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Wednesday
Aug102011

Fugitive Siblings Captured after High-Speed Chase

FBI(PUEBLO, Colo.) -- All three members of the Dougherty Gang have been captured south of Pueblo, Colo., following a high speed chase that topped 100 mph and was punctuated by gunshots, according to police and the FBI.

The short-lived cross-country manhunt came to an abrupt end Wednesday when their car crashed while being pursued by police.

The allegedly heavily-armed gang consists of stripper Lee Grace E. Dougherty, 29, and her two brother, Ryan, 21, and half-brother Dylan Dougherty Stanley, 26. They had been on the run for more than a week after allegedly firing at Florida police officer who tried to make a traffic stop, and then later reportedly robbing a Georgia bank.

Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor told ABC's Tampa affiliate WFTS that speeds exceeded 100 mph during the 20 mile chase. He said that shots were fired during the pursuit.

Two of the siblings were immediately captured after the crash. The third attempted to flee on foot, but was quickly apprehended not far from the crash site, according to WFTS.

Police say one suspect was injured, but have not released which Dougherty it was or their present condition.

"We enlisted the help of State Patrol. We had a short, high-speed chase," Taylor told ABC's radio affiliate KHOW. "The car subsequently crashed."

The trio had disappeared until they were spotted Tuesday afternoon in Colorado buying camping supplies, authorities said. They were seen at an REI sporting goods store in Colorado Springs, cops say.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug102011

Lawyer for Suspect in Aruba Missing Woman Case: 'No Proof'

Comstock/Thinkstock(FREDERICK, Md.) -- The attorney for a man being held in Aruba for the disappearance at sea of Robyn Gardner claimed Wednesday that there is no evidence that his client committed murder.

Gary Giordano, 50, is being held as a suspect in the disappearance of Gardner, 35, of Frederick, Md., who vanished in the same Aruba town where another American woman, Natalee Holloway, disappeared six years ago.

Giordano and Gardner traveled together to Aruba July 31, according to Aruba police.

Giordano has claimed that the two went snorkeling together around 6 p.m. on Aug. 2, but Giordano returned back to shore amid rough currents and realized Gardner had not returned to shore with him. He alerted Aruba police who searched the area with ships, helicopters and divers, but did not find any sign of Gardner.

Giordano was arrested Friday as he attempted to board a flight to the U.S., police said.

"They suspect murder but there's no proof, to my knowledge," said Michael Lopez, Giordano's attorney in Aruba. "I don't see any proof. There's no proof and no motive."

The Natalee Holloway Resource Center, a foundation started after Holloway's disappearance, has been offering help to Gardner's boyfriend, Richard Forester.

"It strikes a chord close to home because that's where my nightmare began, the day I got the call in 2005," Beth Holloway, mother of Natalee, told ABC News. "We want to be a first responder to these families, we want to be there to help them."

Maryland court documents show that a Gary Giordano there has a criminal record, including two orders of protection taken out by women that claimed he was violent. One was taken out by his ex-wife during their divorce proceedings.

Two women who say they dated Giordano told ABC News that he was terrifying, and another woman said Giordano stalked her.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug102011

Casey Anthony a No-Show at Caylee's Birthday Memorial

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Amidst a sea of violet balloons, hundreds gathered to commemorate what would have been Caylee Anthony's sixth birthday. Among the gatherers, stood the people who perhaps knew her best: Caylee's grandparents, George and Cindy Anthony.

They mingled, murmuring words of thanks and appreciation Tuesday evening as the densely packed crowd clamored for hugs and a chance to show their support. They gathered at the site where Caylee's skeletal remains were found three years ago.

Caylee's mother, Casey Anthony, remains in hiding following her acquittal of murder charges in Caylee's death.

For the elder Anthonys, the grief is still fresh.

"It's hard to come down here," said George Anthony, sobbing. "It's hard."

The crowd marched together, some hand in hand. They said a prayer and, in unison, released a torrent of balloons into the sky. Cindy Anthony released a butterfly, a symbol, she said, for Caylee. As they marched back, Cindy and George Anthony shared a hug and the crowd broke into the birthday song.

The site at which they gathered is soon to turn into a memorial for the slain toddler.

A non-profit organization, Bring Kids Home, just released the design for the planned Caylee Anthony Project. The project will be a walkway near the site where Caylee's remains were found and is estimated to cost $200,000. They are asking for $25,000 in public donations and are continually seeking partners to help alleviate costs. All workers are volunteers, and none of the money goes towards salaries.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug102011

Why Haven't Names of 30 Fallen US Soldiers Been Released?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The names of the 30 Americans killed in this weekend’s deadly helicopter crash in Afghanistan have still not been publicly released by the Pentagon as is standard practice.

Delays in these kinds of announcements are to be expected as the Defense Department has to abide by a law that requires 24 hours to have passed following next of kin notifications before the names can be released publicly.  This was passed by Congress as a protective measure to give families enough time to grieve without having to worry about media interviews.

Though it is Defense Department policy to release the names of all servicemembers who have died while deployed in the War on Terror, in this case, Defense officials say the names have not been released yet because no decision has been made about whether it would be prudent to release the names.

It appears some officials in the Special Operations community are opposed to the names being made public.  A defense official says some of the arguments they have made to the Defense Department involve ensuring the safety of family members of the special operations forces killed in the crash.

Twenty-five of the 30 servicemembers killed in Saturday’s crash were from the special operations community and most of the Navy SEALS killed were members of the elite SEAL Team 6 that participated in the Osama bin Laden raid last May.

Though SEALs killed in the crash did not participate in the bin Laden raid, there is concern that their families -- or potentially other Team 6 members -- might become potential targets.

The irony is that despite an official release of names by the Defense Department, the majority of the names have already appeared in local news outlets as family and friends react to the loss of a loved one.

And even though releasing the names of the fallen is Defense Department policy, a Defense Secretary can change policy or make an exemption as needed.

Defense officials say Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has been presented with arguments about the pros and cons of making the names public.  It will be interesting to see if Panetta decides to follow the current policy or heed the concerns of special operations commanders.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug102011

Arab State Comes to Aid of Joplin, Missouri Students

Julie Denesha/Getty Images(JOPLIN, Mo.) -- Help can come from the least-expected places, as teens from tornado-ravaged Joplin, Missouri have found out.

Though still battered from the monster twister last May that left more than 150 people dead and a third of the town in ruins, Joplin High School will be session in just a few weeks.  Classes for freshmen and sophomores will be held inside an abandoned school building that wasn't leveled, while the upperclassmen are being moved to a former big-box store near the local mall.

Juniors and seniors might complain about the new surroundings but they certainly won't be able to gripe about the study aids they'll receive -- courtesy of a $1 million gift made by the United Arab Emirates.

Each student will receive a new Apple notebook computer to help with their lessons.  The UAE made the cash donation for that purpose after learning how the tornado devastated the Joplin school system.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug102011

Schwarzenegger's Daughter: Scandal Aftermath Has Been a 'Difficult Time'

Chris Weeks/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver's oldest child says the past few months, during which her parents separated and the ex-California governor admitted he'd fathered a child with his housekeeper, have been a "difficult time" for her.

In an interview with Harper's Bazaar magazine, Katherine Schwarzenegger says that while she tries "not to care what other people necessarily think," she's appreciative of the support she's received from others on Twitter.

"When my parents announced they were separating, people on Twitter were like, 'Oh, how are you doing?'  They said, 'How are you?  We love you.  We love your family.'  And even if it's people you don't know, it's nice to hear people say that," Schwarzenegger, who's 21, said.  "So I responded, 'Thank you so much for your support in this difficult time,' which is definitely a difficult time.  It made dealing with it so much easier."

Schwarzenegger says she went to London in late May to avoid the scrutiny her family received in the wake of the scandal.

"I just want kind of wanted to go away and realize that it's not as big a deal in other places," she said.

Schwarzenegger says that she has a strong relationship with both of her parents, but she's "always been way closer" to her mother.

She adds, "I'm close to my dad, but they're totally different kinds of relationships."

Shriver, who has four children with Arnold Schwarzenegger, has filed for divorce.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug102011

Dougherty Siblings' Colorado Spotting 'Appears to Be the Real Deal'

FBIBREAKING NEWS UPDATE: The three sibling fugitives were captured south of Pueblo, Colo., following a high speed chase, the FBI said Wednesday. 

(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) -- The Dougherty Gang, a stripper-turned alleged bank robber and her two heavily armed brothers on the run for more than a week, have been spotted in Colorado buying camping supplies, authorities said.

Lee Grace E. Dougherty, 29, her brother Ryan, 21, and half-brother Dylan Dougherty Stanley, 26, were seen at an REI sporting goods store in Colorado Springs.  Employees there are certain the trio bought a tent on Tuesday afternoon.

The siblings have been on the lam since Aug. 2 when they allegedly shot at a Zephyrhills, Florida police officer and then allegedly robbed a bank in Georgia.

"This appears to be the real deal," FBI spokesman Dave Joly said on Tuesday. False sightings of the group have been reported in Tennessee.

Employees at the sporting goods store said the accused thieves did pay for the tent.

"While their direction of travel is unknown, the investigation suggests they may attempt to avoid detection by camping or staying in rural areas," Joly said.

The three individuals were last seen driving a white 4-door Subaru Impreza with Texas license plates LCS 909, which have been reported stolen out of Texas, Colorado Springs police said.

Police say the siblings are heavily armed and worry they'd rather die than be captured.  Those who know the trio share that fear.

"I don't think I'm ever going to see her again, " said Brendon Bookman, the fiance of Lee Grace Dougherty, who had been working part-time as a stripper.

"I've always been able to get her out of tight spots in the past, but I can't do anything about this.  There's no way I can help her now," Bookman said.

The baby brother of the siblings, Ryan Dougherty, is awaiting the birth of a son with his girlfriend.  Investigators think the impending birth might have sent him and his siblings over the edge.  Ryan Dougherty was forced to register as a sex offender after sending explicit text messages to an 11-year-old girl; he feared that his sex offender status would prevent him from seeing his as-yet-unborn child.

Ryan Dougherty's girlfriend recently updated her Facebook profile picture to include a picture of her with her now fugitive lover.

Over the weekend she wrote, "I know y u did what did but buddy ur supposed to be there when I deliver."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug092011

Facebook, Law Enforcement Team Up to Remove Inmate Profiles

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Facebook said it would work with law enforcement agencies across the country to delete accounts that belong to prison inmates -- all part of an effort to combat rising smartphone and social media use among the incarcerated.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said prisoners have used Facebook to stalk victims and organize criminal activity. It has started to report Facebook profiles either set up by prison inmates or by others on their behalf to Facebook security. Facebook will now remove these accounts.

"What we're seeing is inmates' contacting or sexually harassing or even stalking their victims in the community," overcoming the security measures put in place to protect victims from their offenders, said Dana Toyama, a spokeswoman for CDCR.

"They even go as far as coordinating with friends or fellow gang members outside of prison to harass victims," said Toyama. "There is a reason we have pay phones to monitor calls. Letters are copied so we know who they are writing to. These are methods we do to make victims feel safe."

Last year the California corrections department was made aware of a convicted child molester who mailed drawings to his 17-year-old victim from a state prison. The drawings were sketches of the girl, and though her molester had not seen her in at least seven years, he could accurately portray the clothes she wore and her current hairstyle by looking at her MySpace and Facebook profiles on his smartphone.

The department said it confiscated nearly 1,400 cellphones that were smuggled into prisons in 2007. In 2010, that number jumped to approximately 10,760 phones. As of July 1, the CDCR said it was "on track to pass" last year's number with 7,284 cell phones confiscated so far this year.

"This is a growing problem in California as modern cellphones can and are used in the commission of crimes within the state's prisons and outside community," Toyama said.

Facebook recognizes the problem. "If a state has decided that prisoners have forfeited their right to use the Internet, the most effective way to prevent access is to ensure prisons have the resources to keep smartphones and other devices out," said Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes. "We will disable accounts reported to us that are violating relevant U.S. laws or regulations or inmate accounts that are updated by someone on the outside. We will also take appropriate action against anyone who misuses Facebook to threaten or harass."

While Facebook always gave users the option to report accounts of offenders, it has now broadened its policy to prohibit current inmates from keeping active Facebook accounts.

"This is a new agreement," said Toyama. "It's Facebook's acknowledgment that this is obviously a problem."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug092011

Maryland Woman Vanishes Where Natalee Holloway Disappeared

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(ORANJESTAD, Aruba) -- A Maryland woman who apparently snuck away for a tryst in Aruba has disappeared in the same town where high school senior Natalee Holloway vanished six years ago.

Robyn Gardner, 35, of Frederick, Md., was reported missing last Tuesday by Gary Giordano, 50, also of Maryland.

Giordano, who has a criminal record that includes accusations of domestic violence, told police he and Gardner had been snorkeling off an Aruba beach around 6 p.m. on Aug. 2 when he swam back to shore and realized Gardner was no longer with him.

Giordano was arrested Friday as he was boarding a plane back to the U.S.

The Natalee Holloway Resource Center, which counsels individuals and families about the dangers of traveling abroad and offers help for those who are missing abroad, is working with Gardner's distraught boyfriend, Richard Forester.

Janine Vaccarello, co-founder of the center, said Holloway's mother, Beth, had been in touch with contacts in Aruba to make sure Gardner's case was being investigated.

Forester, who has been Gardner's boyfriend for the last two and a half years, told ABC News that she went to Aruba with Giordano without telling him.

"She told me she was going away on a family trip," Forester said.

Gardner and Forester remained in contact by text message and email until the day of her disappearance, he said. Forester began to get worried when Gardner stopped replying to his messages, and, on Friday, he contacted her family to find out what was going on.

Police began searching the shore and water around Oranjestad as soon as Giordano reported her missing, according to Ann Angela, spokesperson for Aruba's prosecutor's office. Police boats and helicopters, as well as coast guard teams, searched the area through Saturday, but found no evidence of Gardner. Angela said the water at Baby Beach, where the pair were snorkeling, is typically calm and gentle.

Gardner's mother flew to Aruba on Friday morning to meet with authorities and with Giordano, according to her brother, Andrew Colson. Giordano was arrested later that day as he was boarding a plane back to the U.S., Angela said.

Forester cast doubt on Giordano's story of evening snorkeling, saying his girlfriend would never have gone swimming that late.

"We went on vacations and I couldn't even get her to put her head under water in the pool. She was into makeup and hair, and knowing her she would have had a few cocktails already and would only be getting ready to go out that night," Forester said.

Forester said Gardner got divorced from her first husband in 2009. The pair had become exclusive about seven months ago, and she had been living with him six days a week in his Bethesda apartment near both of their jobs.

"We had definitely talked about marriage. We had plans to look for a new place to live" when she returned from Aruba, Forester said.

Giordano was also previously married. He divorced his wife in 2008 amid allegations of domestic violence, according to Maryland court documents. During the divorce his wife obtained an order of protection, court records show.

Court records also indicate that at least one other woman has sought an order of protection against Giordano and that he has several arrests for thefts under $500.

Giordano, who is not charged with any crime, is being held until this weekend, when he will again go before a judge. In Aruba a judge can order him held for another eight days. Giordano's lawyer in Aruba, Michael Lopez, did not return calls for comment.

Gardner's brother has started a Facebook page -- "Help Find Robyn Colson-Gardner: Missing in Aruba" -- which includes a description and pictures of the 5-foot-5, 130-pound blond, along with updates on the efforts to find his sister.

In 2005, Alabama high school senior Natalee Holloway disappeared in the same town while on a senior class trip with her school. She was never found. Holloway's family publicly criticized Aruba police for the investigation into Natalee's death.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug092011

Whole Foods Controversy: Targeting Ramadan

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) -- The national grocery chain Whole Foods is in the middle of a whole lot of controversy for directing a marketing campaign at Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan -- and then taking it back.

On July 27, food writer Yvonne Mafei wrote about celebrating Ramadan on the Whole Foods company blog The Whole Story.

"Ramadan is fast approaching, and I'm getting my kitchen ready for a month of celebration with my family and community," Mafei wrote. "In case you're not familiar with Ramadan, it is an incredibly important holy month for Muslims. For us, it is a time of reflection -- a time to develop compassion for those who live with hunger and thirst as a way of life, and to do something to help them."

The post was accompanied by a promotion announcing a gift card giveaway during the Muslim holy month and directed customers to try a new line of halal-certified products called Saffron Road.

For a socially conscious company that calls itself "mission driven," offering up a few menu choices and gift cards for an important Muslim holiday seemed like a no-brainer.

The post -- and an accompanying date recipe -- generated enthusiastic comments such as, "This is great. Finally a major retailer has recognized its Muslim customers," and "Whole Foods your support of Ramadan is very much appreciated."

But within days anti-Muslim bloggers like Debbie Schlussel made it clear that they did not appreciate a major national retail chain embracing the Muslim holy month and accused the company of "Islamo-pandering" and being a "shill for jihadist interests."

It all might have ended there if it weren't for an internal Whole Foods email obtained by the Houston Press that suggested that after the negative reaction from conservatives, some Whole Foods stores would now downplay any mention of Ramadan.

The email read in part, "It is probably best that we don't specifically call out or 'promote' Ramadan...We should not highlight Ramadan in signage in our stores as that could be considered 'Celebrating or promoting' Ramadan."

In a statement to ABC News, Whole Foods indicated that the email may have been misunderstood. "Whole Foods Market is NOT canceling our current halal promotion, which is centered around the timeframe of Ramadan...," but the statement went on to say, "We have 12 different operating regions and one region reacted by sending out directions to promote Halal and not specifically Ramadan after some online negative comments."

But that statement is not likely to stem the tide of negativity being directed at Whole Foods Market, because now comments are pouring in from the other side -- customers angry that the socially conscious grocer seemed to capitulate so quickly to anti-Muslim sentiments.

One commenter named Bunnie Watson wrote on the Whole Foods blog: "Just disappointed to hear that Whole Foods has capitulated to a vocal minority that does not believe in the freedom to observe non-Christian religious practices in America."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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