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HEAR THIS HOUR'S UPDATE

Friday
Oct312014

One Dead, One Injured in Virgin Galactic Spacecraft Crash

Virgin Galactic(MOJAVE, Calif.) -- One person died and another suffered a major injury after Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo spacecraft crashed in California's Mojave Desert on Friday.

California Highway Patrol confirmed the fatality and the injury, but did not specify the individuals involved.

Virgin Galactic confirmed the "in-flight anomaly" and said that its first concern was the safety of its pilots.

"Virgin Galactic's partner Scaled Composites conducted a powered test flight of #SpaceShipTwo earlier today," the company tweeted.

SpaceShipTwo was destroyed after it separated from its mother ship, White Knight Two, the company said.

"During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo. WK2 landed safely," according to the company. "Our first concern is the status of the pilots, which is unknown at this time."

"We will work closely with relevant authorities to determine the cause of this accident and provide updates ASAP," the company added.

Virgin Galactic, part of British billionaire Richard Branson's group of companies, has announced plans to operate a fleet of SpaceShipTwo vehicles for private sub-orbital flights.

This is the second space mission to end catastrophically this week.

On Tuesday, an Antares rocket produced by Orbital Sciences exploded seconds after liftoff in Virginia while on a NASA-contracted supply mission to the International Space Station.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct312014

Accused Cop Killer Eric Frein Appears in Court

Kena Betancur/Getty Images(MILFORD, Pa.) -- Accused cop killer Eric Frein made his first court appearance Friday, looking gaunt and his face bruised, as he was arraigned on murder charges in Milford, Pennsylvania.

Frein, who police say shot two state troopers on Sept. 12 before fleeing into the woods, had a gash on his nose and was booed outside the courthouse by locals, including one woman who yelled, "You're lucky we didn't get you during hunting season."

Other angry spectators shouted "coward" and "scumbag" as Frein, 31, remained stone-faced.

He did not enter a plea.

"We have now started to find the answers that the community desires in this case," District Attorney Raymond Tonkin said outside the courthouse. "The families in this matter...have suffered an unimaginable loss of unspeakable proportions. They will never be the same but today we find some comfort."

Tonkin has said he will seek the death penalty for Frein.

Frein was captured by U.S. Marshals on Thursday evening outside an abandoned hangar in the Pocono Mountains, in the area where police have been hunting for the suspect for nearly seven weeks.

"A team was sweeping through the area, surprised him as he was outside of the hangar," Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said Friday.

He said the cut on Frein's face is not the result of a battle with police.

"That was an injury that occurred to him sometime in his flight," Bivens said.

Pike County Correctional Facility in Lords Valley, Pennsylvania told ABC News on Friday that Frein is being held in "max status protective custody" in a five-foot by eight-foot cell.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct312014

No Quarantine for Kaci Hickox While She Awaits Hearing, Judge Rules

ABC News(FORT KENT, Maine) -- In yet another legal seesaw, the Maine nurse who treated Ebola patients in West Africa and has fought her state's quarantine rules can leave her home and go to public places as she awaits her hearing, a judge ruled Friday in Augusta.

The ruling overrides a temporary order filed Thursday night, which mandated that nurse Kaci Hickox not be present in public places, not leave the town of Fort Kent and stay at least 3 feet from anyone when she does go out.

According to the new court order, Hickox must agree to active monitoring and coordinate her travel with health authorities until a hearing can take place. She must also report any symptoms she experiences to public health authorities.

Hickox's attorneys said they are "pleased with the decision" because it "validates" what she has been saying since she was quarantined upon return to the United States at Newark Liberty International Airport on Oct. 24.

"An individual who is does not have Ebola symptoms does not pose a public health threat and should not be quarantined," her lawyers Norman Siegel and Steven Hyman said in a statement.

The restrictions fall short of the mandatory quarantine and forced Ebola blood test officials had threatened earlier in the week.

"The Court is fully aware that people are acting out of fear and that fear is not entirely rational," the order states. "However, whether that fear is rational or not, it is present and it is real. [Hickox's] actions at this point, as a health care professional, need to demonstrate her full understanding of human nature and the real fear that exists. She should guide herself accordingly."

Maine Gov. Paul LePage said he would not appeal.

“As Governor, I have done everything I can to protect the health and safety of Mainers," LePage said in a statement. "The judge has eased restrictions with this ruling and I believe it is unfortunate. However, the State will abide by law."

Hickox, 33, went on a bike ride Thursday after vowing Wednesday night she wasn't willing to "stand here and have my civil rights violated."

The nurse, who had been treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone for Doctors Without Borders, said she was fighting for her rights as well as other health care workers who will be returning from the Ebola hot zone in West Africa. She said that Doctors Without Borders told her another 20 health care workers will be coming home in the next month.

"Most aid workers who come home just want to see their family and have a sort of normal life," she said Wednesday night. "I'm fighting for something other than myself. There are aid workers coming back every day."

Hickox said she isn't committed to a quarantine that isn't "scientifically valid." The quarantine demand goes beyond guidelines put out by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which indicate that she can't spread Ebola if she isn't sick, doesn't have symptoms and no one is in close contact with her bodily fluids.

Hickox landed in New Jersey on Friday and was questioned for six hours and quarantined in an isolation tent at University Hospital in Newark over the weekend. After testing negative for Ebola twice, she was allowed to travel to Maine, where the health commissioner announced that Maine would join the handful of states toughening its quarantine rules. The quarantine was voluntary, however, sending officials scrambling to find a way to legally enforce it.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct312014

What Eric Frein Searched for on His Computer Before Manhunt

Courtesy Roman Kamensky(MILFORD, Pa.) -- Accused cop killer Eric Frein had planned out his efforts to avoid capture and did research online about how police would be able to track him, an affidavit released on Friday reveals.

Investigators had Frein's computer searched after he shot two state troopers on Sept. 12 and they were able to find specific Internet searches that showed he was plotting for months.

"SWAT raid tactics" and "police raid training" were both searched in April, according to the affidavit. "Can police track cell phones," "police manhunt guide" and "how to escape a manhunt" were all searched in early May.

He clearly thought about the long haul as well. He looked up information about "caching food" and "tips on placing caches." A cache is a small duffle-type bag that hunters and survivalists use to store food in hidden places, which is a tactic Frein is believed to have used.

Though the affidavit states that there were other Internet searches, the earliest one listed in the document was a search that he made on Nov. 7, 2012 -- nearly two years before the shooting -- for "ballistics trajectory calculator."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct312014

It's About Time: The Clock that Keeps the Entire US Ticking

Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- You may be looking forward to catching an extra hour of shut-eye this Sunday as most of the country prepares to roll their clocks back an hour for Daylight Saving Time, but have you ever wondered where time actually comes from?

ABC News/Yahoo! News ventured to the U.S. Naval Observatory in search of answers.

Situated atop a hill overlooking much of Washington, D.C., the observatory is perhaps best known as the home of the vice president’s mansion, but it is also home to the nation’s master clock.

Every time you turn on your cellphone or plug an address into your car’s GPS, you are actually communicating with the Naval Observatory.

“Everything is tied in to the master clock here,” Naval Observatory’s Public Affairs Officer Geoff Chester explained during a recent tour. “So, if you use anything that remotely touches GPS as a timing source, then you are essentially getting your time from us.”

Chester explained how the job of keeping the nation on time is a whole lot more complicated than counting up from “one-Mississippi.”

“We now use a particular frequency of an atom,” Chester said. “It's essentially a microwave resent frequency, and a second is now defined as the interval of 9,192,631,770 hyperfine transitions of the ground state of a neutral caesium 133 atom.”

The 9,192,631,770 atomic intervals that measure a second is the basic building block of time as it is measured today.

In addition to watching the clock, the Naval Observatory has long played a role in keeping an eye on the sky. Chester showed ABC News/Yahoo! News a telescope that was built in 1893 to observe a particular type of star called “double stars,” which appear close to each other when seen from Earth.

“Double stars make up about two-thirds of the population of all the stars that you can see in the sky,” Chester said. “So, it's very important for us to understand how these components of these double stars move relative to each other, so we can properly get our guidance sensors pointing at the right things.”

One of the most interesting aspects of the telescope, which is not computer-controlled as many modern ones are, has nothing to do with the operation of the telescope itself.

If you stand in the middle of the domed room that houses the telescope and look up, there is no apparent way to reach the telescope, which is elevated above at the ceiling’s height -- until Chester hits a button and the entire floor begins to elevate to reach the telescope above.

“We believe this is the largest elevator in the city,” Chester said, as the floor made its ascent.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct312014

NTSB Waiting to Inspect Plane in Wichita Airport Crash

Jaison Podkanowicz(WICHITA, Kan.) — Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have been unable to inspect a small plane that crashed into a building at an airport in Wichita, Kansas, killing four people.

Leah Yeager, a senior air safety investigator with the NTSB, said late Thursday investigators will enter the Flight Safety Building at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport after it's deemed structurally sound.

The twin-engine Beechcraft lost power in one of its engines during takeoff Thursday morning before crashing into the building, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Its pilot, Mark Goldstein, a former air traffic controller, died.

"I need to declare an emergency. We just lost the left engine," Goldstein told air traffic controllers before the crash.

The three others killed, who were in the building, haven't been identified. Five people were hospitalized, including one person in serious condition. Goldstein was flying solo.

About 100 people were inside the building, which houses Cessna Citation Jet Simulators, when the plane crashed.

"We were on a conference call and the building just kind of shook and rumbled," said Ryan Peterman, who works inside the building. "We saw the fuselage of the aircraft on top of the building on fire."

Goldstein, who served in the U.S. Navy before joining the FAA in 1987, twice earned the top safety award for his region as an air traffic controller, according to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. He had recently retired.

"I knew the air traffic control people would know if it was him and sure enough, they knew his voice," said Ron Ryan, a friend of Goldstein.

A 2005 bio provided to ABC News described Goldstein as someone who has “an extensive background in aviation and is considered to be a conscientious controller.” He also volunteered as a youth hockey coach.


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Friday
Oct312014

Eric Frein Shackled with Slain Trooper's Handcuffs After Capture

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation(TANNERSVILLE, Pa.) — A self-trained survivalist was shackled in the handcuffs used by a Pennsylvania state trooper he allegedly killed in an ambush last month, the state police commissioner said during a news conference.

U.S. Marshals captured Eric Frein outside an abandoned hangar at Birchwood-Pocono Airport near Tannersville, Pennsylvania, about 6 p.m. Thursday, State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said.

"They ordered him to surrender, to get down and raise his hands," he said.

Frein, 31, was then placed in the handcuffs used by Cpl. Bryon Dickson, who was killed in the Sept. 12 shooting at the barracks in Blooming Grove, said Noonan. He was then driven in Dickson's police vehicle to those same barracks and held there until he was moved to the Pike County Correctional Facility overnight.

"He was definitely taken by surprise," Noonan said, adding that Frein had no weapons on him when he was captured.

Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin said he plans to seek the death penalty against Frein, who is charged with first-degree murder, homicide of a law enforcement officer, attempted murder and possession of weapons of mass destruction.

First-degree murder and homicide of a law enforcement officer are both capital offenses. He will be arraigned at 9 a.m. Friday and may face more charges.

"This individual is no longer a threat to this community," said Tonkin.

An unidentified woman told the Scranton Times Tribune that Frein looked exhausted as he was led out of the woods by marshals. Outside of what Noonan called a "scratch" that he suffered before he was taken into custody, Frein appeared to be in good health. "Healthier than I would have expected," Noonan added.

For weeks, several thousand members of various departments in at least five states spent countless hours looking for Frein, who had been on the run since he allegedly killed Dickson, 38, and injured Trooper Alex Douglass during a late-night shift change at the barracks.

Douglass, 31, was discharged to a rehabilitation facility a few weeks ago, state police said.

"Eric Frein was dedicated to killing law enforcement," said Noonan. "I can't think of a more dangerous occupation than going out into those woods and looking for him."

The families of Dickson and Douglass were “relieved and grateful” for Frein's capture, said Noonan.

At times, 1,000 officers searched the rugged mountains for Frein, who police said had planned his attack and hiding for years. The lives of residents in the area were disrupted by the manhunt, including school closings and event cancellations.

Halloween celebrations were canceled because of the manhunt but local officials planned to try and salvage trick-or-treating.

Frein, from nearby Canadensis, was seen several times during the search and later added to the FBI's Most Wanted List.

“The reason this took so long is it’s such a big wooded area that he is thoroughly familiar with," said Noonan.

Police previously found two pipe bombs, an AK-47, ammunition and various food and supplies hidden in the woods while searching for Frein. Police haven't said whether they found the sniper rifle they believe he used in the ambush.

Frein was linked to the shooting after a man discovered his partly submerged SUV in a swamp a few miles from the barracks. Inside, investigators found shell casings matching those found at the barracks as well as his driver's license, camouflage face paint, two empty rifle cases and military gear.

Authorities said they later found notes in the woods, allegedly penned by Frein, which offered a "cold-blooded" and "chilling" account of the ambush and his escape into the woods.

"Got a shot around 11 p.m. and took it. He dropped. I was surprised at how quick," State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said at a news conference on Oct. 8, reading from the note police believe Frein wrote. "I took a follow-up shot on his head-neck area. He was still and quiet after that."

Frein's criminal record appeared limited to a decade-old misdemeanor case involving items stolen from a World War II re-enactors event in upstate New York, for which he spent 109 days in jail.


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Thursday
Oct302014

NC Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Aid ISIS

AndreyPopov/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A North Carolina man who attempted to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria pleaded guilty to attempting to aid an international terrorist organization.

Donald Ray Morgan, 44, was arrested on Aug. 2 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on a federal indictment for possession of a firearm by a felon. Court documents showed that Morgan "knowingly attempted to provide support and resources" to ISIS from January 2014 through August 2014.

On at least one occasion, Morgan even tried to travel from Lebanon to Syria to join ISIS.

Assistant Attorney General for the Middle District of North Carolina called the plea a representation of "our continued commitment to confronting those who attempt to travel abroad to support terrorist organizations."

Morgan faces up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

"Donald Ray Morgan proved himself to be a threat to national security," Special Agent in Charge John Strong of the FBI said Thursday. "American citizens who support terrorist organizations must be held accountable for their actions."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct302014

Alleged PA Cop Shooter Eric Frein Captured Alive

Pennsylvania Dept of Transportation(CANADENSIS, Pa.) -- Accused cop killer Eric Frein, one of the FBI's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives, was captured after a 48-day manhunt, police said Thursday night.

"Eric Frein was dedicated to killing law enforcement members," Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said in a news conference with Gov. Tom Corbett. "I can't think of a more dangerous occupation than going out into those woods and looking for him."

Noonan said several thousand members of various departments in at least five states spent countless hours looking for Frein.

Frein, 31, was captured by U.S. Marshals at an abandoned airplane hanger at Birchwood-Pocono Airport near Tannersville about 6 p.m. Thursday, police said.

Frein had a sniper rifle and knives but no shots were fired during his capture, said Noonan. He was taken to the State Police barracks in Blooming Grove, the same place where he allegedly ambushed two state troopers.

Noonan said Frein was shackled with the handcuffs of Cpl. Bryon Dickson, who was killed in the shooting at the barracks, and driven there in the late officer's police vehicle.

The suspect was captured by a team of marshals who happened to spot him near the hanger. Frein gave up without a struggle and got down on his knees to be handcuffed when approached by the marshals, police said. The suspect was in good condition and required no medical attention.

Frein had eluded authorities since Sept. 12, when he allegedly killed one Pennsylvania state trooper and injured another during his attack on the barracks. At times, 1,000 officers searched the rugged mountains for Frein, who police said had planned his attack and hiding for years. The lives of residents in the area were disrupted by the manhunt, including school closings and event cancellations.

Police believed Frein, a self-trained survivalist from nearby Canadensis, had previously hidden supplies in the woods that he could draw from. They found two pipe bombs, an AK-47, ammunition and various food and supplies they believe belong to the suspect.

On Tuesday, police investigated a possible sighting of Frein made by a resident in Barrett Township, said Trooper Connie Devens, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Police. It was one of several such sightings.

A Pennsylvania town had banned trick-or-treating this year while hundreds of cops search nearby woods for Frein. Barrett Township said its annual Halloween parade and 5K Scarecrow Race were canceled indefinitely, and trick-or-treating was banned this year. But township officials told ABC News Thursday night that there will be trick or treating on Friday though the parade won't happen.

Notes found in the woods, allegedly penned by Frein, offered a "cold-blooded" and "chilling" account of how he shot and killed the trooper last month before escaping into the forest, authorities said.

"Got a shot around 11 p.m. and took it. He dropped. I was surprised at how quick," Lt. Col. George Bivens said at a press conference Oct. 8, reading from the note police believe Frein wrote. "I took a follow-up shot on his head-neck area. He was still and quiet after that."

Police said they linked Frein to the ambush after a man walking his dog discovered his partly submerged SUV three days later in a swamp a few miles from the shooting scene. Inside, investigators found shell casings matching those found at the barracks as well as Frein's driver's license, camouflage face paint, two empty rifle cases and military gear.

His criminal record appeared limited to a decade-old misdemeanor case involving items stolen from a World War II re-enactors event in upstate New York, for which he spent 109 days in jail.

Frein is charged with first-degree murder and various other offenses, including two counts of possession of weapons of mass destruction filed after police discovered the pipe bombs. Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin said he'd seek the death penalty against Frein.

Trooper Alex Douglass was shot in the pelvis and critically injured in the ambush, which took place during a late-night shift change. Douglass remained hospitalized until Oct. 16, when he was discharged to a rehabilitation facility, state police said.

"If you attack troopers, and a civilized society, the Pennsylvania State Police will bring you to justice. Eric Frein is a coward," the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association said in a statement. "Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II and Trooper Alex T. Douglass are true heroes."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct302014

Saint Louis County Prosecutor Says Leaks Not Coming from Grand Jury in Michael Brown Case

tomloel/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- Saint Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch released a statement on Thursday that leaks involving the case of an officer-involved shooting that left 18-year-old Michael Brown dead in August are not coming from the grand jury in the case.

"No information or evidence has been released by the grand jury," McCulloch's statement said. While he acknowledged a tweet from "several weeks ago" which claimed that a person serving on the grand jury had discussed the case with a friend, McCulloch says bluntly, "That did not happen."

"An investigation revealed that the account had, indeed, been hacked and the origin/author of the tweet is unknown," according to the statement.

McCulloch also denied recent reports that testimony and documents had been leaked "by or from the grand jury." He pointed specifically to reports in The New York Times, which said it received information from a government source briefed on the case, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which said the documents they obtained did not come from the grand jury.

"Whoever is releasing this information is doing great disservice to the grand jury process," McCulloch concluded. Though he assured the public that "anyone suggesting that the 'integrity of the entire grand jury process has been destroyed' is wrong, irresponsible and does a great disservice to the public."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio