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Thursday
Apr142011

Arlington Grave Mix-Ups Draw Congressional Ire

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly a year after the country was horrified to learn of major mistakes at Arlington National Cemetery, including graves marked incorrectly and misplaced remains, members of Congress are asking whom to hold accountable.

Bill Koch wants answers, too. Koch, a retired Air Force Colonel whose wife, Jean, is buried at Arlington, learned he had been visiting the wrong grave for more than four years. He told a House committee Thursday that the former managers at the nation's premier cemetery for its war dead "should be ashamed."

"There is a lot more than one unknown soldier" at Arlington, Koch said. That's how badly he said the cemetery has been managed.

The Army admits 18 grave sites have been marked incorrectly or left unmarked. Since last June when the scandal became known, the Army says it has examined 22,000 grave sites. There are more than 300,000 graves at Arlington. To complete the accounting of all graves, which must be completed by the end of the year, will cost $4.3 million, according to the Army.

The Secretary of Army did not appear at Thursday's hearing, which frustrated the chairman of the subcommittee, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va. He said the Army's effort to fix the problems at Arlington has been "unsatisfactory and is in no way commensurate with the service and sacrifice of our fallen warriors."

When word of the mistakes made news last June, Bill Koch decided to call Arlington to make sure the grave he had been visiting was indeed his wife's. He was told there was nothing to worry about. But a second phone call alerted him that there was a problem. It turned out his wife was actually buried in the grave next to the one he had visited. Her remains were moved, and a new headstone was put in place.

Former Arlington National Cemetery superintendent John Meltzer and his deputy Thurman Higgenbotham were criticized roundly by Col. Koch, who said the two men "got a slap on the wrist." He added, "Once they retired it was as if this whole incident never occurred."

Members of Congress accused the two former Arlington managers of squandering millions of dollars in an effort to digitize the cemetery's paper records. The Secretary of the Army admitted, "We expect to find more paperwork errors."

The Army says it is frustrated it couldn't do more about the two men. Karl Schneidner, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, said when the two men retired, the Army's jurisdiction over them "evaporated."

The new executive director at Arlington, Kathryn Condon, told the committee that when she took over last June it as if she "moved into a house without a foundation."

"Now we are moving to do accountability," she said.

Republican Mike Coffman of Colorado wasn't buying it. He called the Arlington Cemetery leadership and its staff "rotten to its core. A culture of incompetence if not a culture of corruption." He wondered if the new leadership is up to the job.

"You don't get it," he said. "We need to honor these veterans."

The new leadership defended the staff, saying in the past there was "no guidance, no direction, no training" of the staff at the cemetery.

Rep. Wittman wondered whether the Army's Inspector General is taking Congress' concerns seriously since he did not attend the hearing.

"Our nation's heroes deserve better," Wittman said. "Today, this committee is demanding better."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr142011

Mom Who Drowned Family in Hudson River Tried to Back Out at Last Moment

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A woman who drove her minivan into the frigid waters of the Hudson River, killing herself and her three small children, changed her mind at the last minute, throwing the car into reverse and admitting her mistake to her 10-year-old son who swam to safety.

On Thursday, the boy, Leshaun Armstrong, returned to the dock from where his mother drove into the water. He was accompanied by members of his family.

Minutes after an argument with her boyfriend and father of her three youngest children Tuesday night, Leshanda Armstrong posted an eerie message on Facebook, packed her four children into her minivan, and headed for the Hudson River in Newburgh, N.Y.

Her Facebook message, posted at 7:13 p.m. Tuesday, said, "I'm so sorry everyone forgive me please for what I'm gonna do.... This Is It!!!!" During the ride to the river, her son says she told her children, "You're all going to die with me."

Despite her decision to kill her family, evidence from the scene and interviews with Lashaun indicate that she changed her mind once the vehicle began filling with water.

When police were able to pull the car out of the water Wednesday, they noticed that the gearshift was in reverse, said Lt. Bruce Campbell, a member of the dive team and department spokesman.

Leshaun Armstrong told Maeve Ryan, a Good Samaritan who found Leshaun, who was soaking wet, that his mother was holding onto all four children, including two boys aged 5 and 2 as well as an 11-month-old daughter as the car hit the water. As water rushed in through the windows and the car sank in eight feet of water 25 yards from shore, Leshaun broke free, crawled out a window and swam to safety.

Police also said there were indications that the mother had unbuckled the children and may have been holding them together.

Armstrong's last moments were filled with terror, regret and tenderness. The boy said that just before reaching the water, Armstrong made a final cellphone call to her own mother asking forgiveness. And as he struggled to get out of the car, Leshaun said his mother kissed his head and gave him her blessing.

Minutes before Armstrong left with her kids driving to boat ramp, her aunt called Newburgh police to report the woman and her boyfriend, Jean Pierre, had been having a fight. By the time police arrived at the home, the women and her children were gone.

Leshaun Armstrong is currently staying with relatives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr142011

Police Hunting Long Island Serial Killer Fear They'll Find More Bodies

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(HEMLOCK COVE, N.Y.) -- Investigators hunting a serial killer are confident they could find additional bodies as they escalate their search along a stretch of New York beaches where at least nine bodies have been discovered so far.

The gut feeling that there are more bodies hidden along the shores of Long Island has police going to extraordinary lengths to scour the area for remains. The lone road through the area was expected to be closed down for several hours Thursday as an FBI plane with sophisticated cameras and sonar is scheduled to join the search.

Police divers returned to Hemlock Cove for a second day, a body of water near where some of the bodies have been found. Police sources told ABC News that they are searching the cove in the belief that storms that lash the barrier island may have washed evidence, or bodies, into the water.

Searchers on foot are still combing the thick scrub and a WABC chopper Thursday spotted officials taking a large black bag and several canvas bags from the brush and putting them in the back of a truck. Whatever was in the bags had been found in the brush.

Investigative sources also tell ABC News that they are increasingly convinced that they are finding the victims of a serial killer and a second killer.

Four of the bodies have been identified as prostitutes who advertised on Craigslist. Those bodies were all found wrapped in burlap and are believed to be the victims of a serial killer who is preying on prostitutes. Those bodies were spaced about 500 feet apart.

Another woman who advertised on Craigslist, Shannan Gilbert, is missing and was last seen in the area screaming for help.

Four other bodies, three adults and a toddler, were found farther away and were not wrapped in burlap. Police believe those bodies have been on the beach longer than the slain prostitutes. Investigators do not believe they are connected to whoever is killing prostitutes.

Another set of remains and a skull may be the corpse of a ninth victim or from two more victims.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr142011

Nursing Student Dragged into Woods By Camouflaged Abductor

Design Pics/Robert Cable/Valueline/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- Almost 400 volunteers are searching the dense West Tennessee woodlands looking for a 20-year-old nursing student last seen being dragged by a man dressed in camouflage into the woods near her home, investigators said.

Holly Bobo was dragged "across the carport of her home…toward a wooded area" in the town of Parsons on Wednesday, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Both Bobo's mother and 25-year-old brother watched the woman being abducted and called 911.

Mayer would not say if family members tried to intervene or if they were suspected in the abduction.

Bobo is a cousin of Whitney Duncan, a country music singer and a finalist on the television talent show Nashville Star.

"My cousin Holly was kidnapped this morning," Duncan wrote on Facebook. "Please pray for her & our family. This is really sad & shocking."

Investigators initially believe the young woman may have been abducted from her house in a home invasion, but John Mayer, spokesman for the TBI told ABCNews.com that "the suspect was never inside."

Police won't comment on what else family members told them or what evidence may have been left behind.

"The investigation is ongoing," said Mayer.

Between 300 and 400 people are involved in today's search, Mayer said.

Investigators are using sniffing dogs and a helicopter to comb the rural area around Bobo's home, about 100 miles north of Memphis.

Calls to Bobo's family were not returned.

Bobo is five-foot-three and weighs 110 pounds. She was last seen wearing a pink shirt and blue jeans.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr142011

Duke Rape Accuser Crystal Mangum May Face Murder Charges

Jupiterimages/Comstock/Thinkstock(DURHAM, N.C.) -- Crystal Mangum, the woman who claimed three Duke lacrosse players raped her five years ago, could soon be facing murder charges after the man she's accused of stabbing has died.

Mangum, 32, allegedly stabbed live-in boyfriend Reginald Daye, 46, during an April 3 argument. According to Durham, N.C., police, Mangum stabbed him in the torso with a kitchen knife. He was taken to Duke University Hospital and treated for serious injuries. Daye died Wednesday evening, according to police.

"More than likely, we will be upgrading the charge to murder," Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez Sr. told The Herald Sun of Durham Wednesday.


During a 911 call, a man requesting an ambulance to the residence said Mangum was the attacker. "I told him she was trouble from the very beginning," the man said.

A man who said he was the victim's cousin told ABC affiliate WTVD that Mangum and the victim had a brief relationship.

"I mean he was excited," the man said. "He was like, 'Man, guess who I'm dating now.' He was excited, but I told him, 'Man, you know her background. Be careful.'"

Mangum is currently being held in jail on a $300,000 bond and charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

In February 2010, Mangum was arrested and charged with attempted murder, arson and child abuse after an argument with Milton Walker, then her boyfriend. According to police, she attacked Walker and set his clothes on fire in the bathtub while three children were present. She also allegedly told Walker "I'm going to stab you [expletive]!" in front of officers.

She was found guilty in December of three counts of child abuse, injury to personal property and resisting a public officer. She was sentenced to 88 days in jail, which she had already served while awaiting trial. The felony arson charge was dismissed.

In 2006, Mangum accused three Duke lacrosse players of raping her at an off-campus party. She and another dancer had been paid to perform for the team. Her story was eventually found to be false and a year later charges against the players were dropped.

In 2008, she graduated from college with a degree in police psychology and released a memoir titled, That Last Dance for Grace: The Crystal Mangum Story.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr142011

Missing Georgia Mom Wazineh Suleiman Found Alive 

ABC News(BARTOW COUNTY, Ga.) -- Missing Georgia woman Wazineh Suleiman, the mother of five young children who disappeared nearly a week ago, has been found safe and is hiding in an undisclosed location, police told ABC News Thursday.

"She is alive and well," Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap. "I received a phone call from a sheriff here in the state of Georgia. At her request I will not tell you where she is."

The sheriff's statement indicates that Suleiman, 30, ran away.

"She does not want anyone to know where she is. We are not going to divulge her location at her request," Millsap said.

The sheriff said investigators are interviewing the woman. She was with a friend, police said. The friend called her husband, Abed Suleiman, police said.

Sources told ABC News that Wazineh Suleiman is extremely afraid of her husband.

Before Wazineh Suleiman surfaced, her husband, Abed Suleiman, was questioned for three hours Wednesday night by police.

"I was a suspect...and they wanted to totally rule me out. They kind of already did that. They just wanted to iron out all the wrinkles and they did that," Abed Suleiman told ABC Affiliate WSB-TV as he left the sheriff's office Wednesday night.

Abed Suleiman claimed that his wife had left Friday night to rent a movie from Walmart and never returned. Surveillance video showed that Wazineh Suleiman never entered the Walmart.

Abed had just returned from a canceled hunting trip in Kentucky when he found his wife had disappeared, he claimed.

The two exchanged heated text messages following her disappearance, Abed Suleiman claimed. In the text messages, Wazineh Suleiman cursed at her husband and threatened to throw the phone out the window. "There were two text messages where there was profanity used. We are very religious, very religious...Wazineh would never, ever, ever...talk to me like that or text me like that. She never has and I was saying something is not right," Abed Suleiman said Wednesday.

There is no record of domestic violence between the couple. He told ABC News that he treated his wife like a queen.

"My wife is my life," he said. "Anybody that know us, a lot of people look at us and say these guys are a perfect couple and a perfect family."

For a short time last year, Wazineh Suleiman lived with her family in Israel for two months. She had recently gotten her first job.

Wazineh Suleiman married Abed when she was 17. The devout Muslim couple had recently found themselves in deep financial trouble. The couple is more than half a million dollars in debt to more than 50 creditors, according to a federal bankruptcy court . They filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in August, the court documents show.

Police had found Wazineh Suleiman's abandoned SUV in an empty parking lot 12 miles from the Walmart where was supposed to have gone to rent a movie.

Abed Suleiman had gone to Kentucky Friday on a hunting trip with a friend but returned to Georgia when he realized he'd confused the dates for when hunting season begins, he said.

"I pulled into the driveway and my buddy said, 'Hey, your wife's truck is not there.' I look over and my jaw just dropped," Suleiman said Tuesday. "I was in shock. That doesn't make sense. She just doesn't leave without telling me."

He said he found his kids watching television.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr142011

Navy Drops Discharge of Sailor Found Asleep with Another Man

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) -- The Navy has dropped discharge proceedings against a young petty officer accused of "unprofessional conduct" after he was found asleep in bed with another male sailor earlier this year.

Stephen Jones, 21, a student at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in Charleston, S.C., had said his attempted ouster was motivated by homophobia, not a legitimate crime.

"This was an attempt to utilize supposed misconduct to get around 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' provisions," said Jones' civilian attorney Gary Meyers. "He's never said that he's gay, and no one asked him. It's irrelevant. He didn't do anything wrong."

The reprieve for Jones came Friday from the "upper echelons" of the Navy, Meyers said.

In an interview last month, Jones said he and friend Brian McGee inadvertently dozed off while watching the Vampire Diaries on a computer in his quarters Feb. 6.

"I asked several times about what was unprofessional about what I did, and every time they said it's just unprofessional. Period," said Jones.

Jones was wearing pajama pants and a white t-shirt, laying on top of the covers; McGee was in boxer shorts under the blanket on Jones' twin bed, according to both men's accounts.

When Jones' roommate, Tyler Berube, walked in shortly after midnight, the sleepy sailors woke up, got dressed and went back to their rooms.

Several days later, however, Jones and McGee were cited with dereliction of duty for "willfully failing to exhibit professional conduct in his room," according to the Navy report specifying the charges.

McGee accepted the charge and received docked pay. But when Jones refused to accept a penalty, instead hoping for a court martial to prove his innocence, he was ordered separated from the Navy for good.

While there was no evidence of homosexual conduct presented in the statements given by the three men to military investigators, Jones and his civilian attorney Gary Meyers believe homophobic suspicions were motivation for the charge.

Gay and lesbian advocates also warned the case illustrates a loophole for continued discrimination against homosexual service members complication despite the impending repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

A copy of the Navy's investigative report confirms that Berube discovered the two men asleep in bed, well before the 2 a.m. curfew Feb. 6, but does not detail how Jones or McGee may have exhibited unprofessional behavior.

"Guys are always playing video games, watching movies, in other people's quarters," Jones said. "Brian and I hung out on a regular basis. Curfew was 2 a.m. We woke up between 12 and 12:30, and were back in our rooms before 1. I have never been in trouble ever in all of my life."

A spokesman for the Naval Nuclear Training Command did not respond to ABC News' requests for comment but told the Washington Post, which first reported on the case, that "the determination was that two sailors sharing the same rack was unprofessional."

Attorney Meyers said, "If this is a problem, every kid who was ever in a fraternity or sorority or in a dorm room, wearing boxers and sitting on the bed, is going to have to look at their conduct again."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr142011

COO of Air Traffic Organization Resigns Over Sleeping Controllers

John Foxx/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Following reports that a third air traffic controller was caught sleeping on the job,  the chief operating officer of the Air Traffic Organization announced Thursday he was resigning from his position.

Randy Babbitt, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, accepted Hank Krakowski's resignation and said David Grizzle, the FAA's chief counsel, will step in temporarily to fill the spot.

Babbitt added that a nationwide search will be conducted to appoint a new, permanent COO for the ATO, which is responsible for operating the country's air traffic control system.

The resignation comes amid news that an air traffic controller reportedly nodded off Wednesday morning while a plane carrying a critically ill patient was trying to land at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada.  The controller, who was out of communication for approximately 16 minutes, was suspended while the Federal Aviation Administration investigates the incident.

The latest incident marks the third time in less than two months that an air traffic controller has been caught sleeping on the job.

Last month at Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport, a controller on his fourth consecutive overnight shift left the radio tower silent after apparently falling asleep.  Two commercial airliners were forced to land on their own.

In February, a controller in Knoxville, Tennessee went to sleep on the job during a midnight shift.  Sources told ABC News that the controller made a bed on the floor of the control tower with couch pillows.

In response to Wednesday's incident, the FAA and the Department of Transportation announced that additional air traffic controllers would be immediately added on the midnight shift at 27 control towers that currently have only one person working overnights -- including Reno. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr142011

Texas Man Claims He Fathered Children with Teacher

ABC News(HOUSTON) -- A judge has allowed a 20-year-old man to see the two daughters that he allegedly fathered with his high school teacher.

Bradman Moore claims he began having sex with Anne Lynn Montgomery when he was a 15-year-old freshman at Sharpstown High School in Houston. Montgomery, then 30 years old, was the school's dance instructor and Moore was on the school's dance team.

Moore said that they started having sex in 2006, and had their first daughter about a year after that. Another daughter soon followed, he said, adding that he transferred to another high school, moved in with Montgomery and helped raise the children.

But Montgomery filed a protective order against Moore on behalf of herself and her children, claiming that Moore physically abused her. The two were in court on Monday.

He has denied the allegations, but the restraining order was granted.

"She wants it to be where there's a restraining order for my children, but I've never hurt my children. I've never harmed my children," Moore told ABC News' Houston affiliate KTRK TV.

"It's an amazing feeling," he said of the judge's decision to allow him to see his daughters. "The children are my only concern, that is my concern, they are my children."

He told KTRK that he came forward with his story out of fear that he wouldn't be able to see his children, but now Houston police are investigating the relationship.

Investigators took DNA samples from Moore and have begun a statutory rape investigation.

Moore said he found out he wasn't the only student to have had a relationship with Montgomery.

"There was a total of 6 students including myself, she had improper relationships with," he said.

When KTRK asked Montgomery whether she had had sex with Moore or other students, one of her attorneys replied that they had no comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr142011

Yale University Limits Access to Power Equipment After Student Death

Christopher Capozziello/Getty Images(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Yale University has moved to limit undergraduate students' access to power equipment after the death of senior Michele Dufault in a campus machine shop early Wednesday morning.

"This is a true tragedy," Yale President Richard C. Levin said in a statement.  "Last night, Michele's hair got caught in a lathe as she worked on a project in the student machine shop in the Sterling Chemistry Laboratory.  Her body was found by other students who had been working in the building.  They called the police, who responded immediately."

Dufault, of Scituate, Massachusetts, was an astronomy and physics major who was expected to graduate with a bachelor's of science degree this spring.  The state medical examiner's office said Dufault died from "accidental asphyxia by neck compression."

Levin said even though the university has programs to train students before they use power equipment, he initiated a "thorough review of the safety policies and practices of laboratories, machine shops, and other facilities with power equipment that is accessed and operated by undergraduates."

"Until the review is completed, Yale College will limit undergraduate access to facilities with power equipment to hours that will be specified by the end of the week; monitors will be present at these times in all such locations," the statement continued.

The Yale chemistry department's website says it has a state-of-the-art machine shop to allow students to construct or modify research instrumentation.  Access is strictly limited to those who have completed the shop course.  The laboratory was closed Wednesday, with all classes and labs in the building cancelled.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio