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Monday
Jul182011

Teen Allegedly Kills Parents with Hammer, Then Parties

Comstock/Thinkstock(PORT SAINT LUCIE, Fla.) -- A Florida teenager accused of killing his parents with a hammer and partying afterward with more than 40 friends has been charged with first-degree murder. He is being held without bail.

Police say 17-year-old Tyler Hadley used a 22-inch framing hammer to kill his parents, Mary Jo Hadley and Blake Maurice Hadley, then covered up their bodies and drank beer with his friends.

Tyler had invited his friends to come over Saturday, police said, posting a message on Facebook around 1:30 in the afternoon.

Later that night, around 10 p.m., between 40 to 60 friends arrived at the house. Neighbors complained about noise from the party, so police sent a patrol car to the neighborhood around 2:30 a.m. but didn't notice anything unusual.

Then, hours later, they received an anonymous tip that Tyler had killed his parents.

When police showed up at the Hadley home around 4:20 a.m. they found "beer cups lying around the house," and Tyler appeared "nervous and panicky," according to Port Saint Lucie Police Capt. Don Kryak.

At that point, Kryak said, the party had already broken up. Police found Mary Jo Hadley, 47, and Blake Hadley, 54, in the master bedroom covered in household items, including "books, files and towels."

Police said it looked like a deliberate attempt to hide the bodies.

Port Saint Lucie police spokesman Tom Nichols said police found the hammer between the two bodies, and that it had been used on the couple's heads and torsos.

Although the police were still awaiting autopsy results, they "can say for certain" both parents were killed before the party began.

Police say they believe Tyler acted alone, and that he'd likely be tried as an adult. A motive for Tyler's alleged actions remains unclear.

There was "nothing to lead us to believe it was a rage issue of any sort," Kryak said.

Neighbor Charlene Moses said she's lived on the same block as the Hadleys for 15 years and remembers Tyler and his older brother stopping by during Halloween. She said they were always polite.

Blake Hadley, 54, worked for the Florida Power & Light Company for almost 30 years as an engineer, his father, Maurice Hadley, told ABC News. He described his son as a man who was "proud of his two sons," affectionately describing him as a "gentle giant" because he was six feet four inches and "always jolly."

His wife, Mary Jo Hadley, 47, worked as a first-grade teacher at Village Green Environmental Studies School.

A spokesperson from the St. Lucie County School district was not available for immediate comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

Second Spreckels Mansion Death as Boy, 6, Dies from Injuries

Stockbyte/Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(CORONADO, Calif.) -- Millionaire Jonah Shacknai, already grieving for his girlfriend who was found hanged in his California mansion last week, has said that his young son has died from injuries suffered in the mansion.

Max Shacknai, 6, was injured at the historic Spreckels mansion in Coronado, Calif., last Monday. He was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries, and his death was announced Sunday.

Two days after Max was injured, Jonah Shacknai's girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau, was found dead, hanging naked from a balcony at the mansion.

Police are investigating whether Zahau's death was a murder or a suicide. During a press conference last week, San Diego Sheriff spokesman Tim Curran said the crime scene appeared "suspicious."

At the time they did not believe there was a connection between Zahau's death and Max's injuries.

Jonah Shacknai sent out a statement Sunday, asking for privacy as he and his ex-wife Dina, Max's mother, grieve for their son affectionately known as Maxie.

"Despite heroic efforts on the part of paramedics and hospital staff, he was unable to recover from the injuries suffered early last week. His loving, kind and vibrant spirit will forever be in our hearts and those whom he touched every day. The loss to our families, Max's many friends of all ages and teammates, and the community is immeasurable," he wrote.

The couple is planning a private memorial service, according to the statement, and they asked that any memorial contributions be made to Whispering Hope Ranch Foundation. The statement concludes: "On behalf of Dina, myself and our families, please know of our appreciation for the tremendous outpouring of support provided during this very difficult time."

On July 11, police received a call from a woman at the mansion whom they would not identify requesting medical aid for Max.

The child "had fallen from stairs and was not breathing and did not have a pulse," Coronado Police Chief Louis Scanlon said last Thursday.

Paramedics performed CPR and the boy was hospitalized.

"At this time, we have no information that would lead us to believe this is anything other than a tragic accident with the child," Scanlon said.

In between the boy's accident and the discovery of Zahau's body, neighbors told ABC News affiliate KGTV, a loud party took place at the mansion on Tuesday night. However, police said last Thursday they were not aware of any parties.

Two days later, police received a call from Shacknai's brother, Adam Schacknai, that he found Zahau hanging from the balcony. When police arrived at the mansion they found the 32-year-old's body on the lawn in the backyard. Shacknai told them he had cut her down.

Police announced last week that an autopsy has been completed and they are still awaiting results from the forensics investigation and lab work.

Since 2007, the mansion has belonged Jonah Shacknai, the 54-year-old multimillionaire founder and CEO of Medicis Pharmaceutical Corporation in Scottsdale, Ariz., a company that makes treatments for acne and facial wrinkles.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

ATF Head: Not Sharing Weapons Tracking Info 'Eye-Popping'

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Interviewed by congressional investigators earlier this month, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Ken Melson agreed that the allegations that federal agencies weren’t sharing information regarding the Fast & Furious program were “eye-popping,” according to transcripts of the interview exclusively obtained by ABC News.

In the controversial Fast & Furious program, the FBI allowed assault weapons to be trafficked across the Mexican border in order to try to locate criminals. But many of the guns have since shown up at crime scenes in the U.S. One theory investigators are exploring is that the ATF agents were unknowlingly selling weapons to straw purchasers created by the FBI using informants and maybe even taxpayer money.

Melson was asked about this -- politely called an “interagency communication issue” -- when he testified behind closed doors to congressional investigators over Fourth of July weekend. In the below excerpt from that testimony, Melson describes a conversation with the deputy attorney general (DAG) Jim Cole on July 16, the day after the ATF hearing on the Hill. “IG” is a reference to the inspector general who is investigating the Fast & Furious case internally at the Justice Department.

Below is the relevant exchange:

Q: Do you have any concerns that because you raised the interagency communication issue with the DAG and also with the IG that you might be viewed as speaking out of turn.

MELSON: Well, I guess I have -- I have got concerns about talking with you about it, as well as pushing it as I have in the Department, because it could be a very sensitive issue.  I don't know.  Better communication with them would have helped me understand how sensitive it is, if it is, or what the ramifications of its disclosure is. I mentioned it to the DAG's office in good faith to try and avoid further damage to the Department or the government if this thing is as you have laid it out and it unravels and the American public sees ATF investigating straw purchasers and another agency working the money angle and the ordering of the weapons.  I mean, that would make us look pretty silly, I think.  So my mention of it to the DAG's office was simply to let them know, to give them a head's up so if this was occurring, they could figure out what to do with it.  And we weren't getting any responses.  I'm still concerned about it.  I'm still concerned about not just what was done, but what could be ongoing as well.

Q: When I first heard about the information sharing issues, my eyes nearly popped out of my head.

MELSON: Well, so did mine.

Q: I'm curious when you communicated that to the DAG, did his eyes pop out of his head, did he think this was a big problem.

MELSON: I can't tell you what he thought or how he thought.  But he simply said, "We will have to look into it."

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) who is investigating the operation, has accused the Obama administration of "stonewalling" his efforts. "This administration, at the highest levels approved a process that allowed thousands of high-powered weapons...to go to the worst of the worst on both sides of the borders," Issa told Fox News last month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

Casey Anthony's Parents Were Asked to Be Decoys in Jail Release

Hand Out/ABC News(ORLANDO, Fla) -- Casey Anthony's attorney wanted to use her parents as media decoys at the Orlando, Florida jailhouse where she was released on Sunday, according to the couple's lawyer.

Mark Lippman, who representd Casey Anthony's parents George and Cindy Anthony, told HLN's Jane Velez-Mitchell on Sunday that he refused the request from attorney Jose Baez.

"Last night we got a call from Mr. Baez ... he had wanted to use my clients as decoys for the media and I, of course, did not agree with that and neither did my clients," said Lippman.  "One, it was risky at best, and two, just in my opinion, something that would not be beneficial to anybody."

Lippman added that he did find out that Casey Anthony is safe at an undisclosed location.  Anthony reportedly boarded a private plane from the Orlando Executive Airport around 3 a.m. Sunday upon her release after approximately three years in prison just after midnight Sunday.

In the interview, as reported by The Examiner, Lippmann indicated that there has still been no further contact between Casey Anthony and her mother -- though Cindy Anthony did want to have contact with Casey, and Mr. Baez blocked it, according to Lippman.

"After the trial Cindy tried to see Casey and again was rebuked.  Now again, even a simple telephone call apparently seems to be too much for either Casey or Mr. Baez, so we're asking publicly that Mr. Baez at least reach out to me and let me know what's going on," Lippman said.

Casey Anthony's release comes 12 days after she was convicted of four counts of lying to police and a day after she filed an appeal of those convictions.

Anthony, 25, was sentenced to four years for lying to investigators about her 2-year-old daughter Caylee's 2008 disappearance and death, but she had already served three years and was credited for good behavior.  Aside from the jail time, Anthony was fined $4,000.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

Midwest Continues to Bake as Heat Wave Moves East

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A dangerous heat wave continues to hover over the central part of the U.S. and is expected to spread eastward over the next few days. Forecasters say the scorching temps will be sticking around well into next week.

Heat index values in the Midwest are expected to stay planted in the triple digits, making it feel like at least 100 degrees and higher throughout the afternoon Monday.

Minneapolis will feel like it's 118 degrees; the average temperature for this time in July is in the mid-80s.

The oppressive heat has caused many problems for people who live in places that don't normally record such high temperatures.

The rising mercury coupled with the stifling humidity has sent six people to the hospital in Iowa; the top recorded temperature in that state reached 99 degrees on Sunday in Council Bluffs. The average temperature for this time of year is 88 degrees.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the state, authorities say two homes got so hot their smoke detectors were tripped, triggering false alarms.

Asphalt at a major intersection in western Oklahoma buckled on Saturday night from the intense heat -- temperatures there have reached 100 degrees or higher 27 times already this year.

The heat is also affecting local wildlife in Texas. Researchers found that many does are unable to carry fawns to term in this weather, causing premature births.

Government officials and business owners are doing what they can to help people keep cool.

City officials have opened cooling centers in Chicago, where temperatures are expected to hit 105 degrees. Cooling centers have also been opened in Detroit to help residents who don't have air conditioning in their homes.

Seventeen states from Texas to Michigan have reported heat advisories and warnings.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

Craigslist Tie in Disappearance of Colorado Woman?

38-year-old Amy Ahonen is pictured in this undated file photo. (Andrea Ahonen)(DENVER) -- Colorado police have called off their search for a woman who disappeared near what's known as the Mayhem Gulch Trail, but her friends and family believe the extremely athletic woman could still be alive. They also fear there could be a link to disappearance to a Craigslist ad she had posted several months ago.

Amy Ahonen was last seen on July 8, the day before her 38th birthday. Her car was found on the side of Highway 6 in Jefferson County, Colo., with her belongings in it, including the keys in the console, her purse under the seat and her hiking backpack in the vehicle. The car was left unlocked.

Andrea Ahonen finds it strange that the car was unlocked. She said that Amy's car had been broken into before so she was careful about locking the doors.

The area where the car was found is not residential, but is a heavily traveled scenic route where people sometimes leave their cars to go hiking or rafting.

"What kills me is this isn't a remote road, it's a well-travelled road. You can't count to 60 without a car going by," Andra Ahonen said. "Someone had to have seen her and we just hope someone will say something."

"Our concern is that somebody picked her up on the side of the road and she could be anywhere," Andrea Ahonen said. "Nobody knows where else to search right now."

Andrea Ahonen says her sister had a frightening experience with a man several months ago when she used Craigslist to advertise for a roommate, and she has told police about it.

Hoping to save some money, Amy Ahonen posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a roommate. In March, a man who responded came to look at the place and "tried to kiss her," according to her sister.

"She got very freaked out about it and took the ad down," Ahonen said. As far as she knows, this was the only contact her sister had with the man. When Andrea looked through her sister's emails, she did not see any further contact and could not figure out who the man was.

Andrea Ahonen said one of her sister's neighbors said Amy described the man only as a tall, black man. Amy Ahonen removed the ad after the incident, but her sister believes the incident is worth investigating.

Amy Ahonen is 5-foot-4 with light blonde hair and blue-green eyes. Extremely athletic, Ahonen is a member of a co-ed hockey team, a hiking club and a curling club. Her family is based in Taylor, Mich., and Ahonen is one of five children.

While the Denver police have called off ground searches, they are still holding Ahonen's car as evidence in the investigation. Family, friends and volunteers continue to search for Ahonen in the area around Mayhem Gulch Trail where the car was found.

The Denver police did not immediately return calls for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

Ex-Cop Who Called 911 About Girlfriend's Shooting Now Charged with Murder

Doug Menuez/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- A 911 call reporting the drive-by shooting of a Chicago woman was made by her ex-cop boyfriend who is now being charged with her murder.

Devin Bickham Sr., 39, his son, Devin Bickham Jr., 20, and a third man, Cardell Taylor, 35, have all been charged with first-degree murder for allegedly orchestrating and committing the murder of Chervon Alexander, Bickham Sr.'s girlfriend.

Bickham Sr. was a former North Chicago police officer, according to local reports. The State Attorney's office said that he and Alexander were in a romantic relationship. According to local police, Bickham was married.

"Bickham Sr. thought that the victim was interfering with his life and wanted her out of the way, allegedly," said Chief Deputy Craig Rutz from the River Forest police department. "[Alexander] had told others that she was going to be getting married in August."

According to Rutz, on the night of the drive-by, "two people stopped their car on Division Street right in front of victim's car. One walked through the bushes and shot [Alexander]." Andy Conklin from the State's Attorney's office said that Taylor shot Alexander with a handgun several times in the mouth, shoulder and chest.

In his frantic 911 call, Bickham Sr. claimed ignorance of the shooter's identity, crying, "My girlfriend got shot." When the 911 operator asked Bickham who shot his girlfriend, the former cop replied, "I don't know. Some guy but he kept going. Help me." When asked if his girlfriend was breathing, Bickham's emotional response was almost unintelligible. "No. She's gone. She's not breathing. Oh please."

Four minutes after Bickham's 911 call, combined task forces from Forest Park and Oak Park police led the arrest of Bickham Jr. and Taylor.

The State Attorney's Office said that Bickham Jr. and Taylor have now both made videotaped confessions admitting to the scheme, including that they had been recruited to kill the victim and that they were in communication with Bickham Sr. Conklin also said that the older Bickham made statements saying that "he had admitted the gun was his. He admitted to telling his son where he was and that he was bringing the victim to the area where the shooting occurred."

Bickham Sr.'s attorney, Mike Clancy, maintains his client's innocence.

"This is something that I believe, at the end of the day when it goes to trial, my client is going to be found innocent," said Clancy to ABC affiliate, WLS.

According to local authorities, father and son lived together in Blue Island. The elder Bickham had filed for bankruptcy twice in the past. Currently, both family members, as well as Taylor, are being held without bond in Cook County Jail. A preliminary hearing is set for July 21.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

Rejected Blood Donor to Sue Over Faulty 'Gaydar'

22 year-old Aaron Pace is attempting to file charges against a blood center in Indiana after he was denied a request to give blood because, he says, the staff told him he appeared to be homosexual. (Aaron Pace)(GARY, Ind.) -- Aaron Pace claims he is the victim of faulty "gaydar" and intends to sue for discrimination after he was not allowed to give blood because he appeared to be homosexual.

Pace, who is 22 and insists he is straight, was rejected from giving blood by Bio-Blood Components Inc. in Gary, Ind., earlier this month.

Federal guidelines forbid blood donations by gays. The regulations dates back to 1983 and the outbreak of AIDS and the virus associated with AIDS, HIV.

"I was humiliated," Pace told ABC News. "This was my first time experiencing this."

Pace said he filled out a questionnaire at Bio-Blood Components Inc. and sat through an interview with a staff member. When the interview was over, Pace was told he was not eligible to give blood and was turned away.

"She said 'I'm sorry, but it's the way that you act and appear to be. [It's] your sexuality.' And I said 'because I'm what?' and she said 'because you're gay,'" said Pace. He demanded to speak with the doctor on site who reiterated that he had been denied.

Pace said Monday that he plans to sue for sexual orientation discrimination.

Pace said he has an effeminate voice, and thinks that perhaps that was what caused the blood center to assume he was homosexual.

Bio-Blood Components Inc. did not return ABC News' call requesting comment.

Blood donation sites across the country have been banned since 1983 from allowing gay men to donate blood due to a Food and Drug Administration regulation. The American Red Cross and other groups that supply donated blood have asked for a review of the regulation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

Couple Allegedly Kidnaps Man to Force Him to Grant Jewish Divorce

Comstock/Thinkstock(TRENTON, N.J.) -- A middle-aged Jewish couple has been charged with luring an Israeli man to their suburban New Jersey home and allegedly holding him hostage until he agreed to grant his wife a religious divorce.

David and Judy Wax, 49 and 47, were scheduled to appear in federal court in Trenton on Monday, face up to life in prison for kidnapping if convicted.

According to the criminal complaint, the Waxes convinced the victim, known only by his initials, Y.M.B, to come to their Lakewood home in the early morning hours of Oct. 17, 2010 to discuss the Talmud. After he arrived, two unidentified males jumped him in a second-floor bedroom, punching him in the face.

After the attackers allegedly handcuffed, bound and blindfolded the victim, the victim said that he heard them say he had to grant his wife a divorce without receiving custody of the children. The victim said that David Wax then picked the victim's head off the floor, allowing him to see under the blindfold. Wax was wearing a white cowboy hat. "Do you like my hat?" asked Wax, before allegedly kicking the victim in the ribs.

The victim was also allegedly shown a body bag and told "that if he did not comply, he would be buried alive in the Pocono Mountains," according to the complaint. The Poconos are a popular resort area in Eastern Pennsylvania. Wax allegedly laid the body bag on the victim and said, "For you to get used to the size."

The victim and his ex-wife had been engaged in a contested divorce in Rabbinical court in Israel. The victim had moved to the United States, where he continued to refuse to give his wife a "get," a divorce under Orthodox Jewish law. A "get "would permit her to remarry.

According to the alleged victim, he was held hostage for several hours and threatened with harm if he didn't verbally consent to the "get." The victim said that he consented to the divorce within the first half hour of his captivity, but was forced to consent to the divorce again and again in both English and Hebrew. He was also told that his father in Israel had to pay $100,000 to his ex-wife.

At 3:00 a.m., David Wax and the victim allegedly went by taxi to an ATM to attempt to withdraw money.

According to the complaint, the taxi driver told the men that a car was following the taxi. Wax said he was aware of the car. He allegedly told the victim that he had an "Italian team" in the following car who would take victim to the Poconos and bury him alive. Wax also allegedly called the victim's father in Israel and threatened him with a "special gift...called a bullet...in your head" if he didn't cooperate. He also said that others had wanted to give the victim "to mice in the mountains to eat him," but that the son had been spared because he agreed to the divorce.

According to the complaint, Judy Wax then drove the victim to his cousin's house in Brooklyn, New York and dropped him off.

Mitchell Ansell, attorney for David Wax, said that his client is not guilty and has always maintained his innocence. "He has no history of violence or criminal behavior, and he is the father of eight children. We're confident that when all the facts are made public that he will be cleared of these charges and his good and honorable name will be restored."

An attorney for Judy Wax did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

Carmageddon Averted: I-405 Reopens Early

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Los Angeles’ feared "Carmageddon" ended before it ever really began Sunday, as officials re-opened Interstate 405 17 hours ahead of their Monday morning target.

Billboards warning of historic gridlock, celebrity tweets to stay in your neighborhood and stern mayoral pronouncements apparently scared most Angelenos off the road (or out of town) during the shutdown of a 10-mile stretch of I-405, a vital north-south artery connecting the city to the San Fernando Valley.

The closure turned the city's Westside into a relaxing, sun-dappled playland where restaurants seated patrons without waits and Angelenos made uncharacteristic use of their own footpower to get around.

At least two intrepid skateboarders dodged police and California Highway Patrol officers staged at the on ramps for an unimpeded adventure down the 405, only to be warned they risked arrest if they attempted a repeat performance.

Officials can only hope residents won't have become complacent 11 months from now -- when the remaining half of the Mulholland Bridge comes down in Carmageddon II.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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