tv NBC Nightly News NBC May 25, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
on our broadcast tonight, under arrest. 33 years to the day has a landmark cold case been solved? tonight, a suspect and lingering questions. extreme weather. a gathering storm off the coast, a dangerous heat wave, and the fight to put out a big fire at a big family destination this holiday weekend. the butler did it. that's what they're saying about one of the pope's most trusted aides. under arrest tonight at the vatican. >> and space odyssey. how history was made today. in a weightless ballet high above planet earth. "nightly news" begins now. good evening. it was exactly 33 years ago today, may 25th of 1979, it was also a friday. it was also the start of
memorial day weekend when a little boy vanished on his way to school in new york city. and he quickly became a face we associate with the start of a nation movement. his name was etan patz, and now a man is facing murder charges after confessing to the killing. tonight, he's hospitalized and on a suicide watch and awaiting the next steps in what will be a complicated legal process all these years later. it's where we begin tonight with nbc's ron allen. >> the father of etan patz returned home today to a crush of media as the man who police say admitted killing his son, pedro hernandez, was charged with murder in a new york hospital instead of a courtroom because of an undisclosed illness. hernandez is married, a father with a college-aged daughter, who most recently was a construction worker. police arrested him yesterday at the family home in new jersey. >> he was remorseful. he seemed to -- i think the
detectives thought it was a feeling of relief on his part. >> police say hernandez had told relatives over the years he had once killed a child in new york and last month, when investigators launched a high profile but ultimately unsuccessful search for eton's remains, police sources say one of those relatives called in a tip. 33 years ago today, 6-year-old etan was walking two blocks to catch a school bus, doing it alone for the first time. near the store where hernandez worked. police say during a long detailed confession, hernandez admitted strangling the boy, putting the body in a bag, and dumping it in the trash. it was a case so shocking, it awakened the nation to a problem of missing children. >> etan simply disappeared. his disappearance has led to the most extensive search for a missing child in new york city in decades. >> his image was everywhere. on posters and flyers. police searched the neighborhood door to door. his parents agonized.
>> i think more thoughts about where etan is and how he's being detained and what he's eating and what he's thinking creep in more often. but you have to push them out. you can't continue to dwell on that or you don't keep going. >> the family has never moved or changed their phone number, hoping etan would call or come home. in the decades since, countless sightings, theories, leads, and even other suspects have gone nowhere. tonight, in the neighborhood where hernandez had been living a quiet life for years, his confession was stunning. >> i still can't believe it, really. i mean, but you never know. you see this happening and you ask people, did you believe what happened? i say no. >> some crime experts caution a confession may not be enough to get a conviction. >> they're going to have to be able to place him at the crime
scene, show he had some type of motive, and perhaps even some inclination to commit the crime either before or after, before they're able to tie this up. >> hernandez will face a single count of second degree murder. in court, his attorney said he has mental issues, he's schizophrenic and has had hallucinations. they asked a hearing on those matters. police admit they don't have any physical evidence linking him to the crime and they say the do not expect to find etan patz's remains. brian. >> ron allen here with us in new york tonight starting us off. ron, thanks. this case, of course, was one of a few that changes the way the country dealt with crimes against children and put child abduction into the front of america's consciousness for better or worse. we get more tonight from nbc's chris jansing. >> the photos are faded, but rosa glover's memories are fresh from the day in 1989 when her 19-month-old son shane disappeared from a playground in harlem. >> i figure he's out there somewhere, we just have to find
him. >> the arrest in the etan patz case has given families of missing children new hope, and changes since etan's abduction have been dramatic. >> in 1979, you couldn't enter missing children information into the fbi's national crime computer. you could enter information about stolen cars but not stolen children. >> patz's disappearance led president ronald reagan to sign legislation establishing the first national database of missing children. a critical step to take on a daunting problem. every year, an estimated 200,000 children are abducted by family members. 58,000 by non-family members. 115 are stranger abductions where the child is killed, held for ransom, or taken with the intention to keep them. technology has been a game changer. pictures that once went out on milk cartons are now sent out instantly. on websites for missing children, 24-hour cable, and amber alerts. >> can you give me a physical
description? >> at the center for missing and exploited children, the recovery rate 12 years ago was 62%. now, it's 97%. elizabeth smart snatched from her bed at 14, was found nine months later. jaycee dugard was found after 18 years. and though adam walsh was killed by his abductor, 27 years later, his father was grateful when the case was finally solved. rosa glover still has hope. technology allows her to see what 19-month-old shane might look like today at 23. >> i need closure. i have to find him. i just want my son back. >> she believes someone somewhere can answer the heartbreaking questions she's asked herself every day for 21 years. where is my son? chris jansing, nbc news, new york. in other news in this holiday friday night, with almost two million americans expected to visit the state of florida this memorial day weekend, the place they call the happiest place on earth may also be the smokiest this evening.
a sprawling and smoky brush fire there the theme parks in orlando led authorities to close i-4 in both directions. that's a big deal. flames were actually visible from the road at the exit for downtown disney. there have been backups all day, and remember how many of those cars are full of kids, and that means frazzled parents at the wheel. >> we have actually got some weather we're watching for this holiday weekend, in addition to extreme heat. we have a pretty good storm forming, speaking of florida. our friend meteorologist jim cantore is at the weather channel headquarters with that. hey, jim, good evening. >> three things we're watching for you this weekend. of course, it would be mice if we could take the tropical system and put it over a parched central florida. the biggest thing is the heat. this is going to be with us all weekend. secondly, severe, we're going to ramp up the tornado count, and the tropics. which are just in the formation stages. first the heat, if we get to 95 degrees in indianapolis, that will be the hottest indianapolis 500 ever. you're talk about some 400,000
people out there enduring that heat. on sunday, the trough, which is bringing snow to west yellowstone, lips out and produces tornadoes, we think. minneapolis, omaha, possibly severe weather into chicago as we get into monday. and there's our tropical entity, trying to develop offshore wilmington, north carolina. a lot of models bring this back toward the west. if i show you the suite of models, they show up all these different colors here. that's means unsettled weather for the beaches. rip currents here, and potentially maybe some good news at the end of all this. some of the worst drought in the country is sitting over georgia and south carolina, maybe a little rain there. that's the good news. >> hope it's not enough to keep you too busy this weekend. jim cantore at the weather channel headquarters tonight. politicians give a lot of speeches. today, one politician in one speech decided to get very personal. vice president joe biden was talking to military families when he decided to tell his own story, and it became an emotional moment. he told of the day in 1972 when
he was a newly elected senator and was out of town when he got a phone call with news that his family had been in a terrible accident. >> you knee. you just felt it in your bones. something bad happened. and i knew. i don't know how i knew, but the call said my wife was dead, my daughter was dead, and i wasn't sure how my sons were going to make it. christmas shopping and a tractor trailer broadsided them. in one instant, killed two of them and, well -- for the first time in my life, i understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide. and i remember looking up and saying, god, as if i was talking to god myself. you can't be good. how can you be good?
it became solace for me to talk to people i didn't even know but had called me and said they have been through it. i would call. they'd give me their phone number, and i'd call. just basically someone to say you can make it. there will come a day, i promise you, and you parents as well, when the thought of your son or daughter or your husband or wife, brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. it will happen. >> joe biden, who was speaking today to military families who themselves have suffered a loss. about the accident that took the life of his wife and his 1-year-old daughter back in 1972. now to what happened high above earth today. today marked the future of the space program in this country. it's not our space program as much as it is a private company, a commercial spacecraft that
docked today with the international space station. our report tonight from nbc's tom costello. >> station houston, you have a go for capture. >> flying high above australia at 17,000 miles an hour. a private company this morning managed to accomplish something only four nations have ever achieved. at 9:56 a.m. -- >> capture is confirmed. >> the space station's arm reached out and grabbed a space craft named "dragon." >> it looks like we got a "dragon" by the tail. >> at spacex headquarters out of los angeles, celebration and tears. >> i would like to thank the whole spacex team. you guys are awesome. >> the man behind it all, spacex founder, elon musk. >> it's a fantastic day and a great day for the country and for the world. >> with a space shuttle fleet retired, nasa has been relying on russian space craft to ferry astronauts and cargo to and from the station while waiting for
private business to take over. surprisingly, this company, just ten years old, beat out some big competitors to win a $1.6 billion nasa contract. >> they completely built and tested and flew this space craft in a manner that has really been remarkable. >> the average age at spacex is just 30, but it combined years of nasa know-how with different thinking to pull this off. >> this mission is only the beginning of a widening of space access, including not just cargo to orbit but people to orbit. >> the first spacex manned mission could be just a few years away. tomorrow, the space station crew will unload the cargo. but tonight, with "dragon" in the station's arm, it's champagne at spacex. tom costello, nbc news, washington. still ahead along the way on a friday night, the scandal at the vatican you might have heard about today. the allegations involving secret documents, corruption, and the pope's butler is under arrest
our chief foreign correspondent richard engle is warning us from cairo tonight, things could get dicy in egypt in a hurry. there are two major candidates there headed for a runoff election. neither of them is what so many egyptians said they wanted when they took to the streets in protest last year. one is from the muslim brotherhood. he says he wants to impose islamic law and change relations with the u.s. he's openly hostile to israel. he will face a candidate with close ties to the old mubarak regime. a self-described strong man who is promising to crush dissent.
a new scandal is rocking the vatican tonight. it's making headlines around the world in the process. it involves secret documents, allegations of corruption, a bombshell new book, and today, the arrest of one of pope benedict's most trusted aides, his own butler. our details from nbc's jim maceda. >> pope benedict's personal butler, paolo gabriele, always seated up front in the popemobile, but today, he was arrested after police found hundreds of confidential documents in his house. the butler in charge of serving meals and managing the pope's private apartment, allegedly leaked the documents to the media, including investigative reporter geonluigi nutzi whose new book unveiled a web of vatican corruption and cronyism. some small wheels in the vatican machine decided rightly or wrongly to make public important events, like palace plots, he said. the vatican confirmed today that indeed the butler was arrested and called nutzi's book and the leaks criminal.
it's launched its own investigation. among the incriminating documents, letters to the pope from the archbishop revealing a small network of construction companies awarded vatican contracts at inflated prices. but the whistleblower was punished and against his wishes, packed off to the u.s. where he's now the vatican ambassador in washington. other leaked documents revealed vatican in fighting over financial transparency. on thursday, tudesky was fired as the vatican bank's president. >> he said he was ousted because he was the one who wanted transparency. >> it's unclear if the pope's butler acted alone or was taking orders, but the alleged leaked by the man closest to the pope may have lifted another veil on the secretive and perhaps illegal activity inside the vatican itself. jim maceda, nbc news, london. we're back here in a moment with how much the highest paid americans are actually paid.
friday night, we wanted to catch you up on two consumer stories in the news this week. beginning with a warning about the new tide pods, the detergent capsules. the maker of tide said they're going to child proof the container they come in. because they're brightly colors and they look inviting, some kids have mistaken them for candy. several children have been hospitalized. on the up side for consumers, another invention from the folks at m.i.t. this joins a long list that includes the fax machine and gps. this has to deal with a minor issue we have all dealt with, how to get the ketchup out of the bottom. it's a new coating for the inside of the bottle. it will also work for jelly and jam and honey. it can be used on plastic, glass, or metal and can be made from 100% organic materials. this kind of thing is going to happen over and over and over as more of that tsunami debris
reaches our shores. this time, it was a basketball that washed up in alaska. it was traced all the way back to a middle school on the japanese coast that was destroyed by the tsunami. the school would like to have it back for a good luck charm for their basketball team. the folks in the small town of craig, alaska, are collecting all of the debris that's washing up. the associated press is out with its annual look at ceo pay in this country, the best paid people in america did better last year. their pay rose an average of 6% to the highest level since '06. topping the list, david simon, the head of a shopping mall empire took in a whopping $137 million, almost all of that in stock awards. he was followed by two media executives, les moonves of cbs, david zaslav of discovery. median ceo pay for publicly traded companies came out to $9.6 million a year. that comes out north of $3,000
an hour for a 60-hour work week. it would take the average american worker 244 years to make that money. for a minimum wage worker, it would take 636 years. and tonight, we want to answer the question, who is a good dog? we're getting a response from a photo we posted yesterday. we had an unannounced visitor to our editorial meeting. penny the australian shepherd mix. our friends from the spca brought her by. penny did not want to leave, and truth be told, i did not want to let her go. but she will make someone very happy, like only a loving and grateful shelter dog can. when we come back here tonight, the spectacular birthday celebration out west for a monument to a time when americans did big things best.
what may be the party of this memorial day weekend will be in san francisco as they beautiful city celebrates the 75th anniversary of the beautiful golden gate bridge. our report from nbc's kristen dahlgren. >> if you really can leave your heart in san francisco, chances are it's on the golden gate bridge. >> the bridge has a personality,
it has a life, it has a feeling to it. it beckons people. >> all the way from africa. long way. >> on its 75th anniversary, the golden gate is still a wonder. >> it's one of the things you need to see in the world. >> not just for its beauty but the sheer fact it was built at all. skeptics called it impossible. >> the greatest challenge was the south tower in the turbulent tides. of the golden gate strait. high winds, fog. >> there were economic challenges, too. the country was in the midst of the great depression. as the bridge took shape over four years, so, too, did the idea that america could rebuild. at 4200 feet, it was the world's longest suspension bridge at the time. >> it really symbolizes progress to me. >> edgar stone was just 17 when he and buddies camped out all night to be among the first to cross. >> the closer you got, the more excitement. >> it's not much different
today. >> as soon as you see the bridge, you get the feeling it's a special place. >> rocky delurocca has worked here for 28 years. overseeing the painting of the famous international orange. >> i dream in international orange. a great color. >> this color that makes the golden gate bridge such an icon was actually an accident. it was just a primer on the metal until the architect saw how it looked against the land scape and the color stuck. >> i can't imagine any other color. who would imagine it being gray or silver? >> it could have been a very different picture for the bridge that has stolen hearts. >> it's just a great symbol of america and what america can do. >> and given hope for 75 years. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, san francisco. how about that? that's our broadcast on a friday night and for this week. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. have a wonderful memorial day weekend and please pause to remember our veterans. good night.
good evening and thanks for joining us on this special memorial day weekend. i'm raj mathai. >> and i'm jessica aguirre. get ready to blow out the candles, all 75 of them. it took a century before the dream of building a bridge across the golden gate strait became a reality. this weekend, though, we're celebrating that dream come true as the golden gate bridge turns 75. i want to show you a live look outside right now at the golden gate bridge ahead of the party. lots of festivities planned to mark the milestone and lots of traffic troubles as well. the bridge celebration