This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," July 23, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Francine Tate — she is the third Wisconsin woman to disappear in less than one month. Is a serial killer striking in Wisconsin?
Now, it all began on June 23. College student Kelly Nolan vanished in college town Madison, and days later, her body was found murdered. On July 13, college student Mahalia Xiong vanished in Green Bay, home to another University of Wisconsin campus. Mahalia had been out bowling with friends. She has not been seen since. And last Tuesday night, Francine Tate left a church prayer meeting in Madison, and now she, too, has simply vanished.
Ed Miller, correspondent for "America's Most Wanted," joins us. Ed, are the police — I mean, I don't want to jump to conclusions and scare people and say there's a serial killer. We do know a murderer is out there with Kelly Nolan. No one's been arrested. But are the police now suspicious that one person could be responsible for the two disappearances and one murder?
ED MILLER, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": Absolutely. As far as the two college young women, they are comparing notes. We know for a fact that both Green Bay police and Madison police huddling together. However, our police sources at "America's Most Wanted" that are fairly high up and fairly responsible believe that Francine is not part of the equation, that it just doesn't match. Francine doesn't fit into the same kind of pattern.
VAN SUSTEREN: Francine, though — I mean, you know, I guess that I would not exclude that as a possibility and be sort of dismissive. I mean, she's a rather young-looking 50-year-old woman. She disappeared at night. If you came up behind her, she has long hair, certainly, like Kelly Nolan — I mean, and not particularly far from where Kelly Nolan was nabbed. So I guess I wouldn't be so quick to discount it. Are they completely discounting it?
MILLER: They are not completely discounting it. But again, our police sources are telling us there's a huge difference with Francine in that she had a couple of issues. One was that she had bouts of depression, that both police and the family have acknowledged that she was battling depression. I'm not saying she was taking medication for it, but she did have these bouts of depression which possibly could explain her mysterious disappearance.
There's also a question of a man, a homeless man that stayed with them the night before she disappeared. Now, police are not saying that that man is responsible for her disappearance, but it does raise some questions. Again, it takes it sort of out of equation because she just seems to have some other issues involved.
They did do extensive searching over the weekend for Francine because she had mentioned as she was leaving the Bible class that she might have left something in the park. so she — they thought she might go back to the park to look for it. So they did a lot of searching. No clues, nothing new on Francine.
There are some new things that we can talk to you about Mahalia, if you like.
VAN SUSTEREN: Go ahead. Tell me.
MILLER: Mahalia is young, with the other young college student that disappeared. We do know that police and the family have gone through step by step every single business from that bowling alley back toward her home, looking at surveillance tape. We know that she made a cell phone call at about 2:00 o'clock in the morning, and the ping from that cell phone went to a — you know, a transmitting device about two miles away. So there was some talk that perhaps she had stopped at a gas station, you know, because that's where the beam would be, more or less in that vicinity.
We now can confirm for you that the surveillance tape shows no sign of her in that gas station or in any other business along the way. We know for a fact that there are surveillance cameras on the bridges as you approach Green Bay, go into town. So she disappeared somewhere between the bowling alley and those bridges. So she had about 15 minutes there where something mysterious happened to her.
VAN SUSTEREN: How about water? I mean, a lot of viewers have written in and send me e-mail questions wondering if perhaps she drove off the road and into some water. Is there any waterway that's sort of near or adjacent to her normal route?
MILLER: There is. There is that river that runs along that. And as I mentioned the other night on the air, we did a story that a woman disappeared in San Francisco that they were absolutely convinced was carjacked, and she made a wrong turn in the middle of the night. And she was a physician. She obviously knew she what she was doing. This was not an irresponsible child by any means. And she made a wrong turn and ended up in San Francisco Bay. So that is a possibility.
The other new little element that we can tell you about Mahalia is that we know now that we can confirm that she was leaving that bowling alley with a bunch of friends. They all got in their cars. And we know she was the last to get into her car. So in other words, they all left in sort of a ragtag caravan going back toward Green Bay, and her car was the last of the lot. So everyone sort of looked over their shoulder. They thought she was behind them, but they're not really sure. They do know she was the last to leave.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do they know if this phone call to them — I know it went to the boyfriend's brother's cell phone. And I'll explain that with one of my next guests. But do they know that that was a real effort to make a phone call, or could that we what we call "pocket dialing," where you sort of hit the button? I mean, you can even have a struggle, I guess, and hit a phone button and get a redial.
MILLER: No, they don't know. And you are absolutely right. It could have been a redial. There was some thought at the time that it might have been a distress call. And again, that's why they kind of zeroed in on those surveillance cameras. But again, I've talked to have the family and I've talked to police over and over again. They've looked at all these surveillance camera pictures. And again, they brought the family out, just to make sure that they weren't missing something. There is no sign of that white car, no sign of Mahalia.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ed, thank you, as always.
MILLER: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: And we are learning more tonight about Francine Tate's strange disappearance. Francine was last seen leaving a church prayer meeting last Tuesday evening. The night before, Francine and her husband, Steven, took in a transient house guest by the name of Randy.
Let's bring in Francine's husband, Steven Tate, and Francine's brother-in-law, Dee Thompson. Welcome to both of you. Steven, any update or anything new on the search for your wife?
STEVEN TATE, HUSBAND OF MISSING WOMAN: No. There's nothing new right now.
VAN SUSTEREN: Dee, is an active search going on, or are the police sort of waiting for clues to sort of pour in?
DEE THOMPSON, MISSING WOMAN'S BROTHER-IN-LAW: Good evening, Greta. Actually, we are still doing active searching, although not on the scale that we were last week. We are sort of looking to leverage the technology...
VAN SUSTEREN: Steve, I...
THOMPSON: ... by allowing the...
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm sorry. Go ahead, Dee.
THOMPSON: No, I was just going to say by allowing the technology to work for us, we can reach out to people that are further out. They don't have to come and see us to get the information or locations that can be checked.
VAN SUSTEREN: Steve, I know this is extremely painful to you. You and your wife have been married about 25, 26 years. But I also know that getting the information out may help people call in with a tip. So when was — tell me, when was the last time you spoke or talked to your wife?
TATE: The last time I spoke with my wife was on Tuesday night. She was going to the prayer meeting. I was — I had a friend that I was talking with. And she came down. We were both on the couch. She kissed me, said goodbye, and that's the last time I've seen Francine.
VAN SUSTEREN: Was there anything unusual at that moment going — or in the minutes or hours leading up to that point? Anything going on in her life where you thought she might be troubled?
TATE: Troubled? Well, she was just reevaluating her life a little bit. She was really trying to serve God better, and she was going to prayer meeting. That day before she went to there, we actually went and got her our passports started and went to the Deforest (ph) Post Office because we were looking at taking a trip with our family down to Mexico later in the fall.
VAN SUSTEREN: I guess, Steve, what I was thinking is that — I mean, was it to the point — is the point where she was just thinking of different ideas to do with her life, or was she distressed, where she might take off, is my question.
TATE: Well, if I thought she was that distressed, I would have, you know — no, I do not believe that's it at all. I think she was reevaluating things and looking at, and she'd just got done with the school year and was looking at getting some things done around the house and — but no, taking off — this is so — if you know Francine, this just isn't like her. She wouldn't — she just cares about her family and friends too much to just leave them alone like this.
VAN SUSTEREN: Dee, who is transient that Steve and Francine took in?
THOMPSON: We know him only at this point as Randy, somebody that contacted them as being from one of the support and recovery groups that they're a part of and support.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I don't think — that's — Steve, support and recovery — Support and recovery — I mean, give me a little more information about the group. It this — what's the support and recovery from?
TATE: Alcoholism and other drug abuse. So helping people in recovery circles is something I've done a lot in my life over the last number of years, even from community activities and support groups to even a church rescue home that we have.
VAN SUSTEREN: Steve, did you get that Randy might have known where Francine was going specifically that night?
TATE: No. I don't have any reason to believe he would have known that at all.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you know, Dee — do you know where Randy is, and have police spoken to him?
THOMPSON: Greta, as far as I know, we don't know specifically where Randy is. I know that the police have been doing their best to locate and track him. I guess the local media is calling him a person of interest, somebody that they would like to talk to, essentially, very badly because he was there the night before.
VAN SUSTEREN: Steve, do you remember — or when did you last see Randy?
TATE: I saw Randy at about 6:30 in the morning, when I dropped him off at the truck stop which I originally met him at. And he was there and said he might hang around Madison for a few days or head west.
VAN SUSTEREN: I know you didn't know him very long, but he only stayed that — you know, the night before with you. but did he seem any different to you between the first time you met him and 6:30 in the morning, when you dropped him off? Was there anything peculiar about him?
TATE: Well, he's homeless, and it's kind of a tough lifestyle. But peculiar? No, I mean, I...
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean peculiar meaning different? Was he different from, you know, when you first met him to when you dropped him off? Was he acting agitated? Was he, you know, eager to get away? Anything like that?
TATE: No. No. He was a very friendly, easy-going guy. He had a dog, and even when I said, you know, The dog's got to stay outside, or when we stopped somewheres, it had to be tied up outside, he was always accommodating.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, Steve and Dee, we've put Francine's picture up. And if anyone recognizes her, call the police right away. The family badly wants tips to try to bring her home. Thank you both, gentlemen.
TATE: Thank you very much.
THOMPSON: Thank you, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let's go live to Green Bay, Wisconsin. That's where another frantic search is also under way at this hour. Mahalia Xiong was last seen 10 days ago as she left a bowling alley where she had been with her friends. After she left, she tried to reach her boyfriend, Addison Lee, by cell phone.
Addison Lee joins us. Welcome back, Addison.
ADDISON LEE, MAHALIA XIONG'S BOYFRIEND: Hi.
VAN SUSTEREN: Addison, since we last spoke, has there been any new information in the search for her?
LEE: As far as I know, you know, the Green Bay Police Department has been getting a lot of tips, and they've been, you know, just following up on every tip and just doing what they can. But as of now, that's as much as we know.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ed Miller just reported to us that the night that she was at the Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley, that when everybody was leaving, she was the last to leave, that the four friends left ahead of her. Is that consistent with what you've been hearing?
LEE: Yes, that's exactly what I've been hearing, so that's as accurate as it can be.
VAN SUSTEREN: Have you spoken to any of the four friends?
LEE: Yes, I've actually spoken to every single one of them, and that's exactly what I've been told from them.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did they say whether or not your girlfriend was, you know, heavily impaired? Had she been drinking a lot?
LEE: No, they — well, they told me that, you know, she'd been drinking, and they didn't say that she was heavily impaired or anything. They said that she seemed like she was, you know, good to drive. So you know, with their perspective, I'm assuming that, you know, she was OK.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did they describe the parking lot, whether there were other people hanging around the parking lot, or were they the last ones to leave that night?
LEE: According to them, it seems like there were other cars there. I don't know about other people. But definitely, they were the only ones in the parking lot as of the moment when she left.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did they actually see her get into her rental car?
LEE: Yes. They did see her get into the rental car, and one of them did describe that she — that he actually went in the car with her and talked to her to see if she was OK.
VAN SUSTEREN: And what was she saying?
LEE: And according to him, he said that — he said that she was fine to drive. And you know, after that he just, you know, left and saw her headlights in the back of his rearview mirror, and that's pretty much the last of that.
VAN SUSTEREN: When you say that she was OK, I assume that you mean that — OK in the sense that OK from alcohol to drive, and not whether she was having some other problems that might have her upset, so that she might have reasons to even go someplace.
LEE: Right. That's what I would have assumed, yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, have you driven the route from the Ashwaubenon bowling alley to where she lives?
LEE: Right. Yes. I've drove that actually now a couple times just to see if there's any signs or any kind of clue of, you know, to where or when, or you know, anything. So yes, I've driven that route a couple times now.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there an obvious route that she would take home, meaning not a highway or streets, I mean, that there was — I mean, there was just — it's just obvious which — if you're going to go home, you would take that route?
LEE: Right. Well, from the Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley, you would take Oneida Street, and go towards Green Bay downtown, and then just take a right on Mason Street, and it will just lead you straight to her sister's house, where she was going. But that's the only route that I know of that she would take. Otherwise, you know, the highway, but she usually doesn't take the highway. So that's the only route that, you know, would be available.
VAN SUSTEREN: I take it, I mean, that they have searched the parking lots for her car along the route. Have they — I mean, the waterway that's there, they've looked in the waterway to see whether or not there was an accident?
LEE: Right. Right. Yes, according to the police department, yes, that's what they've done. I believe they sent, you know, a dive team around the Fox (ph) River there, and you know, searched around. As far as I know, they haven't seen or recovered anything from there. So yes, they've been working...
VAN SUSTEREN: Do the police tell — I mean, do the police have a working theory as to what they think happened? Do they have some clues?
LEE: No. We haven't heard any theories or anything from the police department yet. So I mean, I'm hoping that there's a solid lead that comes around soon because, you know, as of the moment, you know, time is of the essence so...
VAN SUSTEREN: How about that cell phone? Anything new on the cell phone? Any more information other than the pinging? The phone wasn't used a second time, right?
LEE: Right. Yes. Other than, you know, the last signal that it was on, the 700 block of Lombardi (ph), that's as far as we know. There hasn't been any activity or it hasn't been turned on or anything like that, as far as we know from the police department, so...
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there — is there — can you tell how long that call was to your brother's phone? And I know that you asked her to call your brother's phone since you had lost your phone. But can you tell whether it was — how long that effort was made from her phone to your brother's phone?
LEE: I'm not exactly sure, but I would assume that it was only, you know, a minute or less, or if that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Because it had to ring to voice-mail, right?
LEE: Right. Right. And I mean, I'm not even sure if she even got to the voice-mail or not. You know, that's the thing. I mean, it could have just been, you know, one or two rings, and that was. And maybe it was a distress call. Maybe it was just a call to, you know, let me know something was up. I mean, I don't know. It could be, you know, many things, you know?
VAN SUSTEREN: Or someone else could have picked up her phone, as well, and even hit redial.
VAN SUSTEREN: Addison, thank you, and good luck.
LEE: Thank you, Greta.
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