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tv   Nightline  ABC  March 20, 2019 12:37am-1:07am PDT

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this is "nightline." tonight. >> i've got more to the story for you. >> wendy's truth. after ups and downs, on and off the screen, wendy williams now revealing a new bout with addiction. >> you know i've had a struggle with cocaine in my past. >> the daytime talk show host now spending nights in a sober house. >> so that is may truth. >> facing a truth faced by millions of americans every day. plus, a mother's pain. her daughter murdered while jogging. a mother grieving testifying for the first time. >> my baby was brutalized by this evil coward. >> examining the evidence. is it enough to convict? and teamwork makes the dream
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work. helping hands that truly deserve applause. but first, the "nightline" five. ne" five.
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good evening. thank you for joining us. for years, wendy williams has
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used her platform to slap down celebrities and dish hollywood gossip. today was a confession aal of t most personal time. she is again battling addiction. >> so you know me for being a very open and truthful person and today i've got more to the story for you. >> today the edgy queen of daytime stepped down to reveal a humbling truth. >> for some time now and even today and beyond, i have been living in a sober house. >> wendy williams, the glitzy, often brash, gossipy girlfriend next door was none of that today. her truth not familiar to the famous but many families in america. >> you know i've had a struggle with cocaine in the past. and i see my bros. and sisters caught up in their addiction and looking for help. they don't know i'm wendy. they don't care i'm wendy.
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there's no autographs. there's no nothing. it's the brothers and sisters caught up in the struggle. >> reporter: daily mail obtained these photos of wendy and her husband kevin as the daily mail says walking into the sober living facility in new york city. >> only kevin and kevin have known about this. not my parents. nobody. nobody knew. because i look so glamorous out here. >> reporter: this is not williams' first bout with addiction. but it is the latest round in a string of health problems. october 2017. she collapsed on the air. later, laughing it off in an interview with abc's amy robach. >> i'm also going through menopause. so i didn't think my costume was hot when i first tried it on. >> reporter: last year she was still laughing when she explained away her absence on the air. >>ive abeen trending regarding, what the hell is going on with wendy. >> reporter: this time citing
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doctor's orders with graves disease and >> it was a perfect storm since late july. >> reporter: late last year again, citing a shoulder injury. >> i have a hair fracture on my right shoulder, and i did it on sunday, and by monday morning my shoulder was on fire. >> reporter: and finally, this year, a mysterious two-month absence from her show. a chorus of fill-in hosts but no explanation, but then today. >> i am driven by my 24-hour sober coach back to a home that i live in here in the south, i mean in the tri state with a bunch of smelly boys who've become my family. doors locked by 10:00 p.m. lights out by 10:00 p.m. so i go to my room. and i stare at the ceiling, and
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i fall asleep to wake up to come back here to see you. >> addictions, they're the great equalizer. they know no barriers of race, creed, socioeconomic status. so good for her for coming out and moving past the silence, which many times is a huge barrier to getting the proper treatment. >> reporter: back in 2015, i spent time with williams in her suburban new jersey home, granting us a rare look behind the curtain into her private life. >> i'm a jersey girl through and through. >> reporter: what does that mean? >> you know, we have a certain way about us. it's a little tacky but really loveable. >> reporter: even then it was clear. there was one side of wendy that we saw and one we did not. >> reporter: define for me the public wendy williams and the private wendy williams. same person? >> uh, yes. they're very much related. the public wendy is a show pony.
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private me is still a show moane po pony in a different way. i love a big muumuu and a bigwig. >> reporter: she did talk about her struggles with addiction. >> i did get wrapped up in addiction for about ten horrible years of my life. >> reporter: what was your drug of choice? >> cocaine. i liked it. why did i do it? because it was there. you know, i wanted a different life for myself. and i never went to rehab, but yeah, i just stop. and change your social scircles. >> reporter: that was it? >> i was private. that's probably the worst part of addiction. >> reporter: reflective about her own addiction she showed that raw wendy williams' edge in a 2003 radio interview when she confronted the late whitney houston on her drug use. >> is there drug use going on at this present time? >> who are you talking to?
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don't talk to me about that [ bleep ]. >> you are very defensive. >> i have to be. >> reporter: did it happen organically? >> it happened organically, but i recognized the moment because i recognized the behavior, because that was once me. >> reporter: addiction. >> mm-hm. >> reporter: did anyone out you? >> no, no one outed me, but when people are on drugs you know. you see. people knew. but they wouldn't say anything. you know? >> reporter: her struggles, partly masked by hugely-successful publica rear and part of her allure. why do you think people like you so much? you are one of the most successful women on daytime television. >> i am? >> reporter: from the shameless love of wigs. the occasional over the top outfits and of course that iconic catchphrase. with all of it, she's one of the
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longest-daytime hosts in america. 11 seasons and counting. >> i think people like me because i'm funny. i'm real. i'm comfortable with myself. >> reporter: for a woman who's endured her own share of tabloid covers, no celebrity is too big or too small. >> it's time for hot topics. i don't feel duped because he's turning into a woman. i feel duped because he's the same fame whore as the rest of the family. >> reporter: a lot of your hot topic information comes from the tabloids. any concern you might be hearing false information? >> a lot of it doesn't come from the tabloids. some of it does. we have a legal department. okay. one woman is a lawyer and will be here every day and will be quick to come out here and sayosay, okay, you can't say this, you can't tasay that, which i appreciate. >> reporter: by her own admission, wendy williams is
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complicated. >> hi. i love you. >> i love you more. >> reporter: you wraatch her sh? >> who doesn't watch her show. >> reporter: what do you like about her? >> she's beautiful. she's honest. >> reporter: we saw the multiple sides of wendy unfold in seconds. >> it's nice to put smiles on faces and some of my most touching moments -- >> reporter: moved to tears one moment. >> one of my most touching moments with my wendy watchers are people who say they battled cancer, and i helped them get through chemotherapy or while they were pregnant and couldn't do as much as they used to. but i was there for them. >> reporter: jabbing for laughs the next. >> what a mess. wow, what a gentleman. >> reporter: that's quintessentially wendy williams. unapologetically herself. why more now than ever they will stand beside her.
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>> to wendy and the other wendys in the world, recovery is possible, just, you know, choose your support system. trust them. it's one day at a time. >> so that is my truth. [ applause ] >> wendy did not reveal her substance. but whatever it is, she is not alone. it's estimated 20 million americans have struggled with a substance abuse disorder. next, an emotional scene at the trial of the woman murdered while jogging. (door bell rings) it's open! hey. this is amazing. with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis, are you okay? even when i was there, i never knew when my symptoms would keep us apart. so i talked to my doctor about humira. i learned humira can help get, and keep uc under control when other medications haven't worked well enough. and it helps people achieve control that lasts. so you can experience few or no symptoms. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis.
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murder trial is a pain no one should endure. sitting through it twice is where the family of this wom wom comes from. her grieving mother testifying in court today, begging jurors to look again at the evidence. >> my little baby was brutelized by this person, by this evil coward. >> reporter: a mother's pain now a mission. >> it is wrong to kill an innocent young woman. >> reporter: a quest for justice. kathy vitrano arriving in court to testify for the first time in the case of her murdered daughter. she was killed in august of 2016 after heading out for a late afternoon jog near her home in queens. >> it was so ordinary. a woman out for a jog in a place that she knew, in a neighborhood
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that she knew. that's everybody's worst fear. >> right now there's evidence of strangulation, affixation. >> reporter: but her family has yet to find justice after the accused killer's first trial ended in a hung jury. >> justice will be served. >> reporter: a devastating blow to her heartbroken family. now her parents are hoping for a second chance. the question remains. this second time around, account prosecution convince a jury to convict? >> this is not an easy case for the prosecution. cases generally don't get better with time. memories fade. and the fact that this was a mistrial to begin with certainly should give the prosecution some pause. >> imt'm 100% confident this is the person who murdered her. >> reporter: tonight we take you inside the evidence at the center of one accused man's
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fate. the confession the defense says was coerced and questions about that dna evidence. >> blood, body fluid, shoe prints or hair at the crime scene. >> reporter: the vitrano family now aching foreclosure. it began as a normal summer day for the family. corina, who was working as a spie speech pathologist known for her social media following. a fitness buff, she planned a late tuesday afternoon run. but her father, her usual running partner was unable to go with her because of an injury. don't worry, daddy, i'll be okay. she tells him. that would be the last time he'd ever speak to his daughter. >> it wasn't uncommon for corina to go for a run. she'd usually go with her dad, but this time he didn't go and when she didn't come home, that's when the parents' suspicions began to deepen.
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>> reporter: robert boyce led the investigation into corina's murder. >> we were looking for her phone. her phone was pinging. it was on. when they found the phone, officers started backtracking for the search. >> reporter: this surveillance video is the last-known footage of corina alive. >> we got a lot of video. we were able to track her, exactly where she went that day. >> reporter: police launch an all-out investigation, her parents, kathy and phil front and center. >> we need to find this predator. >> reporter: just four hours after she left her home, corina's father found her body face down in a marsh, 15 feet away from the trail she was running. >> the people who were there described the sound that phil vitrano made as something between a scream and a and as the officers came running they had to fight with him to
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get him away from the body. >> reporter: more than 600 dna samples all led to dead ends. >> police really didn't have significant leads. they saw evidence of a struggle. and they knew that corina may have fought off or tried to fight off her attacker. but no suspect initially developed with any immediacy. >> reporter: but nearly six months later an unexpected break when lieutenant john russo recalls seeing a man near the crime scene months before the attack. >> one of my lieutenants remembered stopping someone over there in howard beach who was doing some suspicious activity. >> reporter: the suspect, then 20-year-old channel lewis of east new york. lewis had attende sool ford a students with special needs. >> for some reason, a police lieutenant's intuition drew him to lewis. the cop remembered something about him. and that ultimately is what unravelled the case. >> reporter: investigators decide to bring him in for
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questioning. in a nearly four-hour interrogation police and the d.a. get a confession from lewis to the murder. >> when she got next to you, she was running and were you walking. what happened then? >> the prior situation, the angry and then hitting her and stuff like that. >> reporter: police say they also matched lewis' dna to those on her body, including from under her fingernails. >> yesterday evening, shanell lewis was taken into custody. >> reporter: the case goes to trial in november of 2018. lewis' family is adamant about his innocence. >> the cops is setting him up. the cops need to go do their job and find the real killer and take my brother out the jail. >> reporter: but despite what prosecutors say is solid evidence, the first trial ends in a hung jury. >> prosecutors thought this case was over and done with. they believed they had a solid
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confession. they thought they had dna evidence. what they didn't have was the jury. >> reporter: after a day and a half of deliberation, five jurors decide not to convict lewis. now nearly three years after their daughter's death, her parents are trying lieu the second trial. >> the confession was made after he was denied a phone call to his family, after the defendant was in a windowless room for several hours. >> reporter: and that the dna evidence could have been contaminated. >> evidence that the government thinks proves their case actually creates a host of reasonable doubts. >> reporter: while the prosecution relies on surveillance videos to recount the final hours of her life. >> you'll see more testimony about how the dna was recovered
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to cover what the defense counsel said. >> reporter: this time around vitrano's mother took the stand. >> they're trying to appeal to the minds but also the hearts. who better to do that than the victim's mother. >> reporter: she said the last time she saw her daughter she was in a kwofen coffin in a fun parlor. lindsey davis, new york. next, hechilping a friend o the court. ♪ dad! dad!! can you drive me to jessica's house? ♪ at northwestern mutual, this is what our version of financial planning looks like. tomorrow is important, but so is making the most
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and finally tonight. the perfect b-ball combination. march madness isn't all about competition. 9-year-old austin weaver has cerebral palsy and loves to play basketball. he's on the team in west virginia. as the clock ran down, his teammate lifted him up to sink a shot in the last game of the season. and austin's react
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priceless. helping a friend in need, and a child shall lead the way. and that's "nightline." when you can't stay up with us, you can always catch our full episodes on hulu. thanks for the company, america. goodnight. goodnight.
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