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Monday
Apr172017

Manhunt for Cleveland Facebook murder suspect expands to national search

Cleveland Police(CLEVELAND) -- Authorities are asking for the public's help in a national search for an armed and dangerous killer who allegedly gunned down an elderly man in Cleveland, Ohio, and uploaded the video to Facebook.

The suspect, Steve Stephens, hasn't been seen since the Sunday afternoon shooting in Cleveland.

In the video, which has since been removed from Facebook, Robert Godwin Sr., 74, can be seen raising his hands in an apparent attempt to ward off his attacker before he is shot once in the head.

Stephens claims to have committed multiple homicides, according to police. No additional victims have been found, police said.

"This is what we would consider a national search for Steve," Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said at a news conference this afternoon. "So we are not going to leave any stone upturned."

"We have located a lot of people that he's been talking to," Williams said, adding that "they have been cooperative in the investigation so far."

Williams said authorities have yet to determine a motive for the shooting. "We’ve interviewed several people involved, and I don’t think there is any rhyme or reason for this happening," he said.

A reward of up to $50,000 is being offered for information leading to his arrest.

"We don't know where he's at," Wiliams said at a news conference this morning.

"At this point, he could be a lot of places," Stephen Anthony, special agent in charge of the FBI's Cleveland division, said this morning. He could be nearby, far away or anywhere in between, Anthony said.

Authorities said detectives did initially make contact with Stephens via cellphone after the incident was posted on Facebook, but they were not able to track him or convince him to turn himself in.

On Sunday night officers searched dozens of locations based on leads "to no avail," police said.

Police said there is no evidence that Stephens is outside Ohio.

Williams said this afternoon that authorities don’t have any reason to believe Stephens is not still driving a white Ford Fusion with temporary tag E363630.

Stephens is a member of the assertive community treatment team at Beech Brook, a mental health organization in northeast Ohio, a spokesperson for his employer said.

Nancy Kortemeyer, vice president of marketing and PR at Beech Brook, "We are doing everything we can to help and help locate him. ... We are shocked and horrified."

Beech Brook said its offices will be closed Monday out of concern for the safety of its employees, clients and visitors.

Joy Lane, who dated Stephens for several years, said in a statement that Stephens is "a nice guy ... he is generous with everyone he knows. He was kind and loving to me and my children. This is a very difficult time for me and my family.”

In the video he uploaded to Facebook, Stephens mentions Lane in the moments before the shooting, saying to the victim, “She’s the reason why all this about to happen to you.”

In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson called the incident a "horrific crime" and said that the company does "not allow this kind of content on Facebook."

The spokesperson added that the shooting itself was not broadcast on Facebook Live but was uploaded after the incident took place.

The suspect did broadcast another video on Facebook Live at one point, allegedly confessing to the murder, Facebook said in a statement Monday.

Facebook said in a statement Monday, "We are reviewing our reporting flows to be sure people can report videos and other material that violates our standards as easily and quickly as possible."

"Keeping our global community safe is an important part of our mission. We are grateful to everyone who reported these videos and other offensive content to us, and to those who are helping us keep Facebook safe every day," Facebook said.

Cleveland police have issued a warrant for Stephens on a charge of aggravated murder.

Stephens doesn't have a criminal record, police said.

Williams said anyone helping hide Stephens will also face charges. Williams said the only way to help Stephens is to give police the information to bring him in peacefully.

"We're not gonna stop until he's in custody," Williams said.

Local, state and federal law enforcement are involved in the search, said Anthony.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Apr172017

Daughter of man gunned down in Facebook video: 'I saw the fear in my father's eyes'

ABC News(CLEVELAND) -- A daughter of the man whose killing was recorded and posted on Facebook Sunday told ABC News in an emotional interview that the video "forever will be in my mind because I saw the fear in my father's eyes."

In the video of the Cleveland, Ohio, shooting, which has since been removed from Facebook, Robert Godwin Sr., 74, can be seen raising his hands in an apparent attempt to ward off his attacker before he is shot in the head.

The suspected gunman, Steve Stephens, has been on the run ever since and there have been no credible sightings of him.

Godwin's daughter, Tonya Godwin Baines, told ABC News Monday that it "feels like our heart is just ripped out of our chest. For somebody to brutally murder my father like that is unbelievable."

Baines said her father was the epitome of a family man who "would give you the shirt off his back."

"He taught us about God, he taught us love, forgiveness. Just to know that I will never ever hear my father's voice again is devastating," Baines said. "My father was such an honest man that didn't drink, didn't smoke, no crime; he was just picking up cans [when he was shot]."

"We can never replace him," she added, crying. "A part of us died with him."

Baines' sister, Debbie Godwin, told ABC News she didn't watch the video "because I didn't want that to be the last remembrance of my father."

"He didn't deserve to just be picked out randomly," Debbie Godwin said. "And then to add insult to injury you tape it while my father is begging for his life."

But the sisters said they have already forgiven the man accused of killing their father.

"I truly can say I don't even feel any animosity against the guy that killed my father," Debbie Godwin said. "I'm glad that my parents taught us to love people and to forgive even when they do us wrong. ... My dad would be the kind of person that would say, 'You gotta forgive.'"

"I want him to get help," Debbie Godwin said of the suspected gunman. "He needed that before this happened and I pray for his mother. I want to be able to meet her and hug her."

Baines said she hopes Stephens surrenders.

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said of the suspect this morning, "We don't know where he's at," and asked for the public's help in tracking Stephens down.

Williams said this afternoon that the manhunt has expanded to a national search.

A reward of up to $50,000 is being offered for information leading to Stephens' arrest. Cleveland police have issued a warrant for Stephens on a charge of aggravated murder.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Apr172017

One dead, two injured after military chopper crashes in southern Maryland

File Photo iStock/Thinkstock(LEONARDTOWN, Md.) -- One crewmember died and two others were injured after a U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter crashed at a golf course in Leonardtown, Maryland, during a "routine training flight" shortly before 2 p.m. EST Monday, officials told ABC News.

The survivors, in critical and serious condition respectively, were transported to the University of Maryland R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, the Army said.

 

 

The cause of the crash remains under investigation, the Army said.

"We are deeply saddened by this loss within our community," said Maj. Gen. Bradley A. Becker, commanding general, Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington. "Our condolences go out to the families and friends affected by this tragedy, and our team is focused on supporting them during this difficult time."

The UH-60 Blackhawk, from the 12th Aviation Battalion, was stationed at Davison Airfield in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Apr172017

Florida firefighters rescue horse trapped in mud pit

Captain Albert Borroto/Palm Beach County Fire Rescue(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- A horse that was trapped in a mud pit in southeastern Florida has been freed, thanks to some diligent firefighters.

Palm Beach County firefighters received a call early Monday morning about a horse stuck in the mud in The Acreage, Florida, an unincorporated area near West Palm Beach. When they first arrived on the scene, firefighters found the horse stuck in the mud up to its belly.

"Firefighters ... started working on digging the horse from the mud using hand tools and keeping the scared horse calm during the rescue," Captain Albert Borroto, public information officer with the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, told ABC News.

According to firefighters, a local veterinarian sedated the horse in order to get it out safely.

"Using training learned in equestrian rescue classes, the crews were able to get the rescue straps around the animal and prepare to pull it from the mud with a pulley system," Borroto said.

It took about an hour to get the horse out.

"The 25-year-old horse named Skip was evaluated by the veterinarian and is doing well," Borroto said.

Authorities have not released how the horse became stuck in the mud or if it has been claimed by someone in the area.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Apr172017

Up-close footage of Nebraska tornado

Facebook/BryanMcCoy(OMAHA, Neb.) -- A large tornado was spotted in southeastern Nebraska Saturday evening.

The tornado touched down near the towns of Syracuse and Nebraska City.

National Weather Service meteorologist Van DeWald confirmed the tornado happened at around 4:58 p.m. local time, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Wind gusted up to 70 mph.

There have been no reports of injuries or property damage in the remote area of Nebraska where the cyclone touched down.

Hail, some pieces measuring 1.75 inches, also fell about 20 miles east of Otoe County as the storm moved into Iowa.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Apr172017

How state trooper, DNA helped catch Mass. jogger's alleged killer 8 months later

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An eagle-eyed Massachusetts state trooper and a DNA match on the victim's hands led police to arrest the man suspected of killing Vanessa Marcotte eight months after she disappeared while jogging near her mother's Princeton, Massachusetts, home, officials said.

On Aug. 7, 2016, 27-year-old Marcotte, an account manager at Google in New York, went for a jog in Princeton, a town about 60 miles west of Boston, and never returned. Her body was found that night in a wooded area about half a mile from her mother’s home. Marcotte had planned to return home to New York that night, officials said.

On Friday, Angelo Colon-Ortiz, 31, of Worcester, was arrested in connection with the killing after his DNA matched samples from Marcotte's hands, said Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr.

Police found Colon-Ortiz after a Massachusetts state trooper spotted a man matching the suspect's description driving a dark SUV in Worcester, the Worcester County District Attorney's Office said.

The trooper didn't have paper, so he "wrote the license plate number down on his hand and followed up," the district attorney's office said. "He later went to the suspect’s home ... where suspect provided the DNA that led to the match."

Marcotte's cousins, Caroline Tocci and Steve Vittorioso, told ABC News they weren't surprised that the 27-year-old helped catch her own alleged killer by getting his DNA.

"Vanessa is a fighter," Vittorioso said. "I know that she was doing everything she can. She really tried to persevere. ... She is our role model."

"Vanessa was my cousin, but she was my sister," Tocci explained. "She was an only child so she grew up with me and my sisters, as well as Steve, and we were all very close. She was my other half."

"We're very proud of her strength and what she did," Tocci said. "We know how strong of a person she is and every day we strive to be more like her."

Early said the arrest "was the result of hard work by police who tirelessly investigated this case from the day of Ms. Marcotte’s death."

Investigators had received more than 1,300 tips in the case, the district attorney's office said.

A suspect now in custody has brought the family some peace, Tocci said, but she added, "Our goal now is just helping other women who are in these situations."

The family has established the Vanessa T. Marcotte Foundation, which Tocci said promotes female safety awareness and aims to tackle the "societal issue ... of the objectification of women" and reduce violence by promoting gender equality.

"Vanessa did nothing wrong. She was running during daylight on a road that she's run on thousands of times," Tocci said. "It's just being aware of your surroundings and being cognizant that this could happen anywhere. It doesn't matter your class, it doesn't matter your race, it could happen to anyone. You have to live fearlessly, but you have to just be safe, as well."

Vittorioso added, "We want women just to continue on with their lives and keep doing what they're doing on a daily basis and not be scared to go for a run at 5 o'clock in the morning ... and just to continue on what they love doing."

"We're going to take this energy and really channel it into the Vanessa T. Marcotte Foundation," Vittorioso said, "and use that as a great way just to keep her spirit alive, just because Vanessa means the world to us."

Colon-Ortiz, who was not resistant when he was arrested, the district attorney's office said, has been charged with aggravated assault and battery and assault with attempt to rape. Early said additional charges are expected. He is being held on $10 million bail and is expected to be arraigned Tuesday.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Apr172017

First women to finish Boston Marathon will run the race again 50 years later

Allen Kee/ESPN Images(BOSTON) -- The 121st Boston Marathon got underway Monday morning as racers and observers remember the bombing attack, which took place four years ago on April 15, 2013. The race also marked the return of a marathon legend.

Kathrine Switzer, who in 1967 became the first woman to ever complete the Boston Marathon, will be running in the race again this year.

In 1967, Switzer was a 20-year-old Syracuse University student, and one iconic photo captured her running while Jock Semple, then the co-director of the race according to The Washington Post, tried to rip off her race number. She will be wearing that same number, 261, in this year's race.

Now 70-years-old, Switzer has run 39 marathons in her life, the last coming in 2011. She also won the New York City Marathon in 1974. She last ran in the Boston Marathon in 1976.

An advocate for equal rights in sports, Switzer successfully campaigned for the Olympics to adopt the women's marathon as a sport in 1984. She started the nonprofit 261 Fearless in 2015, which uses running to empower women around the world.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Apr172017

Animal Adventure Park launches campaign to name April the giraffe's calf

File Photo iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- April the giraffe finally gave birth to a healthy male calf this Saturday in Harpursville, New York, as over 1 million people watched in real time from around the world on the Animal Adventure Park's livestream.

The internet-famous baby giraffe, however, still does not have a name, according to Jordan Patch, the owner of Animal Adventure Park, who appeared live on "Good Morning America" today to ask for the public's help in naming the calf.

"We’re actually going to have the world help us vote on that name," Patch said on "GMA." "Our naming contest is up now at nameaprilscalf.com where you can go in and make a monetary donation for the name of choice."

Patch announced a 10-day campaign in which fans can vote on a name for April's calf for a fee of $1 per vote with a minimum purchase of five votes. The money raised will be used for giraffe conservation efforts, the charity Ava's Little Heroes and also go toward supporting the Animal Adventure Park where April the giraffe and her calf reside.

"Now the neat thing about these funds that we’re raising, they’re going to be spread out for some great causes," he explained. "Number one is we’re using a portion of them for giraffe conservation in the wild. This partnership along with our partnership with Toys ‘R’ Us is making some tangible results for that, and then also we’re contributing to a foundation we started here in town to help sick children, called Ava’s Little Heroes."

The Animal Adventure Park's giraffe-cam has captivated nearly 300 million viewers since it launched in February, according to the park. April's nearly 16-month pregnancy culminated this Saturday, when she gave birth to her calf after being in labor for two hours. Her male calf weighs 129 pounds and stands at 5 feet, 9 inches tall.

Both mom and baby are doing "absolutely great," said Patch.

"Mom had a perfect delivery, perfect birthing," he added. "She’s been a phenomenal mother thus far. Very protective and very encouraging of her calf. He's very outgoing. And Oliver [the dad], usually males have no part in the raising of the young, [but] he’s actually been quite inquisitive and getting nose to nose with baby. It’s creating some very cute moments."

Patch said the birth of the new calf is a "huge accomplishment" for Animal Adventure Park.

"We’re a relatively young facility. So to have a giraffe calf in our fifth year of being open, that’s a big accomplishment for us," he said. "But on a grander scale is that we’ve taken the conversation of the silent extinction of giraffes from a very small conversation to a worldwide conversation at dinner tables, coffee shops and classrooms."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Apr172017

Toxic chemical spill closes Atlanta freeway

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- A toxic chemical spill caused by an overturned tractor-trailer partially shut down a major highway in Atlanta early Monday.

The accident took place at around 3:34 a.m. near 10th Street on Atlanta's Downtown Connector, a stretch of road where two interstate highways, I-75 and I-85, run side-by-side for several miles.

After initially halting traffic in both directions, officials in Atlanta reopened the southbound lanes at around 6:30 a.m. this morning and expect to have the remaining lanes free by 10 a.m.

Police did not disclose the chemical that was released from the overturned vehicle.

Hazmat crews were at the scene in the predawn hours and police said that no one was allowed to come within 150 yards of the site of the spill.

A spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department told ABC News that officials expect traffic to be significantly impacted, with commuters facing 1-2 hour delays.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Apr172017

Stay-at-home dad leaves hilarious Post-It notes around the house for his wife to find

Chris Illuminati(NEW YORK) -- A stay-at-home father of two found a way of letting his wife know exactly what happened while she was at work -- Post-It notes.

Chris Illuminati began posting photos of the handwritten notes -- which detail the funny, heartwarming and painful moments of his days caring for the family's two children -- on social media. And he's now getting tons of attention online for his quips.

One Post-It that he had stuck to the bottom of the bed reads, "The kid thought there was a monster under his bed. I told him monsters are very quiet before eating a child and it's probably just a [burglar.]"

Illuminati, 39, has a son, 7-year-old Evan, and daughter, 4-year-old Lila, with his wife of 9 years, Libby. The father decided to quit his job at a content editor for a group of newspapers in Pennsylvania when their first child was born in 2010.

"We realized how ridiculously expensive day care is and I said, 'Why not do it myself, and I can still write on the side,'" he explained of his decision.

Soon he got into the habit of using Post-It notes to remind him of "easy" tasks and leaving them around the house to make his wife laugh. An early note read, "Don't forget to feed the baby."

Seven years later, Illuminati now uses the Post-It jokes to foster a parenting community on his website, Message with a Bottle.

"We tend to forget as parents that we're going through something in the moment that 5 million other parents did too," Illuminati explained. "It's kind of like we all share in each other's pain, misery, joy -- there’s just a familiarity to it."

And yes, his wife still finds the notes funny.

"She's always been one of my biggest supporters," he said.

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