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Friday
Mar242017

Small plane crashes into home in Cobb County, Georgia

iStock/Thinkstock(COBB COUNTY, Ga.) -- A small plane crashed into a home in Cobb County, Georgia Friday evening, local fire officials told ABC affiliate WSB.

It was unclear if anyone was killed or injured on the plane or on the ground. It was also not clear how many people were on board, officials said.

According to the FAA, the Cessna Citation I aircraft was en route to Fulton County Airport and crashed east of Cobb County International Airport around 7:20 p.m. Eastern.

Further information was not immediately available.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Mar242017

Double-amputee military veteran graduates from police academy

ABC News(YAPHANK, N.Y.) -- Officer Matias Ferreira is celebrating a dream come true.

After 29 weeks of training, the 28-year-old resident of Wantagh, New York, graduated Friday from the Suffolk County Police Academy as its first fully active-duty double-amputee police officer. The academy said it believed that Ferreira was also the first in the U.S. as well.

"It's pretty incredible," Ferreira told ABC News after the graduation ceremony. "I'm truly honored to be part of the department. When I first got on, I didn't know how good I would do -- maybe having some self-doubts in the beginning -- but I had a very supportive staff, very supportive recruit class. Everybody kept pushing me through."

He credited his wife, Tiffany; his daughter, Tianna; and family and friends with helping him reach the finish line. He finished as the class president as well as the class speaker.

"The hand we're dealt in life, we just have to take it, adapt and overcome."

"It's really hard to fail at something when somebody's pushing you the whole way. ... They won't let you quit so you can't quit on yourself," he said.

Ferreira was born in Uruguay and moved to the U.S. when he was 6 years old. He grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and then joined the Marines. In 2011, however, while serving in Afghanistan, he stepped on an improvised explosive device. He lost both legs below the knees.

After rehabilitation, Ferreira joined an all-amputee softball team that plays across the U.S.

He said that he was eager to hit the streets as a police officer and see what the future holds for him and his family.

"The hand we're dealt in life, we just have to take it, adapt and overcome so that's what I figured I would do," he said. "Once you lose a limb, you think that your life is going to completely change. ... It's really up to you. You know, the technology that's coming out and with a good attitude -- you combine those two -- you can do whatever you want."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Mar242017

North Carolina wife searches for wedding dress husband accidentally donated

Courtesy of Amanda Williams(BAHAMA, N.C.) -- Natalie Gelbert was devastated to learn that her husband, Chad Gelbert, accidentally donated her wedding dress when he dropped off his daughter’s old baby clothes.

“I have a 7-year-old stepdaughter, and we were packing up all her baby stuff,” Natalie, 25, of Bahama, North Carolina, told ABC News.

“My dress was in the storage room. He put it in a bag for me to take to the cleaners to preserve it. But then he packed the car with the Goodwill stuff and went to drop it off, and everything was in the same-looking bag, and [he] didn’t realize he was dropping off my wedding dress.”

Chad took the clothes to Goodwill Community Foundation (GCF) Donation Center, which has no affiliation with Goodwill Industries, in Durham on March 4. But Natalie didn’t realize it was missing until March 20 when she was about to take her dress, which she wore to the couple's 2015 wedding, for cleaning.

“I was going out to eat near where the dress-preservation place was on the other side of town, and I went to look for it and didn’t see it,” she recalled. “And that’s when my husband’s face turned completely pale, and he ran down to the car to check and realized what he had done.”

Needless to say, Chad was in the doghouse for awhile.

“I didn’t speak to him for a day, but I forgave him,” said Natalie. “It’s OK. It was a complete accident. But that was my initial reaction because that’s my wedding dress.”

As soon as the two realized the mistake, they raced to the donation center to see if the dress was still there. Sadly, it was not.

“I went there after work and I talked to the manager who said there was an employee that confirmed a dress with my description being sold,” Natalie said. “They said she remembered my dress, and they think it had been sold for $20 or $25 on discount because it was dirty on the bottom.”

Natalie was in shock at first. But she quickly decided to take charge of the situation, turning to social media for help locating the dress’ buyer. Since her Facebook post on March 21, it has had more than 30,000 shares and the story has made international headlines.

The story's going viral has yet to help produce any serious leads on who bought the dress, but people have come forward offering to help.

“I’ve had three ladies tell me they would be willing to donate their wedding dresses to the person that has mine in exchange for mine” getting returned, Natalie said. "I had a lady write me yesterday and tell me she’d be willing to buy that person the same exact dress, brand new from David’s Bridal, for the return of mine."

“The dress is dirty. It hurricaned on my wedding,” Natalie added. “But I didn’t care. I still went outside and the bottom got a little dirty. There is lipstick still on the side of it. I wore it and danced in it. Nothing will replace that being the dress I wore on my wedding day.”

Natalie is still hopeful the person who bought her dress will come forward, especially since she’s sweetening the deal.

“Even before these rewards [offering a new dress] came up, I had already made the decision that if someone were to come forward, if they were really a bride that found an awesome deal at Goodwill, I’d let them go ahead and wear the dress and then give it back to it to me,” she said. “At this point, with people having rewards and stuff, I think people would want a new dress. I’m just hoping it’s not someone trying to sell my dress.”

A spokesperson for GCF told ABC News, “If we find the missing wedding dress we will get in touch directly with the responsible party. It’s our policy to always return an item that was inadvertently donated, if we still have it.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Mar242017

Cops scale back manpower in unsolved Indiana double murder

Handout via WLFI(DELPHI, Ind.) -- Authorities searching for the killer of two Indiana teen girls are "scaling back" manpower in the over month-long investigation, but stress that they aren't giving up and the case isn't going cold.

Each day there have been as many as 40 to 50 officers, and sometimes up to 100 officers, working to solve the double murder of Abby Williams, 13, and Libby German, 14, in the more than five weeks since the teens were found dead, said Sgt. Kim Riley of Indiana State Police.

But now, the number of officers working each day will drop to about 20 to 30, Riley told ABC News.
Police explained that the steady stream of tips coming in has become more manageable. For the most part, tips have slowed down recently to about 100 to 125 per day, Riley said, which has allowed police to get caught up.

Now, the Delphi police and the Indiana State Police's Lafayette office are aiming to have not as many outside agencies helping day to day, Riley said.

The FBI is pulling out some of its resources, Riley said, and some state police officers who came from outside the Lafayette area will return to their own communities. Riley said the operation to scale back has been going on for the past week or week and a half.

While police have received a total of about 15,000 to 16,000 tips, no arrests have been made since the girls' murders shook the rural small town of Delphi, Indiana, in February. The eighth-graders disappeared Feb. 13 while on a hiking trail near their hometown and their bodies were found nearby the next day.

As police hunt for the killer, the only clues that have been released to the public are this photo of a man who police say is the prime suspect in the investigation and a chilling recording found on Libby's phone with just three audible words: "down the hill."

While Riley said they are "scaling back" manpower, he stressed that authorities are "not giving up" on the case.

“It doesn’t take as many officers to do the work,” Riley said. "We are not giving up on this case whatsoever, it’s just that we are utilizing manpower a little bit better than we had before."

Riley added, "We're still committed to this. Just because we’re scaling back doesn’t mean we're not committed to finding the perpetrator."

State police explained in a statement Friday that "investigators who may return to their 'home base' will still be within a phone call’s reach and could potentially return to this assignment. ... Those investigators are simply returning to their respective areas to follow up on investigations which have been temporarily delayed" since the Delphi case began.

State police stressed that "this does not mean the investigation is going 'cold.' To the contrary, each investigator remains strongly committed to reaching resolution."

Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby agreed, telling ABC News Friday the case is not going cold.
Leazenby said in a statement, "We stress this investigation is ongoing and is not without resolve as we will find those responsible and reach proper closure for Abby and Libby and their families.”

State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said in a statement, "We remain committed to this investigation and the Carroll County and Delphi community until 'this evil' is eradicated."

People can provide information by calling the tip line at (844) 459-5786. Information can be reported anonymously. Tips can also be emailed to abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Mar242017

Dog trapped in blaze revived by firefighter's mouth-to-snout resuscitation

Crystal Lamirande(SANTA MONICA, Calif.) -- A dog rescued from a California fire has survived thanks to a firefighter who performed CPR on the animal.

"I thank him from the bottom of my heart," Crystal Lamirande, the dog's owner told ABC News on Friday.

"I said, 'I can't believe how much time you spent on this dog.' In reality, I still can't believe they brought him back."

On Tuesday, March 21, Lamirande, 35, a Santa Monica resident, left her home in the afternoon to go to her local coffee shop. When she returned, her home was engulfed in flames, she said.

Lamirande's dog Nalu, a 15-pound, 10-year-old bichon frise and shih tzu mix, was trapped inside. She and her neighbor attempted to enter the property to rescue him, but the smoke was too intense, Lamirande recalled.

"He's basically my child, so I normally don't go places without him but this time I did, and felt so guilty," Lamirande said.

When Santa Monica firefighters arrived at the scene, Lamirande told them Nalu was inside.

"If I hadn't gotten there at that moment to tell him about the dog, they would've just put the fire out because that's their first priority. [The firefighter] went so above and beyond."

Nalu was found unresponsive. Lamirande said firefighter Andrew Klein administered mouth-to-snout resuscitation for 20 minutes.

"After 20 minutes, the dog began breathing on its own and regained consciousness, even regaining the ability to walk around," the Santa Monica Fire Department wrote in a press release.

The fire department added that it took 23 firefighters 10 minutes to bring the fire under control. No injuries to civilians or firefighters were reported, and the department's investigators are working to determine the cause of the blaze.

Soon after the pet was revived, neighbors drove Lamirande and Nalu to VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital.

Lamirande lost her home, but said she is happy to have found a new apartment and that her dog is OK.
"The fact that they were able to bring him back was such a miracle, so who cares about stuff?" Lamirande said.

On Thursday, Lamirande took Nalu to the fire station to visit the firefighters who saved his life.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Mar242017

'Pizzagate' gunman pleads guilty to two charges

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Edgar Madison Welch, who fired a gun inside a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant in December while investigating a conspiracy theory, pleaded guilty Friday morning to two charges, including interstate transport of a firearm and assault with a dangerous weapon.

Welch, 28, was arrested for firing an AR-15 inside Comet Ping Pong, a pizza restaurant in northwest D.C. The incident was sparked by a false story that implicated the pizza joint in a child sex-trafficking operation connected to Hillary Clinton. The conspiracy was not grounded in any truth, but did have real consequences.

During Friday's hearing, Welch admitted that he had driven from North Carolina to D.C. with a firearm and ammunition, entered Comet Ping Pong, fired one shot and pointed it at at least one person.

Both the federal and D.C. charge have 10-year maximum prison sentences. The sentences can be concurrent or consecutive.

Welch was originally indicted on a possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence charge, but that was dropped in his plea agreement. That charge held a mandatory minimum of five years in prison.

He also agreed to pay restitution of $5,744.43. That was based on a restitution request from the owner of the restaurant for damages, which included damage to a ping pong table, according to the government attorney. His defense attorney pointed out that the exact number was based on the insurance estimate and out-of-pocket expenses.

The court was satisfied that Welch was competent to face charges and that there were adequate facts to support the charges, so his plea was entered.

Welch's sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 22; he will remain detained until the hearing.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Mar242017

Police follow-up on leads of missing teen as family pleads 'Elizabeth must be found'

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation(NEW YORK) — As police in Texas and Alabama followed-up Thursday on leads to locate Elizabeth Thomas — the Tennessee high school student allegedly kidnapped by former teacher Tad Cummins — her family issued a lengthy statement saying they are "desperate" for additional information to find the 15-year-old.

She has been missing since March 13.

"The last ten days have been the most difficult in the life of the Thomas family," the statement reads. "We humbly ask that you continue to pray as we do our best to cope with the emotional weight of Elizabeth's abduction."

The family does not only ask for information that may result in finding Elizabeth, but they are also seeking details about the relationship between their daughter and Cummins.

"We are desperate for any information that might lead to our daughter," the family's statement reads. "The information that we need is not only from what people have seen and heard after Elizabeth's disappearance, but also from before. Facts about prior events, especially interaction between Elizabeth and Tad Cummins and statements made by both parties to third parties, may very well contain clues to lead to Elizabeth's return."

The family pleads, "Elizabeth must be found. Time is of the essence."

The family also urged the public not to place blame on school officials for the relationship or how it was dealt with.

"We know that each teacher and administrator at Maury County Schools mourns as we do over this tragedy and wishes daily for Elizabeth's safe return," the family urged in the statement. "Whatever questions about how issues were handled when Elizabeth was in school are distant and secondary and, in many ways, distracting, to the core issue of dinging her."

The family added, "It is important to the Thomas family to emphasize that none of the reports about possible mistakes made regarding Tad Cummins prior to Elizabeth's disappearance are relevant to what we are doing now ... Our focus should be on finding Elizabeth. Period."

In Alabama's Morgan County, the Sheriff's Department said Elizabeth and Cummins may have stayed at a motel in Decatur, reported ABC affiliate WAAY on Thursday.

Motels in Decatur were raised as a possibility after investigators from the Maury County Sheriff's Office visited Decatur last week to search for the pair.

Ashley Hitt, a manager of a local motel, told WAAY that she has asked her staff to be on alert, telling them "just in case you do see [Elizabeth and Cummins], definitely to let me know or to call the police and let them know."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Mar232017

57 dogs saved from kill shelters meet their new families in touching video

Zoonar/Erik Lam/iStock/Thinkstock(WHEATON, Ill.) -- Fifty-seven dogs taken from kill shelters in Texas are now with loving families.

The dogs were saved by TracysDogs, a nonprofit organization dedicated to working with kill shelters to adopt their dogs, rehabilitate them and then match them with deserving families.

Last Saturday, the Texas-based organization brought its 32-foot trailer to the parking lot of a PetSmart in Wheaton, Illinois, to personally hand off the dogs to families from 11 different states.

A video capturing the excitement of the day went viral on Facebook, with more than 11 million views.

"Last Saturday was awesome," Tracy Voss, co-founder of TracysDogs, recalled to ABC News.

Scott Whyatt, Voss' husband and the organization's executive director, added: "It is always exciting and the best part of what we do. [It's] nothing short of a rock concert. Those people are
excited. They’ve been waiting a very long time so of course there are a lot of tears."

Whyatt said it takes about four weeks for the dogs to reach their new families after the organization gets them from kill shelters.

"When the dogs arrive most of them are in horrible condition and you worry about them," he said. "It is a remarkable transition. We do this for the dogs but I do believe we’re changing a lot of
people’s lives too."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Mar232017

Veteran charged with killing black man in NYC in likely 'act of terrorism,' prosecutors say

New York Daily News Archive/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- James Harris Jackson, an Army veteran from Maryland accused of killing a black man in what authorities said was an interstate mission to attack black people in New York City, was
arraigned Thursday in court on murder charges.

Jackson, 28, is accused in the fatal stabbing on Monday of Timothy Caughman, 66, on 9th Avenue in Manhattan. Jackson was formally charged today with murder in the second degree.

On Wednesday, NYPD Assistant Chief Bill Aubry said during a news conference that Jackson, who served in Afghanistan, has a deep-seated hatred of black people. He allegedly wrote a manifesto about
attacking blacks in New York City, police said.

"It is believed that he was specifically intending to target male blacks for assault," Aubry said. "The reason why he picked New York is because it's the media capital of the world and he wanted to
make a statement."

According to the criminal complaint, Jackson allegedly was "regarding the killing as practice prior to going to Times Square to kill additional black men." The complaint also said that Jackson "had
stalked numerous potential victims" and "was angered by black men mixing with white women."

Assistant District Attorney Joan Iluzzi-Orbon said today the charges were expected to be upgraded once the case goes before a grand jury because of the motivation for the crime.

"The defendant was motivated purely by hatred," Iluzzi-Orbon said today. "Additional charges could include murder in the first degree, as this was most likely an act of terrorism."

Outside court, Jackson's attorney, Sam Talkin, said he would consider an insanity defense for his client.

"If the facts are anything near what the allegations are, then we're going to address obvious psychological issues present," said Sam Talkin after the arraignment. “We are going to let the dust
settle and take a few minutes."

Police said Jackson had been harboring these feelings toward black males for more than 10 years.

Before Monday's fatal stabbing, Jackson traveled from Baltimore, Maryland, to New York on Friday and stayed at a hotel, police said. Video surveillance footage captured him walking around the city.

The stabbing occurred around 11:15 p.m. Monday, as Caughman, a can and bottle recycler, was rifling through the trash, police said.

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, Jackson turned himself in at a police substation, according to police, and said "You need to arrest me, I have knives in my pocket."

According to Aubry, after Jackson described the crime and where he had disposed of the weapon, police recovered a 26-inch black mini sword and sheath inside a trash bag in a park, which
investigators believe to be the murder weapon.

Aubry said that Jackson did not attack anyone else.

On Monday, after the attack, Caughman walked to a police precinct and collapsed. He was later pronounced dead at Bellevue hospital, police said.

No plea appears to have been entered at this time and no bail application has been made. Jackson is due back in court March 27.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Mar232017

How a woman won her release from prison years after being convicted of her mother’s murder

feixianhu/iStock/Thinkstock(MEMPHIS) -- Noura Jackson was just 18 years old when she discovered her mother covered in blood and lying on the floor of their Memphis, Tennessee, home.

Jennifer Jackson, 39, had been stabbed to death 50 times.

And while most teenagers at that age would be preparing for their senior year of high school or making plans for college, Noura Jackson found herself facing a first-degree murder charge for her
mother’s death.

Less than 1 percent of all murders are daughter-mother matricide, according to the FBI.

Noura Jackson maintains her innocence to this day.

 “Being incarcerated is tough in itself, but being incarcerated for something you didn’t do is something else entirely,” Noura Jackson told ABC News’ “20/20.”

After a second-degree murder conviction and the involvement of the Tennessee Supreme Court, Noura Jackson eventually won her freedom in 2016 when she was released from prison.

Read the timeline of the Noura Jackson case below, and WATCH the full story on ABC News’ “20/20” on Friday, March 24, at 10 p.m. ET.

January 2004:

Noura Jackson’s father, Nazmi Hassanieh, was shot and killed at the gas station convenience store he owned. The murder remains unsolved.

June 4, 2005:


On Saturday, June 4, Noura Jackson said she got her nails done during the day and then went out partying that night. She told police she went to a local Italian festival and later attended two
parties at friends’ houses.

Noura Jackson said she had been drinking and smoking marijuana that night.

June 5, 2005:

Noura Jackson told police that at 12:46 a.m., she went to a gas station for cigarettes. She also tells police she went to a friend’s house around 3:30 a.m., then bought gas at 4:20 a.m., before
heading home. Her cellphone was quiet from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. Authorities believe that Jennifer Jackson was killed between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. on June 5.

A security camera recorded Jackson at 4 a.m., purchasing first aid supplies and asking for a paper towel to clean blood off a cut on her hand.

Arriving home at 5 a.m., Jackson said she encountered glass from a broken window of their door. This had happened before, Noura Jackson said, when her mother was locked out of their house.

“As I went back to my bedroom, I noticed that my mom’s door was open,” Noura Jackson told “20/20.” “I found my mom.”

Jennifer Jackson was sprawled naked on the floor and covered in blood.

Noura Jackson then went across the street to get a neighbor, and the two ran back to the house together. She then called 911.

Paramedics rushed to the scene but were unable to save Jennifer Jackson.

Sept. 29, 2005:

After Shelby County sheriffs interrogated Noura Jackson for months about her mother’s murder, they arrested her on Sept. 29, 2005, and charged her with first-degree murder for her mother’s death.

Noura Jackson was unable to make the $500,000 bond, so she spent more than three years in jail awaiting trial.

Feb. 9, 2009:

Noura Jackson’s trial began on Feb. 9, 2009.

Her defense attorney, Valerie Corder, took on the case pro bono. During the trial, Corder argued that there was a lack of physical evidence and DNA connecting Noura Jackson to the crime.

The then-Shelby County Assistant District Attorney Amy Weirich sought a life sentence for Noura Jackson.

The prosecution called some of Jackson’s now-former friends to testify about her hard-partying reputation and raise suspicions about her behavior on the night of the crime.

Andrew Hammack, who had described himself as one of Jackson’s “friends with benefits,” told the jury that he received calls and texts from Jackson around the time of the murder, and that she asked
him to meet her at her house.

Judge Christopher Craft, who presided over the case, described Jackson as an out of control teen who was upset that her mother was trying to shut down her wild lifestyle and send her to boarding
school.

“[Jennifer Jackson] was going to send her somewhere where she wouldn’t be able to have sex and drugs. That was the motive for the killing,” Craft told “20/20.”

Feb. 21, 2009:

The jury found Noura Jackson guilty of second-degree murder on Feb. 21, 2009.

“Circumstantial evidence just drew a tight noose around her and there was no way she could get out of that,” said Craft.

March 27, 2009:

On March 27, 2009, the jury sentenced Noura Jackson, then 22 years old, to 20 years and nine months in prison for killing her mother.

 “I think Noura Jackson had a very fair trial, and she was obviously guilty. And I ruled she was obviously guilty,” said Judge Craft.

Aug. 22, 2014:

In the years after Noura Jackson’s conviction, her defense attorney Corder never stopped fighting for her.

On Aug. 22, 2014, the Tennessee Supreme Court threw out Noura Jackson’s second-degree murder conviction, saying that the prosecution violated Jackson’s constitutional rights to remain silent and
not testify at trial.

The court concluded that Weirich broke a legal rule when she said to Noura Jackson during her closing arguments, “Just tell us where you were. That’s all we’re asking, Noura.”

The Tennessee Supreme Court said that the prosecution also withheld potentially exculpatory evidence from the defense when it failed to disclose a statement its witness Hammack had given which
contradicted his testimony and previous statements.

Hammack had written a statement to prosecutors saying he was high on drugs the night of the crime, and didn't even have his phone.

May 20, 2015:

Avoiding another trial, Noura Jackson and her attorneys accepted a plea deal from prosecutors of voluntary manslaughter.

On May 20, 2015, she signed an Alford plea, accepting responsibility for the crime but maintaining her innocence.

“It’s very likely that it would have taken another year, if not two years, to have gotten her case to trial,” Corder told “20/20.” “It is a way to end this decade-long drama and trauma with a
finite date to be able to leave prison and begin your life.”

August 2016:

After serving 11 years in prison, Noura Jackson was released 15 months after she signed the Alford plea.

Since her mother’s family does not support Noura Jackson, she lived with Ansley Larsson, a family friend, when she was released from prison.

March 2017:

Weirich, now the Shelby County district attorney, was facing charges of ethical violations from the state stemming from the Jackson murder trial.

When approached by “20/20” about the case, Weirich said, “She killed her mother and did her time for it.”

Just this week, those charges were dropped after Weirich agreed to accept a “private reprimand” and admitted an error was made.

Noura Jackson got her GED while in prison and is now applying to colleges.

She has since settled with her mother’s sisters for a portion of the estate her mother left behind.

Watch the full story on ABC News’ “20/20” on Friday, March 24 at 10 p.m. ET.

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