Obama Sand Sculpture on Display in Charlotte

Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce/CVB(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Myrtle Beach, S.C., has brought the beach to Charlotte, N.C., this week for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. A 15-ton sand sculpture of President Obama is on display outside Blackfinn Saloon in the EpiCentre.

Does this mean South Carolina, typically a red state, is turning blue? Not so fast. This is about tourism, not party politics.

“We’re a bipartisan beach with a big dose of Southern hospitality and believe that once elections are over in November, everyone that has been on the campaign trail should come take a fun and affordable beach vacation with us just a little further south,” Brad Dean, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said. “With white, sandy beaches, more than 100 championship golf courses, and thousands of restaurants and attractions, what’s not to love?”

Charlotte is 175 miles from Myrtle Beach and an important feeder city for the popular beach resort. An estimated 1.3 million people from Charlotte visited Myrtle Beach in 2011.

The sculpture is made completely of South Carolina sand and took five sculptors of Sarasota, Fla.-based “Team Sandtastic” three days to complete.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nude Model Drops Suit Against New York City

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A nude model agreed to settle her lawsuit for false arrest against New York City today for $15,000.

Zoe West, 22, was taken into custody for several hours on Aug. 30, 2011, after officers cuffed the 5-foot-2 model at a body-painting exhibition in Times Square.

Public nudity is legal in New York City as long as it is part of a play, performance or exhibition, said West’s lawyer, Ron Kuby.

“There was no disruption. There was no problem with anybody except a sergeant, who either due to the heat or all that girl flesh, seemed to be taken aback,” Kuby said.

Just as artist Andy Golub applied his final strokes to West’s body, officers, who had been watching for more than an hour, according to Kuby, informed West they were taking her into custody.

“In order to determine she was fully nude, the police ended up looking for a very long time and got very close. I’ve gone on dates where I haven’t gotten that close,” Kuby told ABC News. “How long are you going to stare at her crotch? Apparently, the answer is quite a long time.”

The New York City Law Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

Kuby called the suit reasonable and said it was a “gentle slap on the knuckles” for police to not arrest people for artistic forms of nudity.

“It’s a great day in New York where a naked model can be paid $15,000 to drop her suit,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mass Murderer Charles Manson Has New Music Release

California Dept of Corrections & Rehabilitation(LOS ANGELES) -- A vinyl album with a “raw country” sound and spoken-word poetry has been flying off the shelves at a Hollywood, Calif., boutique, never mind that the artist is convicted  mass murderer Charles Manson.

Manuel Vasquez, 26, co-owner of the Beauty Is Pain boutique, told ABC News he has so far sold a “couple hundred” copies of the vinyl recording, which retails for $18 and includes never-before-heard tracks of Manson playing guitar. Some of the material, which Vasquez said he obtained from an “old friend” of the convict, dates back to the 1980s.

“It’s him singing and playing guitar and also reciting some poetry and spoken word type stuff,” Vasquez said. “[He] sounds like an old blues man or a raw country singer.”

A few months ago, Vasquez became pen pals with the 77-year-old Manson, who is incarcerated at Cochran State Prison in California. He sent Manson, whose voice and words has been included on albums by the Beach Boys, Guns ‘N Roses and Marilyn Manson, a mini-copy of the album cover.

“He told me he thought it was well put together. Those were his exact words,” Vasquez said.

Manson will not receive any profits or royalties from the sale of the album.

Vasquez, who was not alive when the "Manson family” terrorized Southern California in the late 1960s with its “Helter Skelter” killing spree, said he wanted to produce the album because he believes Manson’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial was violated.

“I wouldn’t say [he's] innocent, but he was denied his constitutional rights in court,” Vasquez said.  ”I wanted to raise awareness of that.”

Manson was found guilty of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the August 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate, her unborn baby and four houseguests, and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. He was sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1972 when California temporarily abolished the death penalty.

He was denied parole for a 12th time this past April.

Manson’s next chance at freedom will come in 15 years, when he is 92 years old.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Daughter of US Open Ref Says Her Mother Is Innocent

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The daughter of the U.S. Open tennis referee accused of bludgeoning her husband to death says her mother is innocent and the charges against her are "completely ridiculous."

Lois Goodman, 70, a veteran line judge, was charged with first-degree murder after, police say, she hit her husband, Alan Goodman, of 50 years in their Los Angeles home on April 17 with a coffee mug and stabbed him with the broken shards.

"I have never seen them fight," Allison Rogers, Goodman's daughter, said.  "They were a wonderful loving couple.  They were happily married.  And we were a happy family.  This is just completely ridiculous."

Rogers says the past few weeks have been a living nightmare for her mother, who was released on $500,000 bail Sunday and placed under house arrest after spending nearly two weeks in jail.

"When I visited her and saw her for the first time, she was just like, 'Why?  I did everything they asked.  I told them what I know.  Why am I here?" Rogers said.

Goodman's attorney, Robert Sheahen, blamed the police for botching the investigation from the start.

"Mrs. Goodman wasn't there, she doesn't know what happened and if the police had done a good job at the beginning, we might know what happened," Sheahen said.  "But instead they botched the investigation from start to finish."

Goodman called police on April 17 and told officers she arrived home and found her 80-year-old husband dead.  Goodman says her husband suffered a heart attack then had fallen in their home.

"She surmised that he must have had a heart attack and fallen down the stairs," Lt. David Storaker, the chief of detectives at the LAPD's Topanga station, told ABC News in August.

But an autopsy revealed "deep, penetrating blunt-force trauma that was consistent with being inflicted with a sharp object."

Only then did authorities investigate the alleged murder scene.

Officers concluded that there was no sign of forced entry, and the statements Goodman made seemed suspicious, so they investigated further, Storaker said.  The cause of death was multiple injuries to the head, he said.

Goodman was officiating qualifying matches for the U.S. Open in New York City when she was arrested on Aug. 21 and extradited back to Los Angeles on murder charges.

"My mother would never do something like this, ever.  Not in a million years.  She's completely innocent," Rodgers said.

The next court hearing for Goodman is scheduled for Oct. 3. Until then, Rogers says her mother is trying to move on and focus on the sport she loves.

"Tennis was her life," she said.  "Even in our conversation ...she was discussing with me on how she was planning on working from home, organizing the officials for the different matches."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Despite Crime Wave, 50 Chicago Police Sent to Dem Convention

ABC News(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Only days after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked for federal agents and U.S. Marshals to help combat the city's wave of violence, about 50 Chicago police officers have arrived in Charlotte, N.C., to work perimeter security details for a week at the Democratic National Convention.

The Chicago officers, in their distinctive uniforms and checkerboard-brimmed hats, said they had been instructed not to talk with reporters about their out-of-town assignment.

"These are officers on their days off and were specially trained as mobile field force officers for the recent NATO summit in Chicago," said Melissa Stratton, a spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department.

A Charlotte Police Department spokesperson confirmed that "roughly 50 officers from Chicago" were on duty at the convention.

On Monday morning, some of the Chicago officers were stationed near security screening posts where delegates enter the Charlotte Convention Center.

"I would love to know the logic behind that decision to send them there given all that is happening here in Chicago," the Rev. Ira Acree of the Greater St. John Bible Church in Chicago told ABC News on Monday.

"It's a state of emergency here in Chicago," Rev. Acree told the Wall Street Journal last week.

Chicago police union officials also questioned the use of officers in Charlotte.

"We had two homicides and dozens of shootings this weekend, and we're sending offices out of the city?" said Pat Camden, a spokesperson for the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police.  "I think the average person would shake his head over that."

Last Friday, Mayor Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy publicly asked for federal help in targeting neighborhoods that have been hit hardest by the city's wave of violence.

"The help comes in the form of additional agents to target guns, gangs and drugs," Superintendent McCarthy said at a news conference.

Chicago's homicide rate is about 31 percent higher than last year, with 346 reported killings as of Aug. 19, according to figures provided by the Chicago police.

Officials said the Chicago officers were sent to Charlotte to reciprocate for police sent by Charlotte to help during the recent NATO summit held in Chicago.

"They are there on their days off and were not pulled off the street," said Stratton.

She said the officers sent to Charlotte will be paid through a special federal grant of $50 million for convention security.

"No funds from the city of Chicago are involved," Stratton said.

"We had a very successful outcome at the NATO convention in Chicago," she said, praising the training of the officers to handle large gatherings.

There was no request for the Chicago officers to assist in security at the GOP convention last week in Tampa, Fla., Stratton added.

The police union has been critical of Mayor Emanuel, a prominent figure in the Democratic party and former White House chief of staff, for substantial reductions in the police budget.

"We've had about a thousand officers retire over the last two years and only about 200 have been hired to replace them," said Camden.

"We've had a collective failure of all institutions to address the violence and I don't give the president a pass either," Rev. Acree said.

A spokesperson for Charlotte Police Chief Rodney Monroe said, "Chief Monroe is grateful to have the assistance of these officers for this monumental event."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bear Epidemic Expected to Worsen in the West

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Across the West, communities are in the midst of a black bear epidemic this summer as the hungry critters venture into backyards and neighborhoods in a search for food.

Cities like Vail, Colo., have received more than 50 calls about problem bears in August alone.  Bear calls are also skyrocketing in places like Aspen, Colo.  Police there recorded 292 calls about bears in August, compared to only 38 last year, according to the Aspen Times.

The bear encounters have largely been fueled by a search for food -- something bears will need a lot more of as they bulk up for winter hibernation.  In other words, the problem is about to get worse.

“They’re looking at trying to consume 20,000 calories a day.  They will spend 20 of 24 hours a day looking for food,” said Randy Hampton with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department.

It’s bad news for people like Melissa Carroll of Eagle, Colo.  She’s endured five separate bear invasions in her home this year, including one face-to-face encounter on her back porch.  The bear tore its claws into a back door trying to escape, leaving behind serious damage.

“Seeing one right like that, it took me a long time to calm down,” she told ABC News.

The wave of bruin break-ins can partly be blamed on severe drought.  A lack of rain means natural foods are scarce, sending bears hunting for an easy alternative: people food.  Bears have been spotted breaking into trash cans, searching for any calories they can get.  One bear even broke into a candy shop near Estes Park, Colo., to steal sweets.

The bad news for bears is that human foods get them accustomed to people, which inevitably leads to trouble.

“Generally the bear has to be put down once it becomes aggressive,” Hampton says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Co-Author: 'Bad Blood' Didn't Cause Ex-SEAL to Pen Bin Laden Book

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A group of former special operations servicemen claims that the ex-Navy SEAL who penned his firsthand account of the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden did so in part because he thought the Navy had mistreated him shortly before his departure from the teams -- an allegation the book's co-author denies.

The first-person account of the raid, called No Easy Day and written under the pseudonym Mark Owen, arrives on bookshelves on Tuesday -- a full week before its original intended release on the anniversary of Sept. 11.  The book's publisher, Dutton, claimed that the date was moved up both due to high demand in light of several high-profile news stories about the book and to quell controversy over whether the book revealed any classified information.  From the White House to the Pentagon and the CIA, no government officials had been given a chance to read the book for possible security breaches before its publication.

Owen was a decorated and long-serving SEAL who left the Navy in April, according to military records provided by the service.  A spokesperson for Dutton previously told ABC News that Owen left simply "because it was time."

But a new e-book written by former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb with co-authors who had been members of the special operations community in other branches claims that Owen left the Navy on bad terms after he felt he was mistreated by the service.  Webb, founder of the special operations website, told ABC News that he and his co-authors spoke to several active members of the special operations community for the e-book.

"Sources... say that [Owen] was treated very poorly upon his departure..." says the e-book, called No Easy Op and released Monday on  The e-book claims Owen was asked to leave his SEAL Team Six group after he "openly shared with his teammates that he was considering getting out of the Navy to pursue other interests."

"How was he repaid for his honesty and fourteen years of service?  He was ostracized from his unit with no notice and handed a plane ticket back to Virginia from a training operation," the e-book says.  After his departure, the book says there was some "bad blood' between Owen and his former team that may have helped him decide to pen the book.

Dutton declined to comment on the claims, except to point to remarks made by the book's co-author, journalist Kevin Maurer, to the New York Times.

"After spending several very intense months working with Mark Owen on this book, I know that he wrote this book solely to share a story about the incredible men and women defending America all over the world," Maurer said.  "Any suggestion otherwise is as ill-informed as it is inaccurate."

The Navy directed questions concerning the "bad blood" allegations to the Department of Defense.  There, a spokesperson said the way in which Owen left the service is "irrelevant" to them.

"The Department is not interested in characterizing his departure," Lt. Col. Todd Brasseale said.  "We remain greatly appreciative of [Owen's] efforts while he was a SEAL, but he has been and remains in breach of his non-disclosure agreement... His demeanor when he left the service is irrelevant."

Over the weekend, Pentagon officials sent a letter to Owen in which they warned they were considering legal action against him for unauthorized disclosures in the book.  An attorney for Owen, Robert Luskin, responded to the letter, saying his client had not violated any non-disclosure agreement.

Owen's book No Easy Day provides a detailed first-person account of the bin Laden raid and at times contradicts the "official" version.

Owen said he was just behind the team's "point man" who unknowingly was the first to shoot the terror leader.

"We were less than five steps from getting to the top when I heard suppressed shots.  BOP.  BOP," Owen writes.  "I couldn't tell from my position if the rounds hit the target or not.  The man disappeared into the room."

It wasn't until several SEAL Team Six members entered the room that Owen learned some of the first shots hit their mark and that bin Laden was the man bleeding and twitching on the ground with an apparent shot to the head.  Still, Owen and another SEAL pointed their laser sights at his chest and "fired several rounds."

"The bullets tore into him, slamming his body into the floor until he was motionless," Owen writes.

Unlike the White House characterization that bin Laden had "resisted" before he was killed, Owen's account describes a scene in which the terror leader never appeared to have the chance.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Drew Peterson Murder Trial Winds Down with Closing Statements

Giovanni Rufino/NBC NewsWire(JOLIET, Ill.) -- The murder trial of former Illinois cop Drew Peterson will wrap up Tuesday as attorneys for both sides offer closing arguments to the Joliet, Ill., jury.

The final statements will close a five-week trial that has been marked by heated legal battles and three calls for mistrial by attorneys for Peterson, 58, who is accused of killing his wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004.

Savio's death was initially ruled an accident after she was found dead in her bathtub.  After Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared without a trace in 2007, police exhumed Savio's body and reexamined it as part of the Stacy Peterson investigation. They then changed the cause of death to homicide and charged Drew Peterson.

Drew Peterson has denied any involvement in Savio's death, and prosecutors admit there is no physical evidence tying him to the scene of the crime.  He has never been charged in connection with Stacy's disappearance.

Peterson's trial has revolved around statements that both of his wives, Savio and Stacy Peterson, made to others. Stacy Peterson's divorce attorney testified last week that she once asked him whether she should disclose in divorce proceedings that Drew killed Savio.

According to other witnesses, Savio made statements to friends and family members showing anxiety that Drew Peterson would hurt her, and had threatened to kill her in the past.

The hearsay testimony was the subject of contentious legal battles between defense attorneys and prosecutors.

On Tuesday, the prosecution will offer its closing statements to the jury first, tying together the hearsay statements of both women and the expert testimony of forensic pathologists who testified that Savio's injuries were clearly the result of murder.

Peterson's attorneys will also rely on expert testimony from the forensic pathologists they called to the stand, who argued that Savio's injuries were in fact the result of an accidental slip and fall in the bathtub.  They are expected to emphasize that there is no physical evidence or eyewitness accounts placing Peterson at the scene of Savio's death.

The prosecution will then offer a rebuttal before the case is handed to the jury for deliberations. Judge Edward Burmila on Friday read the jury detailed instructions on deliberating.

The former Bolingbrook, Ill., police sergeant faces 60 years in prison if convicted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Jersey Man on PCP Charged in Throat Slitting Attacks on Children

ABC News(CAMDEN, N.J.) -- A New Jersey man who smoked a combination of pot and PCP has been arrested and charged with slitting the throats of a 6-year-old boy and his 12-year-old sister who is in critical condition, according to authorities.

The wounded girl was able to give police a tip that led them to her alleged attacker.

It is the second time in recent weeks that the hallucinatory drug combo, known as "wet," has been implicated in the grisly murder of a child in the crime ridden city of Camden, N.J.

At around on Sunday, a bloody 12-year-old girl fled her home after being attacked. She ran door-to-door banging on neighbors' doors until Nakyta McCray answered the door and called 911.

"I saw her standing there with her throat cut open and barely breathing," McCray tearfully told ABC News' Philadelphia affiliate WPVI.

"The older sister kept crying that the other two little kids were in the house," McCray said. "So I went down there to try to get the two little kids, but I saw a whole bunch of blood, called for an officer and he walked in the house and said there was another victim."

The wounded girl's 6-year-old brother was discovered dead inside. His throat had also been slit, the prosecutor's office said. The little boy was identified as Dominick Andujar. The girl has not been identified and is in critical condition at Cooper Hospital, prosecutors said.

WPVI reported that Sunday was the girl's 12th birthday.

Two other siblings were in the house, including a 14-year-old, but they were not injured. The children's mother was in the hospital recovering from a recent surgery, according to WPVI.

Osvaldo Rivera, 31, was charged with murder and attempted murder Monday. He was arrested on Sunday when police found him hiding between a mattress and a bedroom wall at an apartment about five miles from the girl's house.

"Police also found blood-stained sneakers that matched bloody footprints in the home on Ware Street," where the girl lived, according to the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

The 12-year-old girl identified her attacker to authorities as "what sounded like 'Poppy,'" officials said.

Rivera lived in the area and went by the nickname, "Popeye," authorities said.

"Several citizens came forward and showed the courage to provide information, which helped lead to the initial apprehension," Camden County Prosecutor's Office Lt. Frank Falco said in a statement.

During an interview with investigators, Rivera "stated that he has smoked 'wet,' a combination of marijuana and PCP, prior to the killing," prosecutors said.

"In recent years there have been several other murders in which wet appeared to have played a part," prosecutors said in a statement. "This drug has a particularly catastrophic effect on people, making them incoherent, hallucinatory and, in some cases, violent."

Prosecutors said that the attack on Dominick and his sister is the second time there appears to be a connection between the drug and the killing of a child in the city of Camden.

Authorities believe Chevonne Thomas was smoking wet before beheading her 2-year-old son Zahree on Aug. 22 in Camden.

Thomas had a history of substance abuse and mental health disorders, according to the Department of Children and Families.

The prosecutor's office and the Camden Police Department said they are "concerned" with the use of the drug in the city and said they will be "taking steps to curb the market for this exceedingly dangerous and destructive drug."

Rivera is expected to make his first court appearance at an arraignment on Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Air Show Crash Caught on Tape Probed

ABC News(DAVENPORT, Iowa) -- Investigators are trying to determine the cause of a fighter jet crash caught on tape by spectators at an Iowa air show that killed a pilot.

Three jets in tight formation rumbled over the crowd at the Quad-City Air Show in Davenport, Iowa, Saturday when one of the pilots, 59-year-old Glenn Smith, appeared to lose control of his plane, a Soviet-era fighter plane.

A home video captured the pilots going into a complicated maneuver, switching places mid-air and passing within inches of each other before the plane made a dive straight down.

“We don’t see anything mechanical at this time but we want to make sure that we have it documented that we have everything,” said Asst. Chief Don Schaeffer of the Davenport Police Department.

Since 1991, air show accidents in North America have killed 72 pilots and performers, and more than 12 million spectators attend air shows each year.

“There hasn’t been a spectator fatality at a North American air show since 1952, and that’s because of the strict rules that have been in place for nearly 60 years,” said John Cudahy, president of International Council of Air Shows.

Aircraft must stay 500-1,500 feet away from crowds and avoid flying toward people, and aerobatic pilots must be tested regularly.

In the very different world of air racing, a P-51 Mustang slammed into the crowd last year and killed 11 in Reno, Nev.

Earlier this year, the National Transportation Safety Board called for stricter rules, more training for pilots and changes to the race course to better avoid spectators.

“They’re going to see people flying airplanes right to the absolute edge of the envelope,” said ABC News aviation consultant John Nance.

Smith left a lucrative job at a Dallas-area technology firm for an early retirement of restoring Soviet fighter jets and flying to exhibitions across the country. Smith was also the newest member of the “Hoppers,” according to the team’s website. The Hoppers are a group of pilots who privately maintain and fly L-39 fighter jets at air shows and other exhibitions.

Smith began flying more than two decades ago and holds a commercial pilot’s license, according to the website.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio