence he's receiving now from the intelligence community with respect to ISIS?

EARNEST: Absolutely.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The intelligence community has been sounding the ISIS alarm for nearly a year. Last November, a key State Department official testified ISIS has benefited from a permissive operating environment due to the inherent weaknesses of Iraqi security forces, a warning echoed by the head of defense intelligence in February.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN, DIRECTOR, DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: The level of killing that they're doing inside of that country is just terrible.

ACOSTA: GOP critics say it's the president who underestimated the threat.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Intelligence people are pushing back hard. We predicted this and watched it. It's like watching a train wreck and warning every step of the way.

ACOSTA: White House officials say the president's comments are hardly new, noting what he said in August.

OBAMA: Their advance, their movement over the last several months has been more rapid than the intelligence estimates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In January, President Obama refers to the Islamic state as a J.V. team.

ACOSTA: The president's handling of ISIS could become a key issue in the race for the Senate. Consider North Carolina, where the GOP challenger's new ad ties incumbent Kay Hagan to Mr. Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The price for their failure is danger.


ACOSTA: Now, the White House was asked for a response to that ad but declined. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, when it comes to ISIS, he'll continue to praise Republicans who support the president's strategy, adding, "Our national security," in his words, "trumps local politics" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jim, thanks very much. Jim Acosta at the White House.

There's more breaking news. ISIS forces now on the verge of capturing a key Kurdish city in the northern part of Syria just across the border from the NATO ally Turkey. Residents of Kobani say they feel helpless. They feel terrified, and they fear a massacre if their town falls to the is terrorists.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is joining us now. What are you picking up, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, one of the key questions being asked of ISIS is still on the march: how well are the U.S. air strikes really working?


STARR (voice-over): The latest ISIS video from Syria claims to show a coalition air strike, and ISIS firing at the jet from the ground. The video cannot independently be confirmed. When it comes to air strikes, the U.S. is not promising instant results.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The campaign against ISIL will be a persistent and sustained campaign, and it's going to take time.

STARR: This U.S. military video showing another air strike, this time hitting an ISIS compound near Kobani, a Syrian Kurdish city close to the Turkish border where the latest ISIS move is desperately being fought.

One resident in the city tells CNN ISIS fighters are advancing and may be as close as two miles away. If they take the city, ISIS would have free rein all the way from its self-declared capital of Raqqah to the Turkish border.

But there have been just a handful of air strikes here: a stark example of the limits of airpower. Pentagon officials tell CNN so far the military does not have orders from President Obama to protect the Kurds in Syria, so strikes are few for now. Hitting only at ISIS targets the U.S. wants to destroy while refugees are trying to escape by the thousands.

From the defense secretary, a chilling warning about anticipating success.

CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I also want to emphasize that no one is under any illusions -- under any illusions that air strikes alone will destroy ISIL. They are one element of our broader comprehensive campaign against ISIL.

STARR: There are other limitations to what airpower can accomplish.

COLONEL CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), FORMER AIR FORCE INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Airstrikes don't work if you don't have good intelligence. We have long passed the idea of carpet bombing an area, of going after an area without having precision intelligence associated with the targets in that area.

STARR: But the more than 60 U.S. and coalition airstrikes in Syria have had an impact in the areas where bombs have fallen, according to a top U.S. military official.

MAJOR GENERAL JEFFREY HARRIGAN, U.S. AIR FORCE: Air power has been decisive in a couple of key areas, preventing the mass -- massing of forces on large scale, degrading ISIL's command-and-control capabilities, and then working to impact ISIL's financing.


STARR: U.S. officials say that the U.S. aircraft will continue to patrol the skies over Syria, continuing to look for ISIS targets -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Barbara, thanks very much.

Let's dig a little bit deeper right now. Joining us the State Department deputy spokeswoman, Marie Harf.

Marie, thanks very much for coming in.

I guess the -- what the president said on "60 Minutes," that the intelligent community basically got it wrong. The intelligence community, at least elements of it, they're coming back and saying for at least a year they were warning that ISIS was on the move, getting stronger, gaining territory. They don't think they necessarily got it wrong.

MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESWOMAN: Well, what the president said was, for a long time we've known about the serious threat from ISIL. But I think everyone -- us, the Iraqis, even ISIL itself, probably -- was surprised by how quickly earlier this summer they were really able to take territory in Iraq. They moved more quickly than anyone could have imagined.

And, you know, assessing the will of a force to fight, the capability is one thing you can assess. But the will, that's a really tough thing to assess. Having worked there, I know these are challenging assessments to do.

BLITZER: Because you worked at the CIA. You know that usually they're pretty good in their intelligence assessments. Maybe they got it right on ISIS.

But what I hear you saying is they got it wrong in underestimating how strong the Iraqi military might be, that the Iraqi military, which was trained, funded, armed by the United States, would simply collapse in the face of a bunch of ISIS terrorists moving in?

HARF: Well, we knew what the capabilities of the Iraqi forces were. But what's hard to predict is the willingness of forces that have those capabilities to stand up and fight. I think many people, including us, including the Iraqis, were surprised by how fast ISIL was able to take, again, really large parts of Iraq early this summer, and what we're focused on now is what we do about it. And that's what you've seen in Iraq and in Syria.

BLITZER: I want you to hold on for a moment, Marie. We're taking a quick break, I have a lot more questions for you. We're going to get in-depth on what's going on right now. Is this U.S. airpower working? Has ISIS moved all their equipment, their top leadership to secure locations? Are they hiding among civilians? What's going on?

Much more right after this.


BLITZER: Let's get some more on the breaking news. ISIS forces are now just about two miles away, and they're closing in on the northern Syrian city of Kobani, right near the Turkish border. Thousands of people have already fled, and they're still remaining fear that there could be a terrorist massacre.

So far, there's been no direct coalition air strikes on these ISIS forces closing in on this northern Syrian town near the NATO ally that we call Turkey.

Let's get back to our State Department deputy spokeswoman, Marie Harf.

You've heard these, pretty worrisome, that despite the U.S., the UAE, coalition air strikes against ISIS targets, they seem to be moving. They're gaining territory in Syria right now.

HARF: Well, I don't think I would say that overall they're gaining territory. The U.S. military has our air strikes are effective in hitting the targets they're intended to hit. But this is going to be a long fight here. And no one day or one week of air strikes is going to completely destroy their capabilities.

BLITZER: They're still moving -- they're still moving ahead. This is going to be a long, long, drawn-out process.

HARF: It is.

BLITZER: Here's what was very worrisome over the weekend. These images -- I'm going to show you more of these images. People in Syria. Look at this. These are people protesting in various parts of Syria. And these are not haters of America. These are the people who want U.S. support. They're shouting "death to America" right now. These are the people who want to be trained by the United States.

And they're saying they hate these air strikes because you're not going -- the U.S. is not going against Bashar al-Assad's regime. They're going after their ally, the terrorist group, Nusra; they're going after ISIS. And they're saying these -- they hate these air strikes, because they're not killing Bashar al-Assad's regime, which they consider their major threat.

HARF: Well, the president has said that Assad has lost all legitimacy to lead. There is not a role for him in the future of Syria. And the moderate opposition that we work with, the people we've actually vetted and that we are working to train and arm, they are fighting not just ISIS but they're also fighting the Assad regime.

So long term, we know Assad cannot have a place in Syria. That's why we're working with the opposition...

BLITZER: But there's no intention -- excuse me for interrupting -- to go ahead and bomb Bashar al-Assad's positions, his military positions, as these -- these Free Syrian Army types, the ones who are protesting on the streets over the weekend, are calling for the U.S. to do?

HARF: Well, no, because what we are focused on with this air campaign in Syria is degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL's capabilities. ISIL, the Khorasan Group, the president's first responsibility is protecting America, protecting American citizens. Those groups pose a threat to us. And that's why, in terms of what he actually has to do, going after them is our focus right now.

BLITZER: Why should the U.S. arm and train elements in Syria whose supporters are shouting "death to America" on the streets there?

HARF: Well, I don't know who all of those people were in the photos that you showed, but the people we are working with in the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian Opposition Coalition, these are vetted members of the opposition that we work with. They are supportive of our actions. We are constantly talking to them about the way forward here, and that's why we're going to arm and equip them.

BLITZER: Because you've heard the fear -- these comes from some U.S. intelligence analysts, as well. And I've spoken to some of them. These guys could turn very quickly from being pro-American to anti- American.

HARF: Well, there's always a risk that when you arm these kind of oppositions groups, that the weapons could fall into hands of people that we don't want them to. But in this case, we need boots on the ground in Syria. And those boots are going to be Syrian. And that's why we're supporting these fighters, we're arming them, we're training them. That's what needs to happen going forward in Syria.

BLITZER: Now, there are some reports saying these air strikes, whether the U.S., the Saudi United Arab Emirates, and they've been pounding away 60 air strikes over the past few days, that a whole bunch of civilians have been killed in Syria. What are you hearing about that?

HARF: Well, the Pentagon, I know, takes every care to avoid civilian casualties. They look into every report of that. I'll let them speak specifically, if they've determined anything about the veracity of these reports. But I know that when we undertake counterterrorism operations, we take extraordinary care to avoid civilians.

BLITZER: You think the UAE, the United Arab Emirates, fighter jets and their pilots, the Saudi fighter pilots, they're doing the same thing, as far as care (ph) to avoid civilian casualties? HARF: I have no reason to believe that they're not, Wolf.

BLITZER: The other fear is that ISIS was well warned that these air strikes were coming. They moved their positions, their leadership. They moved a lot of their equipment, and you're basically hitting empty buildings.

HARF: I don't think that's the case. Again, my colleagues at the Pentagon have spoken about this in great detail. But if they move, we have ways of finding them. And again, all of the targets that we have looked at, our air strikes have been very effective in hitting those targets, but again, this is part of a longer campaign. If they move, we will find them. We will do what it takes to degrade this group.

BLITZER: One of the reports suggesting they're moving into heavily civilian populated areas, which would further complicate these air strikes.

Marie -- Marie Harf, the deputy spokeswoman for the State Department, thanks for coming in.

HARF: Good to be here.

BLITZER: Much more coming up, including other breaking news we're following out of Hong Kong, where protesters have not left the street, despite police crackdowns. Hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy protesters. What's going on?

And today's bombshell revelation in the case of that missing university of Virginia student. New information is m cooing in. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: We're following the breaking news in Hong Kong. Despite a heavy-handed police crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, many of them remain on the streets even at this hour.

Let's go to Hong Kong. CNN's Andrew Stevens is joining us now. He's got the very, very latest. Hundreds of thousands of protesters wanting democracy. What is the latest, Andrew?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hundreds of thousands. This is a full-blown crisis for the Hong Kong government and by extension for the Beijing government as well, Wolf. In the past 24 hours, it's been a real roller coaster here. There has been violent reaction from the police to the protesters.

At the heart of this protest is democracy, the democracy movement in Hong Kong. And we saw students turning out by the thousands outside the government offices here 24 hours ago to demand changes that Beijing has approved to the way the next leader of Hong Kong will be elected. A violent, as I said, reaction from the police -- pepper spray and tear gas used. And that really shocked the people of Hong Kong when those images were seen across this territory. And what it's led to a lot more people coming into the streets. It's now 5:30 in the morning now. Take a look behind me. You will see

thousands and thousands of people still out here camped out on the street. This is completely blocking the main road into the center of Hong Kong, the financial district. People in front of me sleeping. They've got their gear on just in case there is another gas attack. Got this pretty rudimentary stuff, basically covering themselves with plastic and goggles and facemasks just to try to deal with those issues.

I should say, Wolf, that it has been peaceful; all sides are calling for peace over the past 24 hours. But at this stage, no resolution in sight. There is a very, very clear divide between the people on the street who want more democracy, Hong Kong government who says this gathering is illegal, and Beijing that backs the Hong Kong government. Wolf.

BLITZER: A lot of people already making comparisons to Tiananmen Square about 25 years ago. Let's hope it stays peaceful. Andrew, we'll check back with you. Thanks very much. Andrew Stevens on the scene for us in Hong Kong.

Still ahead, an arrest in the disappearance of a University of Virginia student leads police to what they're calling a, quote, "significant break" in another unsolved killing.

We also have more on this hour's breaking story. CNN has confirmed this month's intruder made it much further into the White House than we've been led to believe. We'll talk live with a top U.S. Congressman who's been investigating the Secret Service.


BLITZER: Air travel in the United States disrupted again today and will be apparently for at least a few more weeks. It's all because of the damage caused by one deeply troubled man. Police say before he unsuccessfully tried to kill himself, the man vandalized a crucial air traffic control center right near Chicago.

Let's bring in our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh; she's working the story. What's the latest, Rene?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're talking about one man successfully targeting critical FAA communications equipment, bringing one of the nation's busiest airports to a standstill. And three days later, the system still has not fully recovered. Tonight, several lawmakers say this incident reveals a critical vulnerability in the air traffic control system.


MARSH (voice-over): Cables caught and fire ignited inside this FAA facility, silencing air traffic control radios and crippling travel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was really frustrated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm upset. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm so mad right now.

MARSH: One of the country's busiest airports forced to a halt. Thousands of flights canceled since Friday and the numbers are growing.

MICHAEL HUERTA, FAA ADMINISTRATOR: What we didn't have was an equipment failure. We had an apparent sabotage of equipment.

MARSH: FAA administrator Michael Huerta tells CNN he's heightened security and ordered a 30-day review into how one man, Brian Howard, a contracted field technician, could walk into a building with a suitcase and disrupt travel for hundreds of thousands of flyers.

(on camera): Should someone have been able to get into the facility with a suitcase unchecked without raising any questions?

HUERTA: That's all stuff that I've asked our folks to look at. What I first need to understand is what are the facts of what actually happened on Friday?

MARSH: Illinois Senator Mark Kirk says this incident reveals a security weakness that could be exploited.

SEN. MARK KIRK (R), ILLINOIS: Now that we've seen one wacko bring the entire air traffic control system to its knees, we have told terrorists around the world this is how to hit the United States.

MARSH (voice-over): Senator Kirk has also called for a review of the screening process for employees like Howard. Administrator Huerta says that's already under way.

HUERTA: The backgrounds and reviews that were done did not identify any kind of a potential problem, and so we need to dig into that. Was there something that might have been an indicator that was missed as part of this vetting process?


MARSH (on camera): Well, we know that the suspect, Brian Howard, he was in court this afternoon. He is charged with destruction of aircraft facilities.

As for travelers, some encouraging news. We've gone from thousands of cancellations in a day at the peak of all this down to hundreds of cancellations, still a significant number. The FAA says that the equipment will not be fully repaired and that facility will not be fully operational until October 13th.

BLITZER: So that means there will continue to be some air traffic disruptions at least until October 13th?

MARSH: Absolutely.

BLITZER: All right, Rene, thanks very much for that report. We'll watch what happens. We're also standing by here in THE SITUATION ROOM for a live report

from Charlottesville, Virginia, where investigators are looking into the case of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham. Today, police said the arrest of the suspect provided what they're calling a, quote, "significant break" in another unsolved killing.

First, though, CNN's Michaela Pereira shows us how science and technology are helping a young man reach for the American dream. Here's our series, "The Science of Work."


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Matt Ho came to America when he was just a year old.

MATT HO: My parents fought on the side of the United States during the Vietnam War. They were imprisoned for eight years. I'm the product of two refugees that endured a lot of hardships to get me here to America.

PEREIRA: But chasing the American dream wasn't always easy.

HO: I grew up in a pretty bad neighborhood in Oakland. When we were living there in apartments, my mom was robbed with a gun to her head.

PEREIRA: Ho says his escape was to play video games and taught himself how to write computer code. The youngest of six, he sees his siblings struggle.

HO: All my brothers work two jobs and my sisters worked all day from 9 to 7 at a nail salon. And I felt like that life isn't for me.

PEREIRA: At 21, Ho is on a different path. He joined Hack the Hood this summer, a non-profit that teaches young people from low income families how to build websites for small businesses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We work with youth of color, folks who have historically been left out of the technological conversation.

HO: When I first came to Hack the Hood, I was just lost. I mean, I have the skills to code and stuff but I didn't actually have an outlet to actually put my work out there.

PEREIRA: Ho designed several websites, including one for Woody's Cafe and Laundromat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, the whole process was very seamless. In about a week or so, we had this amazing website.

PEREIRA: Ho is now studying computer science at U.C. Davis. He's the first in his family to go to college.

HO: When I graduate, I'm planning on maybe starting a start-up company. My first real investment is going to be buying my parents a house and I feel like that's going to make them really proud.


BLITZER: CNN's Michaela Pereira reporting.

Coming up, we're learning the White House fence jumper made it deeper into the president's home than previously known. I'll speak about that with Congressman Jason Chaffetz, he's chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee, on national security.


BLITZER: Let's get to the breaking news now in the search for the missing Virginia college student, Hannah Graham, and a possible, repeat, possible link between that case and the unsolved killing of another young woman.

CNN's Athena Jones is joining us from Charlottesville right now.

What's the latest, Athena?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that unsolved murder you just mentioned, that happened five years ago. So this is a big break. And while it's too soon to say, this new development has a lot of folks asking whether police around here may have a serial killer on their hands.


JONES (voice-over): Police are calling it a, quote, "significant break." Evidence that could link the suspect at the center of Hannah Graham's disappearance to another missing female college student, Morgan Harrington, who was later found murdered.

GIL HARRINGTON, MORGAN HARRINGTON'S MOTHER: There's a suspect and possibility of a link to Morgan's murder. And I am so pleased that that has happened. But it doesn't change a lot for us.

JONES: State police say forensic evidence found in the course of three separate searches linked Jesse Matthew who's facing charges in the Graham case, to Morgan Harrington, found dead in 2010.

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST, HLN'S "JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL": Cops have confirmed that human remains found on a Charlottesville, Virginia, farm are indeed those of the beautiful 20-year-old co-ed.

JONES: A 20-year-old Virginia Tech student, Harrington went missing after a Metallica concert on the University of Virginia campus in October 2009. The pair among several young women who have disappeared in the area in recent years, raising questions about whether the cases are linked, including from Harrington's mother.

HARRINGTON: I really don't know if it's a cluster phenomenon that just is kind of a coincidence or if it's actually a pattern of a predator.

JONES: But until now, police resisted making the connection. CHIEF TIMOTHY LONGO, CHARLOTTESVILLE POLICE: It's easy for me to

understand why people would ask that question and have their mind go in that direction. I just don't have enough facts before me to make that determination.

JONES: Now Virginia state police are pursuing unspecified forensic evidence linking Harrington and Matthew. This as Matthew's father insists his son wouldn't hurt anyone.

JESSE MATTHEW SR., JESSE MATTHEW'S FATHER: And the only thing I can see him maybe trying to give the girl a ride home or help her out. To kill or hurt somebody, that's not my son.


JONES: Now Morgan Harrington's remains were found on a farm about 10 miles away from where she went missing. Authorities are still looking for Hannah Graham. Meanwhile, Jesse Matthew is due to appear in court on Thursday for a bond hearing -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Athena Jones, thanks very much.

Let's get some more now. Joining us our law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, he's a former assistant director of the FBI. Also joining us, investigative journalist Coy Barefoot in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Tom, if this is true, that there could be some forensic link between these two cases that would be obviously a huge development.

FUENTES: It is a huge development, Wolf, and especially because forensic means science. It's not an eyewitness account or someone that might have seen them together five years ago or a video camera that's blurry from a store or something. But in this case, science is science. If they have a link between the two events, between Matthews himself and, you know, the young lady, Harrington, that's a huge development.

BLITZER: And boy, if in fact there is a forensic evidence linking Matthew to Morgan Harrington, that moves this case in a whole new direction, and I guess it provides some critically important evidence to the law enforcement authorities there.

COY BAREFOOT, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: It certainly does. I'll tell you, Wolf, in Charlottesville today, it's a cloudy, misty, rainy day, and everybody's head is spinning. Since we learned this news a few hours ago, it is absolutely amazing that we could be looking at one man who might be responsible for the disappearance of Hannah Graham on September 13th, for the abduction and murder of Morgan Harrington in October of 2009.

And don't forget that Morgan's case is linked by DNA to another rape and beating in Fairfax that took place in September of 2005. Could he be responsible for four of these kind of cases? It just blows the mind.

BLITZER: So the suspicion there, correct me if I'm wrong, Coy, is that there may be a serial killer in that area?

BAREFOOT: That is absolutely the suspicion, and I should add, we've learned a lot today by confirming that there is some type of forensic link between Jesse LJ Matthew and the disappearance and the abduction and the murder of Morgan Harrington. But what we didn't learn today and what we still want to know is one question, where is Hannah? Where is Hannah? Where is Hannah? Where is Hannah Graham?

BLITZER: So, Tom, take us inside the -- what the law enforcement authorities there are doing right now and the FBI, your former organization, they've been brought in, as well. Walk us through, now that they've got this potential, possible link, what's going on?

FUENTES: Well, first of all, the investigation itself is predominantly Charlottesville Police and the Virginia State Police who are working on this and who did the forensic work and do the earlier work to link this together. But it gives the law enforcement authorities and prosecutor's office potential leverage on Matthews to be negotiating for his life.

They're in a position if they can bring murder charges in the Harrington case and in one or two other cases, it may induce him to cooperate to save his life and identify if he did it to Hannah Graham, if he took her and put her somewhere, where is that? Lead to the body, lead to the -- if she's alive, lead the authorities to her.

BLITZER: In other words, give him life in prison without the possibility of parole in exchange for pleading guilty and cooperating.

FUENTES: Exactly right.

BLITZER: And telling all. Is that something, Coy, the folks there in Virginia, what, do you think realistically given the passion involved understandably so would be willing to do? Because Virginia, as all of us know, they have a pretty strict death sentence over there.

BAREFOOT: We do. But I'll tell you, we have a system of justice in this country, Wolf. Everyone is presumed innocent until they are proven guilty in a court of law with competent counsel. And those are values that we as Americans depend on and we will defend them. And Mr. Matthew will discover our commitment to those ideals, to our system of justice.

BLITZER: Well said. And in fact, as Coy just said, he is obviously innocent until proven guilty. These are suspicions, allegations right now. Nothing yet has been proven. We'll see what happens.

Guys, thanks very much.

Let's turn to politics quickly. An exclusive CNN poll shows another Democratic senator in trouble, even though Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana leads a crowded field of challengers in her own state, 43 percent, her state's unusual election laws require her to get 50 percent plus one to avoid a December runoff. In that case, our poll shows Landrieu would lose to her closest challenger, Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy. More politics coming up in the next hour of THE SITUATION ROOM. But

coming up, how deep inside President Obama's home did the White House fence jumper actually go?

We're going to talk about a very troubling new revelation with a congressman who released the information, Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz.

Stand by, more on the breaking news when we come back.


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. ISIS terrorists are gunning for coalition warplanes. They're closing in on a key Syrian city. Insiders are revealing to CNN how ISIS is beating back the U.S.-led attacks.

Also breaking, a new bombshell about White House security. Just days after a man with a knife jumped the fence, we're learning that he got much farther into the building than we had realized.