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Thursday
May102012

Tennessee Kidnap Suspect Believes Two Girls Are His Daughters

Adam Mayes, left, is shown with Adrienne, center, and Alexandria Bain. (Facebook)(CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.) -- The mother-in-law of suspected kidnapper and murderer Adam Mayes believes he killed a mother and daughter and then ran away with the woman's two youngest daughters because he believed the girls were his own children.

Josie Tate, the mother of Mayes' wife Teresa, told ABC News affiliate WTVC that her daughter and Mayes fought often over whether Mayes was actually the father of JoAnn Bain's two youngest children.

Bain and her eldest daughter, Adrienne, were killed in their Tennessee home on April 27, and then taken with the two youngest daughters to Mayes' home in Mississippi, according to police affidavits.  Teresa and Mayes have both been charged with murder, but Mayes remains at large and on the run.  The FBI has placed Mayes on its Top Ten Most Wanted fugitives list.

"The reasons they were arguing so much was because there were two little girls that he was absolutely obsessed with.  He was claiming those two children were his," Tate told WTVC.

Neighbors tell a similar story, that Mayes was a close family friend of the Bain family and told people that he was the father of the two youngest girls.

"He made us all think that was his kids," Andrea Miller, a neighbor and friend of Adam Mayes, told WTVC.

FBI officials have said they believe Bain was preparing to move her family to Arizona at the end of the school year.  The family had ties to Arizona, where the two older daughters were enrolled in school on and off between the years 2004 and 2009, according to the Tucson Citizen.

Police said at a press conference on Tuesday that the girls' father, Mark Johnson, was grieving for JoAnn, his ex-wife, and Adrienne, but hopeful about bringing the other two girls home.

"We will hunt down Adam Mayes and rescue those two little girls," said FBI Special Agent Aaron Ford at the press conference.

Police believe the two youngest daughters are still in Mayes' custody and may be in extreme danger.  The FBI has warned that Mayes may have changed his appearance and the appearances of the two girls since they were last seen.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May102012

John Edwards Prosecution to Hit Finale Without Rielle Hunter

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- The finale in the prosecution of John Edwards on Thursday may feature Leo Hindery, a political backer who witnessed Edwards' desperate attempt to salvage a top level job from Barack Obama even after Edwards' mistress gave birth to his love child.

Hindery is expected to be one of the last witnesses for the prosecution before it rests its case on Thursday.

Conspicuous by her absence will be Rielle Hunter, Edwards' lover who had his baby while Edwards was seeking the 2008 presidential nomination.

Hindery is expected to tell the jurors that even after Hunter gave birth to daughter Frances Quinn and Edwards dropped out of the presidential sweepstakes, Edwards was still trying to make political deals with Obama to be vice president or attorney general.

Edwards is on trial for allegedly using nearly $1 million in donations to hide his pregnant mistress.  Hindery's testimony could bolster the allegation that his efforts to keep the affair secret was tied to his political ambition.

The one-time presidential candidate could be sentenced for up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Edwards' defense, however, claims the money was spent to hide Hunter from his wife Elizabeth, who was dying of cancer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May102012

Obama: Foiled Al Qaeda Plot Not a Surprise

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A foiled al Qaeda bomb plot meant to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death did not endanger any American lives, President Obama said, adding that he was “on top of this the entire time.”

“I was briefed on this in April,” Obama told ABC News’ Robin Roberts in an exclusive interview.  “At no point were American lives in danger or American aircraft in danger.”

While Obama would not comment on the specifics of the operation, he stressed in his first public comments on the case that the U.S. is “learning lessons” from the intercepted explosive device, now in FBI custody.

“I don’t think it should be any surprise,” Obama said of reports of a new wave of al Qaeda bomb makers determined to take down an American airliner.

“I’ve been very clear that, even with the death of Bin Laden, even as weakened as al Qaeda is, if you have a bunch of extremists who are adamant about trying to kill civilians then we are going to have to maintain constant vigilance and create a whole series of layers of protection and barriers,” he said.

“And, you know, fortunately, what we’ve seen is constant improvement on the part of our law enforcement, our military [and] our intelligence officers that allows us to be able to prevent the kind of attack that we just saw,” the president added.

Obama warned against complacency, telling Roberts that the nation’s security apparatus will have to “just keep on working as hard as we can to make sure that folks don’t get hurt.”

On Monday, the government announced it had successfully thwarted a plot by a Yemen-based al Qaeda terrorist who had planned to use a modified underwear bomb to destroy a U.S.-bound commercial airplane.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May102012

Steven Powell's Trial Haunted by Spectre of Missing Daughter-in-Law

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(TACOMA, Wash.) -- Defense attorneys opened the voyeurism trial of Steven Powell on Wednesday by stating it was "not about Susan Powell," and the evidence is not expected to shed light about what really happened to his daughter-in-law who disappeared in 2009.

Jurors in the Washington court were shown dozens of images that Powell, 62, allegedly took from his bedroom window of his young female neighbors, ages 10 and 8, as they undressed, bathed and used the bathroom.

They were also shown images Powell took of himself during a sexual act, and journal entries where Powell details feeling sexually "out of control," and focusing his "lust" on his daughter-in-law, Susan.

Defense attorneys for Powell were the first to mention Susan, who disappeared on Dec. 6, 2009.  Steven's son, Josh, was the only named person of interest in her disappearance, but he was never arrested or charged.

The investigation came to a violent halt when Josh Powell blew himself up along with his two young sons last February.

Investigators searching for clues into Susan Powell's disappearance searched the home Josh and Steven Powell shared in 2011 when they came across the computer disks and hard drives containing the images of the young neighborhood girls.  Steven Powell was then charged.

"You have heard about Josh Powell, you have heard about Susan Powell.  This case is not about them," said Mark Quigley, Powell's defense attorney.  "We will be challenging every piece of evidence the state puts on."

Susan Powell's parents and sister are attending the trial, and have said they hope it sheds light on what happened to Susan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May102012

President Obama, Daughters Making ‘Handmade’ Mother’s Day Gifts

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama says he and daughters Sasha and Malia will be “concocting some things” for first lady Michelle Obama in honor of Mother’s Day, to “make sure that she knows how much we love her and how much we appreciate her.”

“She deserves to be spoiled,”  Obama said of his wife in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts.

“Some aspect of it will be handmade,” he said.  “You know, Malia and Sasha -- it’s sort of like an arms race in terms of who can make the bigger, more creative card.”

Obama said the kids’ rooms in the White House would be strewn with markers, colored pencils and paper over the next few days.

The special treatment for the first lady comes nearly a week after Obama deplaned Air Force One in Columbus, Ohio, accidentally leaving his wife behind -- all as the cameras looked on.

“Oh, it was embarrassing,” a smiling Obama told Roberts.  “She gave me so much grief.  It was terrible.”

The president praised his wife for her advocacy on behalf of children and military families, calling her achievements “extraordinary work.”

“What I’m so proud of is how her core values as a mom, she’s been able to translate into stuff that I think has given moms all across the country some additional tools to, you know, do what they care most deeply about, which is to raise wonderful kids,” he said.

Obama's daughters -- Malia, 13, and Sasha, 10 -- were both born in Chicago.  They attend the private Sidwell Friends School in Northwest Washington, D.C., where their parents are occasionally known to visit for sports games, concerts and parent-teacher conferences.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May092012

Cops to Be Tried in Alleged Fatal Beating of Homeless Man Caught on Video

Thinkstock/Getty Images(FULLERTON, Calif.) -- Two Fullerton, Calif., police officers will be tried in the death of a mentally ill homeless man whose apparent beating by police was captured on video, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Officer Manuel Ramos, 38, and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, 40, are charged in the death of Kelly Thomas, 37. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Attorneys for the officers have questioned whether medical treatment, not the actual beating, could have resulted in Thomas' death.

"The grainy but gripping video of a homeless man being beaten to death was the key evidence in the prosecution's successful effort to convince the court to force a police officer to stand trial for murder in the second degree," said Royal Oakes, an ABC News legal analyst.

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"The video of the beating conjured up memories of the Rodney King police beating of two decades ago," Oakes said. "The videotaped evidence will no doubt be the centerpiece of the D.A.'s case in the upcoming murder trial, where one officer could be facing 15 years to life behind bars."

The July 5, 2011, surveillance video, taken from a publicly mounted camera, coupled with an audio recording device worn by an officer, stunned a packed courtroom of Thomas' supporters when it was shown for the first time Monday.

"I can't breathe man," and, "sorry," Thomas could be heard telling officers as he allegedly endured punches to his left ribs and blows to his face from an officer's knee.

Thomas, who is reportedly schizophrenic, repeatedly cried out for his father.

He was also Tasered three times with the stungun applied directly to his skin for five-second periods. He was hit a fourth time with two darts connected to the gun by wires, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office. The entire time he could be heard screaming in agony.

The apparent beating lasted nine minutes and 40 seconds and ended with Thomas' limp body in handcuffs.

Thomas was transported to St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, Calif., for intubation to help him breathe. He never regained consciousness.

Five days later, Thomas died. The coroner's office ruled the death a homicide.

"You have 1,500 pounds of trained cop on my one little son, but they have to bring this out like they were just so overpowered by this brute to make themselves look innocent and that they're the victims," Ron Thomas, the victim's father, said outside of court Monday.

The officers had responded to the Fullerton Transportation Center after receiving a call that a homeless man was seen looking into car windows and pulling on door handles.

Six officers arrived at the scene for backup, but the district attorney determined that there was only enough evidence to charge Ramos and Cicinelli in Thomas' death.

The video began with Ramos approaching Thomas and asking him to sit with his legs and hands in front of him. Thomas had trouble complying with the order and appeared to have cognitive difficulties, according to the D.A.'s office.

Fed up, Ramos made fists and asked Thomas if he saw them. Thomas replied that he did.

"They're getting ready to f--- you up," Ramos told him.

When a shirtless Thomas, who had earlier forgotten his name and said he didn't speak English, stood up, Ramos and his partner were shown swinging at him with their batons.

Thomas took off and was tackled, setting off the nearly 10-minute beating that allegedly led to his death.

Ramos is a 10-year veteran of the Fullerton Police, while Cicinelli has been an officer in Fullerton for 12 years.

The video ended with paramedics carrying Thomas' body to an ambulance, revealing a large blood stain on the spot where the altercation took place.

Thomas had no illicit drugs or alcohol in him at the time of the incident, according to the toxicology report.

If convicted, Cicinelli could face a maximum sentence of four years in prison and Ramos could be sentenced to life in prison.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May092012

Prosecution Will Not Call On Rielle Hunter in John Edwards Trial

Sketch by Christine Cornell(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- Rielle Hunter will not testify as a witness for the prosecution during the John Edwards trial.  Though much of the trial hinges on Edwards' relationship with his mistress Rielle Hunter, the prosecution said it would rest its case Thursday without calling Hunter as a witness.

Hunter had been on the list of potential witnesses the prosecution might call. Though the government will pass on putting Hunter on the stand, Edwards' defense team may still do so.

"There is one person who seems to be at the center of all of this, these spinning planets, and that's Rielle Hunter," Steve Friedland, professor of law at Elon University, told ABC News.

Still, on one of the last days of the prosecution's case, the poignant testimony of Jennifer Palmieri, a longtime friend of Elizabeth Edwards who worked as a spokeswoman for John Edwards' presidential campaign, recounted Elizabeth's last days before she passed away in December 2010.  She testified Wednesday that up until John Edwards officially claimed paternity of his mistress's daughter, his dying wife Elizabeth clung to his lies that he was not the father and on her deathbed lamented that she would die alone because of his indiscretions.

"She was not able to speak at this stage," Palmieri, who now works for the Obama White House, said through tears.

"But before [she died, Elizabeth] expressed concerns because she didn't want to be alone," Palmieri told a rapt courtroom. "When she and John separated...she was concerned there would not be a man around to love her and I said: 'I would be there.'"

Edwards' daughter Cate, 30, who has been at her father's side almost every day of the trial, left the courtroom before Palmieri's emotional testimony about her mother's dying days. Cate also left the courtroom last week just before testimony about her distraught mother confronting Edwards about the affair on an airport tarmac, collapsing on the ground and tearing off her blouse.

As Palmieri testified, Edwards, on trial for allegedly using campaign funds to cover up his mistress Rielle Hunter and love child, rubbed his eyes and pressed his forehead against his hand. Edwards claims the money was used to hide the girlfriend from his wife, not the government.

If convicted, Edwards could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May092012

Tennessee Kidnap Suspect Added to FBI's Most Wanted List

Adam Mayes, left, is shown with Adrienne, center, and Alexandria Bain. (Facebook)(WASHINGTON) -- The man suspected of kidnapping a woman and her three daughters -- and then killing two of them -- has been rushed to the top of the FBI's list of its Top Ten Most Wanted fugitives.

Adam Mayes is believed to be armed and on the run from authorities with two of the girls he allegedly kidnapped on April 27.

Mayes, 35, and his wife, Teresa, 31, are both charged with first degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping.

He takes the place on the FBI's infamous wanted list of Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger who was captured last year.

Mayes is charged with kidnapping JoAnn Bain and her three daughters, who were family friends from Tennessee, before taking them to his home in Mississippi where he allegedly killed JoAnn and the eldest daughter, 14-year-old Adrienne.

The bodies of the mother and daughter were found earlier this week in the backyard of the home Mayes shares with his wife, Teresa, and his mother and father.

Police believe the two youngest daughters, Alexandra Bain, 12, and Kyliyah Bain, 8, are still in Mayes' custody and may be in extreme danger. The FBI has warned that Mayes may have changed his appearance and the appearances of the two girls since they were last seen.

Police arrested Teresa Mayes and Mary Mayes, Adam's mother, on Tuesday in connection with the kidnapping. According to the arrest warrants, Teresa Mayes helped bring the four captives from Tennessee to Mississippi on April 27, and Mayes' wife and mother watched Adam Mayes dig holes in the backyard, where the bodies were later found by police.

Mary Mayes is charged with conspiracy to commit especially aggravated kidnapping, while Teresa is charged with committing especially aggravated kidnapping.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is offering a $6,000 reward for information leading to Adam Mayes' whereabouts and arrest, and the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service are offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the location of the missing victims and the arrest of Mayes.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May092012

Dog Rescues Unconscious Owner from Oncoming Train

Courtesy Angell Animal Medical Center(BOSTON) -- A Massachusetts pit bull named Lilly took on a freight train last week to save her owner, who collapsed unconscious onto the tracks during a late-night walk in Shirley. The 8-year-old dog used her teeth to pull Christine Spain, 54, off the tracks as the train approached. While Spain emerged unscathed, Lilly lost a leg.

The train's engineer, who didn't want to give his name, said he spotted the woman and her dog on the tracks just after midnight on May 3, according to the Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston. He said he tried to stop the train in time, but feared he'd hit them both. When he got out, he found that Spain was unharmed, but the train's wheels had sliced through Lilly's front right leg, which was bleeding heavily.

An animal control officer rushed Lilly to an emergency animal hospital in nearby Acton, where Spain's son, Boston Police Officer David Lanteigne, met them in the parking lot. Lanteigne said he had a feeling of dread as he got out of his car, but Lilly let him know she was OK.

"The first thing I see is just those big, beautiful eyes just looking at me, and next to her, I saw her right front paw was severely damaged," he told ABC News. "I saw her tail wagging the first time right there."

Lanteigne said he rescued Lilly three years ago, thinking she'd make a good therapy dog for Spain, who had battled alcoholism, depression and anxiety for many years. He said Spain doted on the dog, and often defrosted packets of green beans to cut them up and put them in Lilly's food. Eventually, he said, Spain's drinking decreased.

"We saved Lilly, and Lilly saved my mom's life," he said. "My hope is that this story is going to get out and show what pit bulls are truly about. I hope by Lilly going through this, it's going to get other dogs homes."

Lilly underwent two surgeries last weekend at the Angell Animal Medical Center. Steel plates were implanted to repair her fractured pelvis and support her left leg. She now has a long scar where her right front leg was amputated. Angell spokesman Rob Halpin said Lilly's doctors expect she'll be able to walk again, but adjusting to three legs will be hard for the senior dog.

Spain, who Lanteigne said relapsed before her collapse last week upon hearing some bad news, was arrested on the scene and arraigned the following day in Ayer District Court on charges of obstruction and danger on a railroad track, walking on a railroad track and animal cruelty, Shirely Police Executive Secretary Ann Whiting told ABC News. Spain was not arrested on any alcohol-related charges, but she was placed in protective custody because of intoxication, said Whiting.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May092012

Custodian to Graduate from Columbia University After 19 Years

ABC(NEW YORK) -- A Yugoslavian-born custodian at New York's Columbia University will be trading in his uniform for a cap and gown this weekend when he graduates with honors after working on his degree for 12 years.

Gac Filipaj, 52, will graduate with a bachelor's degree in classics with honors from Columbia's School of General Studies.

"I'm proud and I'm extremely happy," Filipaj told ABC News.

It's been a long road for Filipaj, who fled to the United States from war-torn Yugoslavia in 1992, leaving behind his parents and siblings on a family farm in Montenegro.

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Filipaj has always been a dedicated student. When he was living in Montenegro and working on his family's farm, he attended the Law College in Belgrade as a part-time student.

"As a part-time student, I only had to be present for the exams. So I would travel overnight by train, for eight hours, to take exams and then return to help my family on our farm," he said in a statement. "Eventually I began rooming with a friend near campus, but the fighting in Yugoslavia prevented me from finishing my degree."

He arrived in New York speaking virtually no English and settled in the Bronx, where he started taking English classes at Theodore Roosevelt High School.

Filipaj asked a friend what the best school in New York was and his friend pointed him to Columbia University, one of the country's top Ivy League schools.

He took a job there as a custodian for six years while he learned to speak English. When he was proficient enough, he began taking classes part-time.

The dedicated student and worker would go to class in the morning and then do his custodian work from afternoon until night before heading home to the Bronx to study.

The university provides tuition exemption for employees for a number of courses per semester. The school does not have special classes for employees and instead mainstreams them into classes with all of the other students and the same tough requirements.

"They're in class with all of the other highly talented undergraduates," Peter Awn, dean of the School of General Studies, told ABC News. "Students with untraditional backgrounds add significantly to intellectual discourse."

Awn has been a longtime admirer of Filipaj's work ethic and positive attitude.

One or two classes a semester and 19 years later, his hard work has paid off.

"I am extremely pleased and happy to see the results of my efforts pay off after all of this time. I have truly enjoyed my professors, especially Professor Gareth Williams, and being in classes with young people who are extremely mature in their approach to their coursework," Filipaj said in a statement.

Filipaj told ABC News that his only regret is that his father died three weeks ago and did not know how Filipaj had been working on his education. He wished he could have told his father "because he thought that I'm not that smart," he said.

He still sends most of his salary to his family in Montenegro.

In addition to being smart, he is ambitious and intends to earn a master's degree or PhD in classics, languages or philosophy.

"I would say that I have fulfilled half of my dream -- going to graduate school would complete it," Filipaj said. Awn is confident that Filipaj will continue his education.

"I'm sure I'm going to see him in a classroom, at some point, on the other side of the desk," he said with a laugh.

According to Columbia, Filipaj wants to take a semester off to focus on his job and then he plans to start studying again, probably at Columbia, where he would get the tuition exemption.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio