Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sirens in Hawaii Warn of Possible Tsunami

(CNN) -- Sirens sounded early Saturday morning across Hawaii, warning people of a possible tsunami and telling people to in coastal areas to evacuate.

The sirens sounded at 6 a.m. local time (11 a.m. ET/1600 GMT) to warn of a potential tsunami triggered by a 8.8 earthquake in Chile.

The siren systems in each county are sounding to "to alert residents and visitors to evacuate coastal areas," Hawaii's Civil Defense Division said in a statement.

"Residents will be advised by their respective country civil defense or emergency management agencies to evacuate coastal areas."

The earliest estimated arrival for a wave that could affect Hawaii is 11:05 a.m. local time (4:05 p.m. ET/2105 GMT), the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

Pacific Tsunami Warning Center Director Charles McCreery said Hawaii would see some effect from the earthquake.

"We believe it will be a threat here in Hawaii, that's why we initiated a warning, not only for a Hawaii, but for the entire Pacific," McCreery said.

Asked by CNN affiliate KHON whether it was possible Hawaii wouldn't see any effect from the earthquake, McCreery said, "No, I wouldn't say that's possible at all. I think there's no chance we'll see no effect from this event.

"So people need to take this very seriously."

But he added, "We're not expecting this to be a worst-case scenario, but we are expecting ... dangerous waves coming on shore, and people need to take it very seriously."

Speaking of the evacuations, Shelly Ichishita, spokeswoman for the Civil Defense Division, said people in the evacuation zones -- basically coastal areas -- were "asked to go inland," she said. "We do not have evacuation shelters open."

John Cummings, Oahu Emergency Management Department spokesman, told The Honolulu Advertiser that "If you live anywhere in the evacuation zone, you have to evacuate.

"This is a serious event. We're going to treat this as a destructive-type tsunami."

The state's two U.S. senators, Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel K. Akaka, urged Hawaii residents to remain calm.

"If you live in an evacuation zone I urge you to gather your family and please leave the area," Inouye said.

"It is important to remain calm, listen to the news, and follow the instructions being issued by state and county civil defense officials."

Earlier Saturday, people rushed to supermarkets to stock up on food, water and other supplies.

"We got lots of water, we got our batteries, we got toilet paper," one woman told KITV, while she stood in a line with other shoppers and their carts stuffed with supplies.

Asked if she was scared, another shopper said, "Very, very. We're from Georgia, so ..."

Businesses in the area said they will be closed all day Saturday, the affiliate reported.

Several tsunami waves have come ashore along the Chilean coast after the earthquake, which killed at least 122 people, U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Victor Sardina told CNN.

He said the largest was recorded at 9 feet near the quake's epicenter. Another wave, 7.7 feet hit the Chilean town of Talcahuano, according to Eric Lau of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Video from the town showed one car sitting in a large expanse of water.

McCreery said the first tsunami wave would sweep across Hawaii in about 30 minutes.

"And then the hazard will go on for many hours, because these waves, they get reflected off the islands, they wrap around the islands, and it becomes a very complex wave field that persists for quite a while."

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tacoma Teacher Killed Outside School; Deputy Fatally Shoots Suspect

This is one case I'm glad they were able to kill this offender right off.. No trial, no wasting of tax-payer's dollars- just get rid of the animal.

The News Tribune- A man reportedly infatuated with a 30-year-old special education teacher shot and killed the woman outside a Tacoma elementary school teacher this morning, police said. The gunman later was shot dead by a Pierce County sheriff's deputy near Fredrickson.

The initial shooting occurred about 7:30 a.m. at Birney Elementary School, where the victim helped teach reading to kids with learning disabilities.

Witnesses told police the gunman, who lived in Ellensburg, arrived at the school about two hours before the teacher and shot her when she and a female colleague later arrived. No children were at the school at the time of the shooting. No one else was hurt.

The gunman, also 30, then fled in a car which a deputy stopped near 166th and Canyon about half an hour later. The gunman reportedly fired at the deputy, who returned fire killing the man, authorities said.

School has been cancelled at Birney for today, and school district officials are discussing whether to cancel Monday classes as well, district spokesman Dan Voelpel said.

Authorities also evacuated a day-care center near the site of the second shooting. No one aside from the gunman was injured there. Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum said the teacher and the gunman were acquaintances but were not in a romantic relationship.

The gunman may have been infatuated with the woman, Fulghum said.

She recently took out an anti-harassment order against the man in Tacoma Municipal Court, the police spokesman said.

A teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, told The News Tribune the gunman had been in the victim's master's degree class when she was at the University of Washington-Tacoma. He had been stalking the victim, leaving roses on her car and notes.

"We've been trying to watch out for him," the teacher said.

The woman began working for the Tacoma School District as a substitute teacher in 2004 and also worked at Stanley elementary and Hunt middle schools before signing on at Birney in 2007, Voelpel said.

"This is a situation that doesn't cross your mind," Voelpel said. "You don't think it's going to happen and when it does, it knocks everybody flat."

Staff members were in tears outside Birney this morning. Superintendent Art Jarvis was on scene and was seen hugging staff members as they arrived. A pastor who lives nearby walked over the school with a Bible in his hand. As the teachers passed, he told them he was praying for them.

Following the shooting, witnesses provided descriptions of the shooter, which were relayed to responding Tacoma officers and other law enforcement in the county.

A Pierce County sheriff's deputy spotted the suspect's vehicle on Canyon Road, sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said. The deputy got behind the car and, with the assistance of an undercover sheriff's detective, initiated a traffic stop on Canyon Road.

The driver took off at a high-rate of speed. After about four blocks, the driver pulled over in a day-care parking lot on 166th Street.

"He came out with a semiautomatic handgun, he fired off a round," Troyer said.

The deputy returned fire, killing the man. It's not immediately clear where the man was going. The deputy involved has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure.


A man who lives across from Birney Elementary heard the gunshots this morning.

Omar Moreno said after the two gunshots, he heard a woman screaming and saw the gunman run across Sheridan Avenue and got into a tan Honda sedan.

Moreno also saw an "older gentleman" running away from the gunman. Moreno said the gunman fired at the other gentleman.

A custodian came out of the school and said to call the police.

Greenwich Hospital Hit with Another Lawsuit over Drug-Addicted Surgeon

Feb. 25--A new lawsuit filed against Greenwich Hospital over its handling of a drug-addicted surgeon is adding fuel to the fire surrounding the case, bringing the total number of former patients seeking damages to nine women.

A Newtown couple, Diane and Scott Buchanan, filed a lawsuit in January, claiming the hospital was negligent in entrusting Dr. Ian Rubins, a plastic surgeon, with hospital privileges despite being aware of substance-abuse problems.

Rubins died of a heroin overdose in 2008. The hospital has stated publicly it was aware of Rubins' drug problems since 1997, but that he successfully completed several different rehabilitation programs. The lawsuit states Diane Buchanan suffered serious complications after undergoing three cosmetic surgeries with Rubins.

"Greenwich Hospital's conduct was recklessly indifferent to Diane Buchanan's rights," states the complaint. "As a result of the carelessness and negligence of Greenwich Hospital, Diane Buchanan suffered severe, painful and permanent injuries."

The Buchanans' attorney, Carey Reilly, of Bridgeport-based Koskoff, Koskoff and Beider, said this case is separate from a class-action lawsuit against the hospital involving Rubins filed in 2008.

"If you know someone is a drug addict, you don't give them the right to perform surgeries in (a) hospital," said Reilly. "We believe they never should have given Dr. Rubins the ways and means to commit malpractice on Mrs. Buchanan."

Greenwich Hospital declined to comment on the Buchanans' lawsuit Wednesday. In a December 2009 Greenwich Time article, hospital Chief Executive Frank Corvino defended the hospital, saying Rubins was given a clean bill of health each time he went through rehab.

Attorney Sean McElligott, also of Koskoff, Koskoff and Beider, filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of eight women in 2008 claiming the hospital ignored Rubins' problems for fear it would diminish profit from its prominent breast center.

It specifically alleges that the hospital violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, as well as alleges fraud and a breach of the hospital's fiduciary duty. That case is still pending.

Reilly, representing the Buchanans, said documents recovered in the Rubins case show the doctor demonstrated a clear drug-abuse problem in 2006, during what she called the "peak" of the problem.

A state Department of Public Health investigation shows numerous doctors observed Rubins asleep while standing up during a break between two morning surgeries on April 5, 2006. Witness accounts describe Rubins' eyes as rolling back into his head and his speech slurred.

Dr. Joel Rein, the chief of plastic surgery at the time, told the state health investigator that his "general impression was the respondent (Rubins) was under the influence of a sedative or mind-depressing agent," according to the documents.

Hours later, Rubins was asked to report to the hospital's Occupational Health Services for a "reasonable suspicion drug screen test" which was performed under the supervision of Dr. John DelVecchio, a medical director.

According to records, DelVecchio wrote that Rubins asked for a "bit of dignity" while in a bathroom attempting to fill up a urine sample cup. After filling the cup, the doctor said Rubins dropped the cup into the toilet filled with blue dye, thus contaminating it. Rubins then told DelVecchio he needed water to make another sample and went out to his car to get some, despite being offered water from the office. One minute after drinking from a water bottle, Rubins said he was ready to take the test again.

"As he unzipped, he repeatedly began looking behind him to see where I was, and then reached into his left pocket and appeared to withdraw something," wrote DelVecchio. "Before I was able to move around him to see what he was doing, he quickly turned around and handed me a cup with a small amount of urine in it."

The urine sample had no registered temperature and was not warm to the touch, according to records. It was packaged, but state officials were notified of Rubins' "refusal to test."

The next morning, Rubins sent a note to the hospital informing them he was taking a temporary leave of absence effective immediately, records show. He entered and completed four weeks of rehab. Upon release, a doctor told health officials Rubins could return to practice medicine with "reasonable skill and safety as of June 17, 2006."

In May 2007, there was another incident in which Rubins injected a syringe containing Fentanyl into himself after taking it from an adjoining operating room where a different doctor was prepping for surgery. He replaced the syringe with saline. Fentanyl is a narcotic painkiller used to treat patients.

Rubins told investigators he injected himself due to disc pain in his neck. His medical privileges were suspended shortly thereafter.

When Rubins was found dead at age 46 in January 2008, his former business manager said she believed the troubled doctor was regularly taking drugs during his tenure at the hospital.

"Evidently, he would shoot himself up with something immediately after surgery, somewhere between Greenwich Hospital and the practice at 4 Dearfield Drive," Susan Galbraith Zimmerman told Greenwich Time at the time.

Both sides involved in the class-action lawsuit are scheduled to meet for a hearing Monday in state Superior Court in Stamford.

Reilly said she plans to amend the Buchanan lawsuit in recent weeks with additional counts against the hospital.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Yankees GM Help Raise Funds for Family Centers’ Children’s Programs R

Connecticut Post- A few days before the New York Yankees opened Spring Training camp in Florida, General Manager Brian Cashman made a stop in Greenwich on Friday, Feb. 12 for a fundraising breakfast to benefit Family Centers’ children’s programs.

Before a small group of the agency’s supporters, Cashman traced the path from his days as a wide-eyed intern to running baseball’s most decorated franchise. He also discussed the winning strategies that made the Yankees a globally-recognized brand, and how the team overcame injuries and adversity to capture its 27th World Series Championship.

Family Centers is a private, nonprofit organization offering education and human services to children, adults and families in Fairfield County. More than 1000 professionals and trained volunteers work together to provide a wide range of responsive, innovative programs. A United Way and Community Fund of Darien partner agency, Family Centers is a member of the Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies and the Alliance for Children and Families and is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The agency is licensed by the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health. Visit for additional information.

Bridgeport 'Inspirational Speaker' Charged with Masterminding Area Robberies

Stamford Advocate- One day after a Bridgeport man was arrested and charged in a scheme to coerce troubled teens into a life of crime through a questionable foundation, the state attorney general has launched a probe into his organization.

"We are investigating because this supposed charity is not registered with my office or currently with the Internal Revenue Service," said Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

By law, all charitable organizations must register with both agencies to solicit donations.

"We will take action to return money to contributors who may have been victims of deceptive or misleading claims when they donated money," added Blumenthal.

Blumenthal's comments came the same day that Gregory Jetter, 48, of 182 Wheeler Ave., Bridgeport, was arraigned in state Superior Court on robbery, larceny and conspiracy to commit robbery charges.

Jetter was arrested by Greenwich police Monday and held overnight at police headquarters on a $250,000 bond. The bond remained set at $250,000 during the proceeding.

Greenwich police said Jetter labeled himself as the director and inspirational speaker for the Bridgeport-based McCree Foundation Inc., a registered business with the state. Although the foundation's mission statement said its goal "focused on the improvement of the inner-city minority areas," police said they soon learned Jetter was using it to recruit youths to help him with robberies throughout the area.

Detectives discovered the situation after investigating a July 2009 robbery of Estate Treasures consignment shop in Riverside. During the incident, Lakeem Jetter, 19, and Moses McCree, 20, were charged with stealing more than $250,000 worth of jewelry at gunpoint.

However, police said cell phone records indicated Gregory Jetter was also in the vicinity and, they later determined he acted as the getaway driver and disposed of the jewelry after the robbery. Gregory Jetter is related to Lakeem Jetter and has ties to McCree as well. Moses McCree is listed as the president of the McCree Foundation and Lakeem Jetter as another director.

Jetter and family registered the foundation on April 27, 2009, with the state's commercial recording division. The business was listed as active as of Tuesday, and the foundation's Web site, which solicits charitable donations, remained up and running.

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Paul Ferencek told the court that Gregory Jetter had an "extensive criminal record dating back to 1980," which included larceny and armed bank-robbery convictions.

Jetter was released from federal prison in 2007 after serving a 16-year sentence, according to records. Jetter was in federal custody for a violation of probation stemming from a 1994 bank robbery when he was arrested by Greenwich police Monday afternoon.

Court records show Jetter has one child and worked as a salesman. The bail commissioner said he had no history of mental health or medical issues.

According to Lakeem Jetter's arrest warrant, the Estate Treasures robbery was the second in a string of five similar incidents believed to have been planned by Gregory Jetter and others in Greenwich, Fairfield, Orange, Stratford and Monroe.

Police believe Gregory Jetter may face additional charges in the coming weeks. Prosecutors said he was being detained by federal authorities in Rhode Island, but they were making arrangements to have him transferred to Connecticut permanently. Gregory Jetter's arrest warrant was sealed Tuesday.

Jetter is due back in court on March 23. Lakeem Jetter and Moses McCree are due back in court March 8.

Man Charged in 11 Deaths Indicted on New Charges, Prosecutor Says

(CNN) -- An Ohio man already charged with murder in the deaths of 11 women has been indicted on new charges of kidnapping, attempted murder and felonious assault, a prosecutor announced Thursday.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason said that a grand jury indicted Anthony Sowell on those charges in connection with the alleged assault of a 42-year-old woman.

No further details were released.

Sowell was already facing 85 charges -- including murder, rape and kidnapping -- following the discovery of 11 sets of human remains at his Cleveland, Ohio, home in October and November.

He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in December. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Sowell is a registered sex offender who served 15 years in prison before being released in 2005.

Mason told CNN that the new charges are separate from those brought last year. "It's a whole new case," he said, adding that he expects these charges to be tried separately from the 85.

The new charges are related to an incident that allegedly occurred on April 21, 2009, Mason said.

Sowell and a woman, now 43, were "drinking and partying in the afternoon," the prosecutor said. "Later he attacked her, choked her, beat her a little bit."

"She was able to escape through some creative thinking," he said, explaining that the woman, whom he would not identify, pretended she was on the phone with a daughter. Sowell then allowed her to leave, Mason said.

Sowell's defense attorneys did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

The woman came to authorities as the bodies in Sowell's house were being discovered and authorities later corroborated her statement, Mason said.

The prosecutor also said that his cold case unit is reviewing unsolved murders that occurred during the time Sowell lived in Cleveland and East Cleveland. Mason said the group is about two-thirds of the way through 75 cases.

He said evidence is not scheduled to be presented until June for the case involving the 85 charges.

In addition to the charges related to the deaths of the 11 women whose remains were found at his home, Sowell is also charged with assaulting three other women and raping two of them, authorities said. Most of the women whose remains were found were strangled by ligature -- which could include a string, cord or wire -- and at least one was strangled by hand, officials said. Seven still had ligatures wrapped around their necks. A skull is all that remains of one victim. It was found wrapped in a paper bag and stuffed into a bucket in the home's basement.

Defense: Kidnap Suspect Hears Angels' Voices

(CNN) -- A California sex offender suspected of abducting a girl in 1991 and keeping her captive for 18 years is suffering from "serious mental illness," defense attorneys say in court papers.

"It appears that Phillip Garrido has been hearing [the] voices of angels for years," said documents filed Wednesday in El Dorado County Superior Court.

The court papers dispute prosecutors' asserting that Garrido is a "master manipulator" who is still trying to influence his victim.

Garrido, 58, and his wife, Nancy, are charged with 29 felony counts in the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard, who was 11 when she was snatched from the street in front of her house in South Lake Tahoe, California.

She was 29 when found in August at the Garridos' home in Antioch, about 120 miles from her home. Prosecutors allege that Garrido fathered two daughters with Dugard during her captivity.

Both Phillip Garrido, who was a registered sex offender on parole at the time of his arrest in August, and Nancy Garrido have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

In a filing earlier this month, prosecutors called Garrido a "master manipulator," citing journal entries made by Dugard. They also said Garrido's attorneys were attempting to contact Dugard, whose location they are trying to keep secret, and asked the court to impose a protective order barring such contact. A judge refused to immediately grant the request, setting a hearing for Friday.

Garrido's public defenders, Rick Meyer and Susan Gellman, said Dugard, who is identified in court papers as Jane Doe, told investigators following Garrido's arrest that he had a "self-described ability to understand the voices of angels. ... One of the children disclosed this as well, describing how the voices would keep him up at night, and how the angels lived underground and spoke to him from this location."

The filing points to Garrido's "manifesto," entitled "Origin of Schizophrenia Revealed," which he prepared in the days and weeks before his arrest and addressed to the FBI. He took it "from law enforcement agency to law enforcement agency, calling attention to himself in a way that could [and ultimately did] lead to his arrest," the attorneys said.

Garrido went to the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, accompanied by his two daughters with Dugard, to get a permit to stage a demonstration of his ability, the documents said. University employees brought about his arrest after contacting his parole officer, saying they thought Garrido's behavior was odd.

"Mr. Garrido's illness was not subtle at all," the documents said. "Obviously the campus police at the University of California, Berkeley were able to perceive the clear signs of mental illness and took some action instead of ignoring them."

Prosecutors, the defense said, have discussed the "cover stories" told by Dugard and the children when Garrido was summoned to the parole office the following day and questioned. Authorities maintain such lies were evidence of Garrido's manipulation, according to the documents.

"In reality, it appears that everyone was very frightened by what could happen. They were afraid they would be separated and lose each other," the defense said. "Even the children made up stories; there was a sense of panic. They were trying to protect each other. One of the children was so nervous she got sick."

Asked several times who was the father of the children, Garrido told several different stories, his attorneys said. "The agent's report is helpful in showing how manipulative Mr. Garrido is not."

Further evidence of Garrido's mental illness is his repeated contact with the news media, according to his attorneys. "Contacting the media against the advice of counsel when one is facing criminal charges as serious as these shows an inability to cooperate with counsel and an inability to appreciate the function of the criminal justice system," the attorneys said. "In short, Mr. Garrido's contacts with the media, when his attorney tells him not to have them, are not manipulations at all, but evidence that he may not be competent to be a defendant."

Garrido believes that Dugard is part of his "transformation" and his "disclosure," the documents said. "Mr. Garrido believes that he and Jane Doe once had a plan to launch a Web site wherein Mr. Garrido's ability to speak to angels would be revealed to mankind. He remains confused as to why that has not happened."

The attorneys said they had not attempted to contact Dugard, but sent a letter to her former attorney without knowing he was no longer representing her.

Prosecutors said a sentence in that letter, conveying that Garrido harbored no ill will toward Dugard or the children and "loves them very much," was interpreted as a manipulation attempt. Defense attorneys maintained it was not. "There has been no intimidation or harassment of any kind," they wrote.

Authorities maintain Dugard does not want to speak to Garrido or his attorneys. She has that right, the defense attorneys said, and the court can refuse to disclose her location.

"However, in a case like this, it would make settlement far more difficult if counsel were forever foreclosed from approaching the idea of contact again," the attorneys said. If the court will not disclose Dugard's location, they requested a representative be appointed for communication purposes.

Father: 'Growing Pains' Actor Andrew Koenig 'Took His Own Life'

VANCOUVER — More than a week after scouring the city for missing American actor Andrew Koenig, friends who had organized their own search discovered the 41-year-old man's body in the vast urban park that he favored when he lived here more than 10 years ago.

Walter Koenig, also an actor known for his role as Chekov on the original Star Trek series, said his son's body was found Thursday by friends in Stanley Park.

"Our son took his own life," Koenig said, struggling to maintain his composure. "He was obviously in a lot of pain."

Koenig, flanked by his wife, Judith, said their son, known for his role as Richard "Boner" Stabone on the popular 1980s TV series Growing Pains, was in the midst of a life-long struggle with depression.

"If you learn anything from this," Koenig said, directing his comments to those who also suffer from depression, "there are people out there who care."

"In his pain," Judith Koenig said, "he didn't realize help was available to him."

Police Constable Jana McGuinness said the body was found in a densely wooded area just off one of the park's most popular trails for joggers and bicyclists.

McGuinness said investigators did not suspect foul play. She declined to identify the specific cause of death, but she said no weapons were involved.

In a briefing at the police department's horseback patrol precinct in the park, not far from where the body was found, McGuinness said police had searched the general area without success.

Koenig was last seen by friends Feb. 14. He was scheduled to return to the Los Angeles area Feb. 16. When he did not arrive, McGuinness said his parents became increasingly worried and then reported him missing Feb. 18.

From the start, police focused their search in the park after learning that the actor frequently took walks in the 1,000-acre sanctuary, not far from downtown, now teeming with visitors to the Winter Olympic Games.

Police have said Koenig had come here to visit friends, not to attend the Olympic games.

Discovery of Koenig's body came just a day after his parents arrived in the Olympic host city from California to appeal for assistance in locating their son.

McGuinness declined comment on whether a suicide note was found.

On his personal website, however, Walter Koenig earlier in the week acknowledged receiving a troubling letter from his son who had sounded a "despondent tone."

Judith Koenig also said the family had recently learned that their son was giving away some of his personal possessions.

"He was much loved," the mother said, "and he had lots to contribute to this world."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Whale Kills Trainer as Horrified Spectators Watch

ORLANDO, Fla. — A SeaWorld killer whale snatched a trainer off a poolside platform in its jaws Wednesday and thrashed the woman around underwater, killing her in front of a horrified audience. It marked the third time the animal had been involved in a human death.

Distraught audience members were hustled out of the stadium immediately, and the park was closed.

Trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, was one of the park's most experienced. Her sister said Brancheau wouldn't want anything done to the whale that killed her because she loved the animals like children.

Brancheau was rubbing Tilikum after a noontime show when the 12,000-pound whale grabbed her and pulled her in, said Chuck Tompkins, head of animal training at all SeaWorld parks. It was not clear if she drowned or died from the thrashing.

Because of his size and the previous deaths, trainers were not supposed to get into the water with Tilikum, and only about a dozen of the park's 29 trainers worked with him. Brancheau had more experience with the 30-year-old whale than most.

"We recognized he was different," Tompkins said. He said no decision has been made yet about what will happen to Tilikum, such as transfering him to another facility.

A retired couple from Michigan told The Associated Press that they were some stragglers in the audience who had stayed to watch the animals and trainers.

Eldon Skaggs, 72, saw Brancheau on platform massaging the whale. He said the interaction appeared leisurely and informal. Skaggs that the whale "pulled her under and started swimming around with her."

Skaggs said an alarm sounded and staff rushed the audience out of the stadium as workers scrambled around with nets.

Skaggs said he heard that during an earlier show the whale was not responding to directions. Others who attended the earlier show said the whale was behaving like an ornery child.

The couple left and didn't find out until later that the trainer had died.

"We were just a little bit stunned," said Skaggs' wife, Sue Nichols, 67.

Another audience member, Victoria Biniak, told WKMG-TV the whale "took off really fast in the tank, and then he came back, shot up in the air, grabbed the trainer by the waist and started thrashing around, and one of her shoes flew off."

Two other witnesses told the Orlando Sentinel that the whale grabbed the woman by the upper arm and tossed her around in its mouth while swimming rapidly around the tank. Brazilian tourist Joao Lucio DeCosta Sobrinho and his girlfriend were at an underwater viewing area when they suddenly saw a whale with a person in its mouth.

The couple said they watched the whale show at the park two days earlier and came back to take pictures. But on Wednesday the whales appeared agitated.

"It was terrible. It's very difficult to see the image," Sobrinho said.

A SeaWorld spokesman said Tilikum was one of three orcas blamed for killing a trainer in 1991 after the woman lost her balance and fell in the pool at Sealand of the Pacific near Victoria, British Columbia.

Steve Huxter, who was head of Sealand's animal care and training department then, said Wednesday he's surprised it happened again. He says Tilikum was a well-behaved, balanced animal.

Tilikum was also involved in a 1999 death, when the body of a man who had sneaked by SeaWorld security was found draped over him. The man either jumped, fell or was pulled into the frigid water and died of hypothermia, though he was also bruised and scratched by Tilikum.

At the stadium, what appeared to be a body covered with a black shroud could be seen lying on the concrete near the water as the animals swam just a few feet away.

Later Wednesday, SeaWorld in San Diego also suspended its killer whale show. It was not clear if the killer whale show has been suspended at SeaWorld's San Antonio location, which is closed until the weekend.

According to a profile of Brancheau in the Sentinel in 2006, she was one of SeaWorld Orlando's leading trainers. It was apparently a trip to SeaWorld at age 9 that made her want to follow that career path.

"I remember walking down the aisle(of Shamu Stadium) and telling my mom, 'This is what I want to do,'" she said in the article.

Brancheau worked her way into a leadership role at Shamu Stadium during her career with SeaWorld, starting at the Sea Lion&Otter Stadium before spending 10 years working with killer whales, the newspaper said.

She also addressed the dangers of the job.

"You can't put yourself in the water unless you trust them and they trust you," Brancheau said.

Steve McCulloch, founder and program manager at the Marine Mammal Research and Conservation Program at Harbor Branch/Florida Atlantic University, said the whale may have been playing, but it is too early to tell.

"I wouldn't jump to conclusions," he said. "These are very large powerful marine mammals. They exhibit this type of behavior in the wild.

"Nobody cares more about the animal than the trainer. It's just hard to fathom that this has happened."

Brancheau's older sister Diane Gross, of Indiana, said the trainer "would not want anything done to that whale." Gross said her sister loved working at the park and thought of the animals like she would her own children.

Gross tells the Associated Press that news of her sister's death "hasn't sunk in yet."

Mike Wald, a spokesman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration office in Atlanta, said his agency had dispatched an investigator from Tampa.

Wednesday's death was not the first attack on whale trainers at SeaWorld parks.

In November 2006, a trainer was bitten and held underwater several times by a killer whale during a show at SeaWorld's San Diego park.

The trainer, Kenneth Peters, escaped with a broken foot. The 17-foot orca that attacked him was the dominant female of SeaWorld San Diego's seven killer whales. She had attacked Peters two other times,in 1993 and 1999.

In 2004, another whale at the company's San Antonio park tried to hit one of the trainers and attempted to bite him. He also escaped.

Wednesday's attack was the second time in two months that an orca trainer was killed at a marine park. On Dec. 24, 29-year-old Alexis Martinez Hernandez fell from a whale and crushed his ribcage at Loro Parque on the Spanish island of Tenerife. Park officials said the whale, a 14-year-old named Keto, made an unusual move as the two practiced a trick in which the whale lifts the trainer and leaps into the air.

Widow of Austin Plane Crash Victim Sues Pilot's Wife

(CNN) -- The widow of an Internal Revenue Service employee killed when a disgruntled taxpayer flew his plane into a seven-story building in Austin, Texas, last week is suing the pilot's wife, according to court documents.

Valerie Hunter, the wife of Vernon Hunter, is accusing Sheryl Stack, wife of Andrew Joseph "Joe" Stack III, of negligence, alleging she she knew or should have known that her husband was a threat to others and, thus, could have prevented the attack, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Travis County District Court.

"Stack was threatened enough by Joseph Stack that she took her daughter and stayed at a hotel the night before the plane crash. [She] owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid a foreseeable risk of injury to others including [Vernon Hunter]," the suit says.

The lawsuit also seeks to bar the release of Vernon Hunter's autopsy report, saying that, if made public, it would cause Hunter's family to suffer "severe and irreparable emotional distress."

Hunter was killed February 18 when, authorities say, Stack flew his Piper Cherokee PA-28 into a northwest Austin building that housed nearly 200 IRS employees.

Authorities say Stack set fire to his $230,000 home in Austin before embarking on his fatal flight.

Police have said Sheryl Stack spent the previous night in an Austin-area hotel but did not say why. Police said they had received no calls of domestic violence from the house. The only calls to police were made a couple of years ago and concerned barking dogs, officials said said.

A 3,000-word message on a Web site registered to Stack railed against the government, particularly the IRS.

"I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different," the online message said. "I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let's try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well."

Sheryl Stack issued a statement after the attack expressing "sincere sympathy to the victims and their families."

Police Eye Porn Suspect in Child's Slaying

(CNN) -- A man authorities want to question in the slaying of a 7-year-old girl, whose body was dumped in a landfill, appeared in a Florida court Wednesday on child pornography charges after being extradited from Mississippi.

Jarred Harrell, 24, faces 29 counts of possession of child pornography in Clay County, Florida.

Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler has said Harrell is also sought for questioning in the abduction and murder of Somer Thompson, but has not said why.

Harrell was arrested in Meridian, Mississippi, by federal agents earlier this month, and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist asked Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to extradite him. The arrest followed a search of Harrell's residence, Clay County authorities said.

Somer Thompson was last seen in the Clay County town of Orange Park on October 19. Her body was found in a landfill in Folkston, Georgia, about 55 miles north of there. Authorities have not said how she was killed.

Somer's 10-year-old sister told police that Somer had been in a fight with another girl at school earlier that day and that she brought up the subject while she and her brother walked Somer home from school. Somer ran off, apparently upset. The sister said she lost sight of Somer in a group of other children leaving the school, according to a police report.

Police said in October that witnesses including several children reported seeing her that day on a sidewalk in front of a vacant house that was being renovated following a fire.

At Wednesday's hearing, a judge continued Harrell's $1 million bond.

Missing 'Growing Pains' Star Andrew Koenig Gave Warning Signs, Says Friend

NY Daily News- Missing "Growing Pains" star Andrew Koenig may have given ominous warning signs before vanishing in Canada last week, a haunted friend said Monday.

Brooklyn-born filmmaker Lance Miccio said Koenig returned a book and other personal items to his doorstep and turned down two new editing jobs before leaving to visit friends in Vancouver.

"I asked him to work on a couple gigs last time we spoke (Feb. 4), and he just refused. It was unusual. He was kind of fed up with the Hollywood business," Miccio said.

"He was a really talented guy, but he may have just said enough is enough and gone off into the wild. He was a nature boy. I keep hoping for a happy ending," he said.

Miccio said he found the items from Koenig hanging on his doorknob when he returned from a trip Feb. 2. The bag included footage from their projects together and a sci-fi novel Miccio had given Koenig as a gift - "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" by Phillip K. Dick.

Koenig, 41, was last seen at a bakery in Vancouver's Stanley Park neighborhood Feb 14. Best known for playing Kirk Cameron's sidekick Richard "Boner" Stabone on the hit 1980s sitcom "Growing Pains," he never boarded his flight back to the U.S. two days later.

His dad Walter Koenig, the actor who played Pavel Chekov on "Star Trek," said Andrew suffered from depression and sent a "despondent" letter that arrived Feb. 16.

The last time Andrew Koenig called his parents was Feb. 9, they said. His cell phone last received a text Feb. 16 and is now turned off, according to Walter Koenig's website.

The Vancouver Police Missing Persons Unit said Monday it was following up on a "substantial" number of tips - and at least one official said he believes Andrew Koenig is okay.

"Electronic information leads us to believe that Andrew is still in the Vancouver area," Constable Tim Fanning told "We think Andrew is just lying low."

Miccio said that Koenig "left his apartment in Venice, and maybe he just wanted to return everything and start over.

"He lived in Vancouver before and talked about moving back. But I think he would tell his parents. I'm at a loss," Miccio said.

"He has a lot to live for," Miccio added. "He was doing vital stuff and is loved by a lot of people."

Cameron, who played Mike Seaver on Growing Pains, told Life & Style magazine he was praying for Koenig's safe return.

"Andrew, if you're reading this, please call me," Cameron said."Mike and Boner could always work things out when they put their minds to it. I'm praying for you, pal. Hope to hear from you soon."

Read more:
People Mag- Fighting tears, Walter Koenig looked into the news cameras on Wednesday desperately hoping his missing son was watching.

"I just want to know you're okay," he said in the emotional appeal to Andrew Koenig, the Growing Pains star who disappeared earlier this month. "If it means you just want to stay here, that's okay. You don't have to come back. Just let us know that's your intention."

Walter Koenig, also an actor – he played Mr. Chekov on the original Star Trek TV show and movies – was joined by wife Judith at the televised press conference at the Vancouver Police Department.

Police say the younger Koenig was last seen in the British Columbia city on Feb. 16, the same day his phone and ATM activity stopped. The search most recently went to a Vancouver park he frequented, but mounted officers found no sign of the 41-year-old Koenig.

Koenig, who had long battled depression, cleared out his Los Angeles apartment about three weeks ago before traveling to Vancouver, where he once lived. Constable Tim Fanning says police were hopeful Koenig was still in the area and "doesn't want to be found."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Joyce Meyer Ministries Dropped from Coleman Wrongful Death Suit

St. Louis Globe-Democrat-- A ruling on a motion in Monroe County Circuit Court on Tuesday to drop Joyce Meyer Ministries Inc. from a wrongful death suit was a “tactical retreat,” according to an attorney for the family of murder victim Sheri Coleman.

It doesn't mean Coleman’s family will not pursue a civil action against Joyce Meyer Ministries Inc. or Ronald Coleman.

“We are not dropping Joyce Meyer Ministries, we are not dropping Ronald Coleman,” said Jack Carey, a Belleville attorney representing the family. “We can file against either or both between now and May 2011”

Carey had filed a civil suit last year against Christopher Coleman, 32, accused of the first degree murder of his wife, Sheri, 31, and sons Garett, 11, and Gavin, 9. The three were found strangled at their home on May 5 last year at their home in Columbia, Ill.

Joyce Meyer’s ministry, where Christopher Coleman worked as a security guard, was named a respondent-in-discovery. Ronald Coleman, also named as a respondent-in-discovery, is Christopher Coleman’s father.

Carey had six months to seek depositions to convert the ministry and Ronald Coleman as defendants

But Monroe County Judge Dennis Doyle ruled earlier this month that the six-month window had elapsed for the family’s attorneys to take depositions from Meyer or employees of her ministry. A hearing was set in Monroe County Circuit court to name the ministries and Ronald Coleman as defendants.

Then more legal maneuvering ensued. Last week, Carey filed a motion to drop Meyer from the suit. That motion was approved Tuesday.

Carey said without the depositions, attorneys weren’t sure they had enough evidence to proceed with the action. They wanted to be cautious, he said. “It’s a tactical retreat,” Carey said outside the court room.

“This is just something we were not comfortable with going forward on Friday,” Carey said. “It was better to withdraw the respondent-in-discovery and determine in the next few months how we want to proceed against the ministry and Ronald Coleman, or both.”

The six-month deadline was missed for reasons that the judge didn’t find acceptable, he said.

Scheduling problems with Enrico Mirabelli, another attorney representing the family from Cook County, Ill, and with obtaining information with the ministries delayed the process, he said. Another complicating factor involved Carey’s open heart surgery in October.

Some evidence was obtained and Carey said they tried to have the period extended to obtain depositions, he said. The court said, however, that time had run out. “The judge said six months, six months,” Carey said.

Carey said the family’s civil case could be stronger with the completion of Christopher Coleman’s criminal trial. More evidence will become available, he said. “My brief exposure to that evidence that there is plenty there to support a civil case,” Carey said.

Joyce Meyer Ministries is significant because of evidence involving testimony from employees, computer records, cell phone use and other information, he said. Carey distributed interrogatories on Tuesday that he suggests the ministry provided marital counseling to Christopher and Sheri Coleman.

Carey acknowledged that monetary damages in the case would come from Joyce Meyers Ministries. In Illinois, specific amounts can’t be sought in wrongful death suits. A “judicial amount” in access of $75,000 is sought.

Any damages if the case is successful may not come from Christopher Coleman. His house is in foreclosure and his pension has been frozen by court order. “It may give the family at least some emotional satisfaction,” Carey said.

Judge says DNA can be taken from accused Craigslist killer Philip Markoff

BOSTON — Prosecutors can obtain a DNA sample from the former Boston University medical student charged with killing a masseuse he met on Craigslist, a Massachusetts judge ruled Monday.

Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney, said Superior Court Judge Frank Gaziano granted a motion to take DNA from an oral swab of Philip Markoff, who is being held without bail. The judge said the sample could only be compared with biological evidence seized by investigators in the case.

Markoff has pleaded not guilty in the April 14 shooting death of Julissa Brisman, of New York City, and the armed robbery four days later of a Las Vegas woman, both at upscale Boston hotels. He has also been charged in an alleged attack on a stripper in Warwick, R.I.

Markoff met the women through advertisements for erotic services posted on Craigslist, a classified advertising Web site, prosecutors said.

"Investigators have recovered biological evidence in several locations in this case and one more DNA profile to compare that biological evidence against (Markoff) can only make that case stronger," Wark said.

A call to Markoff’s attorney, John Salsberg, was not immediately returned.

Gaziano ruled on a motion originally made by the district attorney’s office in October.

According to the motion, criminalists from the Boston Police Department crime lab identified two blood stains taken from swabs on a handgun that was seized during a search of Markoff’s apartment in Quincy, Mass. Prosecutors allege that Markoff used the weapon to bludgeon Brisman before the victim was shot three times at close range.

Investigators also found several other items in the apartment, including four pairs of women’s underwear wrapped inside of socks and hidden in a box spring.

"A comparison of any DNA profiles generated from the items of evidence can be compared to the DNA profile of the defendant and the three victims to either include or exclude those individuals as possible donors of said profiles," the motion read.

The next court date in the case is March 29, Wark said. A trial date has not been set.

Markoff was engaged to Megan McAllister at the time of his arrest.

McAllister ended the relationship with Markoff after visiting him in jail in June, and their wedding scheduled for August was subsequently canceled.

Suspect Pleads Not Guilty in Yale Murder Case This is a case that will be followed closely in the Yale University community and beyond: the trial of Raymond Clark III, a former Yale lab technician accused of murdering graduate student Annie Le. And the first big news from the proceedings happened yesterday.

In a short court appearance Tuesday, Clark pleaded not guilty to the murder of Le, the Yale Daily News reports. The prosecution added a charge of felony murder to the case, which would allow a jury to convict Clark of killing Le even if the death happened unintentionally in the process of committing another felony, the report says.

Clark also waived his right to a probable cause hearing, at which prosecutors would have had to show that they had enough evidence to proceed.

"In any hypothetical homicide, felony murder ensures the prosecution won't get boxed in," Beth Merkin, one of Clark's public defenders, tells the Daily News. "It provides for alternate theories to be made about the crime."

Clark was arrested on September 17 after the discovery of Le's body hidden in a lab building shocked Yale's New Haven, Conn., campus.

June 14 Start Planned for Drew Peterson Trial

JOLIET, Ill. -- A Will County judge has ordered that jury selection begin June 14 in the murder trial of former Bolingbrook police officer Drew Peterson.

Judge Stephen White set the date Tuesday. In August, White called about 240 potential jurors to the courthouse to fill out questionnaires and tell them to avoid any media reports about the case - in an effort to protect the potential jury pool.

Peterson has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his ex-wife, Kathleen Savio. He's been named a suspect but isn't charged in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson. He denies any involvement in her disappearance.

The judge still has to decide if he'll allow the jury at Drew Peterson's trial to hear hearsay evidence - statements attributed to Savio and Stacy Peterson.

Casey Anthony Led Man To Caylee Anthony Body Discovery

Note: This IS National Enquirer.. And I've heard this scenario months ago on the site, as well..
ORLANDO, FL. --The National Enquirer announced a bombshell tidbit today concerning Casey Anthony.
The tabloid says that a source has told them that the reason meter reader Roy Kronk found the Caylee Anthony's body was because of information that came directly from Casey Anthony.

Casey Anthony was overheard talking about where her daughter's body was buried by an employee of the Orange County Jail in Orlando. The conversation happened shortly after Anthony was arrested and placed in the jail in July 2008.

"Casey said she was able to drive her car into the wooded area about a half-mile from her Florida home near a school," a source said. "Then she said, 'When I got out of the car, I tripped over these bricks.' She said she buried Caylee's body nearby, and it was about 80 feet from the road."

Roy Kronk was determined to find the body.

"I know where Caylee is, and I'm going to go get her," he said just before Thanksgiving Day 2008.

According to the source, the key evidence that helped Kronk find the body was Casey Anthony herself.

"The only reason Roy Kronk found Caylee is that the body's location had come to him in a roundabout way from Casey Anthony herself," said the source.

According to the tabloid, prosecutors learned about this development on February 3 and are evaluating the new evidence.

If this evidence is entered, it could prove extremely damning for Casey Anthony, who has pleaded 'Not Guilty' to murder charges.

Casey Anthony's Parents Facing Foreclosure

ORANGE COUNTY, FL -- It's another round of sad news for Casey Anthony's parents, who are now looking at foreclosure on their east Orange County home.

The Bank of America filed foreclosure papers with the Orange County Clerk of Courts on Monday.

George and Cindy Anthony have lived in the home on Hopespring Drive in the Chickasaw Oaks subdivision since 1986.

Their daughter Casey and their granddaughter, Caylee Anthony, were living there when Caylee disappeared almost two years ago.

The remains of the 2-year-old were found in a wooded around not far from the home in December 2008. Casey is charged with her murder.

George Anthony is retired and Cindy Anthony left her nursing job after Caylee went missing and is on disability.

Report: Father of Holloway Suspect Dies in Aruba

ORANJESTAD, Aruba — The father of the only remaining suspect in the 2005 disappearance of U.S. teenager Natalee Holloway has died in Aruba.

The Aruban newspaper Diario reported Thursday that Paul van der Sloot, 57, died of a heart attack on the Dutch island in the Caribbean. The paper's Web site says he collapsed late Wednesday after playing tennis and was declared dead at a hospital.

Van der Sloot's son Joran has been characterized by Aruban prosecutors as the only suspect in the case. No charges have been filed.

Holloway, from Mountain Brook, Alabama, was 18 when she was last seen leaving a bar in the Aruban capital on the final night of a high school graduation trip. No trace of her has ever been found.

New "Confession" in Natalee Holloway Case

(CBS)- Natalee Holloway vanished nearly five years ago. The mystery behind her disappearance has never been solved, but the primary suspect in the case is talking again, reports CBS News Correspondent Kelly Cobiella.

For the second time in roughly two years, Joran Van Der Sloot is claiming he disposed of Holloway's body.

In 2007, he said he'd dumped her body at sea.

But, in a statement captured on camera last year by a reality star friend in the Netherlands, the Dutch suspect claims to have dumped the Alabama teen's body in a marsh in Aruba.

Holloway went missing after a night of partying on the Caribbean island in May 2005 during a high school graduation trip. The case received international media attention, much of it generated by Holloway's mother, Beth Twitty, in her unrelenting drive to find her daughter.

Van der Sloot's recent statement provides details similar to his 2007 "admission," which came during an undercover operation by a Dutch crime reporter.

Prosecutors in Aruba say they launched an investigation after learning in of this new confession in August 2009, but tell CBS News they concluded "what Van der Sloot said was not credible." They also told a Dutch TV station, "It became clear that this statement is held together by lies and fantasy."

Van der Sloot's father died suddenly on a tennis court two weeks ago, at 57. Many believe Paulus van der Sloot was instrumental in covering up for his son.

On "The Early Show" Tuesday, legal analyst Jack Ford expalined that, "Most people would think, if somebody comes in and says, 'Yes, I did this, and here's where we got rid of the body,' they would think, 'Isn't that enough to prosecute somebody?'

"(In) most places," Ford told co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez, "you need more than somebody just saying, 'I did something wrong. Here's what I did.' The law says you have to be able to prove that there was a crime to start with before you can use somebody's words as a basis for a prosecution. So you need to have more evidence out there."

Ford added, "If you're the prosecutor here, the first time he's talking about, 'We disposed of the body in the ocean.' Now, he's saying, 'We disposed of the body in a swamp.' So, the prosecutors, I'm sure, are looking at this, and they're saying, 'There's just not enough detail here, and the detail he is giving us is different from what he said the first time.' So, again, if they had something else, if they had proof of a murder, something that could tie him into it, then this might be more significant. But apparently they just don't."

Stella C. Vandermeer

STELLA C. VANDERMEER, 51, a Stamford resident, passed away on Thursday February 4, 2010. She was born on October 7, 1958 in Leiden, The Netherlands to Hans Vandermeer and the late Louise Vandermeer.

Stella moved to the United States in 1964 and graduated from Rye High School in Rye New York. She attended the University of Tampa and Berkley College in New Jersey. She was currently attending Norwalk Community College pursuing an associate's degree in Human Services. Stella worked for many years in the corporate world and was most recently employed as a customer service representative at Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Stamford.

An active member of Laurel House since 2004, Stella was an ambassador for those recovering from mental illness. She presented a workshop on recovery at Fordham University's Graduate School of Social Services and recently hosted Congressman Jim Himes' visit to Laurel House. Stella loved photography, creative writing, and her cat, Tinkerbell. She possessed a radiant smile and was a loyal friend to many. In addition to her father, Stella is survived by her stepmother, Neinke Vandermeer; and two brothers, Roland and Marc Vandermeer.

A Memorial Service will be held on Monday February 8, 2010 at 11:00am at Leo P. Gallagher & Son Funeral Home, 2900 Summer Street in Stamford. In lieu of flowers, friends may make donations to Friends of Laurel House, 1616 Washington, Blvd, Stamford CT 06902.

Published in Stamford Advocate from February 6 to February 7, 2010
Stella was a very genuine person from the few times I've gotten to talk with her and get to know her.. Unfortunately I only had one full semester a year ago to get to know her, this semester she only attended one of our classes before passing away in her sleep.

R.I.P., Stella....

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sources: Duct Tape Used To Kill Caylee

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Sources close to the investigation said that a group of new pictures released Tuesday include images of what prosecutors said is the murder weapon used to kill Caylee Anthony.

According to sources, a strip of duct tape found on Caylee's mouth is one of three prosecutors believe were used by Casey Anthony to suffocate her daughter.

Anthony's defense maintains the tape is just a theory and the state has no definitive proof of the murder, citing that the state failed to find Anthony's prints on the duct tape.

"The biggest problem for the defense is that there can never be an innocent explanation for duct tape being fixed on a child's face," Orlando defense attorney Richard Hornsby said.

Hornsby said that the number of pieces of tape and where they were placed is critical.

"The fact that there was more than one piece and they were used to block the airways, clearly that's where the state is going to argue the premeditation comes from," Hornsby said.

The state attorney has denied comment, but in a December hearing, prosecutor Jeff Ashton first laid out his theory.

"Maybe her killer saw her eyes as she applied one piece, then two, then three so that no breath was possible," he said. (Watch The Hearing Video)

Hornsby also said that the defense is validating the state's theory by trying to cast doubt on Roy Kronk, the former meter reader who discovered Caylee's remains.

"The defense pointing at Roy Kronk as having used duct tape, they're admitting to tape being affixed to her face and Caylee suffocating," Hornsby said.

Also amid the documents released are photographs of the trunk liner taken from Anthony's white Pontiac and the rare Henkel brand of duct tape found on Caylee's small skull. The same type of tape was used by the Anthony family to put up fliers of Caylee when she was missing.

Enlarged photos showed a knife with a strand of something sticking to it. The photos were submitted to an FBI laboratory for testing, but the knife could not be linked to the duct tape.

The trunk liner photographs showed a flaky substance and what look like small stains. Larger stains are visible on the back of the liner.

Casey Anthony, 23, is in the Orange County Jail on no bond. She is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her daughter.

Caylee's remains were found in a wooded area off Suburban Drive near the Anthony family home in Dec. 2008.

Anthony maintains a nanny by the name of Zenaida Gonzalez kidnapped Caylee.

The judge in the case against Casey Anthony has turned down a request from the prosecution for a private hearing without the defense present.

Jose Baez told WESH 2 that Judge Stan Strickland has ruled that Anthony's defense should be allowed to be present at that closed door hearing.

In court papers, the prosecution said they had new evidence they felt they could only share behind closed doors without the defense or media present.

Strickland has yet to set a date on when that hearing will happen. It is unknown what that evidence is.

Photos Released in Casey Anthony Case

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Images of a syringe, a Gatorade bottle, a car seat, the contents of a car's trunk and a kit used for testing chemicals are among the dozens of photos released by prosecutors in the case of a Florida mother charged with killing her toddler daughter.

Prosecutors trying the first-degree murder case of Casey Anthony released the photos Tuesday. The 23-year-old mother has pleaded not guilty and claims a baby sitter kidnapped her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in 2008.

Forensic testing revealed traces of chloroform in Casey Anthony's car. The chemical compound is used to induce unconsciousness and is also a component of human decomposition.

Caylee was last seen alive in early June 2008, but she wasn't reported missing to authorities until a month later.

Hearsay Hearing for Drew Peterson Comes to an End

JOLIET, Ill. -- A hearing for Drew Peterson ended Friday night with the same question it began with a month ago: Is there enough evidence to convince a judge that the former police officer may have killed his third and fourth wives to keep them from testifying before a jury?

In dramatic closing statements after the last of more than 70 witnesses testified, prosecutors portrayed Peterson as a cold-blooded killer who took the lives of Kathleen Savio in 2004 and Stacy Peterson three years later to keep them from getting his money.

"They are killed so they can't take the witness stand in a divorce proceeding," said Will County Assistant State's Attorney John Connor.

But defense attorneys said the case against Peterson is built on lies.

Savio's death was a tragic accident, they said, and Stacy Peterson may have vanished in 2007, but she's not dead.

"For someone to say five, six, seven, eight, nine times that she's dead doesn't mean she's dead," defense attorney George Lenard said. "The reason she is not here with Mr. Peterson is that she left, and she left with another man."

The former Bolingbrook police sergeant is charged with Savio's death, but no charges have been filed in Stacy Peterson's disappearance. Friday's closing statements marked the first time they said outright they believe he killed Stacy Peterson.

The unprecedented hearing is easily the most extensive use of a state law allowing a judge to admit hearsay evidence in first-degree murder cases if prosecutors can prove a defendant may have killed a witness to prevent him or her from testifying. The law was passed after authorities named Peterson a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy, then exhumed Savio's body and reopened her death investigation.

The statements that prosecutors want Judge Stephen White to admit as testimony are those in which the women allegedly expressed to friends and family that they were afraid Peterson would kill them.

Prosecutors want friends and relatives of Savio to be allowed to testify about a threat she described, in which Peterson reportedly held a knife to her throat and allegedly told her he could kill her and make it look like an accident. They also want the judge to allow a friend of Stacy Peterson to testify Peterson had told her he killed Savio.

Defense attorneys argued that many of the statements shouldn't be admitted. For example, they pointed to statements Savio gave police after the alleged knife incident in which Savio never said Peterson had a knife.

"She describes things the way she wants in order to make people feel sorry for her," said Andrew Abood, saying Savio wasn't a credible witness.

White also must consider testimony from three pathologists. They all agreed Savio drowned, but two - including Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City chief medical examiner who testified Friday - contended Savio's death was a homicide. The other pathologist backed the original finding that her death was an accident.

Throughout the hearing, it became clear the hearsay evidence is critical for prosecutors. They presented no physical evidence linking Drew Peterson to Savio's death, and Stacy Peterson remains missing.

Abood characterized the weakness of the case against Peterson this way: "They (prosecutors) want to come in here and say it's a staged crime scene because they have no evidence."

But prosecutors said the only explanation for the deaths of both women is that Peterson killed them. Both, they said, posed a threat to Drew Peterson. They said he was worried his property settlement with Savio would wipe him out financially, and that Stacy Peterson's planned divorce from him would do the same.

What happened, Connor said, is exactly what Savio and Stacy Peterson feared would happen, as friends and family described.

"Mr. Peterson's wives are two-for-two in predicting their own murders," he said.

White did not say when he would rule on the hearsay, but he did say he would order the ruling sealed until a jury is selected. He explained that he didn't want his decision to influence potential jurors.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Texas Plane Crash: Did Suicidal Pilot Joe Stack Have Explosives on Board?

ABC News- The sheer volume of flames and smoke pouring from the Austin office building where a suicidal pilot slammed his plane at full speed has prompted authorities to investigate whether he had some kind of explosive on board.

Joe Stack, 53, topped off his single engine Piper Cherokee with fuel before crashing into the IRS offices in a kamikaze mission designed to punish the government he believed wronged him.

The full tank of fuel is believed to have contributed to the force of the explosion and subsequent fire, which investigators believe was probably a deliberate tactic by Stack. Investigators are also trying to determine whether Stack had explosives on board with him, sources told ABC News.

Firefighters spent most of the day Thursday trying to extinguish the flames that prevented investigators from recovering Stack's body and searching for anyone else who may have been injured or killed.

Despite the spectacular crash and fire that left the seven story building a blackened hulk, only Stack and one other person are believed to have died. The body of the unidentified victim, a federal employee, was pulled from the building Thursday night.

Investigators believe Stack was the author of a lengthy, hate-filled diatribe that raged against the IRS, President George W. Bush and his own accountant. Posted right around the same time as the 10 a.m. crash, it was signed "Joe Stack (1956-2010.)"

The note was titled "Well Mr. Big Brother IRS Man … take my pound of flesh and sleep well." It details years spent working and paying taxes, but not reaping the benefits of what he considered to be a functional government.

"I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at 'big brother' while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won't continue; I have just had enough," the note reads.

Records show two of Stack's software companies had been suspended by the state tax board.

"I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less," he wrote.

Stack's family has not yet commented on the crash, but his wife -- who was mentioned by name in his suicide note -- is expected to speak today.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner told "Good Morning America" that while it may appear that Stack simply snapped under the weight of tax debt, it was clear from the suicide note that this had been brewing for some time.

"This is the kind of crime that's planned for a long time," Welner said. "I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he practiced."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Holy Duck!

News Channel 3 Mugshots -

Anna Clifford was stopped for erratic driving in the early hours after a night out to celebrate her birthday with friends in Memphis, Tennessee.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Professor Charged with Murder in Alabama University Shooting

Huntsville, Alabama (CNN) -- A Harvard-trained biology professor has been charged with capital murder in the shooting deaths of three faculty members at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, authorities said Saturday.

Huntsville Police Chief Henry Reyes said Amy Bishop Anderson, 45, was attending a faculty meeting on the third floor of the sciences building Friday afternoon when she shot six colleagues, killing three.

Anderson, a professor and researcher at the university, was arrested as she was leaving the building, Reyes told reporters Saturday. He said a 9 mm handgun was recovered from the second floor of the building late Friday.

Anderson is charged with one count of capital murder, a crime eligible for the death penalty in Alabama. Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard said officials were considering other charges, including attempted murder.

University spokesman Ray Garner has identified the dead as Gopi Podila, chairman of the biological sciences department; Maria Davis, associate professor of biology; and Adriel Johnson, associate professor of biology.

The injured were Joseph Leahy, associate professor of biology, in critical condition; Luis Cruz-Vera, assistant professor of biology, in stable condition; and Stephanie Monticello, staff assistant, also in stable condition.

Authorities have not ruled out the possibility of other suspects in connection with the shooting.

Investigators have interviewed Anderson's husband, Jim.

Anderson had been working at the university since 2003 and was up for tenure, Garner said. However, authorities wouldn't discuss possible motives or whether the issue of tenure may have played a role in the shooting.

Garner said the meeting at Shelby Hall was for faculty and staff in the sciences department, but he gave no other details.

The incident occurred shortly before 4 p.m. (5 p.m. ET), and residence halls were locked down 10 minutes later.

Pressed on the amount of time that passed before a campus alert was sent notifying students and faculty about the shooting and the lockdown, university police Chief Chuck Gailes said the lag "didn't impact the safety of people on campus and in the building."

He said there is no specific timeframe that dictates how quickly such an alert is issued, but he said it would be an issue officials will look into.

University President David Williams said there would be a prayer service Sunday.

"We are a resilient community, and we know we will come together to overcome these difficult times," he said.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Anderson retained a defense attorney.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Enough Already: Snow Breaks Mid-Atlantic Records

WASHINGTON – Worst winter ever? The second blizzard in less than a week buried the most populous stretch of the East Coast under nearly a foot of snow Wednesday, breaking records for the snowiest winter and demoralizing millions of people still trying to dig out from the previous storm.

Conditions in the nation's capital were so bad that even plows were advised to get off the roads, and forecasters were eyeing a third storm that could be brewing for next week.

For many families, the first storm was a fun weekend diversion. People even went skiing past Washington's monuments. But Wednesday's blizzard quickly became a serious safety concern. The Pennsylvania governor shut down some highways and warned that people who drove were risking their lives.

"I've seen enough," said Bill Daly, 57, as gusts of wind and snow lashed his face in Arlington, Va., where streets were nearly empty just a few days after people had been playing in the snow.

"It's scary and beautiful at the same time. I wanted to shovel but thought if I had a heart attack it could be a while before anybody found me in this kind of weather."

Old-timers talk about a storm that blew through Washington in 1922, collapsing the roof on the Knickerbocker theater and killing more than 90 people. Their great-great-grandchildren will be able to describe the back-to-back blizzards of 2010, which were not nearly as deadly but set records for the snowiest winters ever in Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia.

Up to 16 inches fell in parts of western Maryland. Reagan National Airport outside Washington had nearly 10 inches by 2 p.m., and Baltimore got nearly a foot. That was on top of totals up to 3 feet in some places from the weekend storm.

"I have never in my lifetime seen or heard anything quite like this," said D.C. Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin, who was born and raised in the District.

The previous records for snowiest winters were 62.5 inches in Baltimore in 1995-96; 54.4 inches in Washington in 1898-99; and 65.5 inches in Philadelphia in 1995-96.

On Wednesday, Baltimore had 72.3 inches so far this winter, the Washington area had 54.9 inches and Philadelphia had 70.3 inches.

Heavy snow also fell in New York and New Jersey. Airlines canceled hundreds of flights, and New York City's 1.1 million schoolchildren enjoyed only their third snow day in six years. The Washington area's two airports had no flights coming or going Wednesday.

The streets of downtown Philadelphia were nearly vacant as people heeded the mayor's advice to stay home.

Entrance ramps to closed highways were blockaded, and the Pennsylvania National Guard had Humvees stocked with food and blankets ready to help anyone who got stuck. Earlier in the day, about 25 vehicles were involved in two separate pileups on snowy Interstate 80 in central Pennsylvania. One man was killed and 18 people injured.

"For your safety, do not drive," Gov. Ed Rendell said. "You will risk your life and, potentially, the lives of others if you get stuck on highways or any road."

Two other people were killed when their snowmobile struck a moving vehicle at an intersection in Lancaster, Pa. Michigan authorities said the storm contributed to at least four traffic deaths there.

In Virginia, where some areas had snow totals exceeding 30 inches from the two storms, winds were howling at 50 mph and temperatures were plunging. Gov. Bob McDonnell urged people to stay indoors.

"This snow reminds me of when I was driving tractor-trailers in Saudi Arabia, and the sandstorm starts and you can't see the roads," said Syeed Zada, 55, a plow driver for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

More than 100,000 utility customers in Pennsylvania were without power. Some never got it back after the last storm.

Glenn Harvey, 59, who has a lung problem and needs oxygen, had been staying at a Red Cross shelter in Bentleyville, Pa., since Saturday.

Firefighters brought him there after the storm knocked out power to his house Friday night. His wife stayed home with their dog, where she's using a kerosene heater to keep warm.

"It's not been easy on her," Harvey said.

In Washington, officials announced that federal agencies would stay closed for a fourth straight day Thursday. The longest weather-related government shutdown ever was in 1996, when employees did not have to go to work for a full week.

A Caribou Coffee shop in the capital was standing room only. Most people pecked away at laptop computers as snow fell steadily outside.

"Can't get to the office, but the work still needs to get done," said attorney Christopher Erckert.

Driving conditions got so bad that officials in Washington and some nearby suburbs pulled plows off the roads. In Baltimore, Pete Korfiatis dumped snow into the Inner Harbor with a front-end loader until city officials decided the roads were too slick.

"They just shut everything down," he said.

Heavy snow collapsed part of the roof and a wall at a Smithsonian Institution storage building in Suitland, Md. It was not clear if any artifacts were damaged.

The District of Columbia's representative in Congress asked the White House to declare a federal emergency to help the capital recover.

In New York, George and Natividad Sanchez trudged over slushy sidewalks in boots, parkas and scarves to take their 2-year-old daughter to see "Sesame Street Live: When Elmo Grows Up."

"I didn't want to disappoint her," George Sanchez said as the family arrived for the show at a theater in Madison Square Garden.

The news wasn't all bad. Washington has not had a homicide in a week. Ski areas were doing brisk business, when people could get to them. And private contractors were making money plowing driveways and parking lots.

But many people were just ready for the ordeal to end.

In a yard in Westmont, N.J., someone used bright orange paint to scrawl nature a message on a white backdrop: "Dear Mr Frost," it read. "We're good w/ snow."

Newly Released 9/11 NYPD Photos Show WTC Collapse

NEW YORK – Newly released aerial photos of the World Trade Center terror attack capture the towers' dramatic collapse, from just after the first fiery plane strike to the apocalyptic dust clouds that spread over lower Manhattan and its harbor.

The images were taken from a police helicopter — the only photographers allowed in the air space near the towers on Sept. 11, 2001. They were obtained by ABC News after it filed a Freedom of Information Act request last year with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which investigated the collapse.

The chief curator of the planned Sept. 11 museum, which is compiling a digital archive of attack coverage, said the still images are "a phenomenal body of work" that show a new, wide-angle look at the towers' collapse and the gray dust clouds that shrouded the city afterward.

The photos are "absolutely core to understanding the visual phenomena of what was happening," said Jan Ramirez, chief curator at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

The images of the dust clouds rising as high as some downtown skyscrapers "are some of the most exceptional images in the world, I think, of this event," Ramirez said.

ABC said the NIST gave the network 2,779 pictures on nine CDs, saying some of the photographs had never been released before.

The network posted 12 photos this week on its Web site, all taken by ex-NYPD Aviation Unit Detective Greg Semendinger, who was first in the air in a search for survivors on the rooftop. He said he and his pilot watched the second plane hit the south tower from the helicopter.

"We didn't find one single person. It was surreal," he told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "There was no sound. No sound whatsoever, but the noise of the radio and the helicopter. I just kept taking pictures."

He took three rolls of film with his Minolta camera, plus 245 digital shots. Semendinger said he gave the digital images to the 9/11 Commission and believes those images were released by the NSIT. In the days after the attack, he e-mailed some of the photos to friends and several were posted on the Internet.

Later, nine of the images were published in a book called "Above Hallowed Ground: A Photographic Record of Sept. 11" without his consent. The book was a tribute to the officers who were killed that day.

The photos capture the enormous scope of the dust that enveloped the area.

In some images, the tops of the nearby Woolworth Building and other skyscrapers can be seen rising above the billowing dark plume against a clear blue sky. Buildings can hardly be seen at all in one image — just a burst of dust clouds hanging over the serene Hudson River at the southern tip of Manhattan.

A close-up image from earlier in the morning shows orange flames and black smoke rising past the antenna on top of the north tower, the first hit by a hijacked plane.

Ramirez said the museum, which is slated to open in 2012, saw a selection of the photos at police headquarters several years ago.

They are extremely important because the NYPD aviation unit had the clearance to be up in the air in lower Manhattan only "moments after the first tower was hit," and stayed in the area for the remainder of the day, she said.

Sometime after 10 a.m., she said they were able to "predict that the north tower was going to fall." It did just before 10:30 a.m.

The museum hopes to get a complete set of the photos.

"We've had our sights set on this body of visual evidence for several years," Ramirez said.

Semendinger retired from the NYPD in 2002 after 35 years, 20 of them in aviation. He said he has thought about publishing his work from those days.

"I almost didn't realize what I was seeing that day," he said. "Looking at it now it's amazing I took those pictures. The images are ... stunning."