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Friday
May132011

Missing New Jersey Teen Sarah Townsend Found Dead

Comstock/Thinkstock(BURLINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J.) -- New Jersey authorities found missing New Jersey teen Sarah Townsend's body in a pond Friday afternoon. The body was found in Sherman's Pond at Green Acres Park in Burlington Township. The pond is near where Sarah's running car had been found Monday.

Officials told ABC affiliate WPVI that a canine unit led authorities to Sarah's body and that her family has been notified.

Authorities believe that Sarah, 18, may have wanted to harm herself because of a note that was found in her car.

On Thursday, Sarah's family denied those claims.

"Sarah was planning on going to two proms. She bought her dress and was talking about how she was going to do her hair. That's somebody that was planning on something," said Laurie Townsend, Sarah's mother.

When Sarah left for school Monday morning, the family said she seemed fine.

"She put her shoes on and said, 'Bye, Mom and Dad, love you,' and was out the door rushing to school and she hasn't been seen since," Laurie said Thursday.

Sarah's boyfriend, Matt Welsh, called 911 after finding her car, cellphone and purse at the park Monday.

The family had put up a billboard, handed out flyers at train stations and offered a $10,000 reward for their daughter's safe return.

Sarah was set to graduate from high school next month. She was thinking about attending nursing school or becoming a flight attendant.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Friday
May132011

Mississippi Floods: Morganza Spillway Flood Gate Opened

ABC News(BATON ROUGE, La.) -- One gate along the Morganza spillway was opened Saturday afternoon by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, sending gallons of water gushing through acres of rural farmland.
 
The single flood gate was opened in an effort to divert some of the water from the rising Mississippi River and spare big cities like Baton Rouge and New Orleans from the devastation that flood waters can bring. There are some 125 gates that make up the spillway, and officials say at least two more gates could be opened by Sunday. Authorities say they expect the flood gates to stay open for up to three weeks.

If the gates remained closed and the levees along the Mississippi failed, Baton Rouge and New Orleans could both be flooded -- leaving a disaster worse than Katrina.

Inspectors are making daily checks of the levees that surround New Orleans.

"All indications are that the levees that have been inspected on a regular basis for some time, they're all holding and we are expecting them to do so," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Other low-lying areas are not faring as well. The Mississippi River has been breaking high-water records that have stood since the 1920s and '30s.

President Obama is expected to meet with families affected by flooding along the river when he travels to Memphis, Tenn., on Monday. Friday, Republicans on the House Appropriations panel awarded $850 million to the Federal Emergency Management Agency  (FEMA) for disaster payments.

The Coast Guard also is likely to close the river to barge traffic next week, costing the U.S. economy $295 million a day. It's just the latest in a costly year of extreme weather disasters.

The massive Mississippi floods -- a seven-state, 560-mile liquid trail -- are adding to the nation's laundry list of expensive destruction. Already, there have been five separate billion-dollar storms and floods this year.

Copyright 2011 ABC New Radio 
Friday
May132011

Calif. Woman Who Called 911 to Report Abuse Gets Reprieve from Deportation

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Federal immigration officials have relented on deporting a Los Angeles woman who called 911 to report that her boyfriend was beating her up.

Isaura Garcia, 20, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, made the desperate call for help in February, according to her lawyer, Jennie Pasquarella of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Garcia, who has a year-old baby daughter, Stacy, had endured repeated beatings at the hands of her boyfriend Ricardo Leos, 19, also an illegal immigrant, according to Pasquarella. He is now in jail in Los Angeles on a vehicular manslaughter charge stemming from a fatal DUI in March, according to the Los Angeles sheriff's office.

Leos had kicked Garcia out the house, the lawyer said, but while he was at work she returned to the building, where her mother also lives, to see her baby.

While she was there, Leos came back and Garcia "panicked" and called 911, Pasquarella said. Police came, but when Leos alleged that his girlfriend was the batterer and showed a scratch on his neck, "they took the handcuffs off Ricardo and put them on Isaura and at that moment she fainted."

Garcia was taken to the hospital where a doctor found bruises on her body. Two days later, the police charges against Garcia were dismissed.

But her arrest triggered deportation procedures under the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Secure Communities program, which sends fingerprints of anyone arrested to the Department of Homeland Security for immigration checks.

After a press conference on the case Thursday, ICE backed down. "This action conforms with the policy (Immigration and Customs) is in the process of finalizing that would guide how the agency uses its prosecutorial discretion in removal cases involving the victims and witnesses of crime, including domestic violence," the agency said in a statement.

The Secure Communities program has sparked controversy in a number of U.S. states and cities. Illinois has pulled out, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the American Immigration Lawyers Association have asked President Obama to suspend the initiative.

But immigration officials say the two-year-old program has led to the removal of 72,000 undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes, a third of whom committed violent offenses.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May132011

Obama Marks 50th Anniversary of White House Situation Room

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the White House Situation Room on Friday with a ceremony “to name a secure conference room after the father of the situation room, President John F. Kennedy,” a statement from the White House said.

The president delivered remarks to the room's staff “to thank them for their around-the-clock work to keep the President informed and the country safe.”

“We could not meet the national security challenges that we face without the capabilities of this room and the people who work here,” Obama said in a statement. “It’s the president’s eyes and ears.  Providing the latest information and alerts, it’s the nerve center for the U.S. government, the place where we come together to make policy and respond to crises from wars abroad to floods at home.”

He was joined by Caroline Kennedy, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan, and other current and former members of the White House security team.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May132011

Countdown Gets Underway for Endeavour's Launch Next Week

BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- The countdown to space shuttle Endeavour's projected launch next week kicked off Friday, two weeks after electrical issues halted the shuttle's mission to the International Space Station.

Ready to take another stab at sending Endeavour into orbit, shuttle commander Mark Kelly and his crew returned to the Kennedy Space Center Thursday.

Kelly said "it's great to be back," and praised engineering crews for replacing wiring and an electrical switching box which caused the April 29 lift-off to be canceled.

He added that the shuttle is now "in great condition."

Endeavour's six-man crew is now in quarantine to avoid any illness before Monday's attempted launch.

Kelly's wife, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head during a shooting rampage in Tucson in January, is expected to be on hand when the shuttle takes off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May132011

Casey Anthony's Attorneys Give Glimpse into Defense Strategy

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(CLEARWATER, Fla.) -- Attorneys representing accused child murderer Casey Anthony revealed a glimpse of what may be their defense strategy Thursday as they attempted to prevent the Florida woman accused of the killing of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee, from receiving the death penalty.

"Her lack of maturity, her lack of impulse control, history of sexual abuse, suffered from insomnia, nightmares, lack of parental guidance...[her] mother and father failed to protect her as a child...[the] fact that she was verbally and emotionally abused," said defense attorney Ann Finnell.

Anthony's attorneys did not say who allegedly sexually abused Anthony, but chose to address her past with potential jurors Thursday as a possible defense -- or to find out whether she'd get a fair shot at life in prison versus the death penalty, if she is convicted.

Anthony is accused of killing her daughter, Caylee Anthony, who was last seen alive in June 2008.  Anthony has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Caylee's disappearance wasn't reported until July 2008, when Anthony told police she had not seen her daughter in nearly a month, since dropping her off with a babysitter.

Anthony was arrested and charged with murder in October 2008.  Her daughter's skeletal remains were found in December less than a mile from the home she and her mother shared with the toddler's grandparents.  The little girl's death was ruled a homicide of undetermined means.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May132011

Mississippi Floods: Spillway to Be Opened in Louisiana

Scott Olson/Getty Images(BATON ROUGE, La.) -- Louisiana residents are being warned Friday: The Army Corps of Engineers will open the Morganza spillway along the Mississippi River by Sunday, flooding millions of acres of rural farmland and sparing big cities like Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

"This is a historic amount of water," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said.

"Some people may think, 'Well, the house is not underwater yet,'" Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said. "But they don't know the road is closed, may become closed. So if in doubt, people should get out. We want people to be evacuated, not have to be rescued."

As much as 25 feet of water will spill out over 100 miles, displacing 2,500 people. In addition, 22,500 people and 11,000 structures in the backwater areas could be flooded.

If the gates remained closed and the levees along the Mississippi failed, Baton Rouge and New Orleans could both be flooded -- leaving a disaster worse than Katrina.

Inspectors are making daily checks of the levees that surround New Orleans.

"All indications are that the levees that have been inspected on a regular basis for some time, they're all holding and we are expecting them to do so," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Other low-lying areas are not faring as well. The Mississippi River has been breaking high-water records that have stood since the 1920s and '30s.

Barbour told residents to prepare for the worst, though he said the main levee was holding along the river.

President Obama is expected to meet with families affected by flooding along the river when he travels to Memphis, Tenn., on Monday. Friday, Republicans on the House Appropriations panel awarded $850 million to the Federal Emergency Management Agency  (FEMA) for disaster payments.

The Coast Guard also is likely to close the river to barge traffic next week, costing the U.S. economy $295 million a day. It's just the latest in a costly year of extreme weather disasters.

The massive Mississippi floods -- a seven-state, 560-mile liquid trail -- are adding to the nation's laundry list of expensive destruction. Already, there have been five separate billion-dollar storms and floods this year.

Copyright 2011 ABC New Radio 

Friday
May132011

Two Suspects Arrested in Connection with Killing of MTV Producer

KABC-TV/ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- A man and a woman are being held on suspicion of murder in the shotgun deaths of an MTV producer early Sunday morning and another man a week earlier.

Jabaar Vincent Thomas and Destiny Young were arrested Wednesday evening in connection with the killings of MTV music coordinator Gabriel Ben-Meir, 30, outside his home in Los Angeles' Mid-Wilshire district and a second man in a separate incident, Det. Gus Villanueva, a Los Angeles police spokesman, told ABC News Thursday.

The second victim, Marcello Aragon, 35, was shot multiple times with a shotgun on April 30 in the Pico-Union district of Los Angeles, ABC News affiliate KABC-TV in Los Angeles reported.

Thomas, 26, and Young, 29, likely will be charged with murder on Friday, Villanueva said.

Their arrests at 9 p.m. PT Wednesday were related to the arrest at 8 p.m. Wednesday of Richard Anderson, 33, in connection with a string of shotgun robberies, Villanueva added, though he would not reveal the nature of the relationship between the two cases.

Ben-Meir's wallet was missing, raising the possibility he was killed during a robbery, KABC reported.  Police would not confirm the missing wallet to ABC News.

Ben-Meir, who coordinated music for MTV shows including Ashton Kutcher's Punk'd, was found face down, shot at least once in the back of the head, on the sidewalk outside his home early Sunday morning by a neighbor.  He had parked his BMW outside his apartment building and was shot just feet from his front door, police said.

The Los Angeles Police Department will reveal more about the case at a news conference Friday at 3:15 p.m., Villanueva said.

Thomas and Anderson were being held without bail at the 77th Regional Jail in Los Angeles, Villanueva said.  Young was being held at the same location on $1 million bail.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May132011

Houston Ranks First in US Postal Service's Top Dog Attack Cities

Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Dogs may be man’s best friend, but the canine is a letter carrier’s worst enemy.

Last year, 5,669 postal employees were attacked by dogs in more than 1,400 cities across the United States, according statistics released by the U.S. Postal Service.

Houston was the city with the most incidents, with 62 employees attacked in 2010.  Columbus, Ohio and San Diego tied for second place with 45 attacks each.  Los Angeles had 44 bites, Louisville, Kentucky had 40, and San Antonio and St. Louis rounded out the top five with 39 reported attacks each.

The Postal Service released the statistics to draw attention to National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which takes place from May 15 to May 21.

Medical expenses related to dog bites reportedly cost the Postal Service nearly $1.2 million last year. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May122011

US Marshals to Auction Personal Items of 'Unabomber' Ted Kaczynski

U.S. Marshals(WASHINGTON) -- On May 18, the U.S. Marshals will begin auctioning the personal effects of Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber.

The auction, which will take place online at gsaauctions.gov will offer a catalogue consisting of approximately 60 lots of property, officials say.  Items such as Kaczynski's driver's licenses, photos, clothing and personal documents will be available for auction on the Web site.  Original handwritten and typewritten versions of the "Unibomber Manifesto" will also be sold.

Proceeds from the sale, which will run through June 2, will be used to compensate Kaczynski's victims by order of U.S. District Court Judge Garland Burrell.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 







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