Friday, January 22, 2010

No Parole for 'Angry Betty' Broderick

(CNN) -- California's parole board has denied parole for Elisabeth "Betty" Broderick, the once socially prominent lawyer's wife who fatally shot him and his new wife in bed in 1989.

When Broderick's husband of 16 years dumped her for his young legal assistant, she seethed with a white-hot fury.

She was one angry Betty, as a California writer, a long-time Broderick watcher, recently observed.

She still is, the parole board concluded Thursday after hearing Broderick's rambling statement, said San Diego Deputy District Attorney Richard Sachs.

"She was totally not remorseful, didn't even try," Sachs said. Broderick won't be eligible for another parole hearing for 15 years -- the maximum time the law allows, he added.

It was the latest chapter in a marriage that went off the rails because of a wife's bitterness over straying husband's office romance.

After Broderick's husband left her for his legal assistant, she covered the interior walls of his house with black spray-paint and drove her car through his front door. She left angry, obscenity-laced tirades on his answering machine. Then she crept into his bedroom early on a Sunday morning and shot him and the other woman, by then his wife, to death.

When she was arrested and tried in the early 1990s, Broderick said she was the victim, telling a tale that resonated with many housewives who feared being replaced by younger women. Court-watchers broke into two camps, known as Betty-boosters and Betty-bashers.

Now 62, Betty Broderick has been in prison longer than she was Mrs. Daniel Broderick. Her failed bid for parole brought back a strong emotions over a case that spawned several books and two made-for-TV movies starring Meredith Baxter, the mom from the hit series "Family Ties."

Broderick's date Thursday with California's parole board marked the first time she was eligible for release for the 1989 murders of Harvard-educated San Diego attorney Daniel T. Broderick, 44, and his wife of seven months, Linda Kolkena Broderick, 28.

Dan and Linda Broderick's friends and family were out in force to voice their opposition. Betty's four children remain divided over whether she should go free, Sachs said.

Dan Broderick's brother, Larry, said Betty Broderick's sob story portraying herself as the victim was a tissue of lies. He told CNN she made up stories about her ex-husband and his new wife during her two trials in the early 1990s.

The story Betty Broderick told was so compelling it took on a life of its own. It apparently did withstand the test of time as she went before the parole board. Hindsight tends to paint a sharper -- and harsher -- picture.

Betty's version: She was a stay-at-home mom who worked to put her husband through medical and law school only to lose her "Ward and June Cleaver" marriage when her husband fell under a younger woman's spell.

Larry Broderick's story: No, she did not put her husband through school. No, they did not have an idyllic marriage. "Normal people just don't seem to get that murderers will lie to save their skin," he told CNN. "And, did you know that dead people have no rights? A person can slander and libel and say anything they want about a dead person, and you can't stop it."

"What the public sees is the older woman dumped for the younger woman, and they get upset about that and forget all the rest," Sachs said.

These facts were never in dispute:

During a bitter and protracted divorce, Daniel Broderick won full custody of their children and married Linda Kolkena in April 1989.

Seven months later, armed with a .38-caliber pistol, Betty Broderick walked into the couple's bedroom and fired five times. Linda Broderick died instantly. Dan Broderick was shot in the chest and died more slowly as his lungs filled up with blood. Betty Broderick ripped the telephone extension from the wall so he could not call for help, according to testimony.

Other facts seemed to have been lost in the drama. Broderick had bought the gun a month before her husband remarried. She practiced shooting. She made threats. And, she took her daughter's key to sneak into a house that, under a restraining order, she was forbidden to enter, according to testimony.

Two murder trials -- the first ended in a hung jury -- focused on Betty Broderick's state of mind. The courtroom drama was a wronged woman's dream.

According to testimony, Broderick long suspected her husband was having an affair, which she confirmed when she tried to surprise him at the office on his birthday and learned he'd spent much of the day with his legal assistant. In a rage, she threw his clothes into the yard and burned them.

She said Dan Broderick abused her and then used his legal connections to crush her as their marriage broke up.

"The family hates these lies because Dan was about as honorable and wonderful a guy as you would want to meet," said his brother Larry. "There are hundreds of people out there who feel the same way about him. All he wanted to do was get away from this woman."

A former president of the San Diego Bar Association, Dan Broderick was so well regarded in the legal community that the library of the Bar Association building was re-named the Broderick room after his death.

Betty Broderick's diaries were read in court, and Dan's answering machine tapes were played -- including one in which their son pleaded with his mother to stop using "bad words" about his father. The couple's oldest daughter, Kimberly, testified that her mother told her she hated the girl's father and wished the children had never been born.

Betty Broderick alleged that her ex-husband penalized her for her outbursts, deducting hundreds of dollars from support payments. She said he used a little-known legal clause to sell her house without her signature.

"Any time you've got these things going on, people are not at their best, honestly," prosecutor Sachs said. But he said he believes Betty Broderick turned to violence because she just couldn't get over it.

"The part that nobody sees is it was already five years later on the timeline," Sachs said. "She's getting 16 grand a month and a nice house in La Jolla, and it's time to move on."

She testified at her 1990 murder trial that she only wanted to talk to her ex-husband and then "splash my brains all over his house," but fired at the couple because she feared they'd call the police.

"They moved, I moved and it was all over," she testified, according to news accounts of the trial.

Mental health experts for the defense said Broderick was depressed; prosecution experts said she was a narcissist.

Broderick's retrial, among the first cases carried on Court TV, resulted in guilty verdicts on two counts of second-degree murder. It was a compromise verdict because jurors couldn't agree that the killings were premeditated.

In several media interviews after the trials, Broderick continued to portray herself as the victim. "It wasn't like I planned to kill somebody and now I'm sorry," she told the Los Angeles Times after her conviction in 1991.

Broderick received consecutive sentences of 15-years to life in prison, with an additional two years for a gun conviction. CNN attempted to reach Broderick through her supporters but she did not respond.

To win the support of the parole board, Broderick would have had to at least acknowledge wrongdoing, said Jack Earley, the lawyer who defended her during the two trials.

Scott Eadie, the attorney who represented Broderick before the parole board, said about 200 people, many affiliated with support groups for victims of spousal abuse, had written letters vouching for her.

"The test is whether she poses a risk for society," Eadie said.

Said prosecutor Sachs: "The most compelling argument is she has failed to achieve any real insight into taking responsibility for what she's done. She hasn't done the work to realize she didn't have the right to sneak into somebody's house and take two lives."

Casey To Be Offered Deal In Fraud Case

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Until now, Casey Anthony has never admitted to a shred of guilt, but Eyewitness News has learned there will be a plea deal in her check fraud case.

Casey still faces charges for murdering her daughter and the outcome of the plea deal could affect that case, as well.

Casey is accused of stealing her best friend's checkbook. She faces 13 felony charges for it, which, if not for this deal, could have landed her in prison for 65 years.

A plea deal in the check fraud case certainly could explain why the defense has not yet deposed the alleged victim, Amy Huizenga, and it explains why the judge is not demanding that the trial start first thing Monday morning. He was adamant about the case going on January 25, no matter what, and even mentioned a plea as a possibility in court during one of the last hearings.

Casey Anthony told murder detectives they would never trick her into a confession that she killed her daughter Caylee. That was the day she was indicted for first-degree murder.

Now, Eyewitness News has learned she will take some legal responsibility for allegedly cleaning out hundreds of dollars from the bank account of her ex-best friend, Amy Huizenga. The evidence is clear, including security videos, receipts and canceled checks, and Casey has paid back the $664.25.

The terms of the plea deal are not so clear and might not be until Monday afternoon.

“Would you be surprised if all of the terms were not hammered out before that?” WFTV reporter Kathi Belich asked legal analyst Bill Sheaffer (full interview).

“Absolutely. The defense in this case is not going to enter a plea to these charges without knowing what the situation is regarding adjudication of guilt,” he said. “There is some strong indication to me, from my experience, that a plea to these charges, if in fact there's an adjudication, may be an indication that the murder case may not go to trial."

Sheaffer says that's because the judge's ruling on whether to adjudicate or convict Casey of a crime, or withhold adjudication, would directly affect the defense's decision as to whether Casey would take the stand in her murder trial. If she were to have a conviction on her record, prosecutors could ask her about it and it would immediately affect her credibility in the eyes of the jurors.

“If this deal does not include a ‘withhold of adjudication,’ a decision has to have been made that we're not gonna put her on the witness stand,” Sheaffer said. “It is very early to start cutting yourself off as to how you're going to defend the murder case.”

Sheaffer says, if the defense has already decided Casey won't testify at her murder trial before it's even been scheduled, it could mean there's a possibility of a plea in the murder case, too.

Eyewitness News asked the defense's spokeswoman why the defense team has not deposed Huizenga yet and was told defense attorney Andrea Lyons said there would be no comment about that.

Eyewitness News asked the State Attorney's Office about a possible plea deal and the spokeswoman said the only discussions about the case will happen in court.

A hearing in Casey’s check fraud case is expected to be held Monday afternoon. That's where Casey will likely plead. Two motions in the murder case are also expected to be heard during that hearing on January 25. The murder trial is supposed to start this year, but no date has been set yet.

Casey Anthony’s death penalty attorney, who is an expert on death penalty cases, admitted on national television that she doubts a jury will clear Casey of her daughter's murder. Anthony's defense attorney went on a morning show again Thursday morning, talking about how the amount of publicity will prevent Casey from getting a fair trial.

“I'm scared for my client. I'm afraid that the fact that she's been pilloried in the press. I would liken this Meredith, to the Salem witch trials,” Lyon told Meredith Viera on the Today Show.

Defense attorney Andrea Lyon says she will keep trying to get the death penalty off the table, but she stumbled over her words when she said Casey didn't kill her daughter Caylee Anthony.

“It does put a lot of pressure on a defendant to plea bargain even when they didn't, when they didn't do it. She didn't kill her kid,” Lyon said.

WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer (interview) says the evidence is what it is and that people have a right not to believe that Casey had good reason for not reporting her daughter missing for 30 days and to also not to believe her inconsistent story about leaving Caylee with a nanny who's never been identified.

"Quit whining and get to the defense of this case. The evidence is, the facts are what the facts are. If that is tried before a jury in Orlando, Tampa, New York City, or Timbuktu, the jurors are going to form their opinion based upon their view of that evidence," Sheaffer said.

Lyon has tried more than 130 homicide cases, defended more than 30 potential capital cases and taken 19 people through the penalty phase and, so far, she's won them all. However, Thursday, Lyon admitted she's not optimistic about her client’s chances.

"There’s always a presumption of guilt and the intense media scrutiny here, as far as I can see, has made it virtually impossible to get a fair trial and we’re rolling an even bigger stone up a bigger hill than you normally are," Lyon said.

Lyon seemed also to be doing damage control after Eyewitness News exposed her comments that female prosecutors are manly and that jurors on death penalty cases are killers, as she tries to sell her new book.

Andrea Lyon repeated the defense's mantra that the public won't find out until the trial why Casey is innocent, but, Sheaffer says, if they really had something convincing that could spring Casey from jail they would have brought it forward by now.

Casey Anthony’s high-profile death penalty attorney kicked-off the sale of her new book Tuesday.

Eyewitness News followed Andrea Lyon through each court hearing as she worked to build a defense that can save Casey Anthony from the death penalty for the murder of her daughter Caylee Marie Anthony.

Lyon's new book, "Angel of Death Row: My Life as a Death Penalty Defense Lawyer," which doesn't focus on the Anthony case, is now heading to store shelves. The book explores Lyon’s first case in which she defends a mother accused of murdering her child.

Missing Haleigh's Dad, His Ex-Wife Arrested in Drug Sting

(CNN) -- The father of missing child Haleigh Cummings and his ex-wife have been arrested on drug-trafficking charges in Florida, authorities said.

Ronald Cummings, 26, faces three counts of trafficking prescription medication -- including Oxycodone and Hydrocodone. He is being held in jail on $500,000 bond, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office said.

Misty Croslin, 18, faces six counts of trafficking prescription medication and is jailed on $950,000 bond.

The former couple was arrested Wednesday along with three others after allegedly selling about $3,900 worth of drugs to undercover officers, sheriff's officials said.

Cummings, Croslin and the others made brief court appearances Thursday morning, said Lt. Johnny Greenwood. But the court clerk's office said it had not yet received information about whether they had been assigned attorneys.

An undercover investigation was launched after authorities received information about suspected drug dealing, Greenwood said. He added that this probe was separate from the investigation into Haleigh's disappearance.

"Even though these are totally separate, they are parallel cases, and there's no doubt in my mind these cases will cross some day," Greenwood said. "I hope that somewhere through this, the investigators in the Haleigh case will find the information they need."

Two of the counts against Croslin are felonies that carry mandatory 25-year sentences if she is convicted, Greenwood added.

Haleigh Cummings, then 5, vanished February 9 from the couple's Satsuma, Florida, mobile home. Misty Croslin was the last person known to have seen Haleigh the night she disappeared.

She said she tucked Haleigh and her 4-year-old brother into bed about 8 p.m. and went to sleep herself two hours later. She awoke at 3 a.m. to find the girl missing and a cinder block propping open a back door.

Ronald Cummings called police and reported his daughter missing when he returned from work at dawn.

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office said in August that "the evidence and investigatory effort has minimized the likelihood that Haleigh's disappearance is the work of a stranger."

Ronald Cummings and Crystal Sheffield, Haleigh's mother, are not considered suspects, police said.

Investigators said in a statement last August that they believe Croslin "continues to hold important answers in the case" but has not provided "any sort of detailed accounting of the hours during the late evening and early morning of Haleigh's disappearance."

Investigators also said that physical evidence contradicts Croslin's account.

Croslin has not been named a person of interest or suspect in Haleigh's disappearance. In televised interviews, she has said she does not know what happened to the little girl but believes "the other side of the family" knows where she is.

Stepbrother: Drew Indicated He'd Kill Wife Stacy

January 21, 2010 (JOLIET, Ill.) (WLS) -- There was some dramatic testimony Thursday during the hearing to determine if hearsay evidence can be used against Drew Peterson.

A key witness, Thomas Morphey, told the court Peterson talked about killing his fourth wife, Stacy. Morphey, Peterson's stepbrother, also described how Peterson may have disposed of the body.

Peterson has not been charged with Stacy's murder. But he is charged with the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

This hearsay hearing is about the murder case of Kathleen Savio, but the majority of the testimony Thursday was about Stacy Peterson and what may have happened to her the weekend she disappeared.

Morphey trusted and looked up to his stepbrother Drew Peterson until, Morphey says, he became scared to death of the former Bolingbrook cop. In a pre-trial hearsay hearing, 42-year-old Morphey detailed the conversations and interactions he had with Peterson the weekend that Stacy Peterson disappeared.

One day before Peterson's fourth wife was reported missing, Morphey testified that Peterson took him on a drive to a park. On the way, Morphey said, "Drew asked me, 'How much do you love me?' I said, 'I do'. He said, 'Enough to kill for me?' I said, 'I always assumed you killed Kathleen.' He said, 'I would never kill Kathleen. She was a good mother'."

"We've always said that from the beginning of this case that Mr. Morphey has very serious credibility issues. That's becoming apparent," said Joel Brodsky, Peterson attorney.

Brodsky says Morphey's admitted history of mental illness and alcohol problems do not make him a credible witness. Despite that, Morphey calmly testified that the day before Stacy went missing, Peterson told him she wanted a divorce and was kicking him out of their Bolingbrook home. Morphey said, "He told me he planned to do something to Stacy."

Morphey said both men discussed renting a storage unit where Peterson wanted to store an air airtight container for six months until he could dispose of it. The following night, the same night Stacy was reported missing, Morphey was inside Peterson's home. Morphey said Peterson walked out of his master bedroom and "he had a large barrel-like container...he had me grab an end, he grabbed the other end. It felt warm."

Morphey testified that Peterson drove him home and said, " 'This never happened.' I said, 'I will not tell a soul' ."

Under cross-examination, Morphey was asked why he never called 911 during that time, specifically on that Sunday, and Morphey answered that he was afraid Drew Peterson would shoot him because Drew always carried a weapon.

Morphey testified that he never saw what was inside that blue barrel, but based on the conversations he had with Peterson that Saturday and the events that took place Sunday, he is assuming that it was Stacy Peterson's body in the blue barrel.

Later in the afternoon, testimony turned back to Kathleen Savio. Peterson's oldest son, Eric, testified that he saw his dad physically abuse Savio in the early 1990s.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Defense Claims Parisot's Death Caused by His Own 'Negligence'

WILTON -- A Wilton family is claiming that the death of Nicholas Parisot was likely caused by his own negligence and not by the "willful and malicious conduct" of a 12-year-old member of that family.

This past June, Wilton residents Rick Parisot and Katherine Throckmorton, of 274 Nod Hill Road, filed a civil suit against Glenn and Barbara Knight and their 12-year-old son, all of 97 Hickory Hill Road, claiming the 12-year-old caused the death of their son, Nicholas Parisot.

On the afternoon of June 13, 2008, 13-year-old Parisot, 13, was riding his motorized bike on a trail in a wooded area near Hickory Hill and Hillbrook roads and struck a rope strung across the trail. Parisot suffered severe fatal injuries to his neck and body, resulting in his death shortly thereafter. Wilton police labeled the case a criminal homicide, but have yet to bring charges against anyone.

The civil suit, which seeks damages in excess of $15,000, alleges the 12-year-old male "strung a rope across a trail in the area of the woods to the rear of his family's property." The court document states the pre-teen "tied the rope to two trees on each side of the trail to create a sudden and unavoidable blockage of the trail, creating a dangerous condition on the trail that he knew was likely to cause physical injury to persons riding motorized bikes on the trail."

The Knights, through their attorney Kevin Murphy, responded to the allegations on Jan. 11.
"If the plaintiffs sustained any injuries or damages as are alleged in their complaint, said injuries or damages were proximately caused by the negligence of the plaintiffs' decedent Nicholas R. Parisot at said time and place he failed to keep a proper lookout," the court document reads.

The paperwork also states that Parisot "failed to keep his motorized bike under reasonable and proper control, he was operating his motorized bike at an excessive or unreasonable rate of speed for the conditions ... and he failed to exercise reasonable for his own safety."

According to David Golub, Rick Parisot and Throckmorton's attorney, this is an outrageous defense.
"Nick Parisot was literally ambushed on the trail. There is no basis to say that the victim was negligent," said Golub. "He (the 12-year-old defendant) refuses to testify, he claims he wasn't there. If he wasn't there, how does he know that Nick wasn't negligent?"

The Knights also filed a motion for a protective order on Nov. 5 and again on Jan. 11. According to the court documents, the protective order was issued "to protect the defendant, including but not limited to protect the constitutional rights" (of the defendant). The motion also stated "the court in this matter must grant the protective order filed in this case to preserve the defendant's Fifth Amendment rights."

The Knights and their attorney did not return calls for this story.

According to Rob Peragine, an attorney at the East Hartford-based Adler Law Group, LLC, which specializes in personal injury and wrongful death suits, there are many reasons someone would file a protective order in a civil suit. In this case, the Knights likely filed a protective order so the 12-year-old would not have to testify specific information in civil court that would be incriminating, said Peragine, who is not involved in the Parisot suit.

"If someone makes a statement in a civil court, they are under oath and anything said can be used against you," he said.

According to Lt. Donald Wakeman of the Wilton Police Department, the case is currently open and is still being actively investigated. He has said that officers have interviewed numerous adults and children in the case, and the Knight family was included in those interviews.
Wakeman said Wednesday that pertinent information has been developed that points towards a specific suspect, and the department will continue to pursue information that will enable an arrest to be made, no matter how long that takes.

"This case is still open and still being investigated. There is nothing new to report on as of right now," said Wakeman on Wednesday. "The department considers the investigation (to be) far too important to close out prior to an arrest being made. However, beyond that, we feel an obligation to the family of Nicholas Parisot, to provide them some degree of closure by following through with an arrest."

The Parisot family could not be reached for this story.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Scary Alzeimer's Predictions..

I've learned a bit about this disease and the predictions for our baby boomer generation- let's hope they find a preventive cure for this devastating disease.

(CBS) In its "Where America Stands" series, CBS News is looking at a broad spectrum of issues facing this country in the new decade.

One in eight Americans over age 65 will eventually develop Alzheimer's disease.

Starting next year, 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 years old each day. That means over the next four decades the number of patients could triple - to 16 million.

"There is a big tidal wave, a tsunami tidal wave coming out there," said Adrian Ivinson, founding director, of the Harvard Neurodiscovery Center.

While deaths from other diseases have dropped in the last decade - heart disease down 11.5 percent, and stroke down 18.1 percent - deaths from Alzheimer's are up almost 50 percent.

Shirley Carreas was diagnosed with Alzheimer's eight years ago. "I want to live and recognize my children, and my children's children."

With Alzheimer's, annual Medicare costs triple.

Can America cope - with a growing disease -- for which there's no cure?

Ten years ago, the best seemed yet to come for three generations of one New Orleans family. But Lisa Carbo, now 55, had to move in with her mother, Shirley, when the 78-year-old was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer's disease.

For five years, Lisa juggled caring for her mother and her job as a nurse. But then a curveball. At age fifty-three, Lisa was diagnosed with a genetic form of Alzheimer's - one that often strikes at a much earlier age.

"It floors me. These women raised me," said Aimee Palmer, Lisa's daughter. Aimee's 31-years-old and doesn't want genetic testing because she could have the gene yet never develop the disease - and if nothing could save her, she'd rather not know.

"You can't live your life thinking I'm going to die or I'm going to lose my mind at any moment," Aimee said.

While caring for Alzheimer's patients is critical, the only solution is to discover what causes this disease.

The leading suspect is a protein called "amyloid" - which can form sticky plaques that short-circuit communication between nerve cells and destroy brain tissue. As hundreds of trilions of connections begin to wither, so does memory. Another possible cause? A protein called "tau," which forms "tangles" that damage nerve cells."

Lisa is taking an experimental new drug - one that blocks amyloid formation. It's one of fifty drugs being tested in over a hundred clinical trials nationwide.

"I'd like to get some of my function back and possibly go back to work," Lisa said.

"We have a ton of evidence amyloid buildup happens years before someone forgets where they parked their car," said Dr. Dennis Selkoe, Professor of Neurology at the Harvard Medical School.

"If we can shut down amyloid buildup very early, we think we can protect from Alzheimer's," said Dr. Selkoe.

Dr. Selkoe is a leading proponent of this theory and is invested in a company testing anti-amyloid treatments.

Researchers are looking at another possible amyloid blocker - exercise.

"This could decrease their chance of getting Alzheimer's," LaPook asked.

"We hope that's the case," Dr. Selkoe replied.

"We desperately hope the anti-amyloid drugs work, and if they don't we're going to be in a fix," said Dr. Ivinson. "So, we better get started on the next generation."

At Harvard's drug discovery lab, robots can now test hundreds of thousands of chemicals in a matter of weeks - what used to take humans a year.

"You're going to have to tackle this disease from a number of directions, just as we tackle heart disease from a number of directions," Dr. Ivinson said.

As in heart disease, experts believe Alzheimer's needs to be treated early - before symptoms begin.

One Year Ago Today... How Time Flies..

(CBS) It was one year ago that Capt. Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger landed US Airways flight 1549 safely in New York's Hudson River -- saving 155 lives.

As it flew 3,000 feet over one of the most densely populated areas of the planet, a flock of geese struck the plane, causing it to lose all power. Sullenberger was faced with a possible catastrophe. With brains and courage, the seasoned pilot brought his plane down -- and kept it intact -- on the river's frigid waters.
Sullenberger told CBS' "60 Minutes," "I think, in many ways, as it turned out, my entire life up to that moment had been a preparation to handle that particular moment." In a matter of minutes, the plane was evacuated, and ferry boats and first responders rushed to the scene. Not one person was killed.

The crew and passengers of flight 1549 forged a bond that day that's still strong. And on "The Early Show" Friday, the passengers, crew and first responders came together again one year later to remember the day that truly proved to be a "Miracle on the Hudson." Sullenberger told "Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith it feels like much less than a year since it happened. "I feel like I've lived 10 normal lifetimes in this last year," Sullenberger said.

As for reuniting a year later, he said, "It's like the best high school reunion you could imagine. We were just talking about that -- who has come the farthest, who has changed the most. We have so much to be grateful for, and it's absolutely wonderful to once again have a chance to celebrate such a wonderful outcome with this great group of people."

Sullenberger's co-pilot, Jeff Skiles, said he remembers the shock of that day most. However, he said he realized that day just how preparations for emergencies could actually lead to success.

"Both of us got right to work," he said. "We used our training. We used our procedures. We used the experience that we've built up over decades between the two of us to handle the emergency."

First responders Sally Phipps, an American Red Cross volunteer who also responded to the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, and Capt. Vince Lombardi, of N.Y. Waterways, also appeared on "The Early Show."

Phipps said when she arrived on the scene, she was just grateful that she could give her supplies to survivors.

Lombardi said his first thought when he saw the plane was, "Why is there a jet in the water?" He added his second thought was, "OK, let's go."

Passenger John Howell said the day was a "sequence of miraculous events."

"It's hard to find the words to describe the feeling when you're looking out the window and the engines are on fire or there's no engines at all and you're looking down at the river and you recognize that you were in a situation that's not likely to have a good outcome -- and then a few minutes later, you start to realize, 'Wow, we're going to be all right. We're going to walk away from this.'"

IReport Hosts Efforts to Look for Loved Ones in Haiti

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Tuesday near Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, leaving thousands missing. Are you searching for a family member? Upload his or her photo here.

Please enter the missing person's information in the title of your iReport like this:
Any additional info can go in the body of the iReport.

You can use the search bar above to look for loved ones. And if you're in Haiti and safe, please take a look through the photos and share any information you may have.

Doomsday Clock Pushed Back 1 Minute

(CNN) -- The world has inched further away from doom and nuclear disaster, said a group of respected scientists that includes 19 Nobel Laureates.

The symbolic Doomsday Clock has been moved back a minute, reflecting the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists' more optimistic view of the world's chances of avoiding catastrophic threats such as nuclear attacks.

The clock is now set at six minutes to midnight, with midnight representing a nuclear apocalypse, according to the group, which is based in Chicago, Illinois.

"We are poised to bend the arc of history toward a world free of nuclear weapons. For the first time since atomic bombs were dropped in 1945, leaders of nuclear weapons states are cooperating to vastly reduce their arsenals and secure all nuclear bomb-making material," the scientists said in a statement Thursday.

The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 and had been adjusted only 18 times before Thursday, the group said.

The closest it has been to midnight is two minutes, from 1953 to 1960, after the Soviet Union and the United States stepped up testing of thermonuclear devices.

The farthest has been 17 minutes, from 1991 to 1995, after the signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

"A key to the new era of cooperation is a change in the U.S. government's orientation toward international affairs, brought about in part by the election of [President Barack] Obama," the group said. "With a more pragmatic, problem-solving approach, not only has Obama initiated new arms-reduction talks with Russia, he has started negotiations with Iran to close its nuclear enrichment program, and directed the U.S. government to lead a global effort to secure loose fissile material in four years.

"He also presided over the U.N. Security Council last September, where he supported a fissile material cutoff treaty and encouraged all countries to live up to their disarmament and nonproliferation obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty," said the group, which added that much more work needs to be done.

Threats remain around the world, the scientists said, noting that governments might not live up to pledges to reduce nuclear arms and combat climate change.

Scientists and other experts who had produced the atomic bomb for the Manhattan Project established the group in 1945, its Web site said.

Relief Groups Struggle to Aid Desperate Haiti Quake Victims

LA Times-- Relief groups and governments struggled today to speed emergency aid to Haiti's earthquake victims, who are increasingly desperate to find food, water and medical help for the many injured.

U.N. officials said today that looters had broken into a warehouse in Haiti's ruined capital, Port-au-Prince, where the World Food Program stored 15,000 tons of food, but they did not know how much of the stockpile was stolen or when the theft took place, the Associated Press reported from Geneva.

U.N. officials warned that residents of impoverished Port-au-Prince are becoming more impatient about the lack of assistance they've gotten since the magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated their city Tuesday.

The world has vowed its help, but efforts are complicated by earthquake damage to the capital's airport and its seaport, which was closed. Hundreds of U.S. troops were on the ground this morning, the leading edge of a military contingent that is expected to number more than 5,500 by Monday.

"We have much more support on the way," Army Lt. Gen. Ken Keen said on ABC's "Good Morning America," AP reported. "Our priority is getting relief out to needy people, to mitigate the suffering that the Haitian people are experiencing right now."

Former President Clinton, the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, said in a separate television interview that it is crucial to get food and water into Haiti the next four or five days, as survivors are pulled from the rubble by rescue specialists who have begun to arrive in Port-au-Prince.

Clinton said even $10 donations by individuals could make a big difference in coming days. President Obama tapped Clinton and former President George W. Bush to lead fundraising for quake victims.

On Thursday, emergency aid flowed from around the world toward Haiti, only to confront a reality that grew more desperate by the hour: Crippled ports and communications left stunned earthquake survivors on their own to scavenge for food and water, carry away legions of dead and dig frantically for voices calling out from under the rubble.

Obama promised $100 million and the full resources of the U.S. government for what he said would be one of the largest relief efforts in recent history. U.S. officials said 30 countries had either sent aid or promised to do so. Rescue teams from eight countries had arrived.

But two days after the earthquake, there was little evidence of the aid effort in the capital of the hemisphere's poorest country.

"In Haiti, you're lucky if they come with a screwdriver," said Jean Marc Mercier, a Haitian American who spent the last two days hunting for survivors in the wreckage of the Hotel Montana, a longtime gathering spot for diplomats, journalists, humanitarian workers and businessmen.

The toppled six-story hotel was an exception to the scenes of abandonment elsewhere; a rescue team newly arrived from Virginia was combing the debris.

Mercier, who runs a computer business in Haiti, said he and others had been burrowing by hand toward voices calling out from deep inside the wreckage. They had managed to save one woman, an aid worker.

"Last night after I went to bed, all I heard were the voices in my head. One guy told me not to bother: 'Go help people who are in better shape. There is no way you are getting to me,' " said Mercier, 44. "I wasn't able to sleep all night."

Asked how many people were in the hotel when it collapsed, he whispered, "Hundreds."

Aid officials said the risk of violence and looting would increase as scant food and water run out and frustrated families fail to find medical care for the injured.

Officials who were willing to estimate the number of dead acknowledged that they were just guessing. Victor Jackson, an official with Haiti's Red Cross, told Reuters news agency that his organization was estimating 45,000 to 50,000 had died.

All across Port-au-Prince, it seemed, the living bore the dead -- in the beds of pickups, in wheelbarrows, on makeshift stretchers. At a hospital named St. Marie, crowded a day earlier with dozens of people seeking help, the courtyard was empty except for two cleaners mopping bloody water into the street.

Even many who didn't lose their homes were afraid to sleep in them.

Lionel Aceveje, a police officer who lives in a hillside shantytown near the suburb of Petionville, said his family of six was sleeping outside in the evening chill. "Every little shaking terrifies us," he said.

Haiti Earthquake News: Main Prison Destroyed, 4000 Prisoners Escape

NEW YORK (CBS): Amidst the horror and devestation of the massive 7.0 earthquake that has rocked Haiti, almost all of the 4000 inmates in the capitol's main prison have escaped.

"They obviously took advantage of this disaster," Marcal Izard, a spokesman for the International Red Cross, said.

CNN's Anderson Cooper visited the jail in Port-au-Prince and filed a report Friday. "We heard the prison was destroyed. We didn't realize we'd find the door wide open," he said.

Cooper reported seeing four dead bodies and dried blood on the floor. He also found bloody handprints and a rope that hung 30-40 feet from the guard wall to the street outside.

UN officials believe the prisoners rioted after the quake, overwhelmed the guards and escaped, Cooper reported.

"When you have criminals, bandits, assassins who terrorize the population - and we have all those types here - it's a big problem for the country," the prison's warden Alexandre Jean Herisse, told Cooper.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Official Fears Hundreds of Thousands Dead After Earthquake

Why did this have to happen?

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) -- Rescue workers struggled to clear rubble and bodies Wednesday from the streets of Haiti's "flattened" capital, where a government official said the death toll from Tuesday's 7.0-magnitude earthquake may exceed 100,000.

Thousands of injured people waited for care outside badly damaged hospitals, while an unknown number remained trapped inside collapsed buildings. Basic services like water and electricity were out, and Haitian President Rene Preval said his government needs help clearing streets so rescuers can reach some of the hardest-hit areas.

"We need medicine. We need medical help in general," Preval told CNN. "Some of the hospitals, they collapsed."

People were digging though the rubble of leveled buildings with their hands Wednesday, looking for survivors or bodies, CNN's Anderson Cooper reported from Port-au-Prince. Other CNN correspondents in Port-au-Prince and its suburbs reported whole blocks of collapsed buildings, with dozens of bodies piled in the streets.

Video images captured just moments after the temblor show dust-covered survivors rushing through the streets, yelling in terror. Others trapped in buildings are seen punching out debris and bricks, and shouting for help and trying to squeeze themselves out through cracks in the structures.

Port-au-Prince "is flattened," said Haiti's consul general to the U.N., Felix Augustin, who said he believed more than 100,000 people were dead.

But Preval said other estimates ranged from 30,000 to 50,000.

"It's too early to give a number," Preval said.

The 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday, centered about 10 miles (15 kilometers) southwest of Port-au-Prince, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. It could be felt strongly in eastern Cuba, more than 200 miles away.

The earthquake's power matched that of several nuclear bombs, said Roger Searle, a professor of geophysics in the Earth Sciences Department at Durham University in England. He said the combination of its magnitude and geographical shallowness made it particularly dangerous.

About 3 million people -- one-third of Haiti's population -- were affected by the quake, the Red Cross said. About 10 million people most likely felt shaking from the earthquake, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

As night fell over the island Wednesday, gunshots sounded off in Port-au-Prince. Screams and wails could be heard with each aftershock. Some people who still had homes refused to go inside, fearing collapse. Scores huddled together in parks and sidewalks, trying to get rest.

Though planes carrying aid began arriving Wednesday, humanitarian groups struggled to get the supplies to victims due to the poor roads and debris.

There was no clear system for clearing debris, removing bodies and treating the injured, officials and journalists reported.

"Simply getting through the streets to collect the dead bodies is seemingly an impossible task," CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported from the capital, where shooting could be heard in the background. "There's hardly any heavy machinery to try and dig through the rubble -- people are doing it by hand.

"The hospitals themselves -- the destination of those patients who might survive -- they're nonexistent or have a terrible infrastructure," Gupta said.

Haiti native and "Heroes" cast member Jimmy Jean-Louis was searching for his elderly parents in Haiti on Wednesday. He said the Haitian government is not up to addressing the overwhelming nature of the disaster.

"Just as an example ... we had one school that collapsed -- one school, and we were unable to take care of that," he said, referring to a November 2008 incident that killed 90 people in Petionville, Haiti. "This year, we have the entire city [of Port-au-Prince] that collapsed, including the major points such as hospitals, hotels and even the presidential palace."

Former President Clinton, the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, appealed to the public to support programs that will provide food, water, shelter and medical supplies to the impoverished country.

"The most important thing you can do is not to send those supplies, but to send cash" to relief agencies, Clinton said.

Governments and agencies across the globe geared up to help, including rescue teams from China, Iceland and France, Haiti's onetime colonial ruler; aid flights and 3 million euros ($4.35 million) from Spain; doctors from Cuba; and a field hospital from Russia.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the United Nations plans to release $10 million in aid immediately, while the World Bank pledged another $100 million Wednesday afternoon.

President Obama promised a "swift, coordinated and aggressive" response from the United States.

"The reports and images that we've seen of collapsed hospitals, crumbled homes and men and women carrying their injured neighbors through the streets are truly heart-wrenching," Obama said.

Watch survivors describe what they saw

Clinton also urged international leaders to fulfill their previous donor commitments to Haiti.

"Most countries are way behind on fulfilling it. ... If you can provide any emergency help, if you can give us helicopters or basic medical supplies -- we need that," Clinton said.

The U.S. military is working to get ground and air assessments of the damage, with Coast Guard cutters, airplanes and choppers deploying to the scene, and Navy ships preparing to leave.

Two Coast Guard crews of C-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircraft were evacuating nearly 140 U.S. personnel to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Nine critically injured peopled were taken to the U.S. Naval Hospital Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Numerous relief organizations were already working in Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, when the quake struck Tuesday afternoon. Aid groups scrambled to help in the aftermath of the quake, but were struggling with the same problems as ordinary Haitians.

In a small clinic in Port-au-Prince, doctors were overwhelmed with the causalities coming in. Bodies and bleeding wounded seemed to cover every inch of the clinic.

A woman with a broken leg sat on the floor next to the body of a dead toddler who was covered by a sheet. She'd been waiting for treatment since Tuesday.

A CNN crew at the clinic counted at least 13 other adult bodies piled outside. Others were still alive, leaning on walls, lying on floors in despair.

None of the three aid centers run by Doctors Without Borders was operable Wednesday, the group said. The organization was focusing on re-establishing surgical capacity so it could deal with the crushed limbs and head wounds it is seeing.

The earthquake sheared huge slabs of concrete off structures and pancaked scores of buildings, trapping people inside those buildings, and knocking down phone and power lines.

"One woman, I could only see her head and the rest of her body was trapped under a block wall," said Jonathan de la Durantaye, who drove through Port-au-Prince after the quake. "I think she was dead. She had blood coming out of her eyes and nose and ears."

The headquarters of the U.N. mission in Haiti, a peacekeeping and police force established after the 2004 ouster of then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, collapsed during the quake, leaving leaving about 150 members unaccounted for, U.N. officials in New York said Wednesday. At least 10 survivors were pulled from rubble at the U.N. mission, according to former President Clinton.

The top two civilian officials at the U.N. mission, Special Representative Hedi Annabi and his deputy, Luiz Carlos da Costa, were believed trapped in the rubble of the hotel that housed the world body's headquarters, their fates unknown, said Alain Le Roy, the undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations.

The Brazilian-led mission has about 9,000 troops, police and civilian staff in Haiti, about a third of whom were in Port-au-Prince. At least 16 peacekeepers, including 11 Brazilians, three Jordanians, one Argentine and one Chadian, were reported dead Wednesday afternoon, U.N. officials said.

Also among the dead was Joseph Serge Miot, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Port-au-Prince, according to the official Vatican newspaper. The archbishop was buried beneath rubble along with 100 priests and aspiring priests attending a religious conference, Papal Nuncio Bernardito Auza told the Vatican's Fides news agency.

"There were priests and nuns in the street. ... Everywhere, you heard cries from beneath the rubble," Auza said.

Authorities braced for civil disturbances. Edmond Mulet, the U.N. assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, told CNN that the 95-year-old, badly overcrowded National Penitentiary in the capital, collapsed and the inmates escaped, prompting worries about looting by escapees.

Obama urged Americans trying to locate family members in Haiti to telephone the State Department at 1-888-407-4747.

The presidential palace in Port-au-Prince was in ruins. Preval, Haiti's president, said he did not know where he was going to sleep Wednesday night.

"I have plenty of time to look for a bed," he said late in the afternoon. "But now I am working on how to rescue the people. Sleeping is not the problem."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Don't DO IT!

My man wants to take himself off of the market and marry miss Minka Kelly. As we speak, millions of girls (including myself) are being placed on suicide watch.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Burned Body in Trash Identified as Playboy Model

(CNN) -- Paula Sladewski, a 26-year-old who once modeled for Playboy, was identified Wednesday by Miami police as the person found dead and "burned beyond recognition" in a trash bin on Sunday.
Now, police are asking for the public's help to put her killer behind bars. Whoever the murderer is, police said, they are nothing short of a "monster."

"It's so horrific. They'd have to be a monster. It's a dastardly act," North Miami police spokesman Lt. Neal Cuevas told CNN. "It's the most heinous thing that a person can do to another person."

Sladewski's body was found Sunday night after firefighters extinguished flames coming from a large trash bin near a propane business.

When they put out the fire, they saw a body. But there was barely any way to identify it.

"It was just total, total, disfigurement," Cuevas told CNN. "You couldn't even tell that it was a woman or a man or even what race."

Cuevas, who was in the area when the call came in, said the trash bin and body were still smoldering when he arrived. Police were able to identify the body through dental records late Tuesday night, he said.

Police are trying to figure out how a model from Michigan, who appeared in a 2003 Playboy video, ended up burned beyond recognition inside the trash bin -- and who put her there.

"This was a brutal, horrible, disgusting murder, and this monster or these monsters need to be brought to justice," Cuevas said.

The only timeline police have comes from Sladewski's boyfriend, who was vacationing with her. Because he was the last one to see her, police are considering him a person of interest, but he has not been named as a suspect.

Police said they would consider whoever was the last known person to see her alive a person of interest. Right now, they have no suspects, Cuevas said.

The boyfriend is "devastated and traumatized" by news of the death, said his attorney, Marc Beginin.

"He desperately wants this crime solved and anybody involved brought to justice," Beginin said.

The boyfriend, whom police did not identify, reported Sladewski missing to police and also tried to find her by calling hospitals and jails, interviewing people and hiring a private investigator, Beginin said. The boyfriend also has met with investigators for 12 hours, the attorney said.

"The Miami police are pursuing all leads and doing their jobs. However, ultimately, he doesn't need to be a person of interest," he said.

The couple arrived in Miami on Thursday to ring in the new year by watching Lady Gaga perform, police said.

Cuevas told CNN that Sladewski's boyfriend said they went to Club Space on Saturday and remained until about 7 a.m. Sunday, when they got into an argument.

When he was thrown out of the club after the altercation, Sladewski decided to stay, her boyfriend told police.

That was the last time her boyfriend saw her, according to police. Cuevas said when Sladewski did not return to their hotel by Monday, her boyfriend called police and filed a missing person report.

Sladewski's sister, Kelly Farris, was battling back tears at a news conference Wednesday night. She said her sister had been dating the man for about two years, and he had called her Monday to say she was missing.

Farris said she had last seen her sister, who lived in Michigan and California, at Christmas.

"She loved life, she was full of life," Farris said, beginning to sob. "She went on a lot of vacations. She was a great person."

Farris said her family was devastated by the news of Sladewski's death, especially given the nature of how she was found.

"I couldn't imagine anything like this happening, you know," Farris said. "We can't even give her an open casket. We can't even see her again."

Farris pleaded with anyone who saw her sister at the club or afterward to contact police.

"She did not deserve to die in this way," she said.

And until her sister's killer is found, Farris said she can't imagine what she will do.

"I can't see myself going back to work," Farris said. "I can't see myself living a normal life until I know whoever did this pays for it."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Johnson & Johnson heiress Casey Johnson dead at 30

( -- Casey Johnson, the heiress to the Johnson & Johnson fortune who recently made tabloid headlines with a purported engagement to reality star Tila Tequila, has died at age 30.

Her death was announced by Tequila on her Twitter page and confirmed by police.

"Everyone please pray 4 my Wifey Casey Johnson," Tequila wrote. "She has passed away. Thank u for all ur love and support but I will be offline to be w/ family."'

Los Angeles police and firefighters were called to a house at 11:51 a.m. Monday. Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene.

"It appears to be a natural death," says police Officer Sara Faden. "There's no evidence of foul play. A toxicology report from the coroner's office will proceed next."

Johnson, who leaves a toddler daughter Ava whom she had adopted, was the great-great granddaughter of the founder of the pharmaceutical giant, and the daughter of New York Jets owner Robert Wood Johnson.

An openly gay socialite, Johnson had a knack for attracting paparazzi -- and trouble. A nasty fight with ex-girlfriend Courtenay Semel, daughter of former Yahoo chief Terry Semel, reportedly resulted in Johnson's hair catching on fire last October. Then in November, she was arrested for allegedly breaking into another former girlfriend's house.

In December, Tequila announced the pair were engaged. "Tonight, my beautiful girlfriend has just asked me to marry her and check out this rock," the lingerie-wearing Tequila said in an Internet video. "Bam! That is a 17-carat diamond ring from my baby."