Nancy Grace Ripped After Missing Boy's Mom Kills Herself

ByABC News
September 14, 2006, 4:53 PM

Sept. 14, 2006 — -- Authorities in Leesburg, Fla., may be close to naming a missing toddler's mother as a suspect in the boy's disappearance despite the mother's suicide after a grilling by broadcaster Nancy Grace.

Capt. Ginny Padgett of the Leesburg Police Department said Melinda Duckett, 21, "has not been labeled a suspect. However, we are focusing more on her at this time."

Police, aided by Florida state investigators and FBI agents, have searched for more than two weeks for 2-year-old Trenton Duckett after his mother told authorities she found his crib empty on the night of Aug. 27.

Melinda Duckett died last Friday from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound that her family blamed on media attention, particularly a grilling by Grace the day before.

Whatever the outcome of the case, some media critics believe Grace went too far in her interview.

"What's troubling to me," said Hub Brown, a professor at Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Communications, "is that when you're doing these interviews you have to balance whether you're doing harm to the people involved."

Grace, the former prosecutor and uncompromising victims' advocate, focused on where Duckett and her son had been the day before she reported the disappearance.

"Where were you?" asked Grace. "Why aren't you telling us where you were that day? You were the last person to be seen with him."

Duckett answered, "And we've already gone out and distributed fliers and spoken to ... "

"Right," Grace interrupted. "Why aren't you telling us and giving us a clear picture of where you were before your son was kidnapped?"

"Because," said Duckett, "I'm not going to put those kinds of details out."

Grace: "Why?"

Duckett: "Because I was told not to."

Grace then pressed even harder.

"Ms. Duckett, you are not telling us for a reason," she said. "What is that reason? You refuse to give even the simplest facts of where you were with your son before he went missing."