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Sunday
Mar262017

Investigators look for answers in a deadly small plane crash in Alabama

iStock/Thinkstock(HAYDEN, Ala.) -- A family of four was killed in a small plane crash in Hayden, Alabama, after flying home from a vacation.

The parents, Joseph and Jennifer Crenshaw, and their two teenaged children were traveling from Florida to Tennessee when witnesses said the plane was ripped apart in mid-air, creating five debris sites scattered over a mile.

Authorities are investigating what caused the deadly plane crash. Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration were at the scene on Sunday.

Family members of the Crenshaws told ABC News that both husband and wife were experienced flyers.

Officials said Saturday that a band of wind and rain came through at the time of the crash.

"Right now weather does not seem to be the most likely cause, but it does seem to be a contributing factor in some way," ABC News contributor and aviation consultant Stephen Ganyard said.


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Sunday
Mar262017

Suspect identified in fatal Las Vegas bus shooting

iStock/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) -- The suspect in a shooting that left one person dead and another wounded on a bus in Las Vegas has been identified as Rolando Cardenas.

Cardenas, 55, was booked at Clark County Detention Center on four charges including murder, burglary, and discharging a gun within a vehicle.

The armed suspect was involved in a tense standoff with police on Saturday when he barricaded himself inside the bus.

The suspect surrendered peacefully after several hours, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said.

Police said it is unknown what provoked the shooting, but there was no evidence to suggest that the incident was related to a robbery overnight at Bellagio Resort & Casino.

According to a tweet from the LVMPD, part of the Las Vegas Strip was shut down after the gunman barricaded himself inside a bus. The area that was shut down, between Flamingo and Harmon streets, is where several large hotels are, including Planet Hollywood, Bellagio and the Cosmopolitan.

 

 

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Sunday
Mar262017

New York City sanitation workers retrieve a woman's wedding rings against the odds

WABC-TV(NEW YORK) -- A New York City woman said she felt "helpless" after losing her wedding ring and band in the trash, but thanks to the city's sanitation department, the items were returned to her.

"I had just cleaned them and I had them in a paper towel. I think I got distracted with the kids, it's hard to figure out, and I think I just crumpled it up, and I didn't feel the weight of them and I threw them out," Shannon Lombardo told ABC station WABC-TV about her missing rings.

The crisis was put to rest when New York City sanitation workers went above and beyond the call of duty to locate Lombardo's rings, sorting through the unimaginable horrors of a massive garbage heap to get it back to her.

New York City generates more than 14 million tons of trash per year, according to the city, putting it among the largest trash producers in the world.

Still, however, the workers are trained to locate small items in emergencies, and succeeded in getting Lombardo's rings back to her safe and sound.

"Seeing the happiness on their face, and I said that it's a great time for them to renew their vows and stuff. As long as they felt good, I felt good," said Sekou Callender, a Sanitation worker who helped find the ring, told WABC-TV.

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Sunday
Mar262017

Frenchmen traveling across U.S. in jeep in honor of Pulse nightclub victims visit Tampa Pride

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Manuel Frederic and Alex Tisba lost friends in the November 2015 terror attack at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris, and because of this, the Frenchmen have felt a kinship with those affected by the massacre last June at Orlando's Pulse nightclub.

So the pair decided to visit the U.S. and travel across the country in a Jeep, armed with a message of peace and unity, in honor of the 49 people murdered by gunman Omar Mateen at the LGBT nightclub, reports ABC affiliate WFTS in Tampa.

On Saturday, they stopped at Tampa's Pride parade, about 85 miles west of Orlando.

And they've already visited Orlando, where they put the initials of the Pulse victims on the Jeep. Survivors of the attack -- the largest massacre in modern U.S. history -- signed the Jeep, while friends and family members placed their handprints on the vehicle.

They've also visited Washington, D.C., where they scored signatures from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

"We're just people, citizens of the world, and we should all be united as one," Frederic told WFTS. "We started here because this is the United States. People from all over the world living together in peace, or should be living together peacefully and that's what we're trying to reconnect here."

So far the Jeep has visited 25 states, but the duo are planning to take it to all 50 states. They are also keen on getting former president Barack Obama's signature on the vehicle, since he was in the Oval Office when the shooting rampage occurred.

Frederic and Tisba's long-term goal is to return the Jeep to Orlando so it can be part of the Pulse memorial.

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Saturday
Mar252017

Masked robbers at Las Vegas' Bellagio Hotel broke into store's jewelry cases with sledgehammers

f11photo/iStock/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) -- Masked robbers who struck a high-end jewelry and watch store at a luxury hotel in Las Vegas appear to have used sledgehammers to break into the shop's jewelry cases, authorities said.

One suspect is in custody and the investigation is continuing following the robbery of the store at Bellagio Resort & Casino overnight on Friday, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police detectives said Saturday.

Detectives also said earlier reports of shooting during the burglary were unfounded, and they now believe the sound of sledgehammers striking the jewelry cases were mistaken for gunfire.

When police descended upon the resort and casino in response to the burglary, guests fled in panic from the property, flooding surrounding streets, amid false reports of an "active shooter."

"Currently investigating burglary at @bellagio," the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department tweeted at 2:13 a.m. "Initial reports indicated there was an 'active shooter' which was false. NO injuries."

Although there was no shooting during the incident, the robbers were armed, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's Lt. Carlos Hank told ABC News.

The Bellagio was on lockdown after the incident for about 30 minutes.

The store was not open at the time of the incident.

The suspects wore character masks, but Lt. Hank could not confirm the specifics of the mask. One eyewitness, though -- a woman named Kira, who did not want her surname used -- told ABC News she saw a man wearing a pig mask.

Lt. Hank said early Saturday morning that some people were detained, but it is unclear if the detained individuals are burglary suspects.

 

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Saturday
Mar252017

NY officer's body camera reveals horrific crime scene in murder-for-hire plot aftermath

Courtesy Collene Rose(NEW YORK) -- Two police officers in Steuben County, New York, responded to a frantic 911 call just after midnight in September 2015 and ended up walking through a grisly crime scene.

One of the officers wearing a body camera captured something that seemed too horrific to be real. The victim was 35-year-old Kelley Clayton, a beautiful wife and loving mother of two small children. She had been bludgeoned to death in her own home.

“She's been beat to death,” Deputy Dean Swan said. “I got a body cam on to show where we went ... it is extremely bloody.”

Kelley Clayton’s husband, Thomas Clayton, was the one who had called 911 after he said he had returned home from a poker game and found her body on the kitchen floor.

Investigators began piecing together what happened and trying to make sense of a seemingly senseless murder that rocked the small town in upstate New York.

Kelley Clayton was born and raised in Elmira, New York, and was always under the watchful eye of her older sister, Kim Bourgeois.

“We are 10 years apart. So she was kind of my baby. I am protective of her,” Bourgeois said. “[Kelley was] very brave to me, bold, sassy. ... She liked to dance, she was pretty. ... She could model, and I just think that’s what she wanted to do.”

Kelley Clayton’s big personality and dreams took her to Las Vegas, where she traded in a teaching job to work as a cocktail waitress for a time.

“She absolutely loved it,” Bourgeois said. “One time, she had worn a big, 30-pound feather headdress and she just loved it.”

But it was Kelley Clayton’s attraction to an Elmira sports star that brought her back home. Thomas Clayton was a hockey player for the semi-pro Elmira Jackals and seemed to have a reputation for fighting on the ice and flirting off it.

“People were very much in awe of him because he was cute and he was an instigator and he would start fights,” Bourgeois added. “People got very caught up in that.”

Kelley Clayton moved back home and she and Tom Clayton got married. They had two children, a girl named Charlie, now 8, and a boy named Cullen, now 5.

On the night she was killed, Bourgeois and her mother arrived at the Clayton house less than an hour after police.

“My mother and I were wailing,” Bourgeois said. “I was throwing up on the side of the road. I can’t even explain to you that feeling.”

Back inside the house, authorities started collecting evidence. The police officer’s body camera captured the savage brutality that shocked even the first responders.

“This was an extremely brutal attack, a very gruesome situation,” said Donald Lewis, an investigator for the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office who was on the scene that night.

“[It was] some sort of attack in the upstairs area down the hallways,” he continued. “Down the stairs, there was a hole in the sheetrock at the bottom of the stairs and a blood trail that ended at Mrs. Clayton's body in the kitchen area.”

Lewis said Kelley Clayton had died of blunt force trauma after being beaten with a fiberglass maul handle. Investigators’ suspicion quickly turned toward her husband.

“There was a lot of things that kind of raised some flags,” Lewis said.

One major flag: There were no signs of forced entry or robbery. Despite witnesses seeing Tom Clayton at his friend’s poker game that night, and his GPS placing him there, police took him into custody.

While looking into Tom Clayton’s alibi, police learned that a woman at the poker game said he asked to borrow her cellphone to make a call just 90 minutes before he got home to find his wife’s body.

Then, a new person of interest emerged: a man named Michael Beard, a former employee at one of Tom Clayton’s companies who had recently been fired.

Police said the two had been in contact. Phone records showed there were frequent phone calls and texts between them, including the call Tom Clayton made to Beard from the poker game. It was a smoking gun revealing what investigators believed was a sinister murder-for-hire plot.

Beard confessed to being hired by Tom Clayton to murder Kelley Clayton,” Lewis said. “From what we were able to gather was [for] $10,000 cash.”

Questions arose as to why Tom Clayton would want to murder his wife. Kelley Clayton’s sister said she believes he wanted his freedom.

Other red flags for investigators were that a year earlier Tom Clayton had doubled his wife’s life insurance policy. Authorities also alleged that Tom Clayton was romantically involved with other women and wanted out of the marriage, but he didn’t think divorce was an option.

“He had made comments to some of these women ... that if he was to divorce Kelley, ‘she would take everything from me,’” Lewis said.

Tom Clayton and Beard were each charged with first-degree murder and tried separately.

Beard, who had confessed to the crime, then changed his story and pleaded not guilty, claiming Tom Clayton hired him to burn down his house for insurance money. He said he never went through with it. Beard was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Tom Clayton also pleaded not guilty. His defense said all of the evidence is circumstantial.

“This is probably by far the most interesting and the most complicated case that I've ever been part of,” Lewis said. “Everything was circumstantial when it came to Thomas Clayton… You could explain away a lot of them calls and a lot of the circumstances but you couldn't explain all of it away.”

Tom Clayton was also found guilty. His lawyers told ABC News they plan to appeal after sentencing.

Kelley Clayton’s family is trying to move forward the best they can. Since her murder, the children have been living with Bourgeois and her husband.

“I thank God that I have Charlie and Cullen,” Bourgeois said. “Those kids, that’s what gets me up every day. ... I have got to keep going.”

Earlier this month, Tom Clayton’s former team the Elmira Jackals hosted a Domestic Violence Awareness Night in memory of Kelley Clayton. All ticket proceeds went to support her children, who were there to drop the first puck.

Bourgeois said she’s grateful to have her sister’s children because they help her stay present, but if there was one thing she could say to their father, it would be that she will make sure Kelley Clayton’s memory lives on.

“I also would say, “You took her life, not her light, and her light will shine forever, through Charlie, through Cullen, through me, through my brother, through my mother, forever, and we’ll be OK.’”

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Saturday
Mar252017

Infant and toddler found stabbed to death in North Carolina; father arrested

artolympic/iStock/Thinkstock(FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.) -- A toddler and an infant who were reported missing and endangered in North Carolina have been found stabbed to death, authorities said.

Serenity Freeman, 2, and her 4-day old baby sister Genesis Freeman went missing in Fayetteville on Friday.

On Saturday morning, detectives located the bodies of the two girls in the Raeford area in the woods about 200 yards from the road. The children had been stabbed multiple times, according to the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office.

The children were at the center of a domestic-related incident between their father, Tillman Freeman, and his wife, who was at the hospital at the time the young girls are believed to have gone missing, according to the Fayetteville Police Department.

Before the girls were found, Freeman was arrested and charged with two counts of child abuse and two counts of child endangerment on Friday, according to the Fayetteville Police Department. Police said he refused to provide any information on the whereabouts of his children.

After the girls were found, authorities said Tillman was arrested and charged with two counts of first degree murder.

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Saturday
Mar252017

Fearless Florida diver pulls metal hook from shark's belly

Photodisc/iStock/Thinkstock(JUPITER, Fla.) -- Talk about a fearless diver.

Josh Eccles, a diver with Emerald Charter in Jupiter, Florida, was swimming in the Atlantic Ocean Wednesday when one of the lemon sharks passing by kept bumping into him.

"Every time it swam by me, it would bump into me a little more,” Eccles, who is in the water at least six times a week as part of his job with the scuba diving center, told West Palm Beach ABC affiliate WPBF. "They always bump into us but they don't bump into us that frequently."

Eccles suspected something was amiss with the creature, so he took a closer look, which the shark didn't seem to mind.

"It would lift up its stomach and I noticed something, so I kind of poked at it a little, the little hook or something," he said.

Showing no fear, Eccles decided to alleviate the shark's discomfort and remove the hook, which was about the size of his hand.

After Eccles removed the hook, the shark swam away, only to return several times. At one point, the shark swam right up to a video camera, which Eccles believes was its way of saying thank you.

Said Eccles: "That was a crazy opportunity, experience to be a part of."

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Saturday
Mar252017

'Incognito Bandit' bank robbery suspect arrested trying to board South Africa-bound flight

verbaska_studio/iStock/Thinkstock(DULLES, Va.) -- The "Incognito Bandit" has been caught.

The alleged elusive serial bank robber was arrested Friday night at Dulles International Airport in Virginia as he attempted to board a South Africa-bound flight, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston said Friday.

Albert Taderera, 36, of Brighton, Massachusetts, was charged with the October 2016 robbery of a TD Bank branch in Wayland, Massachusetts.

The U.S. Attorney's Office, citing court documents, said 16 banks were robbed between February 2015 and March 2017 in the greater Boston area allegedly by the "Incognito Bandit."

The nickname "Incognito Bandit" is derived from the fact that the robber typically was disguised in a dark hooded sweatshirt, dark face mask/sunglasses, dark gloves and dark clothing.

In most of the robberies, the robber displayed what tellers described as a black semi-automatic handgun.

Earlier this month, police in Massachusetts say they determined that Taderera fit the general description of the individual responsible for the 16 robberies.

The FBI then learned of his travel plans.

"On Thursday March 23, 2017, at approximately 10:15 pm, the FBI learned that Taderera had booked a flight, scheduled to leave on Friday, March 24, 2017, at 11:00 a.m., from Dulles International Airport to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a press release.

But those plans changed.

The release continues, "During the morning of Friday, March 24, 2017, Taderera was en route to Dulles having taken a flight out of Boston. It was later learned that Taderera had rebooked his flight and was now planning to leave on March 24, 2017, at 5:45 p.m. from Dulles to Johannesburg, South Africa."

The charging statute provides for a sentence up to 25 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Taderera is scheduled to appear in the U.S. District Court for the District of Eastern Virginia on Monday.

It was unclear if he has an attorney.

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Saturday
Mar252017

Virginia police arrest sword-wielding man dressed as the Joker

Winchester Police Department(WINCHESTER, Va.) -- A 31-year-old man in Virginia was arrested and charged with wearing a mask in public Friday after he was spotted walking around dressed as the iconic comic book supervillain the Joker, police said.

Police in Winchester -- located about 75 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. -- said the Winchester Emergency Communications Center received "several calls" around 2 p.m. on Friday of a suspicious male wearing a black cape and carrying a sword walking around the city.

Jeremy Putman was charged with wearing a mask in public, a felony that could land him in jail for up to five years, the Winchester Police Department said in a statement.

Police said they had received several similar reports over the last week, but they do not believe there are additional suspects.

Although it may seem surprising that wearing a mask in public is a felony, police said it wants "to remind the community of the seriousness of the crime."

According to Virginia Code 18.2-422, "It shall be unlawful for any person over 16 years of age, with the intent to conceal his identity, wear any mask, hood, or other device, whereby a substantial portion of the face is hidden or covered, so as to conceal the identity of the wearer, to be or appear in any public place, or upon any private property in this Commonwealth, without first having obtained from the owner or tenant thereof consent to do so in writing."

Putnam is being held at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center on a $2,000 secured bond.

It is unclear if he has an attorney.

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