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tv   Nightline  ABC  January 30, 2016 12:37am-1:05am EST

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[ cheers and applause ] this is "nightline." >> tonight, a baby abandoned in a manger more than four decades ago. >> i was about 5 days old. >> now on a mission to crack his life-long mystery. the trail of faded clues and the emotional celebration. with the family he has never met. plus it was the trial that rocked the country. >> not guilty of the crime of murder -- >> the people versus o.j. simpson. >> i'm not a bad person. >> the murder beauty, her famous husband, now the central players back in the spotlight. >> it was devastating for me. >> cuba, john, david, sarah.
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thanks for joining us. tonight an emotional investigation to find the mother who left her baby in a manger. and what happens in one jaw-dropping moment when he meets his family 44 years later. here's abc's elizabeth vargas. >> reporter: it could have been mistaken for a christmas miracle. instead, it was a mystery. >> this is where it all began for you. >> that's right. >> reporter: a newborn baby boy wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. part of this catholic church's nativity scene 44 years ago. >> i was about 5 days old. >> reporter: no clues as to who abandoned him. his mother missing. but another mother watching over. >> i got a feeling like this might have been where my mother waited and trying to muster the courage to do it. >> reporter: on that silent night, left with only a handful by whom?
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him but it falls to katherine allen, a 23-year-old rookie with the houston children's protective service, to rescue the baby in the manger. >> i laid him on my shoulder and he was quiet. >> at christmas in a nativity scene. >> exactly, what could be more dramatic? >> reporter: he would eventually be named d.j. williams. d.j. went from the manger to below the masthead as front-page headline news. but if anybody knew hot mother was, they didn't bear witness. was there a plea for information? >> no one called. no leads to go on. >> what do you think that means? >> i would say she didn't want to be found. >> reporter: d.j. would eventually be adopted and grow up in a rural houston suburb with a loving mother, father, and older brother. but he would never stop wondering about his humble beginnings. >> when i would be working on school projects or filling in family trees, i had to kind of make it up as i went along. >> reporter: today d.j. is a
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grocery store in baltimore, maryland. he lives with his partner, mike, and their 6-year-old camera-shy son, zephyr. they were home watching television last year when they believed their prayers were answered. how'd you hear of pam? >> we had seen her on the "20/20" episode with is phone booth baby. >> it was on this corner, 80th and columbus, this is the phone booth? >> reporter: it was the episode about louise jones. the woman abandoned as a baby in a new york city phone booth. with investigative genealogist pam slaton on the hunt for the missing mom. >> he felt connected to me. and said to his partner, that's the girl that's going to help me. >> how old were you when you finally got the full story of where you were found and how you were found? >> i was probably about 15. and i had been helping my grandmother. and she showed me some newspaper clippings. >> reporter: we track the reporter of those old articles to hopefully shed some light. >> gary taylor.
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reporter on the evening crime beat in 1971. >> you were discovered about 5:00 p.m. on a wednesday. on friday somebody, one of our photographers, came over to wherever you were and took this set of photos of you. >> looks like me yawning. >> reporter: next stop we take d.j. to see bennett greenspan, ceo of family tree dna. >> let's go and let's look at your dna. >> there were two people who came up matching his dna very closely. so the question then became, are these two people related? >> reporter: two dna matches. a man and a woman. and that's when once again pam strikes gold. she figures out the man is d.j.'s uncle and that woman? she is d.j.'s half-sister. >> wow. i mean, that for me was christmas. that was mind-blowing. that it was such a direct dna hit. >> reporter: pam calls her. her name is rose. >> i said, could you tell me
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she said, i know that my mom attended st. anne's. >> st. anne's? >> yes. >> the church where d.j. was left? >> so that was like, wow. >> reporter: pam drives to baltimore where d.j. lives now to dlir the stunning news. >> what we found out is that person that matched you is your uncle. and your half-sister, because we were able to determine who your birth mother is. are you shocked? >> yeah. >> yeah? >> i would say shocked. >> c.j. is your birth mother. >> oh, wow. i have her smile. >> yes. >> that's crazy. >> reporter: but pam has heartbreaking news about the
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away. she passed away in 2013. >> reporter: still, this is not the end of d.j.'s journey. because pam has found four half-siblings. the family d.j. has always longed to know. >> i'd honestly given up hope for the longest time. wow. i just can't believe it. that's amazing. >> reporter: and in houston, d.j. williams is all set to meet for the first time in his life blood relatives. three half-sisters. and a half-brother. >> hi! >> reporter: d.j.'s first hug, and it's a long hug, goes to rose. >> it's so good to see you. >> hi. >> reporter: authenticatety, robert, and finally kirsten. for the first time since he was left alone, d.j. is in the arms of the biological family he never knew.
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>> you look like our uncle john. yeah. >> reporter: amid the joy there is tension as well. because d.j. now has to tell them he was abandoned, left in a manger alone. >> i guess i should start with my story begins in texas. when i was about 5 days old, i was found in the nativity scene of st. anne's catholic church. i think that i was left there because that was the safest place that i could have been left at that time. i was born in december. so it was around christmas time. and i know that this information is a bit of a shock for you guys.
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"the houston post." i know this is a lot to take in. >> reporter: as for his birth mother, sadly d.j.'s half-siblings, all born later, have no clue why she did what she did. but d.j. says he can live with that. >> i mean, for me it was about finding that connection. like you're just floating in this sea and you don't have any anchor to hold on to. and so now i have something to hold on to. and i'm not let going on. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm elizabeth vargas in new york. up next, how a host of talented actors are recaptureing recent history in "the people versus o.j. simpson."
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if you're not old enough, let me tell you something. the o.j. simpson trial captivated this country. america seemed transfictioned on a baffling murder. the stunning blond. her husband, the nfl great, on trial for murder, denying it all. tonight how hollywood is taking on the case and what the actors thought about o.j. then versus now. here's abc's deborah roberts. >> we the jury in the above-entitled action find the defendant, orenthal j. simpson, not guilty of the crime of murder -- >> reporter: before that verdict
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o.j. simpson fled police in the two-hour bronco chase. >> i'm peter jennings. let's go to a picture in los angeles -- >> reporter: it felt like a made for tv movie. now it is one. >> got two victims in brentwood -- >> brentwood? nobody gets killed in brentwood. >> reporter: the captivating case with its memorable cast of characters is back in an fx ten-part miniseries, "the people versus o.j. simpson." cuba gooding jr. stars as o.j. simpson. >> this was the hardest role i've done. it took me a good month or so after filming the show to finally get back into my right frame of mind. >> because i told them i had nothing to hide! >> reporter: simpson continues to claim he's innocent and didn't kill his ex-wife, nicole brown simpson, and her friend, ron goldman. the miniseries chronicles the nearly nine-month trial. canny simpson attorney robert shapiro portrayed by john travolta, his first television role in decaded. >> what was appealing about this
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>> the material was powerful. the comments that it was still making about contemporary issues, about the legal system, about the judicial system, about racism. >> reporter: another key player in the courtroom drama, no nonsense prosecutor marcia clark, played by sarah paulson, with that unmistakable curly hair which would become fodder during the trial. >> i too was going what are you doing? why is your hair like that? and the truth is, it was really just not the point. should not have been on my mind at all. >> reporter: who can forget simpson's defense dream team, charismatic johnny cork ran -- >> i ain't trying to be respectful, i'm trying to win. >> are you a lawyer? >> yes, well, i used to be utah but not criminal. >> reporter: david schwimmer transforms into simpson's close friend robert kardashian. >> why in the hell were you in there alone? >> i don't know, man! >> at that point, nobody really knew much about robert kardashian.
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suddenly found himself, one year later, incredibly famous. >> reporter: uncomfortable with notoriety, kardashian never lived to see the explosive fame his daughters and ex-wife would later enjoy. schwimmer says he spoke with kris jenner, learning things few of us knew about o.j.'s confidant. >> incredibly loyal and compassionate and generous. perhaps the most valuable thing to me was learning that he was a man of deep faith. very religious man. i do think he was conflicted at times. and i think his feelings and beliefs did change in the course of the trial. >> reporter: in a documentary "the secret tapes of the o.j. case," kris jenner recalls watching her ex-husband's face as the verdict was announced. >> i think he was shocked. he was definitely stunned. i mean, you could look at his face and see it, knowing him my sbif liar entire life.
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that was the verdict. >> reporter: one of schwimmer's scenes was filmed in the kardashians' former home. >> give me the gun. give me the gun! >> what was that scene like for you? >> one of your closest friends has a gun to his head, is about to kill himself. what do you do? do everything you can to stop it. >> reporter: simpson flees police with his friend a.c. cowlings behind the wheel. this is the call to police -- >> this is a.c., i have o.j. in the car, he's still alive but he's got a gun to his head. >> when we tell people we were doing a tv series on o.j. simpson they say, "let me tell you where i was when the bronco chase happened." >> people are stopped alongside the road -- >> do you remember where you were during that bronco chase? >> yeah. watching the knicks game. then they cut into the bronco and the small corner of the screen and everybody's like, that's o.j. simpson! he's got a gun in his mouth!
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with the nation transfixed -- >> here he is now, the car pulling into the driveway -- >> reporter: simpson is back at his brentwood mansion and soon under arrest, charged with murder. >> we do have sufficient evidence to convict him and prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. >> reporter: in an instant, marcia clark is thrust into the blinding limelight. >> she had the courage of her convictions and wanted to go the distance to make sure that this man was put away. and to all of a sudden be thrust on the national stage and have the predominant conversation be about what she looked like. and her manner. and was she feminine enough. was she strident. was she a bitch. >> good morning, ms. clark. i think. >> reporter: the series shows how a high-profile murder trial soon becomes a racially charged courtroom drama. >> 70% of whites thought o.j. was guilty. 70% of blacks thought he was innocent. did this film shatter your perceptions one way or another? >> for me the biggest discovery was the things that were not
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the furman tapes. the legal battle behind the scenes. >> reporter: which includes the dream team's strategy. >> mark furman -- >> reporter: pointing fingers at lapd, which has a history of alleged misconduct. officers accused of planting evidence, mishandling it, and framing simpson. >> did you plant or manufacture any evidence in this case? >> reporter: the actors hear the real explosive audiotapes of detective mark furman spouting racial slurs like this. >> first thing, anything out of a [ bleep ] mouth for the first five or six sentences is a [ bleep ] lie -- >> mark furman is a lying, perjuring, genocidal racist. >> the bile that this man said about black people. and i was -- the frustration and anger i felt. you know, having sons -- having two boys that are now at that
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not just gang violence but police brutality. it just -- it gets me frustrated and angry. >> sir, out of the car now! >> reporter: the miniseries triggered personal emotions around race and police encounters. >> i'm going to have to cuff you. >> reporter: vance, married to actress angela basset, says he personally relates to his character's struggles. >> how did that impact you as an actor? >> we live in a very nice neighborhood. and it happened to me. the police came to our house and they had heard that somebody was pacing around the neighborhood. i come outside and they scream "get on your knees! hands behind my back. eventually they would realize and recognize that they had made a mistake. but the difference is, in life, as what we're seeing nowadays with all these episodes in chicago and the ferguson case, we should not be rehashing this. that's why i think it's so important that we're doing this project. >> and more is involved since we
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in the last year it seemed to escalate. >> reporter: with the spate of recent cases alleging police brutality, the simpson story may strike a chord with viewers and also prompt the question many are uncomfortable with -- >> did you come away with a stronger opinion about whether he's guilty or innocent? are you convinced in your mind now? >> no. >> what the truth is? >> no, no. i'm not convinced either way. you know, he was found innocent by a group of his peers. but my opinions are all over the place now. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm deborah roberts in los angeles. >> "the people versus o.j. simpson: american crime story" premieres february 2nd on fx. up next barbie's massive makeover. these new dolls hitting the shelves after a dramatic transformation. e trade is all about seizing opportunity. so i'm going to take this opportunity to go off script. so if i wanna go to jersey
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