April 11th, 2008
08:21 PM ET

Erica's News Note: It’s a random one

We are closer to knowing who the young woman is at the center of this raid on a Texas polygamous sect’s compound. Frankly, the more details that emerge, the creepier this becomes.

The accusations of abuse are unbelievable. How does this happen? How does it become OK? And how bad did it have to get for this girl to risk her life calling for help?

I love CNN Heroes. So many of these people have become an inspiration to me and today, I am adding another one to the list. Education is very important to me. It opens so many doors and has the power to change lives like few other things, which is just one reason why Viola Vaughn’s story struck me. I’ll let her fill you in on the tragedy that rocked her family… and ultimately helped Viola save thousands.

My dog, Jake, is a mutt (my favorite breed) – he’s Australian shepherd, husky and probably a million other things. They all add up to the sweetest face, kindest eyes, and biggest heart; he is truly a love bug. He also weighs more than 75 pounds, has a deep, loud bark, dark coloring and to many people on the street (and many a delivery person at our front door), Jake looks like a dog ready to rip them to shreds.

This is probably the last thing that would happen with the JMan. Yes, there’s a good chance he’d jump like a kangaroo with excitement, try to hug you, nuzzle up for a scratch and give you a slobbery kiss… but I’ve never seen Jake harm anyone.

Jake – and plenty of other dogs out there – may simply be a victim of “big black dog syndrome”, and it may be why animal shelters have a tougher time placing big, black dogs… and why more of them are euthanized. I find it truly sad. In my experience, the bigger the dog, the kinder, gentler and more loving they tend to be. Yes, there are exceptions, but for me, that hasn’t been the case.

And lastly, a couple of quick notes for you… Michael Ware’s full interview with Gen. David Patraeus will be posted on the 360 site; I know many of you have asked for it.

We need your Webby votes! If you’ve already voted for us, thank you – but you’re not done. Tell your friends, tell your family… hey, why not make a new friend this weekend and get them to vote for us? Try this for an icebreaker, “Hey, have you checked out the 360 Blog lately?” Guaranteed to work or your money back.*

– Erica Hill, AC360° Correspondent

* this is the asterisk where I tell you there is no hope of getting paid if you’re shot down using that line at happy hour

Filed under: Erica Hill
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Megan Dresslar

    P.S. Congrats for subbing anchor!!! I hope you take over (fill-in-anchor) replaces Anderson Cooper often...... I'm exciting for you, you were so awesome anchor for AC360! Watch out for Anderson Cooper! Way to go! Take care yourself.
    Megan D.
    Shoreline, Wa

    April 13, 2008 at 9:45 pm |
  2. K. Patrick

    Hey Erica!

    The whole world agrees, you were FANTASTIC on Friday! You did a wonderful job!! We had only been waiting 4ever to see you host the show! It's about time.... =) This was one of the best 360 episodes in a long time!

    LoL, Anderson better watch out, or its going to be Erica Hill 360!

    We hope to see more of you and hope you are officially the permanent Sub Anchor! I'm sure Anderson would agree!! You did so great for your first show, I can't wait to see what else you have in store for us!

    April 12, 2008 at 9:45 pm |
  3. John Halverson

    Sorry Erica I can't recommend cnn blogs they are too filtered and they only allow what they want to see posted so that it reflects their thoughts (reminds me of China) so much for free thinking . OF course I am mainly talking about the ticker. How can they allow 35 comments for one article and 360 or 500 comments for another, it is really lame, CNN is usually my last place for "news" now. The unfortunate thing is very few places report the news anymore it is usually infotainment and CNN sure seems to be a huge part of the infotainment business, sure would be nice to hear the news instead of making something news because of ratings.
    I bet this doesn't get posted.

    April 12, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  4. Michael, NC

    Erica :-),
    I too love the touching stories that many of your correspondents and guests have to share. They change lives with their stories of bravery and boldness to make change. I have so much respect for them, as well as for you, Anderson, and the multitude of people who help make the best news show possible.
    I LOVE my dog Dakota (a yellow lab). He is probably the smartest, loving dog I have ever had. But I also love my biscuit eater FUBAR. He is one of those dogs who loves nothing more than just rubbing his head against your pants leg and sleeping with as much of his body on top of yours as possible. The two of them make my apartment a big hit!
    I have spread the news about the webby, hopefully we can overtake "Best Week Ever", although that is a steep task. I fully expect compensation for my attempts to spread the word about the best news crew in the business... 🙂

    April 12, 2008 at 10:48 am |
  5. Pam, Colton, CA


    It was great seeing you anchor tonight! Way to go! It's about time.

    April 12, 2008 at 2:46 am |
  6. marianne

    Watch out Anderson Copper, Erica Hill is taking over. EH 360? Indeed, Erica you're doing a fabulous job tonight.

    April 12, 2008 at 1:35 am |
  7. Dave Weinstock

    I just wanted to say that you are my favorite news person on cnn. You are really funny but are serious when needed.

    April 12, 2008 at 1:33 am |
  8. Lilibeth

    Hi Erica, great job anchoring tonight! Congratulations! Hope you do this more often when Anderson's off.

    Have a great weekend!

    Edmonds, Washington

    April 12, 2008 at 1:20 am |
  9. Ian


    Thanks for anchoring tonight. You do a great job at the desk. I'm a Canadian viewer who loves your show. Keep up the good work.

    April 12, 2008 at 1:19 am |
  10. Kriss


    You did a fantastic job tonight!! We all are sooo happy that you FINALLY got to anchor....it's about time...we were sooo worried before!

    I hope you become the official Sub Anchor as well as doing the Bulletins and reporting from the field!

    Keep up the good work!

    April 12, 2008 at 12:06 am |
  11. Annie Kate


    I'm so glad you got to anchor tonight!! You are doing a great job!!! I am so excited for you!

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 11, 2008 at 10:53 pm |
  12. Michelle

    I agree the way the girls are being used in this Polygamist sect, and who stay there because they know no other life, or are afraid, is very sad. I'm glad this incident has brought this information to the public.

    April 11, 2008 at 10:19 pm |
  13. Jolene

    Erica: Glad to read that you are anchoring tonight! Sounds like a good show. As an animal lover, I hate to see any dog stuck in a shelter but to read that big dogs, especially black ones get euthanized more is sad. I do agree, the bigger the dog, the more of a baby they are. The Big Black Dog website is very informative also. Thanks.

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    April 11, 2008 at 10:07 pm |
  14. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Erica,
    Glad to hear you'll be anchoring tonight..Have a great weekend.

    April 11, 2008 at 9:55 pm |
  15. Annie Kate

    Hi Erica

    The polygamy story is just so sad. I'm just hoping we can transition these children away from the sect successfully.

    Big black dog syndrome – I've had large dogs and they are sweet for the most part – even when they knock you down with affection!

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 11, 2008 at 9:32 pm |
  16. Stacy

    Erica, I completely agree that big mutts are the best dogs. My dog is as sweet as can be, but he also doubles nicely as a fear-inducing security system. Well, except during thunderstorms. Apparently a little rumble in the skies is my dog's kryptonite, turning a ferocious bark into a pathetic whimper. It's a shame the shelters are having a hard time placing the bigger, black dogs. You'd probably be hard pressed to find a nicer pet.

    April 11, 2008 at 9:12 pm |
  17. Audrey Reardon

    Erica, I could not agree with you more.The larger the dog,the sweeter the disposition. I've always thought of dogs as God's most perfect creation. There is nothing about them that could be improved upon. I'm so glad you've joined 360.You're a great addition to an already great show.

    April 11, 2008 at 9:10 pm |
  18. Megan Dresslar

    Hi Erica,
    That will be good program....... I am proud of Viola Vaughn what she did help people each other. And I have 2 dogs first female white poodle named Julie, I used to play ball with her, unfourately she died, she hit by car, but she was so best dog, second male named Ringo. mix dog black and white, I love to play ball him...... he died and he was so best....... they was my favorite forever dogs..... Thanks for information Iraq, Michael Ware was so excellent interview General David Patraeus. And I did vote on Webby once and CNN . That will be fun to vote AC360! Thanks AC360! And I can't wait See Anderson Cooper will be back to work next week. (please don't tell Anderson I missed him this week.) I will see you soon tonight at 7 pm before one hour. See you soon!
    Megan D.
    Shoreline, Wa

    April 11, 2008 at 8:58 pm |
  19. Lilibeth

    You know Erica, I really feel awful about the suffering experienced by the women and children in these polygamist sects...it makes me want to vomit. The young woman who called the shelter was so brave. I can only hope she and everyone who suffered will heal from their wounds and be able to live happy, normal lives...far, far away from their dark and horrid past.

    “Big, black dog syndrome”...I have to admit I’m a little scared of big dogs. Years ago, one came up to me and threatened to attack me...I screamed like I never screamed before in my life. The owner called him and thankfully, he backed off. I think he was just being a good “guard dog”. I don’t think he meant to hurt me. I know that now. But the memory never escapes me.

    Erica, the link for Viola Vaughn for some reason is not working...can you please look into this? I did see a video about her and how her program got started. What an inspiration she is to us all!

    See you tonight Erica!

    Edmonds, Washington

    April 11, 2008 at 8:56 pm |