<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - National & International News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:25:15 -0400 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:25:15 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Last Testimony in Sterling Trial]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:18:35 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Donald-Shelley-Sterling.jpg

Wednesday should see the last round of testimony in the trial over whether Shelly Sterling was within her rights when she negotiated a $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers — a sale her husband Donald Sterling, whose recorded racist remarks prompted calls for his ouster as owner, vehemently opposes.

While Shelly Sterling has already testified, she may be called back to the stand by her embattled husband's legal team.

"The plan is to call Shelly," Donald Sterling's lawyer Bobby Samini said. "There's been some discussions whether we need to re-call her, but we have not decided for sure yet."

Shelly Sterling's attorneys have rested their case, finishing with testimony that the Clippers face oblivion if the team's censured owner keeps control of the franchise. The current firestorm and battle over the team's fate began after Donald Sterling's racist remarks were recorded by a companion and later published online.

"We're very confident the judge will find that this is an awesome sale, and that the sale ought to go forward without any further delay," Shelly's attorney Pierce O'Donnell said Wednesday

Clippers Interim CEO Richard Parsons testified on Tuesday that coach Doc Rivers said he will leave if Donald Sterling stays, as well as players and sponsors.

Parsons said he fears there would also be an exodus of key players, including team captain Chris Paul, who also is black and heads the NBA players union.

Parsons was about to give an account of his conversations with Paul but was stopped by an objection by an NBA lawyer who said it would be an invasion of privacy. The judge upheld the objection.

After Shelly Sterling arranged for doctors to examine her husband, they deemed him mentally incapacitated, and she took control of the Sterling Family Trust that owns the Clippers and negotiated a sale to ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

But Donald Sterling went to see another doctor of his choosing, Jeffrey Cummings, who found he suffers from mild cognitive impairment.

Donald Sterling's lawyers hope to call Cummings to the stand, while Shelly's lawyers are expected to object by citing the judge's earlier ruling that the court can only determine if trust procedures were followed -- not whether either doctor was right.

Meanwhile, Donald Sterling fired off another legal volley on Tuesday, filing a new lawsuit against his wife, the NBA and league Commissioner Adam Silver that alleges fraud, breach of contract, unfair business practices and infliction of emotional distress. He claimed, among other things, that he was tricked into being examined by psychiatrists to establish whether he was mentally competent.

He announced from the witness stand earlier in the trial that he would never sell the team and would be suing the NBA for the rest of his life.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP Images]]>
<![CDATA[Babies Get Herpes After Ritual: DOH]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:47:39 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/NC_Circumcision0906_722x406_2119014932.jpg

Two more infants were diagnosed with herpes in New York this month after undergoing ritual Jewish circumcisions, the Health Department says.

In both cases, the infant boys were born to mothers with full-term pregnancies and normal deliveries. They were circumcised using the direct oral suction technique practiced by some Orthodox Jews eight days after their birth, and developed lesions on their genitals shortly thereafter, the Health Department said.

Their conditions Wednesday weren't immediately clear.

NYC to Require Consent for Oral Suction Ritual

There have been 16 confirmed cases of herpes since 2000 in newborn boys after circumcisions that likely involved direct oral suction, including three in 2014, according to the Health Department. 

Two of the infants died and at least two others suffered brain damage.

During the ancient ritual, the person performing the circumcision attempts to cleanse the wound by sucking blood from the cut and spitting it aside. Authorities say the saliva contact could give the infant herpes, which is harmless in adults but could kill newborns.

In 2012, the Board of Health voted unanimously to require anyone performing circumcisions that involve oral suction to obtain written consent from a parent or guardian. The consent form delineates the potential health risks outlined by the Health Department. 

A group of Orthodox rabbis sued in an attempt to block the regulation, but a judge sided with the city.

The parents have to sign a form acknowledging that the city Health Department advises against the practice because of risks of herpes and other infections.

<![CDATA[LA Ex-Councilman Convicted of Fraud]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:50:12 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/215*120/alarcon+richard+councilman+la+court.jpg

Former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon was convicted Wednesday on some of the voter fraud and perjury counts against him in a trial stemming from accusations that he lied about where he lived so he could qualify for public office.

Alarcon was convicted on four of 16 felony counts against him for living outside a district he was elected to represent. The jury cleared him on the other counts. His wife, Flora Montes de Oca Alarcon, was convicted of three counts, and acquitted on three others.

Alarcon, 60, faced seven counts of fraudulent voting, six counts of perjury by declaration and three counts of perjury in an application for a drivers license. His wife was charged with six felony counts: three counts each of perjury by declaration and fraudulent voting in elections in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 10. Richard Alarcon faces up to six years in state prison and would be barred from holding elected public office. Flora Montes de Oca Alarcon faces up to five years and four months in state prison and would be barred from running for public office.

The panel was asked to decide whether the couple lied about where they lived between 2006 and 2009 so that Richard Alarcon could qualify for public office in Los Angeles' 7th Council District.

Outside of court Wednesday, Alarcon said he had no comment, but added, "I know I'm innocent."

Deliberations in the month-long trial began last week after prosecutors argued that the Panorama City house that Alarcon and his wife claimed as their "domicile" appeared to neighbors, utility employees and mail carriers to be vacant. Prosecutors contended the Alarcons really lived outside the 7th Council District in Sun Valley.

Under state election law, a residence for voting purposes is defined as a permanent home where one intends to remain and return after an absence. The law does not detail how much time must be spent at the address for it to qualify as a "domicile."

The defense claimed that the prosecution had not even come close to proving the charges against the two. Defense attorneys argued that the Panorama City house underwent renovations and remained the couple's permanent residence because they planned to return there after construction.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[What to Know About the Immigration Crisis]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 11:02:09 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/450883216.jpg

The news that thousands of unaccompanied children are crossing the U.S. border is just making headlines, but the surge has been happening for months, even years. President Obama is asking Congress for $3.7 billion to tackle the issue, which has become a flashpoint in the debate over immigration.

The number of children has overwhelmed the U.S. immigration system, which faces a backlog of hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants, according to The Associated Press.

President Barack Obama says that violent crime is driving migrants north, while Republicans blame Obama’s policies, saying they have given migrants an incentive to come.

Here’s what you should know about the crisis.

How Many Kids Are Trying to Cross the Border Alone

Since October, more than 57,000 children have been caught traversing the U.S.-Mexico border without an adult. That’s more than double the number in 2012 and triple the number in 2011, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The U.S. Border Patrol was already noticing an increase in children coming up from Central America in the fall of 2011. Most of the apprehended children are between 14 and 18-years-old, according to the Women's Refugee Commission.

Three-fourths of the kids caught since October have traveled over 1,000 miles — by car, train, raft and foot — from the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The rest are from neighboring Mexico, according to Border Patrol data.

Making the trek is uncertain and dangerous. Smugglers, or coyotes, charge up to $10,000 for each child, according to The Associated Press. These smugglers may take the children’s money and run, or worse, assault or traffic them. The journey is also physically challenging, with dense forests, dry deserts and rugged mountains along the way. One stretch of land in Texas is referred to as the "killing fields."

Migrant children aren't just traveling to the U.S. All of Central America is seeing an increase. Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Belize jointly documented a 712 percent increase in the number of people seeking asylum from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, according to the Washington Office on Latin America.

Why They Left Central America

The mass migration is chiefly caused by three things: gang-related violence, poverty and rumors that migrant children will be welcomed to the U.S. if they make it to the border.

Violence. A good portion of the drug trade is now in Central America and plenty of gangs capitalize on this. Incompetent police forces do little to stop them. Children are actively recruited as "foot soldiers" for cartels. These gangs give children an ultimatum: work in the drug trade or face death. Honduras’ homicide rate was 90 killed per 100,000 people in 2012. That’s the worst in the world and six times the global average. Guatemala and El Salvador aren't far behind.

Gangs run rampant in these countries, and many children find themselves in the crossfire. It is not uncommon for children to arrive at hospitals riddled with bullets. Fifty-eight percent of children migrating north are motivated by violent conditions in their home country, according to a report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Trust in the police is low in the children's countries of origin. In many places, gangs and police are intertwined. "You never know who is who," several migrant children told the Immigration Policy Center.

Poverty. Nearly two-thirds of the Honduran population lives below the poverty line, according to UNICEF. One in three infants is malnourished, and most kids in rural areas will only get four years of schooling on average. Guatemala's poverty rate is 26 percent. In El Salvador 17 percent of the population is living on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank.

Rumors. The recent surge may have its roots in rumors that a change in U.S. immigration policy means any child who crosses the border can stay. This is a false belief, according to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. Children who arrived after 2007 are not eligible for deferred deportations or a path to citizenship. A Border Patrol report that was leaked in June says families' misconception that they will obtain "permisos" when they arrive in the U.S. is driving most migration, according to Vox.com. They believe "permisos" means work permit, but it's actually a notice to appear in immigration court.

• Family. Over a third of Central American children who traveled to the U.S. alone were looking to reunite with one or both parents. It is common for relatives to send children north to reunite with family members, who also have questionable legal status, according to a report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

What Caused the Crisis

In addition to the violence and poverty in Central America, some have said the U.S. government is at the root of the influx, particularly policies put forth by the last two presidents.

Obama's order. Republicans have blamed the Obama administration for the rumors, saying that poor policy and communication has led migrants to believe they can stay, according to the Los Angeles Times. They say the president has been weak at enforcing border policy and that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was authored by the Obama administration in 2012 and gives some undocumented migrants temporary legal status, has given Central American families a false hope.

Bush's law. A bipartisan law that President George W. Bush signed in 2008, known as the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, seeks to combat sex trafficking by granting protections to children traveling alone from countries that are not Mexico or Canada. Under the law, unaccompanied children can’t be hastily sent back and are instead allowed an immigration hearing and must be handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services. The Obama administration said the law is partly to blame for the crisis, according to The New York Times. The White House and Republicans are both looking for ways to adjust the law's requirements to make it easier for children to be returned to their home countries.

Where the Migrants Arrive and What Happens When They Get Here

The crisis is happening all along the United States’ Southwest border. The greatest number of migrants are entering through southern Texas, where there has been a 178 percent change in the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border from 2013 to 2014, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Border patrol agents in Texas are overwhelmed and facilities are brimming with migrant children.

The city of Murrieta, California, made national headlines after protesters blocked buses carrying undocumented children and families to immigration processing facilities in Southern California. Overcrowded facilities in Texas looked to ease the burden by sending some migrants there. About 140 migrants ended up in San Diego.

More recently demonstrators on both sides were out in Oracle, Arizona, waiting for unaccompanied children they thought were about to be transferred to a camp there. The children never arrived though anti-immigration protestors briefly halted a bus carrying other children from a YMCA, according to The Associated Press. The Sycamore Canyon Academy in Oracle told NBC News that it had been asked by the federal government to provide shelter temporarily for a small number of children.

When migrant children are apprehended by Customs and Border Protection they are held in a detention center — usually a sterile place that resembles a warehouse. They will remain there until they are transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement's Division of Children Services (ORR/DCS). These facilities range from group homes to juvenile detention centers that are locked and surrounded by barbed wire.

Children stay at ORR/DCS facilities for an average of 55 days while authorities attempt to locate a parent or guardian. If none can be found, the child remains in DCS custody for the entirety of her immigration case. Ultimately, she will either end up with her parents or foster parents in the U.S. or be sent back to the country she came from.

What's Being Done About the Influx of People

More cash. The White House is asking Congress for more than $3.7 billion to address the wave of migration. Most of that cash would go to the Department of Health and Human Services, while Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection would also get a share. Almost $300 million would go towards efforts to “repatriate and reintegrate migrants to Central America.” The request must pass both houses of Congress, though, and it's not clear how, or whether, the GOP-led House will vote.

More shelters. Immigration officials are scrambling to find more shelter space for new arrivals. Dallas County in Texas agreed to shelter 2,000 children if the federal government foots the bill. Hospitals and schools no longer in use are among the buildings that could possibly house the children.

Foster care. Organizations and families in parts of Texas and the Southwest are taking up kids, particularly those who have no family in the U.S. or no safe places to return to in their home countries.

Programs in Central America. The Obama administration has earmarked $300 million for programs in Central America to boost the quality of life of people and address the underlying root causes that are driving migration. It hopes to do this by improving economic and security conditions and helping migrants reintegrate into their communities instead of returning north.

Ad campaigns. U.S. officials are trying to counter the flow of migrants with a Spanish-language ad campaign that looks to frighten them from coming in the first place. The ads warn that smugglers are criminals who could subject migrants to violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking or forced labor.

Border security. Some in Congress, especially Republicans, have said the focus should be on strengthening border security. Texas Gov. Rick Perry told a congressional committee that unaccompanied kids should be deported immediately to show the U.S. is serious about enforcement. Advocates for migrants have criticized the Obama administration, saying that future funding should go to ensuring migrant children with legitimate claims of asylum see their day in court, not border security.

What's Next

As protests continue and politicians try to figure out the best way to tackle the crisis, migrant children keep pouring in. The Obama administration expects the number of migrant children arriving in the U.S. to rise to 90,000 by September 2014. While visiting Texas, President Obama urged Congress to approve the $3.7 billion he asked for to help deal with the surge.

A first group of about 40 undocumented immigrants, including children, were returned to Honduras from New Mexico, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The group had been staying at a temporary detention center. Homeland Security officials told NBC News that the flight was just the start of deportations. "We expect additional migrants will be returned to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in the coming days and weeks," one official said.

Meanwhile Las Vegas became the latest city to announce that its police department would no longer honor requests from federal officials to detain undocumented immigrants without a court order or arrest warrant. It joins Philadelphia, Chicago, Newark, N.J., and nearly all major urban centers in California.

Officials at the United Nations want many of the people fleeing Central America to be treated as refugees displaced by armed conflict. This designation would increase pressure on the U.S. and Mexico to accept tens of thousands of people currently ineligible for asylum, according to The Associated Press.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Brothers Fight Off Armed Intruder]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:20:13 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Halloween+mask+New+London+1200+home+invasion.jpg

Two brothers fought off and helped detain a 15-year-old armed intruder who tried to rob them early Wednesday morning in New London, police said.

A teen, wearing a hockey mask and carrying a knife and a loaded gun, invaded a home on Crystal Avenue just before 3 a.m. on Wednesday, according to police.

Richard and Kevin Dennis were asleep when the teen broke in, but woke up and acted quickly.

Richard went toward the teen.

"That’s when he hit me in the head with the gun. Then I picked him up and he started wailing on my back with the butt of the gun," Richard said.

Kevin got a gun to help his brother, and told the teen to drop his weapon and stay still.

"I heard my brother say, 'Kevin, I need help. He has a gun.' When I heard that, (I) grabbed my gun and went flying through the door," Kevin Dennis said.

The teen did drop his weapon.

"He dropped it the moment he saw me. I got mine. The fight was over. It was night and day," Kevin Dennis said.

When police arrived, they arrested the intruder.

The teen was charged with home invasion, burglary, second-degree assault with a firearm, first-degree threatening and carrying a pistol without a permit. His name has not been released because of his age.

The resident who was assaulted had minor injuries, but declined medical treatment, police said. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Flying Tire Kills Driver on Highway]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:12:19 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/bishop-ford-072314-1.jpg

A woman traveling northbound on the Bishop Ford Freeway was killed Wednesday morning when she was struck by a tire that came off a vehicle headed in the opposite direction, a spokesperson with the Illinois State Police told NBC Chicago.

First responders had to free Jovanka Mijatov, 64, who was pinned in her white 2011 Nissan Versa by "debris" after the 6:10 a.m. crash, Illinois State Police Trooper David Roman said.

Mijatov, of Schererville, Indiana, was taken by ambulance to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where she was pronounced dead.

Nearby, a green 1997 Chevrolet Blazer driven by 48-year-old Mariana Blanco, of Hammond, Indiana, was pulled over to the side of the southbound lane without a left rear tire.

Blanco faces three citations: driving without valid insurance, driving without valid registration and driving with unsafe tires.

Traffic on the freeway was backed up for nearly 10 miles, to Interstate 80. Commuters got by the accident scene using just one lane until about 9 a.m.

<![CDATA[Marine Wife Had Affair: Court Docs]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:43:36 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Erin-Corwin-Jon-Corwin-Mari.jpg

The missing 19-year-old pregnant wife of a Marine may have been having an affair with a married neighbor who was also a Marine, newly published court documents show, as detectives said Tuesday they are "looking for a crime scene" in the search.

Erin Corwin had a possible secret relationship with 24-year-old then-Marine Cpl. Christopher Lee, both Lee's neighbor and Corwin's friend told investigators, according to a court documents obtained by The Desert Sun.

Detectives investigating her disappearance said in a statement Tuesday they have received information of possible places to search for evidence of foul play, but emphasized there is still "not enough evidence to rule out that Erin Corwin could be voluntarily missing."

"We are looking for a crime scene," San Bernardino County Sheriff's Capt. Leland Boldt said in the statement.

Deputies on Tuesday would not address the information in the affidavit for a search warrant, which state that officials believed the Corwins' neighbors, Lee and his wife Nicole, had evidence about the disappearance.

Corwin was three months pregnant when she was last seen leaving her Twentynine Palms home on June 28. She told her husband she was headed to Joshua Tree National Park to look for hiking trails, authorities said.

Her husband, Marine Cpl. Jonathan Corwin, reported her missing the next day. Erin Corwin’s car was found in Twentynine Palms two days after she disappeared.

Erin Corwin’s friend in Tennessee told deputies the woman was having an affair with Lee, who might be the father of her unborn child, according to the documents, and Lee was afraid his wife would find out.

The friend also provided text messages showing that Lee was planning to take Erin Corwin hunting on the day she disappeared. They were going to spend a "special day" together to celebrate her pregnancy at an undisclosed location, the documents said.

Lee initially denied an affair with Erin Corwin but later admitted the two were "close" and had kissed, according to the documents. He denied having a sexual relationship with Erin Corwin and told deputies the day she disappeared that he went hunting in Joshua Tree National Park alone.

Deputies believed Erin Corwin "could have been harmed by an unknown firearm," the documents stated. Her cellphone was turned off after she allegedly left with Lee so officials were unable to track her using GPS, but a witness saw them leaving together in his car, deputies said.

The document also describes information about the behavior of Christopher and Nicole Lee that led detectives to believe "they were concealing evidence."

The tire tracks on Christopher Lee’s Jeep were similar to tire tracks found near Erin Corwin’s car, the documents said.

When questioned by detectives, the owner of a Yucca Valley home where the Lees were storing belongings before moving said Nicole Lee told her that Christopher Lee was worried that he did not have an alibi for the day of Erin Corwin’s disappearance.

The owner told deputies that Nicole Lee said detectives did not have a case against them without a body, and that she berated her husband for "not being able to keep his lies straight," the documents stated.

Detectives "believed they were concealing evidence and discussing further plans of action to likely conceal or destroy evidence," according to the documents.

Deputies served the search warrant at the Yucca Valley home and arrested Christopher Lee on July 4 for possessing a destructive device, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

The felony arrest was not related to the search for Erin Corwin, officials said. Lee was released two days later after posting bail.

Lee was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps on July 7 and has moved back to his home state of Alaska, NBC affiliate KMIR reported.

Erin Corwin is described as 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing 120 pounds, officials said. She has light brown hair and blue eyes.

Any information regarding the whereabouts of Erin Corwin can be shared through the Specialized Investigation Division 909-387-3589 or dispatch at 909-387-8313. Those who wish to remain anonymous can contact the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or go to www.wetip.com.

Photo Credit: Locate Erin Facebook page]]>
<![CDATA[Arrest After 2nd Gun Found at House Office Building]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:55:54 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2014-07-18_1248_0011.jpg

Just days after a congressional staffer was arrested for allegedly bringing a gun into the Cannon House Office Building, a second man has been arrested for the same offense, police said.

U.S. Capitol Police told News4 that officers discovered a 9mm Ruger handgun during an administrative search at the entrance to Cannon's rotunda. It happened around 9:20 a.m. Wednesday.

Ronald William Prestage has been charged with carrying a pistol without a license, said police spokesperson Shennell Antrobus. 

Prestage is not a congressional staffer. RollCall.com reported that he is a veterinarian and farm operator who is also president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council. He may have been on Capitol Hill to lobby on agriculture issues, the site reportedm.

He has a concealed carry permit in South Carolina, according to records, reported RollCall.com.

Prestage's arrest came five days after Ryan Shucard, the press secretary for Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, was taken into custody and charged with carrying a pistol without a license, a felony.

"It was a total accident," Shucard told News4's Darcy Spencer Friday afternoon.

Earlier this week, he pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Bill Tighe, the congressman's chief of staff, said Shucard has been placed on unpaid leave.

Photo Credit: Inset: Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call; background: News4]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Worker Sold Crack During Shift: Police ]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:22:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/McDonalds+Alleged+Crack+Dealing+Trammal.jpg

An undercover sting at a McDonald's on suburban Philadelphia's swanky Main Line has led to the arrest of a fast food employee who police say was selling crack at the restaurant.

Officers from Radnor Township Police went undercover four times over the past month at the burger joint located along the 500 block of West Lancaster Avenue in Wayne, Pennsylvania, right in the heart of the town's business district.

Each time, police say they bought the illegal drugs from 29-year-old Allen Trammell, of Philadelphia, in the restaurant's parking lot. A cook at the McDonald's for the past two years, Trammell would leave the kitchen line to deal, officials said.

“When not working as a crew and preparing food, he was out in the rear parking lot selling crack cocaine so in a sense it can give you a new definition of what may be considered a Happy Meal," Radnor Police Lt. Andy Block said.

Officers returned to the McDonald's on Tuesday to arrest Trammell. Police say they found cash and 157 dime bags of crack cocaine packets on him at the time. Block said Trammell could have been grossing $1,500 a week from the illicit sales.

Trammell has been arraigned on $100,000 bail, which he was unable to post. He remains in the Delaware County Prison. Pennsylvania court records show the man has plead guilty to drug possession offenses in 2005.

A spokesperson for the Wayne McDonald's said the franchisee is taking the police matter seriously, but would not comment beyond that.

Radnor Police say they learned about the alleged drug dealing after a confidential informant tipped off its Drug Task Force officers.

An attorney was not listed for Trammell.

Photo Credit: Radnor Township Police]]>
<![CDATA[SoCal City Commission Denies Permit for Child Immigrant Shelter ]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:51:21 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Immigration+children.jpg

The planning commission for the city of Escondido has denied a permit for a temporary shelter for undocumented immigrant children.

Impassioned pleas from Escondido residents filled City Hall late Tuesday as the city’s planning commission considered whether to reverse a recent vote denying a permit to the non-profit organization Southwest Key.

The proposed facility would offer housing for an influx of unaccompanied minors who have entered the U.S. from Central America. San Diego County has limited beds for immigrant children as they await legal proceedings to determine if they can seek asylum from the violence and poverty in their home countries.

Supporters of the shelter took to the podium to urge commissioners to allow it to go forward.

“This is a human issue,” said Effie Collins, who’s changed her own mind on immigration. “Not an issue between haves and have nots.”

"What’s happening to these kids has personal meaning for me,” said another woman. “Just before World War I, my Dutch grandmother was determined to get out of Europe with her son: my father."

One by one, people tried to persuade commissioners to allow the now-shuttered Palomar Continuing Care Center to be turned into a 96-bed shelter for undocumented immigrant children.

Despite a pre-meeting, pro-shelter march to City Hall, with protestors chanting at times "We're a community without borders," the planning commission voted not to allow the children's facility in Escondido.

Resident Jack Bennett was happy.

“They need to be with their parents,“ he said about the children the facility would house. “They need to be in their home country with their parents. That’s not being racist. “

Commissioners said they were denying the permit based on inappropriate and too intensive of land use, traffic, noise and safety.

The vote not to convert the facility doesn't just mean the immigrant minors won't be housed in Escondido. It also means the estimated $8.5 million and about 100 jobs the shelter was projected to bring into North County will not be coming.

The decision can be appealed within the next ten days. If it is, the city council will make the deciding vote.

Southwest Key already operates two other shelters in San Diego County.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Dramatic Photos: The Conflict in Gaza]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:50:44 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/edtAP696738796631.jpg The violence in Gaza between Israel and Hamas continues to escalate despite international calls for a cease-fire.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Geico Insurance Banner Falls on Bay Area House ]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:46:08 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/072314-banner-house.jpg

One Bay Area couple can now say for certain their house is covered by insurance.

A 4,000-square-foot Geico insurance banner being towed by a plane came loose and fell directly on their house Friday in Fremont.

"I heard a thump," says Sarah Clark, who was inside when banner landed on her home. "When I looked out the front gate I thought it was pouring rain because it kind of made it look that way. And it sounded like a windstorm, or maybe rain, but I knew it wasn't raining."

When Clark looked out her back door that's when she saw the massive sign.

"I saw a gigantic piece of fabric over the gazebo and I was thinking it's a parachute or hot air balloon," Clark says. 

Ameer Hassan was driving on Interstate 880 just a few miles away when he saw the sign fall.

"I saw the banner flying sideways and I've never seen anything like that before," Hassan says. "I didn't know if it was heavy enough to destroy anything."

The pilot of the plane says he was trying out a new rope that failed to hold the sign. The FAA is investigating the incident.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Airbnb Host Says Guests Hosted Wild Party, Trashed House]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 08:18:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/0722-bensen-airbnb.jpg

A Maryland man says his first guests on the temporary rental website Airbnb left behind an expensive mess at his Hyattsville home.

Airbnb allows hosts to rent out extra rooms or entire apartments or homes to visitors for a fee usually cheaper than a hotel stay. 

Mike Novak did just that last Friday, when he let two women in their 20s from New York rent out his Hyattsville house for the weekend. He then headed to Virginia Beach, oblivious to the damage he would be returning the following week.

"Saturday night, she had a humongous house party here," Novak said. "I think she posted on Facebook and it blew up. … A major flight broke out in the backyard between multiple people, they broke through the neighbor's fence, went on in their back yard, they broke the other side of his fence."

The party-goers left behind dozens of liquor and beer bottles, cigar wrappers -- and even underwear.

"People slept in all the rooms," Novak said. "I found lingerie in the rooms. I've been cleaning my house, Febrezing everything."

Neighbors told Novak someone was using a wheelchair ramp to ride a motorcycle up and down right before police arrived. 

Novak contacted Airbnb about the damage under what the company calls their "host guarantee," which they say covers damage up to $1,000,000. 

"It was a little difficult getting in touch with them but I finally got a call from a woman today and I have a direct line to her now,' Novak said. 

An Airbnb spokesperson told News4: "Problems like this are incredibly rare, but when they happen, we try to help make things right. We are working quickly to reimburse the host under our 'Host Guarantee' program, and we have permanently removed the individual who rented this space from our site."

Novak said he has filed a police report. The experience, he says, hasn't deterred him from hosting Airbnb guests again.

<![CDATA[NYC Is Least Happy City in America: Study]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:33:00 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Chopper-4-Manhattan-Sunrise-0624.jpg

People living in the Big Apple are in rotten moods more often than people in other cities, according to a new study.

New York City was ranked the least happy city in America when adjusted for income, according to a working study, titled “Unhappy Cities,” released by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The study leaned on a questionnaire that has been administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the last several years and asks respondents: “In general, how satisfied are you with your life?”

The study ranked those self-reported answers and adjusted them for income, housing prices, age and other factors that might influence how happy a place could be.

It was also found that new residents were just as happy – or unhappy – as older respondents, which the study’s authors said suggested that happiness trends are sustained over time.

It also found that people were willing to trade happiness for better wages or lower housing costs.

“One interpretation of these facts is that individuals do not aim to maximize self-reported well-being, or happiness, as measured in surveys, and they willingly endure less happiness in exchange for higher incomes or lower housing costs,” the study said.

Jersey City was also one of the 10 least happy cities, according to a full data set obtained by Market Watch.

Lafayette, Louisiana, was ranked the happiest city in the study, with four other Bayou State metropolitan regions rounding out the top five.

<![CDATA[Robbers Steal Over $180K From Caesars Casino]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:58:43 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Caesars-AC.jpg

A pair of masked robbers stole over $180,000 from an Atlantic City casino Monday morning, according to investigators.

Investigators say the two unidentified suspects entered Caesars Atlantic City on the 2100 block of Pacific Avenue around 6 a.m. At least one of the suspects pulled out a gun, according to police.

State Police say the suspects stole two plastic cash boxes containing over $180,000. They then fled the scene in a car around 6:20 a.m.

Investigators have not yet released a description of the suspects. If you have any information on the incident, please call the Casino Gaming Bureau at 609-441-7464.

Photo Credit: William Warby ]]>
<![CDATA[Smoke Diverts Chicago-Bound Southwest Plane to Columbus]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 07:13:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/swa-plane-bwi-mdw-1.jpg

A Southwest Airlines flight bound for Chicago's Midway International Airport was diverted to Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday night after the crew received a smoke indication in the forward cargo hold.

Flight 242 originated in Baltimore/Washington.

Southwest officials said the captain declared an emergency and landed safely at Port Columbus International Airport.

The 49 passengers and five crew members excited the plane on evacuation slides. The passengers continued their journey on another plane -- flight 9015 -- which landed at Midway at 1:45 a.m. Wednesday.

The plane used for Flight 242 was taken out of service for inspection.

Photo Credit: WCMH]]>
<![CDATA[Firefighter Arrested in Conn.]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 09:38:39 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/hartford+fire+lamont+freeman.jpg

A Connecticut firefighter showed up drunk at a multi-family apartment in Hartford while he was off duty Tuesday afternoon, police said.

The resident told police she didn’t recognize Lamont Freeman, 44, when he entered her apartment at 160 Barbour Street at about 2:30 p.m. She explained that he was in the wrong apartment, but Freeman refused to leave, so the resident pushed him out the door and locked it, police said.

According to the incident report, the woman told police Freeman was calling out a name she didn't recognize. Police said Freeman banged on the door and tried to get back in until officers arrived and detained him.

Freeman does not live in the apartment and was not visiting anyone he knows, police said. He was arrested and charged with breach of peace and second-degree trespassing.

The website for the city of Hartford lists Freeman as working out of Firehouse 7 on Clark Street, just around the corner from the location of the incident.

Bond was set at $100 and Freeman was released on a promise to appear in court Thursday.

The Hartford Fire Department declined to comment on Freeman's employment status.

Freeman's son also declined to comment when NBC Connecticut knocked on the door of the firefighter's Enfield apartment Tuesday evening.

Freeman is the second Hartford firefighter to be arrested in recent months.

Doug Caldwell is accused of threatening a convenience store employee and punching the store countertop in March. Police said Caldwell had also been drinking beforehand.

The Hartford Fire Department placed Caldwell on paid administrative leave and launched an internal investigation into the incident.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/Hartford Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Family Stranded in Tel Aviv]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:05:25 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Canceled-Flights-Spiegel.jpg

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all United States flights to Tel Aviv for 24 hours on Tuesday and the halt directly impacted one San Diego family who got stuck in Israel.

The FAA grounded all U.S. flights in response to a rocket strike near the main airport. When the federal mandate came, the Spiegel family knew it’d be a while before they were able to return home to San Diego.

In a phone interview, Avi Spiegel – a University of San Diego assistant professor – told NBC 7 that he, his wife and 6-year-old daughter were stranded in Tel Aviv after two of their flights were canceled.

Spiegel was wrapping up a research trip with his family in tow when they heard the news. They were supposed to fly home Tuesday on US Airways but on their way to the airport the family learned all U.S. airline carriers had grounded their flights to Tel Aviv.

Spiegel said he tried booking a flight on a European carrier, but they were grounded too. He spent hours on hold with various airline companies trying to rebook his flight to no avail.

The USD professor said the ordeal has been hectic and frightening. He said he wouldn’t have taken the trip if he had known his family would end up in a war zone.

"It's chaotic. One of the airlines said, ‘Listen, we’d like to help you, but we're simultaneously trying to get our own people out. We have passengers, we have crews, we have pilots,’” Spiegel explained.

“I'm talking to the airline the same time a siren is going off – the app on my phone tells me when sirens go off. It's alarming,” he continued.

Spiegel said the only upside to this is that hotel rooms are easy to come by since there are not many tourists currently in the area.

Still, for now, he has no idea when his family will be able to return home.

"The [odds] don't sound hopeful. The last word from the airlines was that they're showing nothing – no flights even offering tomorrow,” said Spiegel. “The earliest they could get us on a flight was Friday so we're just continuing to check back and get back as soon as we can."

US Airways and Delta, among many U.S. airlines, announced they had canceled all flights to Israel Tuesday. Delta released the following statement:

Delta has suspended service until further notice to and from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv and its New York-JFK hub. Delta, in coordination with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, is doing so to ensure the safety and security of our customers and employees.

Delta flight 468, a Boeing 747 from JFK with 273 passengers and 17 crew, diverted to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Tuesday after reports of a rocket or associated debris near the airport in Tel Aviv. Delta is working to re-accommodate these customers.

Delta continues to work closely with U.S. and other government resources to monitor the situation. A customer waiver for travel to Tel Aviv is in effect and published on delta.com.

According to the Associated Press, an Israeli police spokesman said a rocket fell three miles from the airport earlier in the day, but said he was not aware of any immediate situation at the time the Delta flight was diverted.

More than 600 people have been killed in Gaza since the conflict began, and another 3,700 have been wounded, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

Twenty-seven Israeli soldiers have been killed since the start of the operation, which has included attacks on nearly 3,000 targets in Gaza, according to the Israeli army.

<![CDATA[Ex-Baggage Handler Gets 11 Years]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 05:06:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Philly-International.jpg

A former baggage handler at the Philadelphia International Airport was sentenced to 11 years in prison for his involvement in a large-scale drug organization.

From February 2010 to July 2011, James Mickens, 30, of Philadelphia used his Airport access card to smuggle hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug money through Philly International, in order to avoid detection by law enforcement. Mickens was working as a baggage claim handler for US Airways while smuggling the money.

Mickens made several trips to Los Angeles for the drug organization, which purchased and transported several kilograms of cocaine and hundreds of pounds of marijuana back to Philadelphia as checked luggage.

In addition to the 11-year prison term, a judge also ordered five years of supervised release and a $200 special assessment for Mickens.

The FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations and the Philadelphia Police Department were all involved in the investigation leading to Mickens’ arrest.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Durst Urinates on CVS Candy: Cops]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 09:29:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2715242.jpg

A New York City real estate heir acquitted of his neighbor's murder a decade ago is back in trouble, this time for a bizarre outburst in which police say he urinated on a rack of candy at a Texas drug store.

Police say multimillionaire Robert Durst unzipped his pants in a Houston CVS, exposed himself and then urinated on a cash register and candy before walking away from the store just after noon Sunday, Houston NBC affiliate KPRC reported.
He had left the scene by the time police arrived, but on surveillance video he did not appear to have been agitated or argumentative before the incident, police said.
A store manager said he recognized the man as a regular customer who was at the store to pick up a prescription, police said. 
Durst is now being charged with criminal mischief, a class B misdemeanor. He has not been taken into custody.
His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Durst has been making national headlines for decades, for his admitted role in a grisly killing.
He was acquitted in 2004 in Galveston of the murder of an elderly neighbor after the man's dismembered body parts were found in Galveston Bay.
Durst had been arrested in 2001, jumped bond, was found in Pennsylvania trying to steal a sandwich and a Band-Aid from a grocery store and eventually faced trial in the murder. He claimed he had shot Morris Black in self-defense during a struggle over a gun, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Although Durst was acquitted of murder, he was sentenced to and served time in prison for evidence-tampering and bond-jumping in connection with the case.
He later served more time in jail for violating the terms of his parole, in part for returning to the boarding house where he had shot Black.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Metal Falls From Sky, Hits Home]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 22:10:28 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/ponder+house.jpg

A piece of metal fell from the sky and crashed into the roof of a Denton County mobile home over the weekend.

Rachael Thompson and Richard Myszkowski heard a loud bang Saturday morning while they were feeding their 11-month-old inside their home on Seaborn Road near Ponder.

When they went outside to inspect, they found what looked like a metal turbine on the roof of their mobile home.

Thompson said it weighed only a few pounds but hit with enough force to put a large gash in the metal roof.

"It was like somebody threw a hammer at the house," she said. "What else is going to fall out of the sky?"

Luckily, the object didn’t penetrate the home, as the family of five was inside at the time.


"Thank God it fell on the roof," Myszkowski said.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the matter, and a spokesperson said they are working to identify the object.

The family believes it may have fallen from a plane, as they see frequent air traffic in the area.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Sand Tunnel Caves In, Kills CA Man]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:47:54 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/07-22-2014-half-moon-bay-credited.jpg

A man was killed at a Bay Area beach on Monday after a giant hole he was digging in the sand collapsed and buried him, according to fire officials.

When responding Cal Fire crews showed up at Francis State Beach in Half Moon Bay about 5:30 p.m., they found a man in his 20s “completely covered by sand,” authorities said.

Officials say the man was standing in a 10-foot deep "tunnel" when the sand started caving in around him.

“It is one of those situations that can go from having a good time on the beach with friends and family to extremely dangerous and critical within seconds,” Cal Fire’s Jonathan Cox said.

The man was identified by the San Mateo County Coroner's Office as 26-year-old Adam Pye, of San Lorenzo. A memorial page remembering Pye was setup on Facebook.

More than 30 firefighters from around San Mateo County responded to the scene and – along with bystanders – managed to extricate the man from the hole in about half an hour, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Firefighters are using the man’s death as an opportunity to remind the public about the “hidden dangers associated with the beach.”

“Remember to stay away from cliffs, use caution when swimming in big surf and refrain from digging too deeply in the sand," Cal Fire said in a press release.

Photo Credit: Dean Coppola / Half Moon Bay Review]]>
<![CDATA[Beretta Moving Manufacturing out of Maryland]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:10:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/0909-maryland-flag-generic.jpg

Gun maker Beretta U.S.A. will move all of its manufacturing out of Maryland to a new factory in Tennessee, the company announced Monday, after protesting Maryland's strict gun law passed last year.

The company met with employees Tuesday to tell them that 160 manufacturing and related jobs would move. Beretta's headquarters, including about 95 administrative and executive jobs, will stay in Accokeek, Maryland.

Previously, the company had said it would use the new Tennessee plant only for making new products. That plant will be an expansion for the company and may eventually employ 300 people, said Jeff Reh, Beretta's general counsel.

"We are fairly upset about even having to consider a move," Reh said. "Our preference would have been to stay and grow in Maryland for decades to come.

"But we have to be prudent about our future, and we have more chance to expand and grow in a state that is more positive to the second amendment," Reh said.

Beretta was active in lobbying against Maryland's Firearm Safety Act of 2013, considered one of the nation's most restrictive gun laws. It bans 45 types of assault weapons and prohibits buying ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds. Gun buyers must be fingerprinted and licensed before buying a handgun.

Gun buyers and gun shops sued to stop the law from taking effect, but a federal court refused to block the law, and it went into effect in October.

Gun-control groups have said the law is partly responsible for statistics showing gun deaths in Maryland fell 24 percent in the first five months of 2014 compared with the same period in 2013.

Beretta said the legislative battle over the bill was a wake-up call for the company. One version of the law would have outlawed gun manufacturing in Beretta's home state; that version passed the state Senate and was supported by the governor, and was stopped in the state House, after Beretta lobbied hard against it.

"The obvious conclusion is that political developments can have an economic effect," Reh said. "It's really not fair for a legislature to just blithely pass restrictions without expecting some kind of reaction."

Jeff Cooper, the company's general manager, said in a statement: "The possibility that such restrictions might be reinstated in the future leaves us very worried about the wisdom of maintaining a firearm manufacturing factory in the state."

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley issued a statement, saying his administration was "disappointed with this decision" and pointing out other job growth in the state -- the administration says Maryland has created more than 24,100 total jobs since last June.

Prince George's County spokeman Scott Peterson echoed that disappointment, adding, "if there were any issues that the county could have addressed to keep Beretta here, you can be sure that we would have addressed them immediately."

<![CDATA[Sleeping Man Dumped Into Recycling Truck]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 08:31:08 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/dumpstergeneric1.jpg

A man who fell asleep in a dumpster woke up in the back of a garbage truck.

San Francisco firefighters had to rescue the man who became stuck inside a Recology cardboard recycling truck early Tuesday morning.

The truck driver said he was doing his normal routine at about 6:30 a.m. – lifting trash into his truck – when he heard yelling from the back of the truck. He drove straight to the nearby fire station at 16th and Irving streets to get the man out.

Veteran firefighters who helped free the man are calling the bizarre rescue “a first.”

The man was partially crushed by the truck’s hydraulic system, which is used to compact the cardboard to make more room. He suffered shoulder injuries but is expected to be OK.

Recology spokesman Robert Reed said 20-year veteran driver Mike Jones immediately shut the hydraulic system off when he realized what was happening.

“He heard this gentleman pounding in the back of the truck,” Reed said. “He actually talked to the gentleman from the cab of the truck and said ‘I’m going to drive you to the fire station.’”

The man was awake enough to mumble responses back to the firefighters and paramedics as they wheeled him to a waiting ambulance.

Authorities said it appears the older man was sleeping in the dumpster when it was picked up and tossed into the back of the Recology truck.

The driver’s quick actions earned Jones a nice title from Battalion Chief Smith.

“If he hadn’t heard him, he would have been trapped in that all day long and may have died,” Smith said. “So he is a hero. He saved his life.”

Had the man remained in the truck, he would have ended across town at Recology’s Recycle Central at Pier 96, dumped onto a tipping floor larger than basketball court with recyclables piled up 20 feet high.

Jones went through a debriefing with the company safety team and then went back to finish his route.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fruit Sold at Trader Joe's, Costco Recalled]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:02:51 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/07-21-2014-peaches-recall.jpg

If you love stone fruits, there's a new recall you should know about.

Wawona Packing Company, based in California's Central Valley, is recalling white and yellow peaches, white and yellow nectarines, and plum varieties.

The whole fruits were all packed between June 1 and July 12, and shipped to Trader Joe’s and Costco stores.

The concern is the fruit could be contaminated with listeria. The bacteria can cause dangerous, flu-like symptoms. Children, pregnant women and the elderly are especially susceptible.

More information – including a list of the specific products recalled – is available on the FDA website.

Photo Credit: FDA]]>
<![CDATA[Man Describes Finding Chicago Girl Shot at Sleepover by Stray Bullet]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 09:17:24 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Shamiya_Adams_solo.jpg

The man who found an 11-year-old girl after she was fatally shot by a stray bullet in Chicago Friday night is speaking out about the "devastating" violence that left a community reeling.

Shamiya Adams was with friends at a sleepover when the bullet come came through the bedroom window of a home in the 3900 block of West Gladys Avenue in the Garfield Park neighborhood.

Aaron Hill was the adult host at the party, and says his four daughters, aged 11 to 17, were also in the room when the shooting occurred. Hill went into the room when he heard the commotion.

"I ran out of the room crying. When you go in the room and see something like that, it's devastating," Hill said.

Hill said the girls still haven't been able to talk about the incident, and are staying with relatives.

"It's been hard, it's been hard. They ain't been back in the house since it happened," Hill said.

Area churches and community groups have come together to show support, donating $8,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest.

"This crime was so vicious and of great magnitude that it needs to be encouraged that whoever knows, because somebody somewhere knows something," the Rev. George Daniels said.

The family is hoping a police camera on the corner of the street will yield surveillance video that captures the shooter on tape.

"It's crazy that I stop them from being outside, put them in the house, and they ain't even safe in the house anymore," neighbor Tamika Collins said.

<![CDATA[Explosion Levels TX Home]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:52:00 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Willis+House+Explosion+072214.jpg

Three adults have suffered severe burns in a Central Texas house explosion that leveled the home.

The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office said the fiery blast happened before dawn Tuesday at a home near Willis. That's about 40 miles north of Houston.

Montgomery County Fire Marshal Jimmy Williams said it could be weeks before investigators determine a cause for the explosion that was felt several miles away.

Williams said two men and a woman suffered severe burns and were transported to a hospital. Their names and further details on their conditions weren't immediately released.

Williams said investigators are trying to determine if any nearby homes in the unincorporated area were damaged.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Dad: Son Stopped Me From Killing Alleged Abuser]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 15:42:15 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/071814+raymond+frolander.jpg

A Florida father who made national headlines when he beat a man unconscious after finding him sexually abusing his 11-year-old son says he did what he had to do and would have killed the man if his son hadn't stopped him.

"My immediate feeling was to kill him, so he will never hurt anyone again," the father told NBC affiliate WESH.

The father, whose identity wasn't revealed to protect the victim, said he doesn't regret his reaction after he says he caught 18-year-old Raymond Frolander with his son last week.

Frolander was left bloodied and bruised, but the father said it could have been worse.

"My son saved Raymond. Raymond was motionless on our floor. I went to the kitchen to grab a butcher knife and my son stopped me. My son came in front of me and saved his attacker's life," he said.

Frolander remains behind bars without bond on a sexual battery charge. The father wasn't charged.

The father said he treated Frolander like his own son but claims the man left town after a sexual assault attempt three years ago that the victim never told anyone about. But Frolander recently returned, the father said.

He also said he thinks his son forgave Frolander, otherwise the beating would have been fatal.

"I think he must have because, he saved his life," the father said. ""It's going to be a long time before I can ever forgive that, if I can."

<![CDATA["Slender Man" Stabbing Victim Receives Military Purple Heart]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:37:36 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/wis-stabbing-purple-heart.jpg

The parents of a young Wisconsin girl stabbed 19 times, allegedly by classmates, say someone has anonymously sent the girl a very special gift: a card and an actual military purple heart.

The card simply read: "The only heart I could find -- be strong."

Though the stabbing victim has been receiving purple hearts made from paper, this is the first military medal that's arrived. 

"Our family continues to be so moved by the prayers, well wishes, packages, financial support and purple hearts from around the world," the family said in a statement. "Our little girl has received thousands of (paper) purple hearts from numerous countries and from every state in the United States."

Upon hearing of the gift, Wisconsin Secretary of Veterans Affairs John Scocos said he wasn't at all surprised by the gesture.

"Those who receive this military recognition do so because they have been wounded or killed in an action against an enemy of the United States or as a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces. American service men and women are also moms and dads, uncles and aunts brothers and sisters. It does not surprise me that a decorated veteran unselfishly gave this amazingly brave and courageous little girl something from his or her heart."

Through Monday, a "Hearts for Healing" fund created in the girl's honor had received more than $50,000 in donations.

Prosecutors say the 12-year-old victim was stabbed by acquaintances who tried to kill her in hopes of becoming agents of "Slender Man," a fictional character notorious for stalking and terrorizing children. The accused told investigators they believed Slender Man had a mansion in a Wisconsin forest and they planned to go live with him after the slaying.

Though the pair are being tried as adults, NBC News is not publicly identifying them or showing their faces. Doctors earlier this month said one of the girls was mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Wisconsin law requires attempted homicide cases to start in adult court if a suspect is at least 10, but the girls' attorneys have said they hope to see the charges moved to juvenile court, where more services might be available.

<![CDATA[$2 Auction Purchase Puts Lost Photos Back in Family's Hands]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:23:53 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/family-photo-cropped.jpg

The mystery family depicted in old photographs purchased at a New Jersey auction house has been identified.

Dr. Geralyn M. Ponzio-Replogle, who works in Hospice and Palliative Medicine at Newton Medical Center in Newton, N.J., says the pictures are of her family. This discovery was a welcome surprise for Ponzio-Replogle, because most of her family’s old photographs were destroyed when her parents' house burned down in 1990.

"My mother was very fond of pictures, she had hundreds of boxes of them," Ponzio-Replogle says. "Nothing was saved in the fire."

Ponzio-Replogle was mentioned and depicted in a birth announcement included with the shoebox purchased at the auction house. Matt and Geri, also mentioned in the announcement, are her parents. Matt is a retired physician, while Geri is a former nurse and bakery owner.

Many of the photographs, birth announcements, newspaper clippings, and other items were addressed to her grandparents Carl and Mildred Ponzio of Nenshanic, N.J. Her grandfather was an autobody mechanic who passed away in 1979. Her grandmother is still alive today.

Linda Rose Ponzio, a member of Mercer County Community College of Trenton’s first graduating class according to one of the newspaper clippings, was Ponzio-Replogle’s aunt. She was later known as Linda Hazzard and died due to damage to her heart from an infection as a child.

Many of the photos depict Ponzio-Replogle's cousin, Kya Hazzard, who for a time tamed lions in Nevada for the indoor circuses and shows, including the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino.

Ponzio-Replogle is uncertain how the shoebox made its way to the auction house. She guesses that the collection was in a piece of furniture of her grandmother's that was sold when Mildred moved to Whiting, New Jersey. If not, Ponzio-Replogle says the photos could have been a part of the estates of “Aunt Linda” or her “Uncle Carl Jr.”, who died from heart problems that began during the Vietnam War.

"This is a little bit of our history," Ponzio-Replogle says. "The photos of our lives that were lost in that fire are slowly coming back to us. The universe has brought pieces of our past to us in strange ways."

The woman who purchased the shoebox, Amanda Corigliano, is happy that she could reunite the photographs with their family.

“I’m really happy that she [Ponzio-Replogle] was found,” Corigliano says. “If it had happened to me, if the photos had been of my family, I’d have wanted them back.”

Ponzio-Replogle thanked Corigliano for making such a big difference for the Ponzio family.

"We're all more connected than we think," Ponzio-Replogle says. "By paying those $2, you put these photos back together with their family."


Photo Credit: Amanda Corigliano]]>
<![CDATA[4-Year-Old Found Wandering Outside Home, Mom Arrested]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 09:17:08 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/mommug.jpg

A Connecticut mother accused of leaving her 4-year-old daughter home alone overnight has been arrested after the girl was found crying outside. Police said the girl told them it was not the first time she had been left by herself at her Hartford home.

Hartford police said the girl’s mother, Ronisha Woodard, left the 4-year-old home alone on Friday night.

On Saturday morning, neighbor Gwendolyn Rowse noticed the girl standing outside her home and crying for help.

“My heart went out to that baby. …. I was watching it,” Rowser said. “We were afraid at first something happened to the mother."

Rose Johnson said she was on her porch when a neighbor brought the little girl over, asked if anyone knew her, then called authorities.

“She was thirsty and hungry. That's what she said,” Johnson said.

When officers arrived, the child told them she was left alone, and that this wasn’t the first time Woodard had done this, police said.

Detectives reached Woodward by phone and she claimed she was in New Haven and planned to come back to Hartford, police said.

Woodard was arrested, charged with risk of injury to a child and first-degree reckless endangerment, and posted bond.

Woodard returned home with a state worker on Monday night and did not answer any of NBC Connecticut’s questions.

Woodard’s child is in DCF custody.

Hartford police said the child was checked out at the hospital and she’s in good condition.

Woodard is due in court on August 13.

<![CDATA[Parents Kept Sons With Autism Locked In Basement: PD]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:17:54 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/0721-jenkins.jpg

Maryland parents John and Janice Land are accused of locking their 22-year-old sons with autism inside a basement room of their Rockville home for six years.

According to documents obtained by NBC Washington, Montgomery County police uncovered a room in the basement locked by a deadbolt when they were executing a drug-related warrant at the Lands' home on Crawford Drive last Thursday.

Inside, officers found twin brothers Darnell and Derrick Land living in a urine-smelling "bedroom" with no furniture, little light and a single comforter on the floor. 

Police said Janice and John Land told them their sons are nonverbal and require constant attention. 

According to a probable cause document, John said one of his sons had previously caused some water damage to the home, and to prevent it from happening again, he admitted to installing a deadbolt and padlock on the outside of the bedroom with the "sole intention" of locking his sons in the basement room.

John told officers he would lock his sons inside the room around 10 p.m. and would come back just before 5 a.m. to "let them out." According to the document, John said his wife, along with others, had also locked the twins in the room in the past.

Documents said when investigators asked John how he and his wife would communicate with their sons if something went wrong or they needed something, John said his sons would "eventually make enough noise that he would hear them and go see what was wrong."

He said there was no furniture in his sons' bedroom because they had soiled it the week before police arrived, and they had the furniture removed.

According to the documents, Janice Land told officers she had no knowledge of her sons being locked in the room for six years despite being one of their primary caretakers and sharing a home with them.

“If someone locked them in the room, I didn’t know about it," she told investigators. 

A neighbor, Sharon Drennan, told NBC Washington she heard about the twins being locked in the basement three years ago.

"I reported it to the authorities, and nothing's ever been done. [Those] children stayed in there three years longer? That's sad. I can't believe it's come to this," Drennan said. 

Officers said there was a small window in the room, but not large enough to allow the two to escape had there been an emergency. According to the document, John told police he was aware of this problem.

"We want to express to families, if you need us, if you are at  your wit's end as a care giver, you can reach out to us, and call 911," Montgomery County police officer Laurie Reyes said. 

John and Janice Land are facing two counts each of false imprisonment and two counts each of vulnerable adult abuse of a family member.

They have two other sons -- one of whom was arrested the same day as his parents for robbery and assault in the second degree of a disabled child at a playground.

<![CDATA[Woman Flees Topless After Being Caught Shoplifting]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:31:53 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Macys+Sign+112613.jpg

A suspected shoplifter fled topless after being busted at a Southern California mall. But police were easily able to identify her – she left her driver's license behind.

The 44-year-old woman, whose name was not released, was caught at Arcadia’s Santa Anita Mall on Sunday night. Police say she had just walked out of Macy's after stuffing merchandise inside her purse.

Police say the woman was hitting a security guard who tried to stop her and lost her top and bra during the struggle. She then took off running to her car, leaving behind her purse with her ID inside.

The thief drove off in a white Mercedes-Benz, police said, but a witness was able to record a license plate.

Police said they were holding off from releasing surveillance video as they conducted their investigation.

The woman remains at large.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Man Charged in Two Long Island Cold-Case Stranglings: Police]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 02:47:22 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/cold-case-arrest.jpg

A 48-year-old married father of two has been charged in the strangling deaths of two women whose naked bodies were found in the woods on Long Island more than 20 years ago, and police believe he may be responsible for another slaying around the same time, prosecutors say.

John Bittrolff was arrested at his home in Manorville early Monday on two counts of second-degree murder after detectives linked his DNA to the decades-old crime scenes, Suffolk County police say.

The carpenter is charged in the deaths of 31-year-old Rita Tangredi and 20-year-old Colleen McNamee, who were found nude in Suffolk County woods in the early 1990s. Both women had been beaten and strangled, police say.

Tangredi, who had no known address when she died, was discovered in the woods near Esplanade Drive in East Patchogue on Nov. 2, 1993. McNamee was from Holbrook and was found in the woods near William Floyd Parkway in Shirley on Jan. 30, 1994.

Police say that detectives originally assigned to the cases collected DNA evidence that connected the killings, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that investigators linked the samples to a suspect. Prosecutors say Bittrolff's brother, who had been convicted of criminal attempt for violating orders of protection, submitted his own DNA in 2013 in compliance with a state law, and investigators were able to determine that DNA recovered from the crime scenes belonged to a relative of his. 

They traced it to Bittrolff and took him into custody.

Police called Monday’s arrest significant and said that Bittrolff could be connected to other deaths on Long Island dating back to the 1990s, including the murder of Sandra Castilla, who was found in the community of North Sea in Southampton in December 1993. Authorities say the manner of death and body position in the Castilla case were similar to the Tangredi and McNamee cases.

Bittrolff has not been charged in the Castilla case. 

Bittrolff was held without bail after his arraignment Tuesday morning. No one answered the door of his home when NBC 4 New York knocked on the door and his attorney left court without commenting.

Neighbors were shocked by the charges.

"He drives by, I drive by, we wave. Always congenial," said Gregg Tomasello. "Just amazing that this happened." 

"I feel bad for his wife and kids," he added. "His son just graduated high school." 

Glenn Tomasello said he thought Bittrolff was an "all-around family man, nothing strange or out of the ordinary. "

"For something to pop up like this 20 yeas down the road, it's crazy," he said.

Law enforcement sources tell NBC 4 New York there is no link between the McNamee and Tangredi murders and the discovery of 10 sets of human remains found off Ocean Parkway near Gilgo Beach between December 2010 and April 2011.

One source said there are "significant dissimilarities" between the killings.

Police are asking anyone with information about Bittrolff’s activities in the early 1990s to call Suffolk County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.

Photo Credit: Newsday/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Man Arrested for Allegedly Killing 11-Year-Old Girl]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:47:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/martha+guzman+viewing.jpg

Miami Police have arrested a 42-year-old man on a charge of first-degree murder for the death of 11-year-old Marta Guzman last month.

Police announced the arrest of Miguel Ruiz Lobo Monday afternoon at a press conference. Miami Police described Lobo as a “violent child murderer.”

Guzman was found in a pool of blood in her mother’s apartment on June 22. Her neck had been slashed and she was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital in critical condition, but all efforts to save her failed and she was pronounced dead.

Miami Police said an autopsy was performed on her body and the manner of death was classified as homicide. According to Miami Police, Ruiz allegedly slashed Guzman's wrist so deep that the hands almost came off, which was too deep for a suicide victim.

“I want the maximum, I want the maximum," Jorge Guzman, Marta’s father, said after the arrest Monday.

According to the arrest affidavit, a neighbor’s surveillance camera showed a person entering the apartment where Guzman was found and staying for roughly 32 minutes. Police said no one else entered the apartment until the victim’s mother returned and found the body roughly 2.5 hours later.

Miami Police said Ruiz (below) had fresh scratches on his arms and face. Police then were able to use DNA to link the fingernail scrapings on Guzman’s hands to Lobo’s body.

Police said the motive for the crime may have been a bad breakup between Ruiz and Guzman's mother.

Near the doorstep of the home where Marta was murdered, there were still teddy bears and candles that were placed there to give some comfort for friends and family who are doing what they can to hold on.

“It’s not easy. I cry every night, every day, anytime,” said Jorge Guzman.

Ruiz, a Honduran whose occupation was listed by police as “labor,” invoked his right to an attorney, according to Miami Police when he was brought in for questioning Monday. He appeared in court Tuesday where he was denied bond.

It’s unknown if Lobo has an attorney at this time.

He faces charges of first-degree murder and burglary of an occupied dwelling.

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida]]>
<![CDATA[Man Dumped in Garbage Truck]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:38:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/07-22-2014-recycling-rescue-2.jpg

A man who fell asleep in a dumpster woke up in the back of a garbage truck.

San Francisco firefighters had to rescue the man who became stuck inside a Recology cardboard recycling truck early Tuesday morning.

The truck driver said he was doing his normal routine at about 6:30 a.m. – lifting trash into his truck – when he heard yelling from the back of the truck. He drove straight to the nearby fire station at 16th and Irving streets to get the man out.

Veteran firefighters who helped free the man are calling the bizarre rescue “a first.”

The man was partially crushed by the truck’s hydraulic system, which is used to compact the cardboard to make more room. He suffered shoulder injuries but is expected to be OK.

Recology spokesman Robert Reed said 20-year veteran driver Mike Jones immediately shut the hydraulic system off when he realized what was happening.

“He heard this gentleman pounding in the back of the truck,” Reed said. “He actually talked to the gentleman from the cab of the truck and said ‘I’m going to drive you to the fire station.’”

The man was awake enough to mumble responses back to the firefighters and paramedics as they wheeled him to a waiting ambulance.

Authorities said it appears the older man was sleeping in the dumpster when it was picked up and tossed into the back of the Recology truck.

The driver’s quick actions earned Jones a nice title from Battalion Chief Smith.

“If he hadn’t heard him, he would have been trapped in that all day long and may have died,” Smith said. “So he is a hero. He saved his life.”

Had the man remained in the truck, he would have ended across town at Recology’s Recycle Central at Pier 96, dumped onto a tipping floor larger than basketball court with recyclables piled up 20 feet high.

Jones went through a debriefing with the company safety team and then went back to finish his route.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>