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Monday
Jan312011

Undercover Probe: Semi-Automatic Weapons, No Background Check

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A New York City-led undercover investigation at a Phoenix, Ariz., gun show found that despite the mass murder and apparent assassination attempt of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., earlier this month in which a semi-automatic handgun with an extended clip was used, buyers who likely wouldn't pass a background check can still easily purchase similar weapons.

In two instances private sellers were willing to sell a semi-automatic handgun to undercover investigators who told them they "probably couldn't pass" a background check.

The sellers were willing "to break the law and endanger their fellow citizens just to make a quick sale," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday.

The investigation, conducted by the nationally recognized private investigative firm Kroll Inc. at the Crossroads of the West Gun Show in Phoenix, Ariz., also found a Glock pistol capable of firing 33 rounds -- similar to the one allegedly used by Jared Loughner in the Tucson shooting that claimed six lives earlier this month -- was legally purchased without any background check.

The purchase exposed a "dangerous gap in our existing federal gun laws," Bloomberg said.

In the instances in which the buyers said they likely would not pass a background check, the omission should have immediately stopped the sale, officials said, because even though unlicensed occasional sellers are not required to run background checks using the FBI database, it is a federal felony for them to sell guns to people they have reason to believe are prohibited purchasers.

High capacity magazines were purchased three times during the investigation, along with the three weapons, a city official said.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 30 percent of guns involved in federal illegal gun trafficking investigations are connected to gun shows. Because no records are kept, guns sold by private sellers at gun shows become virtually untraceable.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan312011

Mom Faces Double-Murder Charges After Confessing to Killing Kids

Photo Courtesy - Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Holding a tissue and crying softly, the Tampa, Fla. mother facing double-murder charges for killing her two teenage children because they were "mouthy" appeared in court Monday.

Julie Schenecker, 50, a military officer's wife, was arrested Friday when police, responding to a call from her mother, found her covered in blood on the back porch of her home. The woman allegedly confessed to the officers there that she had shot son, Beau, 13, and then daughter Calyx, 16, the day before because they "talked back, they were mouthy and she was tired of it," police said.

Wearing a burgundy jumpsuit with the words "inmate" written across it, Schenecker did not speak during her brief appearance in court via closed circuit cameras from the Hillsborough County Jail. Judge Walter Heinrich ordered her held without bond.

Schenecker's husband, Army Col. Parker Schenecker, is making his way back from Qatar, where he was on military assignment. He was not present at his wife's court appearance.

After being read her Miranda Rights, police said, Schenecker confessed to shooting her son twice in the head while they were on the way to soccer practice. She told police that she then drove to the family home in a gated country club community in north Tampa, where she shot her daughter in the back of the head while the teen was studying at her computer, police said.

Schenecker reportedly intended to kill herself, police said. She had left a note detailing why she'd killed her children and her plan to commit suicide, police said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan312011

Winter Storm to Affect 100 Million in US; 30 States Under Advisories

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CHICAGO) -- A large winter storm set to affect 100 million people across the U.S. is building over the plains States and midwest Monday and making its way eastward.

At least 30 states from the Southwest to New England were placed under weather advisories Monday, with a blizzard watch issued for Chicago.  There, 18 inches of snow and 45-mile-per-hour wind gusts are expected, creating blizzard-type white-out conditions that could cripple air travel.

The storm is expected to begin Monday across the middle part of the country and will progress towards the Atlantic coast by Wednesday, bringing snow, sleet and freezing rain to several states.

Bracing for what could be a travel nightmare, carriers at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, like United and Frontier, issued travel waivers Monday, which allow people flying Tuesday and Wednesday in the heart of the storm to change their travel arrangements for free.  The airport, which handles 2,300 flights daily, also has 1,000 cots ready to go should passengers be stranded over the storm.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan312011

Jared Lee Loughner to Be Prosecuted in Tucson

Photo Courtesy - Pima County Sheriff's Department(PHOENIX) -- Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged gunman in the Jan. 8 Tucson, Arizona shooting that left six people dead and 13 wounded, will be prosecuted in Tucson under an agreement reached by the prosecutors and the defense attorney for the 22-year-old suspect.

Loughner, who faces multiple counts in the shooting that also seriously wounded Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, is currently being held at a jail in Phoenix.  Government lawyers wanted the case moved to Tucson because it will make it easier for victims and families to attend hearings for Loughner.

Defense attorney Judy Clarke has reserved the option to change the venue.  However, she may decide to allow the trial to proceed in Tucson so as not to upset victims, according to one legal expert.

A federal grand jury has charged Loughner with attempted murder in the shootings of Giffords and two of her aides, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.  More federal charges are expected since a U.S. district judge was killed.  Additionally, Arizona prosecutors are expected to file similar charges in the cases of state residents who were slain in the attack.

It's expected that Clark will use a mental health disability or defect in her defense of Loughner to possibly avoid the death penalty.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan302011

Closure in Case of Missing Oregon Boy Kyron Horman?

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Oregon police were searching two spots in Portland's West Hills on Sunday at the request of the Kyron Horman Task Force, in an effort officials and family say may bring "closure" to the case of the 8-year-old who has been missing for more than eight months.

Speaking with ABC News Portland affiliate KATU, Desiree Young, Kyron's biological mother, said she has been anticipating the search and the closure that it could bring to the case of her son, who went missing from a school science fair he attended with his stepmother, Terri Horman.

"I have been waiting for this search to happen for some time now," Young told KATU. "The Kyron Horman Task Force has shared the intelligence information with me, but unfortunately I can't share that information with the media. I'm excited that today's search will hopefully bring some closure to this case."

Roughly 50 search-and-rescue workers, along with up to seven cadaver-detecting dogs were searching the dense forests and gated logging roads around the West Hills. The search group also notably includes a member of Multnomah County coroner's office, a new addition to the search, KATU reported.

The decision to search the two locations Sunday was reportedly based on investigative leads developed by the Kyron Horman Task Force.

Kyron disappeared on the morning of June 4, after he and his stepmother, Terri Horman, attended a school science fair where Kyron had displayed a project on red tree frogs. Terri Horman said she last saw Kyron walking down a hallway toward his classroom.

Kyron's father, birth mother and the police have all pointed fingers at the boy's stepmother, Terri Horman, but she has not been charged or even named a person of interest. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan302011

Florida Woman Treated at Hospital; Charged With Killing Kids

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(TAMPA, Fla.) -- The Florida mother accused of murdering her two teenage children because they were "mouthy" is due in court Monday, after being released from a hospital on Sunday.

Julie Schenecker, 50, a military officer's wife, was arrested Friday when police, responding to call from a concerned relative, found her covered in blood on the back porch of her home.

The woman allegedly confessed to officers that she had shot her 13-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter. Police believe she bought a .38-caliber pistol five days earlier.

According to police, Schenecker shot her son twice in the head while they were on the way to soccer practice, then drove to the family home, where she shot her daughter in the back of the head while the teen was studying at her computer.

Officers found a note the woman had written saying she planned to kill her children and then herself.

She was taken to a Tampa hospital late Friday night for what police said was a previously existing medical condition, but was released Sunday morning and taken to the Hillsborough County Jail.

Schenecker's husband, Army Col. Parker Schenecker, is stationed at the headquarters of U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. A CentCom spokesman said that Parker Schenecker, a career Army intelligence officer, had been away for several days. Police said they had contacted the husband in Qatar Friday and told him his children had been killed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan302011

Nixon Impressionist David Frye Dead at 77

Photo Courtesy - Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- David Frye, the comedian and celebrity impersonator best known for his impression of President Richard Nixon in the 1960s and 70s, has died at the age of 77.

Born David Shapiro, Frye’s career took off when he began headlining clubs and appeared on shows such as Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show.

His notoriety faded when Nixon resigned in 1974. Frye told the New York Post in 1998, “It was a shock to lose my greatest character,” his best in a cast that also included President Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace, among others.

Frye died Monday of cardiopulmonary arrest.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan302011

Miami Man Arrested In 'Anti-Aging' Drug Scam

Photo Courtesy - Miami-Dade County Department of Corrections(MIAMI) -- When a man invented a cream, a "yogurt" he called it, to rub on your head to help regrow hair, lots of people invested money in his project; some put thousands into it. Now police are saying it was all too good to be true.

The Miami Herald reports Sunday that Joseph Fox Batista, 55, has been arrested after scamming investors for $380,000 worth of stock in his possibly worthless company, TeloGenesis Inc. Authorities say Fox spent the money on lavish furnishings, alcohol, and sometimes just gave the money away to the homeless.

This isn't the first time that Fox has been involved with a scam. He was arrested in California in 2002 for trying to sell a gold-measuring device which he took money for from clients, but never delivered on.

One man lost $2,000 investing in the hair product, while another was taken for $28,000. The Herald says that while Fox claims the money was spent on designing the product, arrest warrants show almost none of the money poured into the company between July 2007 and November 2009 was used for its intended purposes.

Fox is being held on charges of grand theft and organized scheme to defraud, the newspaper said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan302011

Police Find No Clues In Alleged Kidnapper's Car, Surrounding Area 

Photo Courtesy - KGO-TV San Francisco(PATTERSON, Calif.) -- An exhaustive search of Central California's Delta-Mendota Canal has turned up the car of the man who police say kidnapped four-year-old Juliani Cardenas, but little else. Divers searched Saturday, concluding that the car, and the siphon that it was found in did not contain any bodies.

Police say the siphon the car was stuck in connects the canal to a creek via a tunnel. Police scanned the area both on foot, and used sonar devices to try to find the car under water. They found more than 10 other automobiles before coming across the one they were looking for. Authorities say their next step will be to look for bodies in the hundred-mile long canal.

Along with Cardenas, police are looking for 27-year-old Jose Esteban Rodriguez, the man they allege kidnapped the young boy on January 18.

Police expect to resume their search for the two on Monday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan302011

Challenger Astronaut Ronald E. McNair's Legacy Honored

Photo Courtesy - NASA/ABC News(LAKE CITY, S.C.) -- Twenty five years ago the nation watched in horror as the space shuttle Challenger exploded in the air, creating a massive fireball just 73 seconds after launch from Florida's Kennedy Space Center. The tragedy shook the entire world and prompted NASA to evaluate its shuttle program and review the future of space travel. All seven astronauts on board were killed.

Among the crew members was Ronald E. McNair. A physicist recognized nationally for his work in the field of laser physics who was also notable for being the second African American to fly in space, McNair broke barriers since his childhood in the small community of Lake City, South Carolina. He grew up in the farming town that's located about 90 miles north of Charleston.

In 1959, when McNair was just nine years old, he famously made a scene at the Lake City Public Library. Residents stared the African American boy down and watched as he walked to the main counter and attempted to check out books on advanced science and calculus. The librarian refused to release them and told him, "We don't circulate books to Negroes." The passionate young man wouldn't budge, and instead hoisted himself onto the counter and said he wasn't leaving without the books.

Today, more than 20 schools around the country, several monuments, and the main highway through the town of Lake City are named after Ronald McNair.

His legacy is now being honored in a weeklong celebration which includes a parade, candlelit vigil, and banquet. Perhaps the most important of the week's events was the opening of the building where over a half-century ago a brave nine-year-old boy refused to leave without checking out books.

The Lake City Public Library building has been restored and was introduced on Saturday as the Dr. Ronald E. McNair Life History Center. The former library is equipped for community gatherings and classroom visits, and the center's walls feature highlights from McNair's life in Lake City and career with NASA.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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