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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
ISIS Claims Responsibility For Attacks That Kill 137; ISIS Establishing Strongholds in Libya; Boehner to Travel to Israel, Meet With Netanyahu; Pregnant Mother Stabbed, Baby Cut From Womb. Aired 7- 8:00p ET
Aired March 20, 2015 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:10] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, ISIS suicide bombers reportedly pretending to be disabled hiding explosives in makeshift casts killing more than 135 people, wounding hundreds more. A live report coming up.
Plus, new details tonight from the FBI about the Mississippi man found hanging from a tree and the horrific story of a woman lured to a home by a Craigslist ad brutally beaten. Her baby stolen from inside her. Tonight the warning signs that were ignored. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. And OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news. New details about the ruthless techniques ISIS suicide bombers used to attack worshippers at two mosque. They wore fake casts that concealed their explosives. Chaos on the street of Yemen capital this morning. The terrorist group claiming responsibility for the slaughter. Five bombers targeting mosques. More than 135 people killed. Three hundred sixty more injured. The attacks were highly coordinated with blasts first inside the mosque, then as people ran for safety more explosions followed detonating directly on the streets outside. ISIS vows that this deadly attack on civilians is, quote, "a tip of the iceberg." And also tonight, a journalist from our affiliate in London has gained rare access to ISIS' newest base, the war torn city of Benghazi. We'll going to go live to Libya in a moment.
But first, Barbara Starr is OUTFRONT. And Barbara, this is a horrific story of slaughters, of civilians going to mosque that the attackers apparently posing as disabled to get in there and detonating explosives.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Indeed. Good evening, Erin. You know, the U.S. still looking at that claim that ISIS made on websites that it was behind the attack. U.S. officials telling me tonight they cannot verify or authenticate those claims at this point. Looking at all the evidence, no particular reason not to believe that stamp. But Yemen is a complicated situation and very critical to U.S. security. As you recall, al Qaeda operates there. That's an al Qaeda affiliate that has vowed repeatedly to attack the United States. Houthi rebels, Shiite sects essentially, they came under attack at these mosques today, they have taken over the central government. The very government that was fighting the al Qaeda affiliate that the U.S. is so concerned about. So, you really have just a very toxic mix here of terrorist activity in a place where again, like so many other countries across east and North Africa there is either no central government or very weak central government. If, in fact, this is ISIS in Yemen, the concern is they have opened up a new front, another country where they're able to operate with essentially impunity. It couldn't be more critical -- Erin.
BURNETT: And Barbara, you know, we talk about how they were, you know, disguising the explosives in casts, this was coordinated and planned and of course it was a strike at civilians who were going to pray at mosques. This is something al Qaeda says that they would have absolutely nothing to do. They wouldn't attack Muslims going to mosques. Does that make the claim of responsibility from ISIS anymore real?
STARR: Well, one of the complications in a place like Yemen and that we are seeing in so many places where ISIS claims responsibility, who is ISIS? Who are these fighters these days? What you have in places like Yemen is a lot of local militants who may essentially rebrand themselves saying I'm ISIS. They know it gets them attention, it gets them potential financing, it gets them recruits. So, a lot of people might be saying, you know, the concern is who are the militants? The labels may not matter so much anymore. Because you basically have this violent brutal Jihadists movement spreading in a place like Yemen and these other countries we've been talking about this week. The concern is that, that's what we're hearing from our sources. They don't think necessarily a direct tie back to ISIS central, if you will. ISIS leadership in Syria and Iraq but it doesn't make it any less concerning and any less tragic for the people of Yemen -- Erin.
BURNETT: Horrific. The attacks on civilians that are happening now in so many countries. Barbara, thank you.
And we're following breaking news out of Libya tonight. A country that is quickly becoming an ISIS stronghold. We're now learning at least two of the terrorists who killed 23 tourists in Tunisia were trained in Libya. And tonight, we have unprecedented access to a country in chaos. A country so dangerous few journalists are even able to go there.
Lindsey Hilsum with our affiliate ITN is OUTFRONT. She is in Derna (ph) in Libya just east of Benghazi. Lindsey, so few reporters have been able to do what you have done tonight. What have you seen? How strong, how dominant is ISIS where you are?
[19:05:07] LINDSEY HILSUM, INTERNATIONAL EDITOR FOR CHANNEL 4 NEWS: Well, in the east of the country where I am, ISIS controls one town, it's called Derna. And that's where they really have a major stronghold. They control the council and everything there. But this is the divided country. I'm in the east and in the west that's run by a different government. And there's another ISIS stronghold there. It's in place called Sert. It was Colonel Gadhafi's birthplace. So, we see ISIS controls these two areas and the two rival government governments, what they should be concentrating on is fighting ISIS. But they are not. They are concentrating on fighting each other. And that's why you have anarchy here and that's why it's such an enabling environment for the Islamic State. BURNETT: And what have you seen in terms of their ability to
grow, to gain recruits. You know, we saw that horrific beheading video where they beheaded more than 20 Egyptian Christians. Obviously on the coast of Libya. What have you seen in terms of their growth?
HILSUM: When I was in Benghazi over the last few days, you can hear the fighting going on. They still control three neighborhoods. Now, I was in the neighborhood, which is the neighborhoods that are controlled by the government forces. But we could hear small firearms, we could mortars, we could hear cannon. And then there's one point where fire went right over my head. And so, that fighting is still going on. So, it shows they certainly haven't given up. And although the government forces of the governments here in the east say that they are winning, block by block, they certainly haven't won yet.
BURNETT: All right, Lindsey. Thank you very much. Reporting live from Libya tonight.
And OUTFRONT now, terrorism analyst Paul Cruikshank. And Paul, you just heard Lindsay say that in Libya ISIS is control of a number of towns. Obviously some of those crucial coastal towns in the east and the west. Libya, closest point about hundred miles from Europe. When you look at Tunisia, you point out Tunisia is 30 miles from the closest Italian island. These distances are incredibly short.
PAUL CRUIKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: They are incredibly short. I mean, Europe ends a wire that this literally could be a launching pad for terrorism. Italian fishermen have demanded protection from the Italian navy because they are worried of ISIS fighters in speedboats are going into the Southern Mediterranean and launching attacks against them. There's real fear in Europe because of this fear that Europeans could train in those ISIS turning camps in the east of the country between Danaa and Benghazi. It appears that two of that Tunisian terrorist cell train in those kind of camps in Eastern Libya potentially ISIS camps.
BURNETT: And ISIS today called the Yemen attacks against civilians, a tip of the iceberg. You've said today something that you've heard from Europe is the most dire warning you've heard yet.
CRUIKSHANK: The French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the terrorist threat faced was the greatest in its history. There's real concern from European counterterrorism officials. There could be more terrorist attacks in Europe. They believe that ISIS is pivoting towards launching attacks in the European Union. Of course we saw that plot thwarted in Germany, in Belgium, Belgium officials believed that was an ISIS directed plot to launch a major attack in the hearts of Europe. Real concern because more than 3,000 Europeans have traveled to fight in Syria and Iraq. More than 750 have come back. And there's also a concern when you speak of Libya, of refugee flows. More than 100,000 refugees came from Libya to actually just last year.
BURNETT: Right. And it's of course easy to disguise yourself perhaps as one of them and all of a sudden there you are in Italy in the heart there of Europe. Barbara Starr just reported that the attackers hid their explosives in Yemen in fake casts. So, they posed as disabled people, they put casts on it. They hid the explosives in there. We've heard about ISIS and they're trying to, you know, they have bomb makers trying to create bombs that would not be detectable by modern, that the best airport security screening that exists. They have tried to create bombs that could go in printer cartridges, that they could send through. They haven't fixated but yet when you see this constant creativity, is it possible that western intelligence will really be able to think of and stop every single one of these ways?
CRUIKSHANK: Well, there's real concern. A lot of that coming from al Qaeda and Yemen. They have this bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri that building increasingly sophisticated devices. Al-Qaeda in Yemen has a dominant force there are expanding that presence taking advantage of this. This sectarian tensions. They have more results that's now perhaps than ever before to go into this kind of plans, this kind of operations. There's also concern that the Yemen al Qaeda group are sharing all that terminology with the Syrian al Qaeda group. And of course the Syrian al Qaeda group has access to all those western and European recruits -- in Syria right now.
BURNETT: All right. All right. Paul Cruikshank, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT next, the House Speaker John Boehner again, spurning the White House, heading to Israel to visit Prime Minister Netanyahu. Well, our guest says, Netanyahu wasn't telling the truth when he said he supports a two-state solution this week.
Plus, new details tonight about the suspect who attacked a pregnant Colorado woman. She claims she was pregnant. She convinced her own husband of that fact but she wasn't. And she never had a baby. Is that why she allegedly tried to kill for one.
A new details tonight about the death of a black man hanging from a tree in Mississippi. His hands unbound, his feet just two to three feet off the ground. Books, and scribbles.
[19:14:09] BURNETT: Tonight, House Speaker John Boehner says he's going to go to Israel. Sometime in the next two weeks and he's going to meet with the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Boehner of course massively irritated the White House when he invited Netanyahu to speak before Congress earlier this month, he didn't informed the President. He didn't ask the President, the President didn't want it. Now this visit from Boehner who has his own testy relationship with President Obama will add fuel to an increasingly fiery relationship between the President and the Prime Minister.
Jim Acosta is OUTFRONT tonight from the White House.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If there's one thing that's clear after President Obama's phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it's that a single conversation won't repair a damaged relationship. Netanyahu has said in at least three interviews that he still believes in Palestinian State hood despite his pre-election flip-flop on a two state solution in a desperate appeal for votes. I haven't changed Netanyahu told NPR. But that's not good enough for the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Why not take him at his word on that? Is there a reason that the White House --
JOSH EARNEST, PRESS WHITE HOUSE SECRETARY: That is the question, which one?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: His latest.
EARNEST: White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest declined to say whether Netanyahu clarified his position in his phone call with the President.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Did the Prime Minister tell the President he believes in a two-state solution in this phone call?
EARNEST: Well, that's something, you can ask my Israeli counterpart about what the Prime Minister says in this phone call.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Don't you know what the President heard?
EARNEST: I'm not saying I don't know. I'm just saying that I will allow my Israeli counterpart to describe the views that his boss conveyed in that phone call.
ACOSTA: Despite those tensions, House Speaker John Boehner plans to visit Israel at the end of the month. While the Speaker's office says, the trip was planned well before the Prime Minister's re- election, it will come around the deadline for an initial nuclear deal between Iran, the U.S. and other world powers.
ACOSTA: And the White House has said before Netanyahu's victory that the President would not meet with the Prime Minister just weeks prior to that election. But now with the voting over, the President said they won't rule out a future meeting. They have a lot to discuss but Erin nothing is on the calendar just yet.
BURNETT: All right. Jim Acosta, thank you.
ACOSTA: OK. You bet.
BURNETT: Maen Areikat is the PLO ambassador to the United States. And Ambassador, it's good to have you on the program. I appreciate your taking the time. And I wanted to start straight with this news on John Boehner, the speaker for the U.S. House of Representatives saying he's going to go to Israel to visit Netanyahu in the next two weeks. Obviously he's a big supporter of the Prime Ministers, he invited him to speak before Congress. Would the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also want to meet with John Boehner? MAEN AREIKAT, PLO AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: President
Abbas would be happy to meet with anybody especially from U.S. Congress, of course. He would be willing to meet. I don't think the speaker has on his agenda meeting with President Abbas. This is an internal matter for the speaker to decide. But one thing I would like to remind him when he goes there is that it was President Bush in 2002 who first called for the establishment of the Palestinian State that can live side by side in peace and security with Israel and only last year the House of Representatives during the Appropriations Act of 2015, unanimously supported a Palestinian state.
BURNETT: And on this issue of the Palestinian State, of course, Benjamin Netanyahu now says, as you know, Ambassador has not changed his policy on two states for two people. Even though obviously on Election Day, he said there would never be two states under his watch. Is senior foreign policy advisor told me that Netanyahu was simply saying there won't be state, quote-unquote, today. He says, "it's a translation issue." It doesn't mean never. It means it won't happen now. Do you believe Netanyahu's policy has changed?
AREIKAT: Absolutely not. I don't think ever since the Prime Minister Netanyahu took office in 2009 he did anything to further the objective establishment of policy of state. Since day one.
BURNETT: So, you're saying the policy didn't change but the policy was never for two states?
AREIKAT: No. Absolutely. Absolutely, he used it on Monday for obvious reasons to try to encourage his supporters, you know, part of his fear mongering, warmongering, exporting culture of fear to the Israeli people. But his policy has been always the same. This is someone who never believed in the Palestinian right to establish their own independence severance state nor he ever believed in ending the Israeli military occupation.
BURNETT: Now, according to reports about the most recent negotiations that John Kerry was a part of it. Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted the 1967 lines. He had accepted things nobody thought he would accept when it comes to a Palestinian state. And the new republic also writes about a meeting in the Oval Office about a year ago as this two-state deal was close to some sort of resolution. President Obama apparently said in a meeting with President Abbas, quote, "the occupation will end." You will get a Palestinian state. You will never have an administration as committed to that as this one. Soon after that though of course your government signed a unity deal with Hamas, a group that's pledged for the elimination of Israel. According to the negotiators, that's what killed it. That's what made, meant there would be no two state deal. Do you regret that deal with Iran?
[19:19:33] AREIKAT: No. This is totally inaccurate. What brought down the negotiations and the administration supports our position on that was the fact that Prime Minister Netanyahu reneged on an agreement that he made with Secretary of State to release Palestinian prisoners at the end of March. Only then that the Palestinian move towards joining international conventions and treaties, the deal with Hamas did not happen until May of that year. Two months after the Israelis brought down these negotiations.
BURNETT: That deal with Hamas though is obviously very important. Dore Gold, the foreign policy adviser for Netanyahu saying, Israel won't deal with Hamas if Hamas is involved in anyway. And I mean, you can't really honestly blame them, right? You know, top Hamas leader said this about Israel just in December. Quote, "this illusion called Israel will be removed. It will be removed at the hands of the Qassam Brigades." Of course the charter from Hamas. Its original charter from its founding is, Israel will exist until Islam will obliterate it. It's pretty hard to, you know, on any reasonable basis ask Israel to do a deal with somebody who is doing a deal with Hamas, isn't it?
AREIKAT: Well, technically Hamas is not part of the PLO, technically. Secondly, the government that was formed was -- of national unity, it was government of national consensus to pave the way for elections and for the reconstruction of Gaza. I would remind the Israelis that they have cabinet ministers right now. The foreign minister of Israel Avigdor Lieberman only a week ago said that Israel should behead Arabs who are not loyal to the State of Israel. Naftali Bennett, the Minister of Economy, whom Prime Minister Netanyahu is planning to form a coalition government with has said there will be no Palestinian state whatsoever. So, you know, they should look at their own behavior and own statements before they try to accuse the PLO who have been engaging genuinely and sincerely to put an end to this conflict with the Israelis.
BURNETT: OK. Thank you very much Ambassador Areikat for taking the time to be with me.
AREIKAT: Thank you.
BURNETT: OUTFRONT is now global. And our global edition airs on CNN International Saturdays and Sundays. And this week, you will see extended interviews with Ambassador Areikat and Prime Minister Netanyahu's chief foreign policy adviser extended of interviews on both sides of the story, that is tomorrow on CNN International OUTFRONT.
Next, there were very specific warnings on social media about the suspect accused of a horrific attack on a pregnant woman.
Why were these red flags ignored? And the black man found hanging from a tree in Mississippi. Tonight, new information on the days leading up to his death.
[19:16:15] BURNETT: Tonight. Warning signs ignored. New details in the disturbing story of a pregnant woman who answered the Craigslist ad about baby clothes only to be brutally attacked with her baby cut from inside her. We are learning tonight that people who knew the suspect Dynel Lane raised alarms about her, fearing that she was a danger to herself or other pregnant women. In a Facebook posting about her, a child care expert warns specifically this is a red flag for me. She may be attempting to find someone whom she can get a baby from. That is exactly what happened. Could this horrific crime have been prevented?
Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Elizabeth Pitret Chelly (ph) heard the news of the mother to be who was attacked in Colorado, it triggered a disturbing memory of an online chat last January.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: A post in a mom's group.
SAVIDGE: A Facebook posting on someone on the group described a woman who appear to be misleading her family about her pregnancy writing her whole pregnancy has been sketchy. Adding, she was supposedly due in mid-November and then mid-December. Here it is mid- January and still no baby. Unconfused. Is it considered child endangerment if she won't go to the doctor. Pitret Chelly saw warning signs.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I was like, oh my gosh, this is a red flat. Like this fits the profile.
SAVIDGE: A profile of a woman who for whatever reason was lying about her pregnancy and getting desperate. It's a profile she had been trained to spot in her years of counselling women through child birth. It turns out the person who posted the question on Facebook is friends with the suspect's husband according to CNN affiliate KMJH. Pitret Chelly posted back.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: She may be attempting to find someone whom she can a baby from in order to present it to her husband. I know this is all conspiracy theory like but should be taken seriously.
SAVIDGE: The final words of her response almost prophetic.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: My concern would be for any pregnant woman being around her. Because is she is desperate, she may do the unmentionable and harm the mother and take the baby.
SAVIDGE: That's exactly the crime 34-year-old Dynel Lane is charged with. Accused of cutting seven-month-old fetus from the body of a 26-year-old mother to be.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I don't think that anything anybody would have done would have prevented this from happening.
SAVIDGE: The exchange on Facebook haunts Pitret Chelly, the gruesome crime also haunts the 911 operator who took the victim's call.
911 OPERATOR: What did she cut you with?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: A knife. I'm pregnant. She cut me in the stomach.
911 OPERATOR: I did not know what I had at the time until she said she had been cut.
SAVIDGE: The operator can be heard almost willing the victim to stay awake and stay alive.
911 OPERATOR: I know, you need to stay on the phone with me, OK? I'm getting everybody to you, OK?
It was not easy to come back today. Because I did not sleep well. But it's my job. It's my duty, my job. I love doing this. And it's what I do.
SAVIDGE: Meanwhile, the young woman's family who identified her as Michelle Wilkins issued a statement thanking authorities and the hospital for saving her life and revealing for the first time something about the smallest victim in this tragedy, the baby was a girl.
SAVIDGE: And Erin, we should point out that an autopsy was conducted today on that young victim. And this is going to be very crucial in any prosecution case because what the prosecution is going to try to prove is the child was alive when it was born and therefore murder charges would apply in this particular case. The defense is going to try to say that no, that child was not viable. So, that's why the autopsy information is so critical here. And it's a very disturbing case -- Erin.
BURNETT: Very disturbing case. Of course, seven months pregnant you would hope, at least in this case, you know, that that would be viability so they could go ahead and give the full charge. Thank you, Martin.
And OUTFRONT tonight, Officer Billy Sawyer, the first responder on the scene and Lisa Bloom, trial attorney of The Bloom Firm, legal analyst for Avvo. All right. Thanks to both of you who bring with me. Officer, you were the one, the first one there. You got to the suspect's home. You found Michelle Wilkins, the victim, you found her in the basement. What condition was she in? What did she tell you had happened?
OFFICER BILLY SAWYER: Well, she was barely conscious. It was very hard to keep her attention at the moment. And she was covered in blood. It was one of the most horrific crime scenes I have seen.
And I began to question her. And she wanted to hold my hand for comfort. So, I grabbed a pair of gloves, held her hands and tried to figure out what was going on. She told me that she answered a Craigslist ad, showed up to the resident. She didn't know the person prior to this incident, and was attacked. She did not know at that time that she was no longer with her child.
BURNETT: Which you can tell horrifically when you listen to the 911 call when she called, she called, saved her own life. I'll just play that for you, Officer Sawyer.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
911: Tell me what happened.
CALLER: She cut me.
911: Who cut you?
CALLER: I'm downstairs. I don't know.
911: OK. Hold on. Hang on.
911: Hold on.
CALLER: Please. I'm afraid.
911: She cut you in your stomach?
CALLER: Uh-huh. I'm pregnant.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Officer Sawyer, it's really hard for anyone to hear this. It's clear at that time she did not know what had just happened to her.
SAWYER: That is current. She noticed she had been attacked. She's an amazing woman to have that will and that drive to survive and do what she did and be able to contact the police and tell us where she was at, where inside of that location she was at, and speak to me as I entered the residence, direct me to her location. I mean, she is the only reason why she's alive right now.
BURNETT: Lisa, when you hear this horrific event that happened and then you hear the warnings posted on Facebook. Someone went on Facebook and said, I have a friend who's wife is pregnant, the pregnancy is sketchy, goes through the situation. Someone replies. The doula, she replies. She says, this is a red flag, and concludes, my concern would be for any pregnant being around her because if she is desperate, she may do the unimaginable and harm the mother and take the baby.
Someone actually went online and had posted before this happened exactly what would happen.
LISA BLOOM, ATTORNEY: Right. I mean, what an insightful expert that was. Unfortunately, in our system we don't arrest people for fitting a profile or having the potential, even a very high potential to commit a crime. We can only do it after they commit a crime.
But the family certainly could have staged an intervention. The family could have asked her more difficult questions. If she was faking a pregnancy, for example, why she appears to have been going to a doctor or at least pretending to go to a doctor, nobody was allowed to go with her. So, I think there's a lot of questions the family could have
asked her but really nothing law enforcement could have done before this crime.
BURNETT: And, Officer, from your understanding of the situation, did the suspect know that Michelle was pregnant? What was the situation when they met? Do you know?
SAWYER: It is unknown at this time. I don't know if she knew. There is chance she did know she was pregnant prior to coming over. But I'm sure this is not the first person who showed up at her residence for baby clothes or other baby items either off of that Craigslist ad. So --
BURNETT: Right, and we understand her husband thought she was pregnant and was basically coming home that day to take her to the first prenatal appointment. And she, I suppose, I don't know if you know the case here, Officer, said that she had just miscarried and produced this infant.
SAWYER: Correct. That's what she told him. And who knows if he knew anything about it? It doesn't appear that way based on the investigation and the way it's going and the information we gathered.
BURNETT: Officer, I know you said she's an amazing woman. That's because you saw her there and her sense she's beginning what will be an incredibly long and hard recovery. How is she doing?
SAWYER: She seems to be doing fine. I mean, this is going to take not only a physical toll but the emotional toll will be unreal for her. I mean, I couldn't imagine. I've got a child myself and to be in that position is unimaginable.
It's going to be a long road for her. She's going to need the support, thank God she has the family that she does, and the strong support system she has to get her through the upcoming years.
[19:35:02] BURNETT: Lisa, what kind of charges could the suspect face because obviously it depends on whether this infant, whether the autopsy proves the infant was born alive or not, under Colorado law. It could be first-degree murder. Is that possibly what we're looking at? And if not, what?
BLOOM: So, as to the mother, I think she's facing attempted murder charges and I would add premeditated attempted murder because she placed that Craigslist ad, I would argue for the prosecution as an attempt to lure a pregnant woman or a woman with a newborn baby to come. Who else will come in response to an ad for baby clothes? So, she put that in to get people to come to her house and that's premeditation, and certainly assault for stabbing her in the stomach.
As to the fetus, it's much more difficult because Colorado is one of the minority of states that does not have a fetal homicide law out of concerns for abortion rights. Meaning that unless the baby was alive, even for a moment after it was removed from the pregnant woman's stomach, probably no fetal homicide charges for what she did to that baby. But there are some indications from reports that the baby was alive. She may be charged with murder as to the infant.
BURNETT: Officer, at this time, do you know whether that baby was alive or not or is that still unknown?
SAWYER: I cannot go into the details of the investigation. But they are still trying to prove different aspects of this investigation. And it's not over as far as the charges go. They are still trying to prove certain things.
So, you know, our detectives are doing an amazing job with moving forward and trying to get all the details that they can, so they can, if they can prove it, push that.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to both you. We appreciate you taking the time tonight.
Next, a black man found hanging from a tree. The FBI has details on how he died.
And, investigators looking into cold cases where Robert Durst has lived.
Plus, what we're learning tonight about Durst medical issues, including brain surgeries.
[19:41:05] BURNETT: The cause of death for a black man found hanging from a tree in Mississippi is still officially in question tonight. The law enforcement officials tell CNN evidence so far does not suggest foul play in the death of 54-year-old Otis Byrd. The working theory is that he likely died of suicide, but the sheriff tells OUTFRONT the investigation is ongoing. Byrd was found in the woods with bed sheets around his neck attached to a limb 15 feet above the ground.
Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT at Port Gibson, Mississippi, taking us to the very tree where Byrd was found.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The ghost of the confederacy still loom over Port Gibson, Mississippi. So, the news of a black found hanging in a tree stirs this state's dark past back to life.
Just a short drive from this Confederate memorial, 54-year-old Otis Byrd was found hanging from a tree with a bed sheet around his neck. It's not clear yet whether Byrd killed himself but was murdered. But as soon as Sheriff Marvin Lucas saw the scene, he called in federal and state investigators.
(on camera): Is that your biggest fear this was racially motivated?
SHERIFF MARVIN LUCAS, CLAIBORNE COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI: Yes. I don't want the community saying it was a white on black thing. That's the worst thing that can happen, is people making it into race issue.
LAVANDERA: Otis Byrd lived in a house just on the edge of these woods, and the sheriff tells us that his body was found about 500 yards deep back in that direction.
(voice-over): It's a long path through this thickly wooded area, and then you come to this opening in the woods where search teams found Byrd on Thursday. He was hanging from this black locust tree.
(on camera): Otis Byrd's body, we're told, was about two to feet three off the ground. He was fully dressed with his work boots on. His hands were not tied together. There were also no stumps or chairs that would help him prom himself up.
And the sheriff said that if he did commit suicide, he would have had to climb the tree on his own.
(voice-over): Johnny Baker owns the land where the body was found.
(on camera): But to get back there, that's not on area where people just go?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Byrd was last seen on March 2nd. A friend drove him home from a casino that night. A week later, his family reported his missing. A relative said he seemed fine, nothing out of the ordinary. Relatives won't say if he had money troubles.
In 1980, Otis Byrd was convicted of murdering and robbing a woman in Claiborne County. He was paroled in 2006. Investigators say results from the preliminary autopsy report on Otis Byrd won't be complete until next week.
DON ALWAY, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: The community deserves answers. We're doing everything in our power to be transparent.
LAVANDERA: But law enforcement officials tell CNN that so far, the evidence does not suggest Byrd was murdered.
LAVANDERA: And, Erin, so far, investigators spent a lot of time interview family members going through a lot of his belongings trying to piece everything together. But they do say that one of key pieces of evidence will be that autopsy report and they look to get that early next week -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Ed Lavandera, thank you very much.
And next, law enforcement officials are looking at even more cold case files tonight. They're searching for possible links to Robert Durst.
We also have new information tonight about his health. And what if you could get your very own pair of red sole Louboutin's or, you know, whatever you might gloss after just by printing them off your iPhone. That's tonight's "I.D.E.A."
[19:48:01] BURNETT: Tonight, law enforcement officials and multiple states are scouring cold cases for possibly links to Robert Durst. This comes as he faces first-degree murder charges in California in the death of his long time friend Susan Berman.
Behind bars and awaiting bail hearing on state charges out of Louisiana, we are now learning about the 71-year-old's physical and mental state.
Jean Casarez is OUTFRONT with the new details.
And, Jean, he was moved now from a correctional facility and put in a mental health patient area. What for? What do you now know?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I spoke with Dick DeGuerin, who's his defense lawyer early today. And he first of all says he's not a suicide risk at all. But he said he has health issues and it's important for him to be in a health facility. First of all, we heard in open court that he had neurosurgery, brain surgery. We heard that on Monday.
He says it's because of hydrocephalus. Hydro meaning water, cephalus meaning brain. And what they inserted in his skull was a stent or a shunt, which is like a tube for possible drainage when needed.
And Dick DeGuerin told me this morning that they've actually shaved his head in that mental facility this week. And so, at the hearing on Monday, it will be pretty obvious what was inserted in his brain. Also several years ago, he said he had esophagus and also cervical surgery to his neck several years ago.
So, that -- those are his health issues at this point.
BURNETT: And, Jean, the cold cases that you're reporting on, are there any leads that could possibly link Durst to unsolved murders? Absolutely, there are people now across the country who are saying, well, maybe he's linked to this one, or to this one? Or to this series of murders? But is there anything concrete?
CASAREZ: There's one authorities are already looking at. And remember, the FBI is asking local authorities right now to look at the cold cases, look to see when Durst could have lived there or frequented there to see if there can be that causal connection.
But Karen Mitchell is who you're talking about. She disappeared out of Eureka in 1997, never to be seen from again.
[19:50:02] And a witness, who was one of the last person to see her, gave a forensic artist a rendering, a description of what the person look that she was with. And if you look at it side by side with Durst, it is strikingly similar. Now, I look at property records today and Durst frequented that area, but according to the records I read, it was two years later that he actually purchased property in that area, but the defense says to that, they're just trying to pin something on my client because they don't have a case right here in Los Angeles.
BURNETT: Hmm. All right. Jean Casarez, thank you very much.
CASAREZ: Thank you.
BURNETT: Now, Robert Durst murder trial for killing a neighbor in Galveston, Texas, ended in acquittal but the judge who presided over the case believes she experience personal revenge by the millionaire.
Former state district judge, Susan Criss, joins me. She's live in Houston tonight.
And, Judge Criss, thank you for being with me.
You testified at Durst's parole hearing. And it wasn't long after that --
SUSAN CRISS, FORMER STATE DISTRICT JUDGE: I did.
BURNETT: -- that you found a dismembered cat on your doorstep.
Why do you think Durst was involved with that?
CRISS: When I came home and I drove up, I saw something white as a foot of my sidewalk and at first I thought it was a dead rat and as I got out of my car and focused on it, I realized it was a severed cat head with the front two legs attached, and I thought, oh my God. What in the world is that? Is that really what I think it is?
And as I'm trying to process this, it dawns on me that this is a severed head and this was done perfectly. It was clean. This was a hot, hot June 29th day in Texas, which is very, very hot.
There wasn't a drop of blood. There wasn't a blood fluid. There wasn't a hair out of place and it was laid there perfectly with the front two paws crossed. It was placed there very, very, very carefully.
So, I'm looking and thinking, what is this? It hit me. Oh, my God, this is a severed head. And I knew he had a history of destroying animals and cutting up animals, and doing horrible things to them.
I thought back to the moment when he was in chambers and he was looking at all of my pictures when he was angry about me not allowing a cartoon in for their defense. And I ran into my house and oh, God. Please let my dogs be OK. They were fine. But it was the fact it hit me that it was a severed head.
BURNETT: And when you -- the part of the reason you link this to him was, of course, you had testified at that parole hearing, you had been the judge in the case. But you mentioned other things he'd done to animals.
His family has raised questions about this. I'll note it's his family. Nothing is fully substantiated. But according to his brother, he had dogs, they were all Alaskan Malamutes, all named Igor, all of them mysteriously disappeared one after the other, all of these dogs. So, you believe this story.
What do you think happened to those dogs?
CRISS: Well, actually, I didn't hear it from the Durst family. I heard it from several people including Jim McCormick, Kathie's brother, and during the trial, there was a photograph introduced that was found on Bob when he was arrested in Pennsylvania that had him and Kathie in it and has the dog in it. The dog's name was Igor.
Well, later when he was talking in the tapes that I listened to, he was talking about another dog that he had more recently named Igor. Well, I thought, that dog can't be 20 years old. Later I was told by Jim that he had a succession of dogs and every one of them named Igor, and every one of them died an unusual mysterious death.
BURNETT: And there was a moment on those tapes where you think he used the word Igor to refer to a human being or what he wanted to do to a human being?
CRISS: Yes, I do. There was a time when he was talking to his wife, Debrah, about going to his brother's house when he was on run. And he stood in the driveway, and there was a social event going on and he told his wife he thought about doing an Igor to his brother. And his wife stopped and said, "Stop, stop, stop. This is a recorded line, Bob."
And it was clear what he meant and it was clear that she understood what he meant, enough to stop him talking anymore on a recorded line.
BURNETT: All right. Judge Criss, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT next: take a picture of your feet because a 3D printer is about to make that picture into one sexy shoe. Our report is next.
[19:58:18] BURNETT: A disruptive new idea may make it possible for all of us to wear amazing shoes. All you need for the perfect fit is your smartphone. That is tonight's "I.D.E.A."
BURNETT (voice-over): Maybe we all watched Cinderella's sisters trying to cram their feet into that dinky little glass slipper that the eternal battle between beautiful shoes and a bad fit became crystal clear. Beautiful shoes, whatever the shape, purpose, or height of the heel, they're usually about style, not fit.
Enter Lucy Beard, her idea, perfect custom fit and all you need is your smartphone and her app. She calls her start up Feetz.
LUCY BEARD, FEETZ CEO AND FOUNDER: We 3D print the shoes, the flexibility, the biomechanics matches you, even the insert on the inside matches you.
BURNETT: That's right, shoes made on a 3D printer.
BEARD: Just by taking three phones of your feet with an iPhone and a white sheet of paper, with the biomechanics to fit you.
BURNETT: The shoes can be made in a matter of hours. After the rough pattern cut by hand, the printer does the rest of the work. Prices range from $150 to $250.
Beard's big idea born out of frustration. After unsuccessful hour of shoe shopping, she stopped for a latte. The endless varieties of custom made coffees inspired her to find a way to bring that customization to her feet and it's not just for women.
BEARD: If you think about shoes don't fit, it's not that it's a problem that only men or women have. We all have that problem.
BURNETT: Right now, the shoes are limited to sneaker and gel materials. But on the drawing board, designer feet and every material under the son for every foot on the planet.
BURNETT: Just imagine the shoes you could get.
Well, thanks for joining us. Be sure to set your DVR to record OUTFRONT so you could watch us anytime.
Anderson is next.