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Greatest Mysteries of 2005

Aired December 29, 2005 - 23:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm John King. A special edition of 360 starts right now.
ANNOUNCER: 2005 -- a year full of mystery and intrigue. The disappearance of one girl leads to many suspects and even more theories on her fate. The investigation into the poisoning of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko creates more questions than answers. A cold case dating back to World War II gets opened up and gives a few families hope a lost loved one has been found.

The death of a royal icon, once ruled an accident, is reopened as new theories emerge. And a political whodunnit for the ages, after over 30 years, finally out to rest.

Those stories and more, all ahead in this hour.

This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360: "The Mysteries of 2005," from the CNN studios in New York.

KING: If you like a good suspense novel or a Hollywood thriller, then sit back, sit tight and watch what we have for you. Tonight, the greatest mysteries of 2005. Over the next hour, you will sees crimes of passion, crimes of hate, acts that shock the soul and shake our senses. They are stories of scandal, stories of murder. They are different. But they have one thing in common. All are true.

We begin with the poisoning of a presidential candidate and how a mirror will always remind him of the attack.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHANCE, (VOICE-OVER): He wears the scars of a brutal conspiracy to kill. Poisoned and disfigured, Victor Yushchenko is now the Ukrainian president, but he paid a heavy price. A mysterious and very public loss of his health and good looks.

VICTOR YUSHCHENKO, UKRANIAN PRESIDENT: I am the only person in the world who survived this type of dioxin poisoning. I cannot tell you many things that I had to go through during the campaign because of this poisoning. There are many reasons not to reveal these facts, but I think you understand why.

CHANCE: It's a conspiracy that began to unfold in September last year, when as a handsome Presidential Frontrunner Yushchenko was invited to a private dinner.

YUSHCHENKO: We started dinner at about 10:00 o'clock and finished around 3:30 in the morning. While driving back home, the first thing I felt was a terrible headache. I had never felt anything like it before. When I got home, my wife kissed my lips. She said she could taste something metallic. I asked her for some medication, but the pain was aggravated. Only then I said to myself, Victor, you're in trouble.

CHANCE: His wife, originally from Chicago, says there had been death threats before this one nearly succeeded.

WIFE OF VICTOR YUSHCHENKO: The doctors told us that if he had not gotten physically ill, if he had not vomited within the first hour, he would have died within a few hours. If we had not brought him to the hospital when we did, it was very likely that he would have lived less than 12 hours because of the amount of poisons in his body.

CHANCE: The media seized on the bewildering transformation from poster boy good looks to strange disfigurement. As his appearance slowly deteriorated, rumors were ripe as to who or what was the cause. Was it a Russian plot to manipulate Ukrainian politics? Could it have been as some believe a cosmetic treatment gone wrong? Or just an allergic reaction bad sushi?

Months would pass before an Austrian clinic confirmed he'd been poisoned with potentially lethal dioxins linked to cancer and acute skin disorders.

More than a year later, doctors say there's still a thousand times the safe limit of dioxin in Yushchenko's blood.

As a presidential candidate pledging to fight corruption and to move Ukraine closer to Europe and NATO, Victor Yushchenko made plenty of enemies, both inside Ukraine and beyond. The suspect dinner was hosted by senior figures in the Ukrainian Security Services, the former KGB. But today, an official investigation has found very little evidence to bring those responsible for planning and ordering his poisoning to justice.

The man who led that investigation for more than a year was fired as Ukraine's prosecutor general last month. Now, he tells CNN basic facts of the case like when Yushchenko was actually poisoned remain unproven.

FORMER UKRAINE PROSECUTOR GENERAL: It's still unclear where, when, by whom and in what form he was poisoned with dioxin. Victor Yushchenko had numerous contacts with people during his presidential race. The poison could have been given at any place and at any time. And if you take into account this type of poison can gradually accumulate in the human body, we can't rule out he was getting small doses over an extended period.

CHANCE: Many Ukrainians, like its first lady, believe public figures, even other countries were involved in the poisoning.

WIFE OF VICTOR YUSHCHENKO: My husband was a threat to the current regime. He was a threat to the geopolitical status quo. YUSHCHENKO: This was the essence of our fight against the regime. I knew they would go to all lengths. The fate of our democracy depended on my life or death.

CHANCE: The old regime, political opponents, Russia -- it's not clear that Ukraine will ever learn who ordered the poisoning. But whoever wanted to stop Victor Yushchenko, would stop at nothing. Matthew Chance, CNN, Kiev, Ukraine.


KING: From the Ukraine, we head to Aruba, and perhaps the most talked about mystery of the year. We know her name. We know the face. Natalee Holloway, a teenager on an island holiday. In the blink of an eye, she vanished without a trace. It has been seven months since she disappeared. But the people closest to Natalee are not giving up. They want answers and they won't rest until they know what happened to the girl with the beautiful smile. Here's CNN's Rick Sanchez.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Family and friends were stunned. Natalee Holloway was just not the sort of girl who would vanish without explanation.

(On camera): Is there anything about Natalee that would make her want to in any way go away, run away --


SANCHEZ: -- disappear?


SANCHEZ: Nothing?


SANCHEZ (voice-over): Natalee was a straight A student, popular, on her way to the University of Alabama on a scholarship. But first, there was to be one last high school hurrah, a senior trip to the Caribbean island of Aruba.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We went out on the beach every day, hung out together. Our grade's really close and everyone hung out together the entire time.

SANCHEZ (on camera): The fact that students here at Mountain Brook High School decided to take their graduation trip out of the country is really not unusual. As a matter of fact, for students all over the country, this is becoming a right of passage.

But for Natalee, there would be no such rite. On May 31, as the rest of her classmates were gathering in the lobby of this hotel, to return to Alabama, Natalee didn't show. In her room they found her luggage, her money, and her passport.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We immediately knew something was wrong. Because she was the first one to wake up. And when her roommates knocked on my door and said that they didn't know where she was, we went straight to the chaperones.

SANCHEZ: Natalee's mother, Beth Holloway Twitty, boarded a private plane for Aruba, where she made this promise.

TWITTY: I will stay here until I find you, Natalee.

SANCHEZ: Within a week she was getting help. A massive search effort that included the Aruban police, local volunteers, the Dutch military, even assistance from FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. At first Aruban authorities focused their inquiries on two hotel security guards. They were held for a week and then released. The first of many false leads. But while they were detained, police arrested three more suspects, 17-year-old Joran Van Der Sloot, and brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe.

Police say the three were seen leaving this night club with Natalee the night she disappeared. They told police they dropped Natalee off at the hotel, the Holiday Inn. So that's where police focused their search until they questioned Joran Van Der Sloot again.

(On camera): And by then the story had changed. Joran was now telling police that he had left Natalee right here on this beach, behind the Marriott Hotel, leaving police to wonder what else could have happened that night that Joran had not told them?

(Voice-over): His mother defended Joran. His father, a local justice official, was arrested for allegedly coaching his son. He was held for three days and released.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe in my husband. I believe in my son. I believe in my family.

SANCHEZ: By then, Natalee's disappearance and the twists and turns in the case had attracted international attention. There seemed to be as many reporters on the island as there were theories about what happened to her. One lingering question, though. Why had Natalee, dead or alive, not been found? Search and Rescue Expert Joe Houston.

(On camera): But if you take a body, for example, five, 600, 1,000 feet out, and just leave it there. Because of the winds and the currents, it would do what?

JOE HOUSTON, SEARCH AND RESCUE EXPERT: It would have a tendency to float, to go away from the island.

SANCHEZ: Away from the island?


SANCHEZ: So that means there's a possibility in a case like this, if the worst were to have happened and we were to be talking about a body in his case, that you'd never find it?

HOUSTON: Exactly.

SANCHEZ, (voice-over): On July 4, after a month in custody, the Kalpoe brothers were released from jail.

TWITTY: These criminals are not only allowed to walk freely among the tourists and citizens of Aruba, but there are no limits where they may choose to travel.

SANCHEZ: She later apologized for making those remarks, but by then the bad blood between her and Aruban authorities was running deep.

SANCHEZ, (On camera): Are you convinced that Joran had something to do with your daughter's disappearance?

TWITTY: Absolutely. I'm convinced that all three of those individuals have something to do with her disappearance. All three -- all three are tied together -- in my mind, as her mother -- as tightly as they can be.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): There were countless false leads. July 26, authorities drain a pond, but find nothing. About the same time, a blonde hair attached to duct tape is found, but DNA tests determined it was not a match.

August 26, the Kalpoe brothers and another unnamed suspect were re-arrested. Prosecutors say they had new evidence, but the evidence seemed to lead nowhere, and they were released again. About the same time, Joran Van Der Sloot, who'd been held since early June, was also freed from jail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joran, how does it feel to be going home?

SANCHEZ: As for Beth Holloway Twitty, she finally left Aruba, two months after her daughter's disappearance. She returned to Alabama, where she joined Governor Bob Riley in calling for a nationwide boycott of the island, accusing authorities there of not taking the case as seriously as they should.

The year ends with no fresh clues about Natalee Holloway's fate and no end to her mother's anguish. Rick Sanchez, CNN, Atlanta.


KING: Here in the United States, a mystery that dates back to World War II -- a discovery made in the Sierra, Nevada mountains. Who is the frozen airman?

Also ahead, was Princess Diana's death not an accident, but murder? More than eight years later, British investigators are asking the question. And wait until you hear who Scotland Yard interviewed.

Plus, Deep Throat revealed. The man who brought down a president, no longer a mystery. This is a special edition of 360. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: As we continue our look at the "Mysteries of 2005," we can't forget the discovery made in California, just two months ago. A discovery that may solve a more than 60-year old mystery. Here's CNN's Thelma Gutierrez.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the ultimate cold case, dating back to World War II. Forensic detectives turn to the most advanced scientific methods to solve it.

The mystery began in October. Climbers discovered the body of a young Army airman at the base of a glacier, 13,000 feet high in the Sierra, Nevada mountains. His uniform and unopened parachute revealed he's been dead for more than a half century. How did he get here? Who was this mystery man who died at the prime of his life?

After weeks of studying his remains, military scientists narrowed down the possibilities. More than two dozen training flights crashed in the Sierra during World War II. Scientists say this airman was one of four men who died there.

On November 18, 1942, three young cadets and their lieutenant, all in their 20s were on a navigational training flight, when their plane mysteriously disappeared in the Sierra Nevadas. Onboard, Glen Munn (ph), Melvin Mortonson (ph), Leo Mustanan (ph) and Lieutenant Bill Gamber (ph).

In 1947, five years after that crash, hikers found some plane wreckage, but no bodies. It was another 58 years before a body was found in ice. But who was he? Scientists found some clues. He carried 51 cents in his pocket, a plastic hair comb and three leather- bound address books. Forensic evidence also suggest he had straight teeth with a small gap and was between 5'9" and 6'1".

SCIENTIST: This is the backing. It's how it was attached to the collar.

GUTIERREZ: The airmen wore no dog tags. The corroded name plate revealed a few letters. But even if scientists had found a name, they still could not have made a positive identification because that evidence is merely circumstantial. At JPAC, the Joint Prisoner of War, Missing in Action, Accounting Command in Hawaii, experts had no choice, but to turn to the hard science of DNA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would go out and seek to find some of the maternal blood of the relatives so that we could get a DNA sample.

GUTIERREZ: The DNA of maternal relative because it's the easiest to match. So JPAC sent a piece of the airman's leg bone to another military lab for DNA testing and began searching for living relatives of the four missing men.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to be drawing two tubes of blood. GUTIERREZ: We followed the scientists' trail from the Sierra Nevadas in California to Pleasant Grove, Ohio; and Fayette, Ohio; to Jacksonville, Florida; to Ogden, Utah to meet the families.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you are having a brother missing in action and we are doing a DNA testing.

GUTIERREZ: In Pleasant Grove, Ohio, Sara Zayer (ph) and Jean Pile (ph) had their blood drawn. They are the sisters of 22-year old cadet Glen Munn (ph). While Munn was blond and had straight teeth, he also was 6'4", taller than the mystery airman. Even so, the sisters were tested, just to make sure.

In Fayette, Ohio, the nieces of Lieutenant Bill Gamber (ph) were also tested for DNA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's exciting. Just to know that something had happened so long ago is just coming to the forefront now. It's terrific.

GUTIERREZ: Gamber (ph) was in his early 20s when he died. He had extensive dental work, but also had very dark hair, perhaps too dark to match that of our airman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's so natural in that

GUTIERREZ: And on to Florida, to the only known family of 23- year-old Leo Mustanan (ph). Lewella Mustanan (ph) and her two daughters, Leanne (ph) and Ona Lee (ph).

LEWELLA MUSTANAN (PH), LEO MUSTANAN'S (PH) SISTER-IN-LAW: He had a little gap in between his front teeth.

GUTIERREZ: Like the frozen airman, Mustanan (ph) had a gap in his front teeth. He was blond, and at 5'9", he fell within the height range of the airman. But again, it was only circumstantial evidence. Scientists needed more. But with the Mustanans (ph), they hit a DNA dead end.

MUSTANAN (PH): None of us ever knew what happened actually.

GUTIERREZ: Lewella Mustanan (ph) is Leo's sister-in-law. So, neither she nor her daughters meet the criteria for a DNA comparison. The only way they'll find out whether they're related to the airmen, is if the DNA tests on the other families prove negative.

As the families of all four airmen wait for the results of the DNA testing, Carol Benson has already made a discovery of her own.

CAROL BENSON: I was too young to really know him. It's brought a closeness to him, just that he was a very caring, very personable young man.

Dear Anna, your last letter reached me at Santa Anna ... the barracks are all long, the quarters are also air-conditioned. All in all, it resembles more of a summer resort, than an Army camp. GUTIERREZ: In an old box at her home in Ogden, Utah, Carol found one of the last letters written by her uncle, Melvin Mortonson (ph), to her aunt.

Like Carol, all the families have unearthed letters and photographs of their young crewmen, which sat in dusty boxes, untouched for decades. Each of the family said that in becoming part of this unsolved mystery, they've learned about their own lost airman and a little about themselves. But they'll have to wait until next month for the lab to turn over the DNA results. After 63 years, a few more weeks may be tolerable. Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Los Angeles.


KING: Another mystery to some -- Was Princess Diana murdered or was her death more than eight years ago truly an accident? Scotland Yard is on the case. And coming up, find out who they sat down for questioning.

Plus, it started with the Watergate breaking and led to the downfall of a president. More than 30 years later, the identity of the man known as Deep Throat is revealed.

This is a special edition of 360, the "Mysteries of 2005."


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CO-ANCHOR: From Watergate's Deep Throat to Princess Di, more "Mysteries of 2005," still to come.

First, a look at what's happening at this moment.

More fires expected over the weekend in Texas and Oklahoma, where they've seen just a quarter inch since October. In all, flames have destroyed more than 300 homes so far and left at least five people dead.

In Iraq, a second look at the recent election there, an international monitoring group plans a return visit. By and large, its preliminary report gave parliamentary voting a clean bill of health.

Back home, a key Republican senator is casting a skeptical eye on the American Red Cross. Senator Charles Grassley wants internal documents from the organization, which has come under growing scrutiny for its response to Hurricane Katrina.

And in Idaho, next week could mark the beginning of wolf season. State and federal authorities are expected to sign an agreement permitting ranchers to shoot wolves that menace their livestock. A decade ago, in an effort to reintroduce the species, 35 gray wolves were released in Idaho. An estimated 500 now roam the state.

Back to "Mysteries of 2005", after a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Some things are always a mystery to some people. Case in point, the death of Princess Diana, more than eight years ago. Was it just an accident or murder? Just weeks ago, her ex-husband, Prince Charles, found himself facing Scotland Yard for questioning. CNN's Paula Newton reports.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (VOICE-OVER): The mangled Mercedes seemed to say it all. The world's most celebrated princess died a common death at the hands of a drunk driver. Her fate sealed by her own reckless actions. She just didn't buckle up. And yet, more than eight years on, that version of the truth has never quite held up under scrutiny. What was for a few hours seen as a simple traffic accident, has now emerged as a tangled web of still unproven plots, rumors and conspiracies, many of them fueled by Diana herself.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I think many people find it really difficult to believe that a beautiful 36-year-old princess with everything to live for, could just die in a traffic accident.

NICHOLAS DAVIES, AUTHOR: We cannot go on saying it was just an accident. Blatantly, the evidence now points to the fact that it wasn't.

NEWTON: There's a new theory that points fingers to powerful places. Author Nicholas Davies is behind much of the latest controversy.

DAVIES: That it looks very much as though she was deliberately killed.

NEWTON: According to Davies, killed by British intelligence because of her political power, her media prowess. Princess Diana had already helped force some armies to give up their land mines. Her rumored trip to a Palestinian refugee camp could derail Middle Eastern politics. At the heart of his theory, chauffer Henri Paul. A renowned chemist, is now backing the claim that Paul's blood alcohol level was elevated not by booze, but by his own body chemistry after he died.

DAVIES: The very fact of what the scientific chemist has said to a great degree, (a) proves that he certainly wasn't -- the driver wasn't drunk in any way. It was -- his words were sober. You have to start in thinking well, hold on. There's something fishy in this.

NEWTON: More troubling still, the British press is now reporting that Paul was a paid informant for the French Intelligence Service. Davies says it all makes sense now. British spies, aided by their French counterparts, bumped off the princess, pointing the finger at her driver, rigging her seatbelt so it wouldn't work.

But as far-fetched as Davis's version seems, arguably, no one has done more to fuel the mystery of her death than Diana herself.

Her long-time butler, Paul Burrell, claims to have a note written by Diana, claiming that she lived in fear Prince Charles was trying to kill her. Allegedly, she writes: My husband is planning an accident in my car. Brake failures and serious head injury, to make the path clear for him to marry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It feeds the darker part of the mind. It's -- these are deep recesses we're plumbing here and when something happens like this strange letter or this strange note that Diana wrote, then it's fuel to the flames.

NEWTON: And yet the only person to survive the crash, Diana's body guard, Trevor Rees-Jones, says there is no truth to any of the rumored plots and conspiracies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as I'm concerned, it was just a simple car accident.

NEWTON: There are a few who believe any member of the royal family had anything to do with Diana's death. But the car crash, the chauffer, Diana's fear she would be killed -- it's strange, even for Scotland Yard.

(On camera): And that's why after all this time, the Royal Coroner asked the British government to conduct a full investigation, to be followed by a very public coroner's inquest. Prince Charles has already been questioned. There are many memorials to Diana's life. This is meant to be the final word on her death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're actually going to the considerable expense of creating something like -- it's awful to say it -- a videogame, that reconstructs what happens. And they're hoping that this will be shown on television all around the world and people will say, ah yes, I see, I see. I think it's a long shot.

NEWTON (voice-over): A long shot because there is a morbid media fascination with all of this that merely feeds the undeniable persistent public interest in Diana.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no doubt that for the next 50 years, maybe even 100 years from now, people will be still saying Diana's death was a great mystery.

NEWTON: And no one can yet prove them wrong. Authorities in Britain and France are refusing further comment until the investigation is complete, some time next year. So for now, the crash remains anything but an open and shut case. Paula Newton, CNN, London.


KING: On to a political scandal. After more than 30 years, the mysterious man, known as Deep Throat, is revealed. How he brought down a president and kept the world wondering who he was for decades. That's ahead.

Plus, an accused rapist and an intense manhunt. How did this man go from a respected writer to a wanted man? That and more when "Mysteries of 2005," a special edition of 360 continues.


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: In Washington, this has been a year of secrets and sources, leaks and perhaps lies. But as far as mysteries go, nothing compares to the bombshell revelation of a decades old puzzle -- the identity of Deep Throat.

In 2005 the man who helped solve Watergate, finally stepped out of the shadows. CNN Senior Analyst Jeff Greenfield has the story.


RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have never been acquitted. To leave office (INAUDIBLE).

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST (VOICE-OVER): It was the most compelling political melodrama of the 20th century. A scandal that ended in the only resignation ever of an American president. And with it came a question that hovered over American politics and journalism for more than three decades. Who was the source that gave a young "Washington Post" reporter, named Bob Woodward, critical information about the Watergate scandal? Who was Deep Throat?

Journalist and Author Haynes Johnson was assistant managing editor of the Post during Watergate.

HAYNES JOHNSON, AUTHOR OF "THE AGE OF ANXIETY": The more you went on, the more you had this unverified information that turned out to be true. Where did it come from? Where -- who was the source? And that became the greatest mystery in the history of American journalism.

GREENFIELD: But hard as it may be to remember, when the five burglars were arrested in June of 1972 for breaking into Democratic party headquarters at Washington's Watergate complex, "Deep Throat" was already a famous name, but not because of Watergate. It was the title of a famous -- or infamous hard-core porn movie that became the most successful x-rated film of its time. In fact, throughout the fall of that election year, as two young "Washington Post" reporters, named Woodward and Bernstein, pursued the links to high government officials, Deep Throat never appeared in any of the news stories as the nickname of Woodward's key source.

NIXON: And one of the most difficult decisions of my presidency

GREENFIELD: And through all the saga, from the ouster of top Nixon aides, to the shocking revelation at a Senate committee,

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was aware of listening devices.

GREENFIELD: To the firing of the special prosecutor, to the resignation of a president NIXON: At noon tomorrow.

GREENFIELD: No one talked about Deep Throat. Not until Woodward and Bernstein told their story in a book.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can trust me.

GREENFIELD: And then a movie, where Hal Holbrook played the high government official who met Woodward in garages, as he guided him to the core of the conspiracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just follow the money.

JOHNSON: All the president's man was when you learned you first made the encounter of this mysterious figure called Deep Throat.

GREENFIELD: And remarkably, in a town where leaks and inside information could pass for semi-official currencies, that secret held for more than 30 years. A shelf of books and magazine articles pointed to a range of suspects. Among them, Al Haig, Nixon Chief of Staff and future Secretary of State; Len Garment, special counsel; Fred Fielding, deputy counsel; Steve Bull, White House aide; Nixon' Speech Writers Pat Buchanan and Ray Price; Press Secretary Ron Ziegler.

And then there was Mark Felt, the second ranking official in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. From the beginning, he was a prime suspect. As this conversation from the once secret White House tapes show, between the president and Top Aide H.R. Haldeman:

NIXON: Is it somebody in the FBI?

H.R. HALDEMAN, TOP NIXON AIDE: Ye sir ... (FBI Director) Gray doesn't know who it is and it's fairly high up.

NIXON: Somebody next to gray?

HALDEMAN: Mark Felt.

NIXON: ... Mark Felts is certainly a Jewish name. Well, that could explain it too.

GREENFIELD: But the two reporters kept to their vows not to reveal Deep Throat's identity until the source died or came forward himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think once people see who it is and exactly what happened, we'll understand why the super secrecy and the confidentiality.

GREENFIELD: Then, last June, "Vanity Fair" magazine revealed that Mark Felt was indeed the famous Deep Throat. And Felt, himself, aging, infirm, perhaps looking for some financial gain for his family, appeared at the door of his home to acknowledge that he was in fact Woodward's source. (On camera): But why did Mark Felt talk to Bob Woodward? In part because as a longtime FBI loyalist, he was angry that Nixon had appointed an outsider to replace J. Edgar Hoover, after the director's death. In part because he believed Nixon had been misusing the FBI for political purposes and to cover up the Watergate break-in. Was Mark Felt a hero? Well, that depends on who you ask.

(Voice-over): Former Nixon Aide Chuck Colson, who went to prison for his part in the Nixon scandals, says Felt's actions were unworthy of a high government official.

CHUCK COLSON, FORMER NIXON AIDE: To think that he was out going around in back alleys at night, looking for flowerpots, passing information to somebody, it's just so demeaning.

GREENFIELD: Instead of going to the press, some detractors say, Felt should have gone to officials with his suspicions. A tricky idea, his defenders say, given that many of his superiors were actively involved in the cover-up.

JOHNSON: He didn't disclose all kinds of secrets of classified material, but he helped Woodward keep on the track. And I think he did a great public service.

GREENFIELD: More recently, reporters like Time Magazine's Mark Cooper and ex-New York Times Writer Judith Miller, found themselves in front of grand juries or behind bars for not revealing sources.

While a former high White House official, "Scooter" Libby, is under indictment for allegedly lying about his conversations with the press.

It almost makes what Mark Felt did, helping the press uncover high crimes and misdemeanors, seem pointly simply. Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.


KING: In 2005 there was also this bizarre mystery. An accused rapist who police say pretended to be a firefighter to pull off the crime, and then became the subject of a massive manhunt. Coming up, see how it came to a dramatic end.

Plus, the Wendy's chili finger mystery. Some people should realize there are better ways to get your 15 minutes of fame.

This is a special edition of 360.


KING: Welcome back to this special edition of 360. Tonight, we are bringing you the biggest mysteries of 2005. And this one comes straight from the Big Apple. It's said there are 8 million stories in New York, but none captured the city's attention this year, like this one. It's about a real-life writer and a fake firefighter, accused of a shocking crime. CNN's Jason Carroll reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Braunstein, what do you want to say to the people of New York?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (VOICE-OVER): Looking worn and disheveled, Peter Braunstein came back to New York late on the night of December 19 and went directly to jail. The 41-year old former fashion writer left town a wanted man, more than a month and a half ago, accused of raping a one-time colleague on Halloween night.

The manhunt for Braunstein lasted 46 days, and went from New York to Ohio to Tennessee. It ended on a university campus in Memphis. When cornered by campus police, instead of surrendering,

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stabbed himself in the neck right about here. And he fell over, keeled over down on his knees and blood sprayed everywhere.

CARROLL: His capture was as bizarre as the crime he's suspected of committing and the life this once successful journalist has come to lead.

Police say Braunstein bought a firefighter's uniform on the internet. They say he wore it on Halloween night when he set two small fires as a way to con his way into his victim's apartment.

He allegedly drugged her with chloroform, tied her up with tape and sexually assaulted her for 13 hours. His father said he was shocked to learn the man accused of this horrible crime was his own son.

PETER BRAUNSTEIN'S FATHER: It was just devastating. Devastating. Because reading about it, my first thought was anyone who could commit such a thing must be emotionally disturbed.

CARROLL: Braunstein vanished, and so began his game of cat and mouse with the NYPD. He was tracked to a midtown New York City hotel, spotted in Times Square, and may have used his metro card at a Grenwich Village subway station. But he was also featured on "America's Most Wanted," and that may have been his undoing. Annette Brown was watching the program. She spotted Braunstein at Memphis University and called the campus cops.

ANNETTE BROWN, RECOGNIZED PETER BRAUNSTEIN: It wasn't until he got on the sidewalk and was close enough to me where I could touch him, when he looked up and into my eyes and I immediately recognized who he was.

CARROLL: Some who knew Peter Braunstein say his issues with women began long before his alleged crime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's abusive. He's nasty. There's at least six women that I do know of, including my own wife, that he's either threatened CARROLL: A look at his employment record shows Braunstein was ascribed with a dark side. His words were featured on an explicit website called "Getting it On," writing articles like, "Commitment to Raunch" and "Wicked Women to Watch."

He was charged with stalking a former girlfriend and sentenced to probation. And used another website to label her a "biohazard."

Braunstein's father, estranged from his son for two years, publicly begged him to stop running from the law.

BRAUNSTEIN'S FATHER: I'm pleading with him to turn himself in before something drastic or tragic happens.

CARROLL: His son didn't listen. And when confronted by cops in Memphis, he simply said, "I'm the person you're looking for" before apparently trying to take his own life. Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


KING: Another mysterious crime. But this one involves two innocent children, murdered by their own father, who buried them in an unmarked grave and wouldn't say where. A stranger solves the mystery and helps a grieving mother.

Also ahead, in a legal hoax, the Wendy's chili finger mystery. How police solved the case, when this special edition of 360 continues.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CO-ANHOR: Unsolved mysteries of 2005 will continue in a moment. First, though, here are some of the stories happening at this moment.

In China, the state news agency confirmed the country's seventh case of bird flu and its third fatality. A 41-year-old factory worker in the Eastern Province of Fujian. The woman was first diagnosed as having the H5N1 virus early on December 8, but news of her death was not officially released until just yesterday.

A violent day in Iraq. Two attacks in Baghdad kill three local police officers, a U.S. soldier and an Iraqi civilian. And in a town south of Baghdad, there were 14 deaths in a shooting incident, thought to be the result of Sunni Shia sectarian violence.

One of the nation's largest immigrant detention centers, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks is putting itself out of that business. The sheriff of Pasay County, New Jersey, said today that the housing of illegal immigrants at his jail was causing too many problems. In recent years the Pasay County Jail had faced numerous allegations of prisoner mistreatment.

And U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow today alerted Congress that unless they act soon to raise the statutory debt limit, the government will be unable to borrow money come mid-February. It seems that Uncle Sam has run his tab as far as it would legally go, to $8.184 trillion. You thought you were maxed out.

Back to "Mysteries of 2005," after a short break.


KING: It was an unspeakable crime against the most innocent of victims. They were children. If the father couldn't have them, nobody could. And he took his deadly secret to the grave.

But in 2005, the horrific mystery was solved. As one determined mother gave another mother the answer she was waiting for. CNN's Randi Kaye reports.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For Stephanie Dietrich, the mystery of what happened to two children she'd never met, a brother and sister from New Hampshire, both gone missing, seemed almost to take over her life.

STEPHANIE DIETRICH, SEARCHED FOR MISSING CHILDREN: I was obsessed. Obsessed. I was not going to be wrong.

KAYE: Her story began two and a half years ago. July 2002, 11- year-old Philip Gehring and his 14-year-old sister, Sarah, went missing. Their father would soon confess to killing and burying them somewhere in the Midwest. In a police interview, he said he couldn't remember exactly where, but he provided a crude map and some vague clues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, CONFESSED TO KILLING TWO CHILDREN: It looked like abandoned property. It was like a duping area. There was a large building fairly close to it.

KAYE: Police narrowed the search to a 600-mile stretch along Interstate 80, between Iowa and Pennsylvania, but they never found the kids. Prosecutors said the father deliberately mislead investigators when they took him to the area. He committed suicide in jail soon after.

The children's mother, Teri Knight, was estranged from him and was desperate to find the bodies.

TERI KNIGHT, CHILDREN WERE MURDERED: Hi, I'm Teri Knight. And two years ago my children, Sarah and Philip Gehring -- I don't know if you remember the case -- they were murdered.

KAYE: She traveled across the Midwest to ask for help.

KNIGHT: They don't deserve to be buried on the side of a road. I don't deserve to have them buried on the side of the road. And we need to find them and bring them home.

KAYE: Which brings us back to Stephanie Dietrich. She's a grocery clerk and has her own kids. She did not know Teri Knight, but for some reason, she was fixated by the mother's plea. EDIE GRUBBS, FRIEND OF STEPHANIE DIETRICH: She was determined to. I knew she would. She wasn't going to give up until she did.

KAYE: Dietrich combed through hundreds of pages of police interviews with the father.

DIETRICH: I just kept reading over the transcript and reading it and re-reading it and waking up in the middle of the night and reading it and highlighting.

KAYE: Highlighting and connecting possible clues. The children's father mentioned landmarks. Willow-like trees, a green water pump and cement sewage pipes. He talked about wrapping the bodies in trash bags and making a cross out of duct tape and sticks. But Dietrich did more than just read about the case. Much more.

DIETRICH: There was a shovel in my car all summer long.

KAYE: For five months she drove all over Ohio with her dog. She says she searched more than 40 possible burial sites.

DIETRICH: There were times when I stayed overnight digging. Because when you have a dog as big as Rico, you can go anywhere you want and stay as long as you want.

KAYE: Eventually, her persistence paid off. Nearly one month ago, on December 1, Stephanie Dietrich managed what detectives could not. She found the bodies of Philip and Sarah Gehring here in this remote area, just 15 miles from her own home in Akron, Ohio.

DIETRICH: I using the crude map that the father had drawn. And everything he drew, everything he told them was the truth.

KAYE: Dietrich noticed the concrete sewer pipes, the green water pump. Then suddenly, her dog laid down and refused to move, right under a tree that drooped like a willow. Flowers now mark the spot. But when Dietrich began to dig in the snow, she found the edge of a trash bag and a tiny wooden cross.

DIETRICH: And when I knocked that little cross loose and I knelt down and picked it up, as soon as I picked it up, I was like, Rico, come on, we're going to get cell phone and it just -- I knew.

KAYE: After three years, thanks to the dedication of a stranger, Teri Knight could finally say farewell to her children.

KNIGHT: It really brought a sense of relief over all that we finally did it, that we were able to bring them home, give them a decent good bye. These children deserved that, so I really feel that we were finally able to give them that piece of respect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.

KAYE: The FBI would honor Dietrich, and she received $5,000 in reward money. But perhaps the real mystery now is something more than finding the children. For Stephanie Dietrich, it was never about recognition or reward. So why did she give so much to a stranger? All she can say is she's just a mother who helped another mother in need.

DIETRICH: It's just because I'm part of the public and they asked for the public's help.

KNIGHT: She'll never know what kind of gift that she gave to us.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


KING: In 2005, there were also the fast-food capers. Who put a finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili? Coming up, see how police tracked down those responsible. This is a special edition of 360, "Mysteries of 2005."


KING: Some mysteries take your breath away. Others turn your stomach. Such is the case with that infamous Wendy's bowl of chili. We know what was put in it, but why? And where did it come from? Tonight, the answers to the fast-food surprise of 2005. Here's CNN's Rusty Dornan.

RUSTY DORNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (VOICE-OVER): This wasn't just a who done it, but a whose was it? Part of a finger found in a bowl of chili at Wendy's in San Jose, California, by a woman who said she bit into it. The next day Wendy's said they'd get to the bottom of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that will consist of us going back to find out where these individual products, whether it was the frozen food vegetables, whether it was the hamburger, or whether it was the chili sauce, the tomato sauce, et cetera.

DORNAN: Wendy's opened tip lines, gave lie detector tests to employees, they even counted each and every finger of the fast-food workers. Nothing. Within 48 hours, Wendy's officials said they knew where the finger didn't come from.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're very confident that it did not come from any employee or any supplier.

DORNAN: $50,000 was what Wendy's was willing to give to anyone who could tell them just how it got into their bowl.

The woman who claimed to have found it, also found her 15 minutes of fame. Here it was on GOOD MORNING AMERICA.

ANNA AYALA, FOUND FINGER IN WENDY'S CHILI: Knowing that there was a human remain in my mouth, you know, something in my mouth, it's disgusting. It's tearing me apart inside. It's nasty.

DORNAN: Things did turn nasty for Anna Ayala, when police discovered she had filed a series of lawsuits against companies since the late '90s. They searched her house in Las Vegas.

AYALA: You know what? I'm sick of it! I'm tired of it! I am tired of it! There were all over my home. They invaded my privacy. Look what they did to my daughter. They treated her like animal.

DORNAN: San Jose Police Captain Dave Canellar (ph) says they had Ayala fingered in another fraud case. Combined with strong suspicions about the Wendy's caper, they arrested her.

(Voice-over): You still didn't know who the finger belonged to, but you were able to arrest Ayala. What was the thing that stood out in your mind?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, among other things, I think what sewed it up was that we had positive scientific evidence that the finger was not bitten into, nor was it cooked. Which totally contradicted her statement.

DORNAN (voice-over): But whose was it? A woman in Nevada was missing a fingertip. She lost it to a leopard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just so uncommonly coincidental and it looks the same, you know, to me.

DORNAN: Police knew the severed digit belonged to a man, but they weren't telling. Wendy's upped the reward to $100,000. But sales for the fast-food chain suffered nationwide. Locally, business plummeted. That didn't stop the finger from being (inaudible) on the late-night TV circuit, here with David Letterman.

DAVID LETTERMAN: It's so sunny here in Manhattan today. Listen to this. The finger in my Wendy's chili was wearing sun block.

DORNAN: Finally, a tip about the tip. Someone called the Wendy's hotline about this man, Brian Rossiter. It turns out he was missing a digit. It was cut off in an industrial accident. He told police he sold it to Anna Ayala's husband to pay of a $50 debt. He wasn't charged.

But Anna Ayala and her husband both pleaded guilty to attempted grand theft and are still awaiting sentencing. For them, a fickle finger of fate will just have to wait. Rusty Dornan, CNN, San Jose, California.


KING: Thanks for watching this special edition of 360, the "Mysteries of 2005." I'm John King, in for Anderson Cooper. LARRY KING is next.


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