Skip to main content


Return to Transcripts main page


Seven Killed in Alabama Tornadoes; Army Under Fire Over Walter Reed Conditions

Aired March 1, 2007 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And that's our top story tonight: breaking news, parts of a high school literally blown away by a tornado -- but, as Larry said, the death toll now being revised downward from 15 actually to five.
We're also focusing on Iraq, on a story that shows, as Bob Woodruff told you, just how quickly a moment can go from normal to nightmarish. It happened during lunch break in a U.S. military mess tent -- in a single heartbeat, an attack that changed everything. And lives would never be the same. That's later in the program.

We begin with the state of emergency now in effect across Alabama. It comes in the deadly wake of a string of tornadoes that marched across the Midwest and South today. Alabama saw the worst of the death and destruction, the brunt of it at a high school in the town of Enterprise, five killed there, seven statewide. And the storms may not be over yet.

Let's start there, with the threat of more storms.

Monitoring it for us, CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf -- Reynolds.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Anderson, let's start off with the good news.

The good news that we have right now are, these storms have weakened considerably, just in the past eight hours or so, certainly in the last 45 minutes. That's the good news.

Bad news is, is that we still have many severe thunderstorms in parts of Alabama and a couple of tornado warnings still in effect for Georgia, also a tornado watch to consider that is -- continues for much of the Southeast until 5:00 in the morning.

So, although things are beginning to calm down considerably, we're not out of the woods just yet -- back to you.

COOPER: All right, Reynolds.

CNN's Jamie McIntyre was already in southern Alabama when the storms came through. He rushed to Enterprise, becoming one of the first correspondents to witness the kind of destruction that even war reporting doesn't really prepare you for.

Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was fast. It was powerful. And it took aim at Enterprise High School.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see stuff like this on the news all the time. And you don't -- you don't really know what -- what's going to happen. And you just -- you don't -- you don't -- it's -- it's pretty bad. I don't really know how to describe it.

JIM REESE, SUPERINTENDENT, ENTERPRISE CITY SCHOOL SYSTEM: We ask that you continue to pray for our students and for their parents and for our community. To my knowledge, we have not had a storm this severe in several decades, if ever before.

MCINTYRE: The deadly tornado ripped up the football field, flipped over cars, and tore the roof off the auditorium, where, inside, students were huddled for safety.

(on camera): So, this mass of twisted wreckage here, this is what's left of the center of the high school (AUDIO GAP) ends are relatively intact, but the middle is just a mass of wreckage.

And over here, on the athletic field, we can see some helicopters from nearby Fort Rucker, the helicopter training base. They're here to evacuate people. But, at the moment, they have no one to evacuate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was pinned waist down. They had that one girl. The other girl came out, she was unconscious. And then there was a guy that was in there. They pulled him out about 30 minutes ago.

I mean, when I left there about 15 minutes ago, they were still working on the girl. She's pinned. The whole wall has collapsed on her.

MCINTYRE (voice-over): Some didn't make it out alive -- on the scene, panic and chaos, as frantic parents searched for their children. Some found them. Others did whatever they could to help.

(on camera): Did you say you helped carry some of the bodies out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two little girls.

MCINTYRE: Two little girls. Do you have any idea how old they were? Or...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One looked about 12. It's a high school, so -- and the other one looked about 16. So, and it's -- it's disturbing.

MCINTYRE (voice-over): Elsewhere in Enterprise, more destruction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened you -- when -- when the hurricane -- or the tornado came through?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I put my children and I in the closet, and I covered our heads with a blanket, and we just held on until it was over.

MCINTYRE: Witnesses say, before the twister hit, alarms went off, warning people to take cover. Now some are asking if the deaths at Enterprise High School could have been prevented.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was plenty of warning. All the schools throughout Alabama had dismisses for -- at 12:30. And, then, I don't know why they kept these kids in school.


COOPER: Jamie, I guess that is the question a lot of people in Enterprise are asking. Why did they keep the kids in school?

MCINTYRE: A lot of second-guessing about that, Anderson.

The -- as near as we can tell, they got about a 28-minute warning from the Weather Service of the impending tornado. And they had made a decision to dismiss school.

It's not clear how much -- how far ahead they got the warning. And, of course, when you second-guess in a situation like this, it's never clear what the outcome would be. For instance, if you sent the kids home and a tornado of this power came by, it's entirely possible that something could have happened as they were in transit.

It's just one of those imponderables. But there's a lot of people asking a lot questions about why this happened. But the bottom line is, it was a very powerful, unpredictable tornado -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jamie, is -- is there any sense of how long it was -- it stayed in that area, I mean, how long it lasted for?

MCINTYRE: Well, we -- we don't know. But, judging by the devastation on the ground -- and it's not just this high school behind me, but also the neighborhoods that we walked through to get here, and some on the other side as well -- shows that this was unusually widespread.

Tornadoes often hit a particular area, and they sort of jump to another area, but this created a lot of damage on the ground. So, you know, I don't know how long it would have been, but it -- it was longer than usual.

COOPER: All right, Jamie McIntyre, appreciate that.

It cannot be said enough, the story is still unfolding, the full extent of damage still coming into focus. And, as Jamie said, there is a state of emergency in effect in the area, a lot of people without power.

Parents, we expect, hugging their kids a little closer tonight, parents like Mike Shroades. His daughter, Brooke, attends Enterprise High, and was there today when things got rough.

They both join us now on the phone.

Mike, you went up to pick up your daughter at school, trying to reach her before the storm hit. What happened when you arrived?

MIKE SHROADES, FATHER OF ENTERPRISE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: When I arrived, I was basically just going in, not realizing there was a tornado right behind me. And the policewoman at the front of the school told everyone to get inside, that they had to get inside immediately, that the tornado was coming.

And I went in, and called my wife, and -- and was able to contact my wife and my daughter. And, about that time, it got black, and people were diving on the floor. And, from there, we just prayed until it was over.

COOPER: What did it sound like?

M. SHROADES: Well, to me -- you know, a lot of people, you know, my daughter, especially, said that she heard it sound like a -- a train coming.

But, to me, it was just a lot of rustling, and you could hear the wind blowing, and, you know, just like -- I would describe it more like what my -- an earthquake might sound like.

COOPER: And, Mike, I know you only have one phone.

If you could give the phone to Brooke, your daughter, I just want to ask her a little bit about what she experienced.

M. SHROADES: Sure. Hold on one second.


COOPER: Hey, Brooke.

What was it like when -- when the tornado hit?

B. SHROADES: Well, I really didn't know what to think, because we weren't expecting it to be like that. But the whole school was shaking. And I was grabbing on to the closet things and everything else, because I didn't know what was going to happen.

COOPER: Where were you?

B. SHROADES: I was in the -- I was in the choir room, in the closet.

COOPER: And how long did it seem like it lasted for?

B. SHROADES: It just -- 30 seconds, maybe.

COOPER: Did you -- did you know your dad had come to pick you up? B. SHROADES: Yes. I thought that he was outside. And, so, I was trying to call him while the tornado was going on...

COOPER: And when -- when...

B. SHROADES: ... to make sure he was inside.

COOPER: When it was over, and you were walking around, what -- what was it like to see your school like that?

B. SHROADES: It was very -- I felt -- I was in shock.

COOPER: I can only imagine.

Well, Brooke, I'm glad -- I'm glad you -- you made it through OK. And thank your dad for us for -- as well, for taking the time to talk to us.


COOPER: All right. Be well.

Again, a terrible scene tonight, but not as bad as once thought -- the death toll revised down from 15 to five at Enterprise High School, a total of seven deaths across the state.

Before hitting Alabama, the storm system unleashed tornadoes on Kansas, Illinois, and rural -- rural Missouri, where a twister killed a 7-year-old girl.

Elsewhere, the system brought snow, nearly two feet in places. For some in the Midwest, this was the third major snowstorm in only a week.

Now, that said, the focus tonight remains tornadoes. A look now at the when and the where and the why, especially why tornadoes often kill in packs.

Again, here's CNN's Reynolds Wolf.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This monstrous tornado was half-a-mile wide.

WOLF (voice-over): There are tornado alleys and tornado seasons, but the fact is, from Alaska to New York, tornadoes have churned through every part of the country. And they happen every month of the year.

But, every so often, the perfect mix of conditions combines to create the perfect storm system, sometimes spinning off dozens of twisters, with deadly results.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you need a lot of wind, all the way from the surface all the way to the jet level. You need moisture, a lot of it, which we're getting off the Gulf of Mexico. And you need a big storm, which we have, with the strongest winds, 180- to 200-mile jet stream coming across Texas. And these come together, and then you get storms that can spin. And, when they start spinning, then, we have got the possibility of tornadoes.

WOLF: Here's a bird's-eye view of today's weather setup: An intense area of low pressure and strong cold front moves into the Midwest and Southeastern United States. It then mixes in with warm air from the Gulf of Mexico. The low-level jet stream is added to the mix.

And, when that happens, massive systems can spell disaster, sometimes spreading over hundreds of miles; 1994, at least a dozen tornadoes tear through Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas in the middle of the day. Twenty died in Piedmont, Alabama, when a twister demolished a church in the middle of Palm Sunday services.

In April 1974, a super outbreak created a series of tornadoes stretching from Lake Michigan to the Gulf of Mexico. Six separate F-5 tornadoes, including one which destroyed the downtown of Xenia. And what many consider the worst big twister ever, the Tri-State Tornado, killed nearly 700 people and stayed on the ground from Missouri all the way to Indiana way back in 1925.

Thanks to much-improved warning systems, the death tolls may never get quite that high again. But, with March coming in like a lion, a storm this early in the year, this big, could be a bad sign for a busy season.


COOPER: Reynolds, I -- I want to play this I-Report video that was sent to us.

And let's listen to it. That's the warning siren. It was sent into us by Eduardo Alomar (ph) in Fort Rucker, Alabama.

People did get lots of warning about this storm, it seems like.

WOLF: Absolutely.

You know, hearing that, I have to tell you, that's music to my ears. I love hearing that. It's a scary thing. We're dealing with tornadoes. But to hear that -- that warning is a wonderful thing. And it's something that the people in Central Florida, in -- in the villages, didn't have a few weeks ago.

You will remember, Anderson, that one took place in the middle of the night. There was no advance warning, unless people had their weather radios or were maybe watching local television. But, today, at least there was a bit of a heads-up. Five people died in that town, certainly terrible, but, as you know, it could have been far worse.

COOPER: Well, Reynolds touched on what many consider the worst tornado on record, the Tri-State twister in 1925. Here's the "Raw Data" on some other historic storms. The second deadliest tornado killed 317 people. That was May 6, 1840, in Natchez, Mississippi. The third deadliest tornado to hit the U.S. was on May 27, 1896, in Saint Louis, Missouri -- 255 people killed in that one.

Now to more breaking news -- this story happening not far from Reynolds, in Cobb County, just outside Atlanta. Police there say the so-called "Barbie Bandits" have been caught. We first told you about them last night. Don't exactly look like bank robbers, perhaps, but authorities say these two suspects held up a Bank of America. They were apparently even giggling and smiling on the surveillance tape. Police say they have now been caught.

In our next hour, 360's Tom Foreman looks at a horrifying moment in the Iraq war: a suicide bombing at an American base, and all the lives, both there and at home, that were forever altered in one blinding flash. That's in about 50 minutes or so.

But up next tonight:


COOPER (voice-over): We owe them the best. They're getting this instead at the Army's top hospital.

BRADY VAN ENGELEN, U.S. ARMY VETERAN: You see this, the mold and the mice. What you don't see is the bureaucratic backlog. That's unfair to these guys.

COOPER: Now the military says it's taking action. But why has it taken so long? We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Also: He terrorized a nation and taunted police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this guy was making threats of killing people. And he was doing it.

COOPER: The Zodiac killer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says: Oh, my God, he's got a gun.

COOPER: Now, for the first time, a survivor speaks out about his would-be killer still out there decades later -- only on 360.



COOPER: A roadside bomb went off in Mosul today -- the target, an Iraqi police chief. He wasn't hurt, but one of his guards was killed.

Another bombing in Mosul more than two years ago killed 22 people. Many of them were American soldiers. They thought they were safe inside their mess tent, enjoying their lunch. But they faced an unexpected enemy. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEAN HOFFMEYER, PHOTOGRAPHER, "RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH: It was very quiet. And my ears were ringing. And I heard the sounds of moaning. And I heard one man scream. And that was the point that I reached for my camera and thought, somebody is going to want to see what happened in here.


CAPTAIN JUSTIN UHLER, STRYKER BRIGADE, FORT LEWIS: It just rocked the whole area. I mean, the ground physically shook.

MASTER SERGEANT SHANE BRIEL, STRYKER BRIGADE, FORT LEWIS: Oh, I would say I probably blown a good 30 -- 30 feet or more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember thinking to myself, man, a mortar round came off in here.

HOFFMEYER: It was just a very loud, very intense crack, like getting hit by a football player and punched in the face at the same time.

SPECIALIST ALEJANDRO SOTO, STRYKER BRIGADE, FORT LEWIS: I didn't know what happened at first. It just felt like somebody had pushed me. And I remember just laying there, thinking, OK, this is like when you're dead.


COOPER: Hmm. Well, an in-depth look at what happened on that day and the search for the killers, that is coming up in a special edition of 360, "The Lion in the Village." That's at the top of our next hour.

First tonight: broken promises. For years now, politicians of all stripes have said that our troops deserve the very best. Well, tonight, there's further evidence that the brave men and women who have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan are not, in fact, getting the very best when it comes to medical care.

The Walter Reed Army Medical Center was always considered one of the finest military hospitals in the world. But an investigation by "The Washington Post" found some terrible conditions inside parts of the hospital. Today, the Pentagon finally took action.

The question tonight: Why did it take so long?

CNN's Joe Johns is "Keeping Them Honest."


JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Far worse than Walter Reed's tarnished reputation is what seems to have happened to the soldiers themselves, the men and women who are getting outpatient treatment from the hospital.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the entire failure, not just restricted to Walter Reed, but overall, is scandalous. The fact that we have got veterans who are homeless and going through Dumpsters is scandalous.

JOHNS: If it is a scandal, it's about veterans in the Army returning to the United States, recovering from the very worst of war injuries, lost limbs, gunshots, blindness, warehoused and waiting for the Army to wade through its red tape, left in limbo, struggling not only with what happened to them over there in the Middle East, but also with what was happening to them back home.

BRADY VAN ENGELEN, U.S. ARMY VETERAN: I served in Iraq, you know? I -- you know, it doesn't matter what my beliefs were. You know, I held up my end of the commitment. And, when I came back as a wounded veteran, this isn't the type of thing that you would expect.

JOHNS: Brady Van Engelen was an Army lieutenant shot in the head, sent back to Walter Reed. A lot of the outrage is about the conditions there, but Van Engelen says it's not the real issue.

VAN ENGELEN: The mold and the mice, and that's what's going to make -- you know, that's what going to make the headlines. But what you don't see is the bureaucratic backlog we're being faced with. And that's unfair to these guys. They're basically whiling away.

JOHNS: For Van Engelen, it was seven months after his rehab was completed before the Army told him what was obvious, that he would be discharged. He says, for others, the wait could be as long as two- and-a-half years.

(on camera): And, now that the recriminations have begun, the issue has suddenly become accountability, keeping them honest, who knew what and when.

Major General George Weightman, the man in charge of Walter Reed, was relieved of command, after telling CNN earlier this year that the buck stopped with him.

MAJOR GENERAL GEORGE WEIGHTMAN, COMMANDING GENERAL, WALTER REED MEDICAL CENTER: One hundred percent of it falls on me. I'm responsible for everything that does happen or does not happen here at Walter Reed.

JOHNS: That's neat and tidy. And, unfortunately, it's not nearly that simple.

A former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee says Weightman's not solely to blame. Congressman Bill Young said, Young, along with his wife, tried to intervene several times on behalf of soldiers with problems at the hospital, but didn't get anywhere.

Young told CNN tonight that he was -- quote -- "brushed off," after officials at the hospital "made it clear they didn't care for our input." The Army issued a statement saying, it is "aggressively addressing the issues regarding outpatient care at Walter Reed."

But, as for the ouster of General Weightman, Congressman Young and others are already saying he was nothing more than a scapegoat for a system that policy-makers at higher levels had a duty to fix.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, that's the thing. I mean, it does seem like people in power knew what was going on at Walter Reed. That's what a former-Army-Ranger-turned-veteran-affairs-officer tells us. He says he saw the bad conditions himself. We will talk to him next.

Also tonight: escaping the Zodiac killer. Decades after he was nearly stabbed to death, a victim of the serial killer finally speaks out about the attack -- a 360 exclusive coming up.


COOPER: Well, before the break, we told you about the shakeup at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. You saw people there trying to clean up the mess.

The commanding general was removed from his post today, following revelations of substandard conditions in parts of the medical complex. Of course, the problems go far beyond just that.

Joining me now is Steve Robinson. He's the director of veterans affairs for Veterans For America, and he has seen the conditions inside Walter Reed firsthand.

How can this happen, Steve? I mean, we -- we all know what happened to returning vets from Vietnam. We all know what -- what facilities were like for them. How, in this day and age, with all the attention that's been put on this, can a situation like this be happening at Walter Reed?

STEVE ROBINSON, DIRECTOR OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, VETERANS FOR AMERICA: Well, first, let me say it's not just happening at Walter Reed. It's happening all across every medical facility that the DOD runs. This situation plays out.

But, at Walter Reed, in particular, it happens when the facility becomes overwhelmed with -- with -- with wounded soldiers, and -- and the demand for services exceeds the ability of doctors to deliver it. There's not enough care providers. Soldiers end up being stuck in their rooms, doing nothing, waiting for the paperwork to get processed.

COOPER: And it goes beyond, as you said, just mold and mice in a physical plant.

ROBINSON: Well, absolutely. I mean, that -- they were happy to talk about that. Everybody was happy to, because you can fix that. But what we really need is somebody to look at whether or not we have a national philosophy on what is owed to these veterans. It is -- is it OK for them to sit in their rooms and not be trained on how to return from the war zone?

Is it OK to know that they're drinking and -- and heavily medicated? Is it OK to punish them because journalists have come in and exposed this issue, and now soldiers are being punished? Is that OK?

COOPER: They're being told not -- they're -- they're -- they're being told not to speak to the media.

ROBINSON: Not only they're -- they're being told not speak to the media. They're waking these guys up the 6:00 a.m. in the morning with room inspections, and dress right, dress, and make your bed.

These guys are on heavy medication. They're on serious psychotropic meds. They need to be patients first, soldiers second, and then taught how to return home from the war.

COOPER: The Pentagon now says it's going to implement an Army action plan and launch an independent review group.

Do you think that is going to make any difference?

ROBINSON: I think -- well, I will say this: Secretary Gates owned this issue. He came out and he said: We're going to fix it.

And we're starting to see some heads roll. It doesn't matter to me how many people they fire. What matters to me is that they fix it. And, so, this independent review group better consist of people that have been there, better consist of soldiers and family members that have suffered there, and people that will do something about it.

COOPER: It's particularly outrageous, because, you know, every politician, Republican, Democrat, no matter what -- what side of the aisle they're on, they all say, look, our troops deserve the very best.

And I think everyone in this country agrees with that. And, yet, it -- it doesn't -- it seems like the promises that we're -- that we're making to those who have fulfilled their promise just -- they don't get fulfilled. I mean, we're -- we're -- we're breaking the promise.

ROBINSON: Well, what does it mean, Anderson? What does it mean they deserve the very best? Does that mean they deserve to live with mice and mold? Does it mean they deserve to wait?

We have to ask ourselves, what is happening in the system? We have to have a top-to-bottom review of everything that we deliver to them, and track, and determine if people are getting what they're supposed to get.

If I can walk in there and find all these problems, then any leader in the military can.

COOPER: Steve Robinson, appreciate you coming on. We will talk to you again in the future. Thanks, Steve.

We will stay on this.

ROBINSON: Thank you.

COOPER: Straight ahead tonight: a 360 exclusive. the man who survived a serial killer's attack. The notorious Zodiac killer, we're talking about, perhaps still out there decades after his reign of terror.

Also, another story tonight, another story of survival against all odds.


COOPER (voice-over): Doctors call him a walking, talking miracle -- anchor Bob Woodruff on his devastating injuries in Iraq and his long battle back to health.

Also: normal one moment, a nightmare the next.

MALICH: It was just a huge explosion.

UHLER: It just rocked the whole area. I mean, the ground physically shook.

COOPER: The lives that changed forever in a mess tent in Iraq and here at home -- a 360 special report tonight.



COOPER: A new movie about the notorious Zodiac Killer opens nationwide tomorrow. Tonight, we're going to hear from one of his victims. It's a 360 exclusive. Left to die by the serial killer, he's never told his story before until tonight. The memories are vivid and horrific, but they might offer some clues to catching this man.

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 crypto grams 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. Imagine seeing 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 ahead tonight, Bob Woodruff, the battle he fought after his brain injury in Iraq and the hope he's giving to so many others. His story in his own words when 360 continues.

Also, the top of the hour "The Lion in the Village", a 360 special report on one deadly moment in Iraq and all the moments since.



HARTNELL: I see him pull his knife, and just kind of in one fell swoop I feel the knife buried in my back.


COOPER: That's Bryan Hartnell describing the attack by the Zodiac Killer. He survived, of course, and for the first time in nearly 40 years is sharing his story of that encounter.

Like the Son of Sam, the Boston Strangler, BTK, the Zodiac stalked his prey and then slaughtered them. He's still 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'm the murder 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.


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: Wow, remarkable story.

Next on 360, Bob Woodruff in his own words. The IED attack that nearly killed him and the love that helped save him.

And later a massacre in the mess hall, a military base bombing that destroyed lives and changed many more lives forever.


COOPER: It is an astonishing number. Each year 1.4 million Americans suffer traumatic brain injuries. Bob Woodward is one of them. The IED that blew up the tank carrying the ABC News anchor in Iraq left him nearly dead with a catastrophic injury to his head. His recovery was long, remarkable and an inspiration for many people.

He sat down with Larry King earlier. Here is Bob Woodruff in his own words.


BOB WOODRUFF, ABC NEWS: We were just -- just north of Baghdad about 12 miles or so, and we were just trying to see what the Iraqis were doing in terms of their military taking over a lot of power from the U.S. at that place to try to see what's happening.

The president was going to be speaking two days after that. And we wanted to get some more information. So we were inside -- we actually put ourselves into an Iraqi tank. And as we're going down the road, we came to an area where the trees are a lot closer to the road, and at that moment an IED exploded, and I don't really remember much after that.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Were you in pain?

WOODRUFF: Yes, apparently. I mean, I don't have a lot of memory about that, but I was definitely telling them I was in pain. I -- my shoulder was also completely smashed. So lots of blood coming out of my back and a lot of rocks had just laid it into my left part of my face.

KING: Where did they take you, Bob?

WOODRUFF: Well, right after we got hit there was a firefight that broke out at the same area so they couldn't get us out of the vehicle right away. But then they did once the shooting stopped and they took me out of the vehicle into a helicopter, flew down to Baghdad.

They checked my condition. They saw how bad it was and took me to Ballad, took me to Ballad, which is again about ten, 12 miles, something like that, north of Baghdad. And it's there that they took part of my skull off. I was out for the next -- I got hit on January 29.

That lasted for 10 or 15 minutes maybe getting transferred into the vehicle, and then I didn't wake up again until March 5.

KING: What do you remember about coming out of the coma?

WOODRUFF: I think in the first few days it was very difficult for me even to this day to remember much what was happening that time. But I do -- I do remember the very first thing, which is when I woke up and my -- I heard that my wife Lee was going to be coming into the hospital room. And when she finally showed up I turned to her and said, "Honey, where have you been?" And that's when she wanted to, I think, beat me up a little bit.


COOPER: And a remarkable comeback.

We have some breaking news to report. A new report of a tornado out of Georgia. At the top of the hour Reynolds Wolf showed us a line of storms and talked about the possibility of more rough stuff to come. It came. The Associated Press reporting that a line of powerful storms went through southwest Georgia, hitting a hospital in Sumter County.

Reports are again, early reports say at least three people have been killed and as many as 60 homes may have been damaged. We'll continue to follow this story.

We also want to update you on some breaking news we brought you earlier, the arrest of two women dubbed the Barbie bandits. We told you at the top of the show that the two women pictured here allegedly robbed a bank in Georgia. Police have captured them, but the story is getting a bit more interesting. We've just learned that two men have also been taken into custody. Authorities say one of the men worked as a bank teller.

And we have to update the numbers from Wall Street. Today another roller coaster ride. At one point, the Dow sank 200 points then rebounded into positive territory before ending the day down 34 points. The NASDAQ shed nearly 12. The S&P lost almost 4 points.

A 360 special report is just ahead, a look at the lives that came together at a pivotal moment on one day in Iraq. A place many of the troops thought would be safe, but it wasn't. We examine that moment through the lives of some the troops who were there, "The Lion in the Village", a 360 special, is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Ahead, a 360 special, the "The Lion in the Village", the deadly bombing in a forward operating base in Iraq. From the moment it happened to the search for the killers.

First though, Erica Hill with a look at what's "On the Rise".


ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR (voice-over): Five years ago Isaac Daniel got a phone call every parent fears. His 8-year-old son, Lamiday (ph), was missing. It was a false alarm. Lamiday (ph) was found, but the scare inspired Daniel to create a sneaker with a global positioning system or GPS.

The wearer simply pushes a button on the shoe to activate the GPS. An alert detailing the wearer's location is sent to the company's 24-hour monitoring service.

ISAAC DANIEL, INVENTOR, GPS SNEAKER: We have peace of mind technology. We do not track you all the time.

HILL: But peace of mind comes at a high cost. The shoes run about $350 plus the 19.99 monthly monitoring fee.

DAVID SANDERSON, PRESIDENT ISAAC DANIEL LLC: The price is relatively reasonable in the sense that we're providing security for the individual. It's incalculable to really know what that's worth to a mother or to a parent worrying about a child or a spouse or a parent.

HILL: Daniel's line of adult GPS sneakers rolls out in May. A kid's version is due at the end of the year.

SANDERSON: So far to date we've had about 1,500 pairs reserved. We plan to introduce later this year hiking shoes and also shoes for military and police.


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 of 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. It's simply about remembering all the men and women who fight under our flag and in our name.

Here's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even the brave souls who were there cannot say precisely what happened.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.


FOREMAN: But this they know as surely as they stood shoulder to shoulder and fought for the lives of their comrades: on this day a killer came stalking, and no one even saw him approach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless everybody.


© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines