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-- April 16, 2011, Statement by New York City Police Officer Michael Daragjati, boasting of his false arrest of another African-American male.
Top News Story! Infanticide!
Posted: Nov 9, 2015, 03:45 PM ET ~ Updated: Nov 15, 2015, 02:22 PM PT
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (WCJB) — On Friday a California jury convicted Ka Yang, 34 (pictured above, center) of first-degree murder and assault. Yang went on trial for the microwave oven death of her 1-month-old daughter. The jury rejected her argument that she was in the midst of a seizure and didn't know what she was doing. Yang is married and has three other children. Prosecutors say Yang put her daughter, Mirabelle Thao-Lo, in the microwave at her Sacramento-area home in March 2011. The baby was in the microwave for 2½ to 5 minutes. The girl suffered what authorities said were extensive thermal injuries.
She initially told investigators that she blacked out while working on the computer with Mirabelle in her arms. She claimed that she woke up on the ground with the baby injured next to a space heater. Yang had a history of seizures. However, paramedics did not find her to be disoriented when they arrived, according to a police affidavit. Investigators who arrived at the scene found the girl burned from head-to-toe and her pacifier in the microwave. The baby's pajamas and hair were not singed, according to the affidavit. When detectives pointed out inconsistencies in her story, Yang later acknowledged she lied and said she might have a split personality, the affidavit said.
Yang's attorney said after the verdict that she was disappointed. "Ms. Yang suffers from epilepsy. She had an epileptic seizure. It was not deliberate conduct," the attorney said. Yang is facing 26-years-to-life in prison. She is scheduled to be sentenced in December.
June 22, 2011
SACRAMENTO, CA – In what police say is an extremely rare and disturbing case, a Sacramento woman was arrested this morning for allegedly killing her 6-week-old daughter in March by placing her in a microwave oven. Ka Yang, 29 (pictured left) was arrested at her Sacramento home this morning and charged with homicide after a three-month investigation into what caused unusual burns on the child, Mirabelle Thao-Lo, who was found dead on the afternoon of March 17.
Sacramento police spokeswoman Laura Peck said there have been only three previous cases involving a child being burned in a microwave, and that detectives studied those cases and consulted with medical experts and pathologists before making the arrest. “It was a lengthy investigation to determine how these burns occurred,” Peck said. “When the officers arrived on scene they immediately saw there were unexplained injuries because of the burns. That led to this very lengthy, involved investigation to determine how these unusual and rare injuries occurred.” The infant’s fourth-degree burns were among the worst investigators at the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office had seen, coroner’s spokesman Ed Smith said. “The child was apparently killed by the burning of the tissue,” Smith said. “I don’t know if they can say how long baby was in the microwave.” Yang has three other children, all boys ages 7 and younger, and they were removed from the home that day, police said.
The mother remained under suspicion while detectives studied previous cases in Texas, Virginia and Ohio. Peck said the Texas case involved a Galveston child who survived being placed inside a microwave. A second case in Dayton, Ohio, involved the 2005 death of a 4-week-old baby and resulted in a guilty verdict and life sentence last month for the baby’s mother. The 1999 death of a 1-month-old Virginia baby resulted in a five-year sentence for the mother. Peck said the rarity of such cases contributed to the length of time between Mirabelle’s death and today’s arrest. “That’s why it took so long,” she said. “Normally, we make an arrest within a few days. But in a situation like this where we had to do so much analysis, it took some time for us to piece together.” Jail records show Yang is still in the process of being booked on charges of murder and assault resulting in the death of a child under 8.
There have been three other known cases of babies being burned inside microwaves before today’s arrest of Ka Yang, including:
— The September 1999 death of 1-month-old Joseph Lewis Martinez in New Kent County, Va. The baby was found in the oven and his mother, Elizabeth Renee Otte, told authorities she became confused during an epileptic seizure and placed the boy in the microwave instead of a bottle of milk. She was charged with murder and in 2000 pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to five years.
— The August 2005 death of 4-week-old Paris Talley in Dayton, Ohio. Talley’s mother, China Arnold, stood trial three times before her conviction last month on charges of aggravated murder. The jury in the case recommended a life sentence.
— The May 2007 injury of 2-month-old Ana Mauldin, who suffered burns on her left ear and arm after being placed inside a microwave oven for about 10 seconds in a Galveston, Texas, motel. The girl’s father, Joshua Mauldin, originally told authorities the child had been injured through by sunburn or scalding water. He was convicted in 2008 of injuring a child and sentenced to 25 years.
Posted: Thurs., Sept. 24, 2015, 9:46 AM ~ Updated: Thurs., Sept. 24, 2015, 10:24 PM PT
Wilmington, Delaware -- State investigators in Delaware are looking into the fatal shooting by police of a man in a wheelchair, which was captured in cellphone video footage.
The death of Jeremy McDole is being investigated by officials from the Delaware Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust. The department reviews every incident in which a police shooting results in injury or death.
McDole, 28, was shot on Wednesday by several Wilmington police officers who were responding to a 911 call reporting that he had shot himself, according to authorities.
The graphic cellphone footage, filmed by a bystander, shows an officer approaching McDole on a street and shouting at him to put up his hands and drop a gun. A gunshot can be heard and a person behind the camera says McDole was struck and bleeding. Several other officers then join and make their own commands while McDole struggles in his wheelchair and moves his hands.
At that point, McDole appears to move to reach into the front of his jeans, just before several officers open fire.
No gun, other than those belonging to the officers, is visible in the video footage.
Police said on Thursday they had recovered a .38-caliber handgun that they said had been at his side.
McDole lived in a nearby nursing home, according to the Associated Press. Family members told local media that he had been using a wheelchair since he was shot and paralyzed at the age of 18.
His uncle, Eugene Smith, was among a crowd who gathered at the scene of the shooting on Thursday, the AP reported. “It was an execution,” Smith reportedly said. “That’s what it was. I don’t care if he was black, white, whatever.”
Wilmington police chief Bobby Cummings and mayor Dennis Williams gave an update on the response to the shooting at a press conference in the city on Thursday afternoon.
“I’m sorry for the officers and family of Jeremy McDole, as this encounter unfortunately ended with the loss of his life,” Cummings said in a statement. “I know that this incident could impact police and community relations, therefore, I will ensure a thorough and transparent investigation will be conducted.”
Investigators from the state justice department responded to the scene of the shooting Wednesday to interview witnesses.
Williams promised that a “better grasp of the details” of what happened would be established. “This is a sad and unfortunate situation for everyone involved,” said Williams.
A spokeswoman for Williams said the four officers involved in the shooting had been placed on administrative leave.
Published: September 26, 2014, 1:42 pm ~ Updated: September 27, 2014, 10:35 pm PST
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Rio Arriba County Sheriff Thomas Rodella (Democrat), a northern New Mexico sheriff who has fought off accusations of misconduct throughout his career, was convicted Friday. Rodella was convicted of abusing a driver during a bizarre traffic stop. "We take little pleasure in today's guilty verdict," said U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez, explaining that his office believes the vast majority of law enforcement officers are good public servants. "It's a sad day when an officer is found guilty of something like this, as serious as this," Martinez said.
Rodella is one of the most powerful political figures in the state. On Friday he sat in the defendant's chair rather than on the side of the law. His family were visibly upset when jurors convicted him of pulling his gun on a driver and violating the 26-year-old's civil rights. His wife, state Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-Espanola, sobbed after the verdict was read. He now faces up to 17 years in prison. His sentencing date hasn't yet been determined.
Prosecutors called Rodella's actions a fit of road rage. At the time of the incident Rodella was driving his personal SUV and wearing street clothes. Rodella had his son was in the passenger seat. The victim Michael Tafoya said the March encounter began when he turned onto a street in front of Rodella. Tafoya said the two men gave each other the middle finger. Tafoya said Rodella began to follow him closely.
Tafoya said when they reached a dead end, the sheriff jumped out holding his gun. Rodella then dragged Tafoya into the street and struck him in the face with his badge, prosecutors said. "I said, 'Please, don't kill me,' " Tafoya testified. "It's too late. It's too late," Rodella replied, according to Tafoya. Two other drivers testified that they had similar encounters with Rodella. However, no federal charges were filed in either case. Prosecutors said the cases were presented to show a pattern of abuse.
Defense lawyers tried to portray Tafoya as a reckless driver whom Rodella was merely trying to stop in the interest of public safety. They also argued the case was largely based on a dispute with the U.S. attorney's office over U.S. Forest Service patrols in northern New Mexico. Martinez denied that accusation. Defense lawyers declined to comment as they left the courthouse.
This wasn't the first time Rodella has been accused of misconduct. He had been appointed as a magistrate in 2005 by Gov. Bill Richardson. He resigned a few months later amid criticism - and pressure from Richardson - after news of his disciplinary problems with the state police became public. Rodella fired back at his critics, saying the governor was aware of his record. Rodella retired from the state police department on a disability pension in 1995 after 13 years.
Rodella was disciplined during his time on the force for marijuana use; improper use of a weapon,; falsifying official reports; abusing sick leave; and using his position for personal gain, according to state reports. State documents also show he was suspended for 30 days for firing at a deer decoy that game officers had set up to catch poachers. Rodella has declined comment on those reports.
Prior to being elected sheriff in 2010, Rodella was ousted as a magistrate judge by the state Supreme Court for several alleged infractions. Those infractions included promising to rule in favor of campaign supporters during a rent dispute. The court barred him from running again for judicial office. In 2013, the FBI searched the sheriff's office to investigate whether his staff accepted donations to a scholarship fund and then looked the other way on donors' traffic offenses. Rodella said the program helped students and denied any wrongdoing. No charges were ever filed.
As an incumbent in a June primary election, he lost the Democratic nomination for Rio Arriba County sheriff. James Lujan by 200 votes. Lujan was a deputy Rodella whom had fired. Since Rodella's indictment last month, some elected officials in the rural county have called for his resignation. Rodella has refused and denied any wrongdoing and said he had no plans to step down. He has asked state police to investigate various allegations of corruption by county officials.
INDIANAPOLIS (WCJB) — An accused hit man charged with killing four people in Indianapolis appeared before a Marion County judge for the first time on Friday.
At a court hearing, John Means asked for a speedy trial. He had his own attorney when he went to court for the hearing.
Investigators say they believe Means was hired as a hit man in two double homicides. Police say they think Means killed four people within four days back in January.
One of the shootings happened at a gas station at 19th and Rural. The other happened at a home on Hovey Street.
Court documents say Means recently bragged about the shootings over the phone while behind bars in Miami County.
Means’ jury trial is scheduled for Dec. 1.
Published: September 22, 2014, 4:54 pm ~ Updated: September 22, 2014, 7:06 pm
INDIANAPOLIS (WCJB) – Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department arrested 21-year-old John Means for the murder of four men in the span of four days. Investigators believe Means killed the men for $3 to 12,000 in cash.
Investigators discovered jailhouse phone conversations to help solidify the charges against Means. On January 28, prosecutors accused Means of shooting and killing Tyrece Dorsey, 23, and William Davis, 25, outside of a Citgo gas station in the 1800 block of North Rural.
Four days later, police say Means struck again. That time, he’s accused of shooting and killing Carlos Jefferson Jr., 22, and Julius Douglas, 23, in the 3400 block of North Hovey Street. Police arrested Means an hour after the shooting after he tried to run from police during a traffic violation.
During Means time in the Marion County Jail, he allegedly bragged about the shooting. Investigators also recorded phone conversations between Means and others. In those discussions, Means speaks in code like substituting the word “double murder” for “double cheeseburger.” Detectives go on to say Means and others talked about the news coverage the shootings had received.
Prosecutors believe a hit had been placed on Dorsey because of his friendship with another man who couldn’t be found. Investigators believe Davis was targeted because he was simply with Dorsey when the shooting happened outside of the gas station the night of the shooting.
In the Hovey Street murder, detectives have evidence Douglas was targeted over a dispute, and that Jefferson became a victim because he was on the scene when Means started shooting.
As of Monday, Means is in the Miami County Jail for another charge. He is expected to face an initial hearing in Marion County for the murder charges on Friday.
IMPD has not ruled out possible charges against others in this investigation.
Published: September 19, 2014, 6:18 pm
INDIANAPOLIS (WCJB) – Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department detectives arrested a man in connection to two double homicides that happened earlier this year.
According to police, John Means was served with four separate warrants on Friday in relation to four murders that happened in January and February.
Means is accused of shooting Tyrece Dorsey and William Davis to death in the 1800 block of North Rural Street on January 28. He’s also accused of fatally shooting Carlos Jefferson and Julius Douglas in the 3400 block of North Hovey Street on February 1.
The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office filed formal murder charges on Friday and detectives served Means the warrants at the Miami Correctional Facility. Police said Means was at that jail on unrelated charges.
Means will have his initial hearing on Friday, September 26 in Marion County.
Published: September 26, 2014, 1:42 pm ~ Updated: September 26, 2014, 3:02 pm PST
Six Year Consent!
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WCJB) – A former police officer who pleaded guilty to raping a woman he had pulled over during a drunk driving patrol in 2013 was sentenced to six years in prison and two years of probation on Friday.
Mark A. Rogers, who was a 19-year veteran with the Fort Wayne Police Department, pleaded guilty to felony counts of sexual misconduct, official misconduct and rape of a victim mentally disabled such that consent was not possible in August as part of a plea agreement. A separate count of rape and a count of false informing were dropped.
During the sentencing hearing on Friday, Rogers said he was shocked by the charges, that he thought that what happened was between consenting adults.
According to court documents, Rogers pulled over a woman during the Labor Day holiday in 2013 that he suspected of drunk driving and took her to a hospital because she was vomiting. The woman was diagnosed as having alcohol poisoning and was released back into Rogers’ custody. However, in his report Rogers wrote that he left the woman at the hospital when surveillance video showed her leaving with him in handcuffs.
The woman told police that after leaving the hospital, Rogers put her in the back of his squad car and drove to several locations before he stopped, removed her from the car and took off her handcuffs. Rogers then walked her to a park bench where he had sex with her. She later came forward to report the incident and told investigators she went along with the acts as “she feared for her physical safety and because she knew the defendant was a Fort Wayne Police Officer.”
Rogers was arrested on September 16, 2013 at which point he was suspended by the police department. InAugust 2014, he officially resigned from the force.
Posted: 10:38 pm, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 - Updated: 2:23 pm, Sun. Jan. 13, 2013
Freed to Kill,... Again!
Vallejo, CA -- A Vallejo man accused of murdering his elderly mother three decades after escaping the death sentence he earned by abducting and killing two teenage girls seemed to lay bare his demons Friday in a Fairfield courtroom. "This is the third one," muttered Dennis Fink Stanworth, 70 (pictured above-center) as he sobbed and sat slumped in a wheelchair during his brief arraignment in Solano County Superior Court. "I plead guilty to everything," he said, later adding, "I did everything."
Stanworth made his first court appearance two days after he allegedly called 911 to report he had killed his 90-year-old mother, Nellie Stanworth, at his home in the quiet Hiddenbrooke subdivision. Officers found her decomposed body in the backyard.
The victim lived in a mobile-home park in American Canyon. Her neighbors said "Nellie Belle," as they called her, had been in good health but had been losing her mobility. She had recently suffered a fall that required stitches above one of her eyes, they said. The neighbors said they had not seen her for more than a month, and that Dennis Stanworth - who continued to pick up his mother's mail every day - reported she had died. Records show someone put the home up for sale for $39,000 on Nov. 29, then pulled it off the market two weeks later.
Judge Donna Stashyn refused to accept Stanworth's attempted plea after his attorney stepped in to silence him. Stanworth is scheduled to return to court Friday to face charges that could send him - once again - to Death Row. Deputy District Attorney Karen Jensen said after the arraignment that Nellie Stanworth was killed on or about Nov. 6 at the house, which the defendant shared with his wife and her father. Police have questioned both. "It's unclear at this time what they knew and when they knew it," Jensen said. She declined to comment on possible motives for the killing and said an autopsy conducted Friday might reveal a cause of death. Jensen said her office will decide whether to seek capital punishment at a later date.
Dennis Stanworth is eligible for the death penalty because prosecutors charged him with a special circumstance that is rarely alleged - that he murdered someone after previously being convicted of murder. Dennis Stanworth's wife, who attended the court hearing, and his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Oscar Bobrow, declined to comment.
Stanworth was sentenced to death in 1966 for murdering Susan Box, 15, and Caree Collison, 14, both students at De Anza High School in El Sobrante, after he picked them up as they were hitchhiking in Pinole. He drove them to a spot overlooking San Pablo Bay, where he shot Collison in the head when she tried to escape. Then he shot Box and had sex with her body, according to court records. Before the killings, Stanworth kidnapped three young women in El Sobrante and Richmond in separate incidents in 1965 and 1966 and sexually assaulted them, court records show.
While on Death Row, Stanworth wrote to the California Supreme Court, saying he wanted to waive the automatic appeal of his death sentence. "Please be merciful and give me an endless sleep as soon as you can so this pain and suffering that I have will be no more," he said. But five years after his conviction, the California Supreme Court overturned his death sentence because of irregularities during jury selection.
He was again sentenced to death after a retrial, but that term was commuted to life in prison in 1974 after the state's capital punishment law was declared unconstitutional. He was paroled in 1990.
Posted: May 08, 2012 | Updated: May 08, 2012 07:28 PM PDT.
Mayes of Death!
Tennessee -- Police in two states and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are hunting for Adam Mayes. Authorities believe he still holds the two youngest daughters of Jo Ann Bain, whose body was discovered along with that of her 14-year-old daughter Adrienne, behind a barn on Mayes' property.
Teresa Mayes, wife of Adam Mayes, was arrested Sunday along with his mother, Mary Mayes, officials said Tuesday. Both remain jailed at Hardeman County Jail in Tennessee. Teresa Mayes, 31, has been charged with four counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and held on a $500,000 bond, Hardeman County Circuit Court Clerk Linda Fulghum said. Mary Mayes, 65, has been charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit especially aggravated kidnapping and held on $300,000 bond, the clerk said. The two Mayes women were arrested without incident late Sunday in Union County, Mississippi, and transported across the state line to Hardeman County, where they were booked early Monday, Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards said.
"We developed information that led us to believe that they were a part of it," Edwards said. An affidavit filed with the Hardeman County Court said that Teresa Mayes told Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents that she drove the victims from Hardeman County, Tennessee, to Union County, Mississippi. Edwards said it doesn't appear either woman knows the whereabouts Adam Mayes or the two missing Bain children. Mayes was last seen in Guntown, north of Tupelo, last Tuesday, according to the FBI.
On Monday, the medical examiner in Memphis confirmed two bodies found last weekend behind Mayes' barn in Guntown, Mississippi, were those of Jo Ann Bain, 31, and her oldest daughter, Adrienne Bain, 14, the FBI said. Both Teresa and Mary Mayes told investigators they saw Adam Mayes digging in the backyard in Mississippi on April 27, the day of the disappearance. Authorities also believe at least one of the two Mayes women knew about the bodies, Edwards said. He didn't say which one.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said it is believed Mayes has changed his appearance and that he may have altered the appearances of his victims, perhaps by cutting and dying their hair. Bain's other two daughters, Alexandria, 12, and Kyliyah, 8 - taken along with their mother and older sister from their home - were believed to still be with Mayes, the FBI said on Monday night. Bain's husband reported the four missing from their rural western Tennessee home April 27. Mayes, described as a friend of the family who was at their home to help them move to Arizona, was quickly identified as a suspect.
Posted: Mar 29, 2012 | Updated: Apr 2, 2012.
Teen Tourist Killer!
Posted: Wed. December 28, 2011 3:37 PM PST - Updated:
The Grim-X-mas Reaper!
A man charged in the bludgeoning death and dismemberment of a 9-year-old Indiana girl is wanted in Florida for violating probation in 2000, officials said Wednesday. Michael Plumadore, 39, faces one count of murder in the death of Aliahna Lemmon (pictured above, center). He was being held without bond after a court appearance Tuesday. He was arrested Monday night after the girl's body was found. Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries told media sources, "Some of the story we heard from the beginning with him led us to believe he was the key to this case, that ... he was the one who was going to have the answers we were looking for."
Plumadore's confession came after several hours of interrogation Monday evening. "It was very factual when he started telling them what happened. And they just had to sit there and listen to him as if they were just listening to a story with no emotion, just trying to get him to say more and more and more," Fries said. "He was the one who saw her last," Fries said. "He was the one who had the most contact with her."
In a probable cause affidavit released Tuesday, Allen County, Indiana, sheriff's investigators said Plumadore (pictured left) admitted striking the girl repeatedly in the head with a brick as she stood on the front steps of his mobile home in the early hours of December 22. He told authorities he stored Aliahna's body in garbage bags in a freezer at his home until that night, when he allegedly dismembered it with a hacksaw, according to the affidavit. Plumadore allegedly told investigators he threw parts of the body in a nearby commercial trash bin but kept the head, hands and feet in his freezer, according to the document.
Florida Department of Corrections records show that Plumadore was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, firefighter or EMS worker in May 2000, and later that month he was sentenced to a year of community supervision. But he failed to report to his probation officer or attend a court-ordered anger management class the following month, said department spokeswoman Ann Howard. Details of the offense were unavailable because of the time that has passed, she said. However, Plumadore is listed in the department database as "absconder/fugitive."
Posted: Tues. December 27, 2011 10:13 AM PST - Updated:
FORT WAYNE, Ind. - A babysitter and trusted neighbor has confessed that he bludgeoned a 9-year-old Indiana girl to death with a brick then dismembered her, hiding her head, hands and feet at his home and dumping the rest of her remains nearby, police said Tuesday. Allen County sheriff's investigators said in an affidavit that 39-year-old Michael Plumadore admits he killed Aliahna Lemmon on Dec. 22. According to the affidavit, Plumadore told police that after beating Aliahna to death, he stuffed her body into trash bags and hid her in the freezer at his trailer. He said he later chopped up her body and stuffed her remains into freezer bags. Police said Plumadore told them he had hidden Aliahna's head, feet and hands at his trailer and that he had discarded her other remains at a nearby business. Police obtained a warrant to search his trailer on Monday and found the body parts. A judge ordered Plumadore held without bail or bond at an initial hearing Tuesday, sheriff's department spokesman Cpl. Jeremy Tinkel said. He has yet to be formally charged in Aliahna's death.
Mike Plumadore sits next to the chair where Aliahna Lemmon, 9, was last seen before she went missing, in this Dec. 25, 2011 photo.
Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries said Plumadore (pictured above, center) was arrested after being interviewed by detectives for several hours Monday — and was also questioned Friday and Saturday. "The story just didn't make sense to our investigators or to me when I first heard it," Fries said. "I thought this is the guy we needed to focus on. If we are going to find her, he's going to be the one who has the answers for us."
Aliahna and her two younger sisters were staying with Plumadore because their mother had been sick with the flu. "He was a trusted family friend," Aliahna's step-grandfather, David Story, told media sources late Monday, saying he was surprised by the arrest. "It did come to a horrible conclusion," Fries told media sources. "We have somebody in custody now who can pay the price for it."
Plumadore told media sources on Sunday that Aliahna (pictured left) disappeared from his home Friday morning while he was sleeping after having gone to a gas station about a mile away to buy a cigar. Authorities have said the store's surveillance video shows him there about that time. Plumadore claimed that he left the three girls in his mobile home about 6 a.m. Friday and went to a gas station about a mile away to buy a cigar. Authorities have said the store's surveillance video shows him there about that time. "I had dead-bolted the door," he said. "When I got back, all the girls was here." He said he smoked his cigar and went back to sleep, then woke up about 10 a.m. when Aliahna's mother called. After that call, he realized the door to the home was unlocked and that Aliahna was gone. He said Aliahna's 6-year-old sisters told him Aliahna had left with her mother. Plumadore said it wasn't until he talked with Aliahna's mother about 8:30 p.m. that they realized she was missing and police were notified. Souders said the miscommunication caused the delay in determining that Aliahna had vanished.
Aliahna's mother, Tarah Souders, told media sources on Sunday that her daughter had vision, hearing and emotional problems and suffered from attention deficit disorder. "She's never wandered off," she said Sunday. Aliahna and her sisters were staying with Plumadore because their mother had been sick with the flu and Aliahna's stepfather works at night and sleeps during the day.
More than 100 emergency workers searched for her Saturday around the rundown mobile home park where Aliahna and Plumadore lived and FBI agents were there Monday. Fries said Plumadore told investigators on Monday where the girl's body could be found, ending the hopes of authorities that Aliahna would be found safe. A state website shows that 15 registered sex offenders live in the park that numbers about two dozen homes. Plumadore is not on Indiana's registered sex offenders list. He has a criminal record in Florida and North Carolina that includes convictions for trespassing and assault. Elizabeth Watkins, who lives nearby, said residents are cautious and keep to themselves in part because of the number of sex offenders living in the mobile home park. "I'm numb, I'm totally numb. I don't know what to think," she said.
Posted: 12/29/2011 8:50:17 AM ET - Updated: 12/29/2011 10:04:17 AM PT
Waterville, Maine (WCJB) -- On Wednesday, Waterville police said they have wrapped up large-scale searches for missing child, Ayla Reynolds. With assistance from firefighters and residents, authorities have repeatedly probed private properties, nearby woods, open fields and waterways on foot and by air, according to the Waterville police. They have searched trash bins and drained a stream in an attempt to find the missing toddler. Police concluded that Ayla, who recently started walking, did not leave the house on her own. The child was reported missing on Dec. 17, 2011. She was last seen by Justin DiPietro, the father of 20-month-old Ayla, in his Waterville, Maine home, when he put her to bed the previous night.
DiPietro and Trista Reynolds, 23, have not spoken once since the child’s disappearance or during the ensuing wide-scale search by local authorities. The grandfather of a missing 20-month-old Maine girl repeated over and over Wednesday night that the girl's father has not been in touch with the family, even as the father reiterated he doesn't know what happened to her. "Nothing, not a word, nothing," Ron Reynolds told media sources. "My daughter tried to talk to him. Nothing's coming back ... nothing is being said."
Posted: 9:22 PM EST, Mon December 26, 2011 - Updated: 3:59 PM PST, Wed. December 28, 2011
Waterville, Maine (WCJB) -- Authorities in Waterville, Maine, on Monday offered a $30,000 reward for information that would lead investigators to find 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds (pictured left). The young girl was last reported seen more than a week ago, and police are now confident that someone was involved in taking Ayla from her house, said Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey. Ayla is described as having blond hair, being about 2 feet, 9 inches tall, and weighing 30 pounds. She was last seen wearing green pajamas with white polka dots and the words "Daddy's Princess" across the front. When she disappeared, the girl had her arm in a soft cast. "This is the largest reward that I can remember for a missing-person case in Maine's history," he told reporters. "I'm very hopeful that this will encourage anyone that has any information to call the Waterville police."
Ayla's family is cooperating, and police do not have anyone connected to the case in custody. Authorities have conducted dozens of searches so far, involving federal and local law enforcement. Work to find the missing girl continued over the weekend with police sorting through leads, said Massey. "Like in most missing person cases, it concerns us as time goes on," the police chief said.
Posted: 5:01 PM EST, Thu December 22, 2011 - Updated: 10:46 AM PST, Tue December 27, 2011
"We have reason to believe inbreeding occurred in Aron's family."
-- December 21, 2011, Statement by a defense attorney for accused child killer/torturer Levi Aron to media sources regarding his defense for Mr. Aron's actions.
New York (WCJB) -- The lawyer for the man charged with kidnapping and killing an 8-year-old boy in Brooklyn last summer says inbreeding is partially to blame for his client's actions. In July, police found 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky's (pictured right) remains divided between a freezer in Levi Aron's (pictured left) attic apartment and a trash bin more than two miles away. The boy had asked Aron for directions after getting lost on his seven-block walk home from summer camp, police said. It was his first time making the trip alone. Kletzky died after being drugged and then smothered, New York City's chief medical examiner said after an autopsy in July.
"We have reason to believe" inbreeding occurred in Aron's family, a defense attorney told media sources Wednesday. Asked what proof of inbreeding he had, the attorney said he had "anecdotal evidence in talking to the family," but declined to elaborate. Asked how inbreeding might lead someone to murder, the attorney said he is "not a medical doctor," but believes that inbreeding "can result in certain kinds of mental defects." Aron pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in August, according to his attorney. A status conference in the case was held Wednesday. Both sides discussed the turning over of discovery materials at the pretrial hearing, the attorney said. Schizophrenia and brain trauma also factored into Aron's actions, his attorney contended to media sources. Aron has a family history of schizophrenia, the attorney said. His sister committed suicide as a result of the mental illness, according to the attorney. And at a young age Aron suffered a brain-damaging fall from a bicycle, his attorney said. "He's virtually catatonic each and every time I have (been) called upon to deal with him," he said of his client's mental condition. A mental evaluation of Aron in August found that he was fit to stand trial. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for March. Aron's attorney declined to say whether he would raise the issue of inbreeding at trial, emphasizing that the defense team would continue to investigate that angle in the coming months. He did not specify what form that investigation would take. If convicted, Aron could face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.
Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:24am PST - Updated:
New York (WCJB) -- A 47-year-old man was arrested Sunday in the death of a 73-year-old woman who was set on fire in the elevator of her Brooklyn apartment building, telling police the woman owed him $2,000, New York police said. Jerome Isaac (pictured above, center) faces charges of first-degree and second-degree murder, along with arson, police said in a statement. Isaac told police Gillespie owed him $2,000 for work he claims he did for her, said NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne. He turned himself in to police overnight or early Sunday morning, he said.
A preliminary investigation showed the man was standing outside the elevator on the fifth floor and attacked the woman as she was attempting to exit, authorities said. The incident was caught on surveillance cameras inside and outside the elevator, and police have the videotapes, Browne said. Authorities believe Isaac initially sprayed the woman with a flammable liquid, presumably gasoline, and continued to spray her as he followed her back into the elevator, Browne said.
The woman was first sprayed in the face, he said. Then, using "one of those long lighters that you would use for a grill, he lit a Molotov cocktail and used the burning leg on top of that to ignite her body," Browne said. The suspect stepped out of the elevator, threw the Molotov cocktail inside, then returned again to spray more liquid on the woman as she burned, he said. Authorities responding to a 911 call of a fire found the woman's body inside the elevator. She was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the police statement.
The victim was identified as Deloris Gillespie. Isaac also lives in Brooklyn, but does not live at the address where the incident took place, police said in a statement. Isaac lived about 10 minutes away from Gillespie's apartment building, Brown said. After the incident, he apparently returned home and ignited the door to his own apartment, he said. He was concerned he had burned himself in the second incident, although no one else was injured, Browne said. He then hid out on a rooftop for a while and fell asleep, later going into a police station "reeking of gasoline" and telling officers he was responsible for a fire. During questioning, Browne said, he implicated himself in Gillespie's death. It was not clear whether Isaac had retained an attorney.
Posted: Fri. December 16, 2011 | 06:58:58 PM PST - Updated: Thurs. December 22, 2011 2:30 PM PST
Eagle Rock Fire!
"I went to grab her, not to hurt her but to talk to her."
-- Los Angeles Fire Department captain David Del Toro, 54, testifying before jurors that he did not kill Jennifer Flores at his Eagle Rock home, or later drag her dead body down the road attached to his pick-up truck.
Los Angeles, CA -- A former Los Angeles Fire Department captain who killed a woman in his Eagle Rock home and dragged her nude body behind his truck was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in prison for a crime the judge called "baffling." Following a three-week trial, David Del Toro (pictured above, center) was found guilty in March of the second-degree murder of Jennifer Flores, 42, whose battered body was found dumped in the street a few blocks from the fire fighter's home in August 2006. Del Toro, 55, was a 23-year veteran of the city's fire department at the time of the murder. He had served as a drill instructor and worked at stations in Arleta, Skid Row, Lincoln Heights, Silver Lake and Hollywood.
"He's done wonderful things in his life," Judge Lance Ito said before handing down the sentence. "So it makes the events of the day in question so much more baffling. You can't have these factors come together and make any sense."
Flores, of San Gabriel, was an acquaintance whom Del Toro had allowed to stay at his home the previous night. She had been beaten so badly that her jaw, ribs and nose were broken before she was strangled. Other injuries included postmortem road rash on her back, which investigators believe occurred when Flores' body fell out of the back of Del Toro's truck and was dragged for about a mile. "It's unfathomable how this man beat the life out of this woman, mutilated her hair ... then continued to drag her lifeless, naked body on the street as if killing her wasn't enough," said Ellen Flores, the victim's sister-in-law. "Only an evil man could have done this. Even an animal does not deserve to be so ruthlessly killed."
Del Toro had killed Flores in a drunken rage when she turned him down for sex, dumped her body and returned home to clean up the mess, according to prosecutor Bobby Grace. The firefighter had a history of alcoholism and domestic violence, and was temporarily suspended by the fire department for beating an ex-wife and ex-girlfriend, Grace said. "It was inevitable he was going to end up killing somebody," Grace said after the sentencing.
Del Toro, who testified in his own defense, maintained that he did not kill Flores, although he admitted that his memory was spotty from the heavy drinking he had done that night. "I don't remember killing her. I don't believe I killed her," Del Toro said during testimony. "I just didn't kill her. I don't know how I would know, but I know I didn't kill her."
The Flores family had hoped for a first-degree murder conviction, which would have meant a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison. With the second-degree murder conviction, Del Toro will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence - about 12 or 13 years - before being eligible for parole, according to Grace. The firefighter was also given 1,555 days credit for time served since his Nov. 2006 arrest.
Members of the Flores family, who described the five-year ordeal as "grueling," were relieved at some semblance of closure, but said they would never fully get over Jennifer Flores' death. "Her future was cut way too short," said Edward Flores, her father. "I cry for her every single day. We won't be able to hug her ... she'll never have children."
Posted: 10:02 PM EST, Thu December 8, 2011 - Updated: Tues Dec 13, 2011 10:42am PST
Georgia: Initial Appearances!
Canton, Georgia (WCJB) -- New details emerged in the brutal slaying of a 7-year-old Georgia girl, hours after an attorney for the suspect said his client would plead not guilty. Authorities have charged 20-year-old maintenance worker Ryan Brunn with killing Jorelys Riveria (pictured left). Seven-year-old Jorelys mouth was duct-taped, and her hands and feet were bound with plastic ties, a source close to the investigation said. Authorities have said Jorelys died of blunt force trauma to the head, was stabbed and had been sexually assaulted. Jorelys, who was last seen alive Friday near a playground at the apartment complex where Brunn worked in Canton, Georgia. They found her mangled body in a trash compactor there three days later, the source said. The warrant for Brunn's arrest charged him with murder and making false statements to law enforcement. "The accused did unlawfully and with malice aforethought cause the death of Jorelys Rivera by hitting her on the head with a blunt object," it said. Authorities have said there will likely be other charges, including kidnapping and sexual molestation.
Brunn (pictured above, center) who was arrested Wednesday, is in segregated confinement in prison and was required to wear a bullet-proof vest Thursday due to the nature of the case, said Lt. Jay Baker, a spokesman for the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office. "It's been a hot issue in the community. We didn't want to take any chances," Baker told reporters. Authorities said Brunn has no known criminal history. Thursday's court appearance came after the little girl's mother called for capital punishment for the suspect. The little girl's father, Ricardo Galarza, lives in Puerto Rico. He told media sources on Thursday that he last saw his daughter two years ago when she visited for the summer. She was supposed to visit for Christmas this year, Galarza said. He echoed Rivera's call for the death penalty.
A court date for an arraignment has not been set. One of Brunn's court-appointed attorneys said his client will enter a "not guilty plea" at the appropriate time. Brunn wore an orange jumpsuit and a bullet-proof vest Thursday during his initial court appearance. His hands and feet were shackled during the hearing, which lasted only a few minutes. After Cherokee County Superior Court Judge Frank Mills read him his rights Thursday, Brunn said he understood what he was being charged with and was satisfied with his counsel.
After the hearing, one defense attorney told reporters that his client was "very shaken." "We're investigating our case," he said. "It's obviously a very tragic case. It's a very serious case. We take it very seriously. Just give us time to do our jobs." Brunn has not made a public statement, but his adopted brother has said he is innocent. His adopted brother, Connor, told media sources that the arrest was a "big mistake." "I honestly think he is innocent. There's just no way he would do something like this. He's just a kind-hearted person," Connor Brunn said. He has spoken with Ryan, he said, who told him "he wouldn't touch a girl like that." "He wouldn't ever do something like that. ... This is just all bogus. ... He knew that he was suspected but he never, like, thought that it would go to him. He was asked to help to go look for this little girl. And then he got brought into this," Connor Brunn said.
Jorelys was abducted "in the immediate vicinity" of the apartment complex's playground, then taken to an empty apartment nearby, Keenan said. "We have evidence that the murder occurred in that vacant apartment," he said. "At some point, the child's body was then disposed of in the Dumpster and compacted into trash." Neighbor Heather Johnson-Coker said residents were suspicious of Brunn after investigators found Jorelys' body in the trash compactor, which can only be operated with a key that employees at the complex have. She said the maintenance worker had mentioned the large number of vacant apartments in the complex when a boy from the area went missing for a few hours recently. "He said, and I quote, 'It would be really easy for someone to break in and do something to one of these children,'" Johnson-Coker said Wednesday.
Connor Brunn said investigators should have focused on the complex's other maintenance workers, who also had access to the trash compactor, instead of his brother. "I think they were looking at him because he was one of the maintenance guys there," he said. "But he's just one out of what, four or five other maintenance guys that work there?" Brunn was one of hundreds of people whom investigators interviewed in their search for suspects, Keenan said Wednesday.
On what friends say is Ryan Brunn's Facebook page, he described himself as being "very outgoing" and having "a 'wonderful' life, family, and friends." In July, he posted a message slamming Casey Anthony, who was acquitted of killing her daughter in Florida. He wrote that Casey Anthony should have died, "but really she'll get hers." "We're confident that Brunn is a killer," Keenan charged, but he added that the investigation will continue for months. "We are investigating all of the past history of Ryan Brunn and piecing together what he's been doing the last several years," he added. "We have sent agents to other states and also to other counties and we're going to backtrack all of his activities and make a determination if he has been involved in other crimes. He has no known criminal history to us, but we will find out."
Posted: 7:37 PM EST, Fri December 9, 2011 - Updated: 11:55 AM PST, Thurs. December 29, 2011 Weleetka, Oklahoma -- A 25-year-old Oklahoma man was charged Friday with murder in the deaths of two girls who were found about three and a half years ago, shot to death in a ditch alongside a remote country road. "We don't believe that he knew (the slain girls) directly," Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Director Stan Florence said Friday of Kevin Sweat (pictured left). "We just believe that he happened to be in the area that day."
Oklahoma: Dual Patterns!
According to a probable cause affidavit, Sweat told investigators on September 13 that he'd been driving his Chevrolet Cavalier where the girls were found when he saw "two monsters" come at him. The suspect said he "panicked," shooting the "monsters" first with a Glock .40 handgun and then with a .22 handgun he'd had in his glove box, the affidavit said. It claimed Sweat had voluntarily waived his rights and agreed to talk to investigators. The "monsters" are believed to be best friends Taylor Paschal-Placker, 13, of Weleetka and Skyla Jade Whittaker, 11, of nearby Henryetta, who were discovered June 8, 2008, by Taylor's grandfather. They had been shot in the head and chest, eight times for Skyla and five for Taylor, the state medical examiner reported after an autopsy.
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