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Friday
Dec212012

Public Helps Feds Bust 'Jane Doe' for Child Porn

ICE(WASHINGTON) -- Less than 24 hours after asking for the public's help in identifying and arresting a "Jane Doe" suspected of producing child pornography, federal officials have arrested a suspect and rescued a child who was allegedly shown in an exploitative video.

Corrine Danielle Motley of Okaloosa County, Florida faces federal charges for the production and distribution of child pornography. Motley, 25, was arrested late Wednesday evening by Northwest Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force members and Homeland Security Investigations special agents.

"The quick identification of the victim and suspect in this case demonstrates the power of the press, social media and the general public in helping solve these cases," said John Morton, director of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. "Literally hours after we asked the public for their assistance in identifying Jane Doe, a tip came in that led to her identification and arrest. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing that, due to these efforts, a child is now safe and her tormentor now in custody."

Motley is being held without bond.

On Wednesday afternoon, investigators from Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations asked for the public's assistance in tracking down a white female, from 23 to 29 years old, who was believed to have produced at least one long-form video that showed her engaging in explicit sex with a four-to-five-year-old victim.

Investigators said they thought the video, which seemed to have been shot in the U.S., had first appeared on the Internet less than a month earlier, on November 27, 2012, which raised the possibility that the child was still being exploited.

HSI circulated photographs of "Jane Doe," who had a medium build, hazel or green eyes and brown hair with blond highlights. The suspect also had a mole on her left thigh and a tongue piercing. HSI special agents were acting on a tip from the Danish National Police after Danish law enforcement downloaded a copy of the video. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children determined that the victim had not been identified or rescued.

The criminal complaint against Jane Doe, which was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., was the second obtained by HSI's Child Exploitation Investigations Unit in 2012.

The first "Jane Doe" suspect was arrested with her husband in Oregon in September after ICE solicited, and received, help from the public in finding her. Michelle Lee Freeman and Michael Serapis Freeman turned themselves in to local police after tips to ICE identified Michelle as the "Jane Doe" suspect. Two child victims were rescued in that case and the Freemans are awaiting trial.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec212012

Sandy Hook Shooting: Moment of Silence Held for Victims

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEWTOWN, Conn.) -- A moment of silence in recognition of the massacre in Newtown, Conn., was held on Friday at 9:30 a.m. ET, marking the time a week ago when Adam Lanza killed 26 people before committing suicide.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and Newtown First Selectman Patricia Llodra, together with other local elected officials and residents, convened on the steps of Edmond Town Hall in Newtown for the moment of silence.

President Obama also took part in the moment of silence, although privately, behind closed doors at the White House.  

Minutes before 9:30 a.m., he tweeted: "20 beautiful children & 6 remarkable adults. Together, we will carry on & make our country worthy of their memory. -bo #MomentForSandyHook."  The “-bo” signature means the tweet was sent by the president himself.

Bells from nearby Trinity Episcopal Church rang 26 times, in memory of each life lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Malloy had proclaimed Friday a "day of mourning" in Connecticut, asking residents statewide to participate in the moment of silence.  He also wrote the nation's governors, inviting each state in the country to participate in the reflection on Friday.

Lanza fatally shot his mother at their home last Friday and then entered Sandy Hook Elementary School by shooting his way through a window to gain entry.  From there, he gunned down and killed 26 people, including 20 children.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec212012

Severe Winter Weather Upends Holiday Travel Plans

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Snow, wind and rain have disrupted holiday travel plans across the Midwest, South and Northeast over the past two days, prompting reports of 200 severe weather incidents and four tornadoes.

Lashing winds and blowing snow stretched from Nebraska to Michigan overnight, shutting down major highways across the region as drivers struggled to stay on the road.  At least 1,000 accidents have been reported, with one north of Des Moines, Iowa, where at least 25 vehicles slammed into each other.  There were so many accidents in Iowa that the National Guard was called in to help motorists, including pre-teen Isaac Wilson.

"The U.S. Army came and put us in this really fancy truck, and we got blankets and snacks and drove all the way here," Wilson of Millard, Iowa, told ABC News.

Two tornadoes reportedly touched down in Arkansas, while one was reported in Alabama and another in Florida.  The most significant damage was from a tornado in Mobile, Ala., with winds of 86 to 110 mph and a path length of 7 miles.

Severe storms have moved off shore on Friday and the Southeast and the Gulf Coast are expected to dry out.

Up to 20 inches of snow fell in Madison, Wis., while up to 14 inches fell in Iowa.  Madison, Dubuque, Iowa, and Des Moines all had daily record snowfall on Thursday.  The University of Wisconsin cancelled some final exams.

In Chicago, the rain finally changed to snow, but the precipitation has almost ended, so less than a half an inch of snow has accumulated at O'Hare Airport.  Still, there were 600 flight cancellations reported on Thursday, as people struggle with pre-Christmas travel.

Snow is coming to an end in Chicago, and most of the Midwest.  A few more inches are still possible for Indianapolis, Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Thirteen states from Iowa to Maine are under winter weather watches, warnings and advisories.

In the Northeast, high-wind warnings have been posted for major cities, from Washington, D.C., to New York and Boston, with some minor damage and power outages possible.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec212012

Chicago Prison Escape: One of Two Bank Robbers Arrested

Kevin Horan/Stone(CHICAGO) -- One of the two Chicago bank robbers who escaped from a high-rise federal jail in Chicago this week using a makeshift rope to rappel down the building has been arrested.

Joseph "Jose" Banks, 37, was arrested late Thursday around 11:30 p.m. local time without incident in Chicago, according to an FBI news release.

Agents and officers from the Chicago FBI's Violent Crimes Task Force, along with officers from the Chicago Police Department, made the arrest.  Banks was unarmed.

Authorities are still looking for Kenneth Conley, who escaped the Metropolitan Correctional Center with Banks sometime early Tuesday morning.

Banks and Conley, 38, were last seen Monday at 10 p.m. during a prison head count at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago's Loop district.  The two borrowed a move from the film Escape From Alcatraz by stuffing their beds with clothes in the shape of bodies.

The men then broke the window of their cell at the federal prison, shimmying out a hole only inches wide, and scaled 17 stories down the side of the building, all the while holding onto a rope of sheets and towels taken from the prison.  The rope was strong enough to support the two, one weighing 165 pounds the other 185 pounds.

At 7 a.m. the next morning, as employees arrived at work, they noticed the sheets left dangling from the building and discovered that Conley and Banks were missing.

Investigators said surveillance cameras captured Banks and Conley getting into a taxi minutes after their brazen escape.  They entered the taxi at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Congress Street, just blocks away from the jail.

The men then showed up at the home of Sandy Conley, Kenneth Conley's mother, in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park, Ill., on Tuesday morning, only five hours after they escaped.

"He was in the house for two minutes," Sandy Conley told ABC News on Thursday.  "I can't tell you if he was armed.  I made him get out."

Banks, nicknamed "the second-hand bandit" because of the used clothing disguises he wore in several robberies, was convicted of armed robbery last week.  His parting words to his judge, Rebecca Pallmeyer, were, "I'll be seeking retribution as well as damages ... you'll hear from me."

Conley had been in jail for several years.

Pallmeyer and others who presided over the men's cases have reportedly been offered protection.  The FBI and U.S. Marshals were offering a combined reward of $60,000 to find the inmates and bring them back into custody.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec212012

Fathers Stand Guard Outside Kids' Schools After Newtown Shooting

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Two protective fathers on opposite sides of the country donned their uniforms -- one military, one police -- for off-duty appearances as they accompanied their children to school and stood guard outside the school building this week to help them and other students feel safe.

Maryland police officer Frankie Stephens, 30, decided on Monday that he would accompany his daughter on her first day back at school since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six staff members were fatally gunned down last Friday.

Monday was Stephens' day off, and, dressed in his Cecil County Sheriff's Office uniform, he drove his daughter, 7-year-old Ava Stephens, to Perryville Elementary School in his patrol car.

"Initially, he planned to go and hang out in the parking lot for a little bit, but he decided to hang out and go in at lunchtime and so he had lunch with the first- and second-graders," Stephens' wife, Christie Stephens, said.

"We felt completely helpless when we heard about what had happened [in Connecticut], and here we are sending our kids back to school two days later.  He wanted her to get there safely, so he went and he gave his business card to her teacher and the principal.  It made us feel better," Christie Stephens added.

Ava and her two sisters, who do not go to the school, were aware of the shooting in Connecticut, their mother said, and were somewhat frightened about returning to school.  Christie Stephens said she thought that having her daughter, her classmates and the teachers at school interact with a local police officer, who was also a "nice guy and a dad," might help everyone feel better.

Christie Stephens said she is sure her husband will drop by the school for lunch again.

On the other side of the country, former Marine Sgt. Craig Pusley stood outside Hughson Elementary School in Hughson, Calif., in his Marine uniform Wednesday morning.

Pusley told ABC News affiliate KXTV that his actions were a direct result of the school shooting in Newtown.

"I'm part of a Marine Corps fraternity, and I started noticing online postings that if Marines stood in front of schools, we never would have had the Connecticut problem," Pusley told KXTV.

Hughson Elementary School Principal Laura Fong said, "He approached me and asked me if it would be OK if he stood in front of our flag pole this morning to make sure our parents and kids felt safe today as they arrived on our campus."

"There's no policy for something like this, but I didn't see why he couldn't stand in front and keep us safe," she told the station.

Pusley, who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan while in the Marine Corps, said he hopes other Marines will follow his lead.

"Whether you're on active duty or not, this is an opportunity to stand up for what you believe in and show America this is what we do," Pusley said.

He said he plans to continue standing guard in front of Hughson Elementary School for the next 30 days.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec212012

Another Day of Remembrance and Mourning in Newtown

ABC News(NEWTOWN, Conn.) -- Grief and mourning have enveloped the community of Newtown, Conn., which continues the grim task of holding funeral services for the 20 children and six adults shot dead a week ago on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

There were five burials on Thursday for first-graders Grace McDonnell, Benjamin Andrew Wheeler, Jesse Lewis, Allison Wyatt and Catherine Hubbard -- all killed by 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who also murdered his mother before taking his own life.

Hubbard’s funeral Mass at St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown was like the other services for the smallest victims of the massacre, with parents, relatives and friends in shock while at the same time, trying to make sense of the incomprehensible.

Each child was remembered for what they loved during their short lives and how much they were loved and always will be.

In upstate Katonah, N.Y., Anne Marie Murphy was laid to rest with Cardinal Timothy Dolan extolling the 52-year-old teacher for making the ultimate sacrifice.

The cardinal told mourners at St. Mary of the Assumption Church that "Like Jesus, Annie laid down her life for her friends.  Like Jesus, Annie's life and death brings light, truth, goodness and love to a world often shrouded in darkness, evil, selfishness and death."

One memorial service that was held away from the glare of the media spotlight was for Nancy Lanza, the 52-year-old mother of the shooter.  About two dozen people attended the memorial in Kingston, N.H., with plans for a funeral to be announced later.

On Friday, at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time, a moment of silence will be held for the Sandy Hook victims in Connecticut and throughout the nation at the request of Gov. Dan Malloy.  He also asked that places of worship toll their bells 26 times for each of the victims.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec212012

NRA to 'Offer Meaningful Contributions' to Prevent More Gun Violence

NRA/ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- For the past week, leadership at the National Rifle Association has largely stayed away from the media.  But on Friday morning, the group may weigh in on how to keep a deadly shooting massacre like the one last week at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school from happening again.

The NRA will hold a news conference in Washington, D.C., just before 11 a.m.

Its leadership has held off on interviews this week after refusing to appear on Sunday morning public affairs shows this past weekend.

The group came under pressure after Adam Lanza, 20, killed 20 children and six adults before shooting himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown last Friday.

"Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting," the group said in a press release Tuesday.  "The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."

NRA News anchor Ginny Simone said on Thursday that in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, membership surged "with an average of 8,000 new members a day."

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the NRA is partially to blame for the tragedy.

"We're not trying to take away your right to advance the interests of gun owners, hunters, people who want to protect themselves," Bloomberg told ABC's Nightline anchor Cynthia McFadden in an interview Thursday.  "But that's not an absolute right to encourage behavior which causes things like Connecticut.  In fact, Connecticut is because of some of their actions."

The guns used in the attack were legally purchased and owned by the shooter's mother, Nancy Lanza, who Adam Lanza shot to death before his assault on the school.

In the aftermath of the shooting, many, including Bloomberg, have called for stricter regulations on the types of weapons used in this and other instances of mass gun violence this year.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has said she intends to introduce a bill banning assault weapons on the first day of next year's Congress -- a step the president said he supports.

President Obama announced on Wednesday that Vice President Joe Biden will head a task force of leaders from across the country that will evaluate the best solutions to reduce gun violence in the United States.

Obama said he will "use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this."

Mayors Against Illegal Guns, of which Mayor Bloomberg is a co-chair, released a letter to Obama signed by more than 750 mayors calling on him to produce a plan to "make it harder for dangerous people to possess guns."

The letter asked for mandatory background checks for gun buyers, a ban on high-capacity rifles and ammunition magazines, and a designation of gun trafficking as a federal crime.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec202012

Olympic Runner Suzy Favor Hamilton Worked as Escort in Vegas

Andy Lyons/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- Former U.S. Olympian and decorated middle-distance runner Suzy Favor Hamilton said Thursday that she had worked as a high-paid escort in Las Vegas for the past year.

In a story first reported by The Smoking Gun, Favor Hamilton, 44, said that she worked as an escort under the alias "Kelly Lundy" with Haley Heston Private Collection escort service based in Vegas.

According to the website advertising her services that was saved by The Smoking Gun, Favor Hamilton offered appointments to johns in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. She advertised her price as $600 for one hour or $1,400 for three hours.

Favor Hamilton, who lives with her husband and 7-year-old daughter in Madison, Wis., makes frequent public appearances to discuss running, including motivational speeches and had a spot in a Nike ad.

She told The Smoking Gun that her husband, Mark, 44, knew about her escort activities and did not approve.

"He tried, he tried to get me to stop. He wasn't supportive of this at all," she told them.

After the report was published Thursday morning, Favor Hamilton took to her Twitter account to apologize publicly.

"I was drawn to escorting in large part because it provided many coping mechanisms for me when I was going through a very challenging time with my marriage and my life. It provided an escape from a life that I was struggling in. It was a double life," she wrote.

"I cannot emphasize enough how sorry I am to anyone I have hurt as a result of my actions and greatly appreciate the support from family and those closest to me. I fully intend to make amends and get back to being a good mother, wife, daughter and friend."

Favor Hamilton wrote on Twitter that she was going through depression when she decided to become an escort and used it as a means of escape, and that she is currently seeing a psychologist.

In an email to ABC News, Favor Hamilton wrote that her Twitter statements were her only comment on the story, but did add, "Trying my best to get better."

The phone number for Haley Heston Private Collection, listed as the contact information on Favor Hamilton's escort profile, was answered by a woman who said, "This is Haley." She declined to comment on The Smoking Gun story and said she could not confirm the details in The Smoking Gun's report.

Favor Hamilton competed in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympics, without medaling in any of the races. She did win seven National Track & Field Championships, including three outdoor 1,500 meters, and was a nine-time NCAA champion while an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec202012

Baltimore Police Chief Wants to Ban High-Capacity Firepower

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- High-capacity magazines are the deadliest of gun cartridges. They come in cases of 30, 40, 60 and even 120 rounds.

These magazines are maximum, economy-sized firepower packed into a steel cartridge. When strapped into a pistol or semi-automatic rifle, a shooter can fire non-stop until the magazine is empty. By then, the damage can be devastating.

That is why Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson wants to outlaw all but the smallest of these magazines. Johnson wants to limit them to a capacity of 10 rounds.

The fewer the bullets, the more often the shooter has to stop firing, eject the empty cartridge and load another one.

A lot can happen in the window of time it takes to reload, Johnson said.

"Folks that are being attacked have time to react, to close that distance in," he said. "I think any football player in America would like to have four-and-a-half seconds to get to the quarterback without any of the offensive players."

An expert shooter like a police officer can switch magazines in less than two seconds. But for a nervous, scared adolescent, it would take much longer, Johnson said, which can be crucial.

During the Tucson, Ariz., attack on Rep. Gabby Giffords, gunman Jared Loughner was wrestled down when he stopped shooting to reload his 9-millimeter pistol.

During the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting spree last July, police say James Holmes' assault came to an end when his semi-automatic rifle jammed.

"As we've seen in America today, there have been several attacks where that reload is vital," Johnson said. "Tragically, in the shooting of a congresswoman, the reload was instrumental."

"We've also seen this in Baltimore County, in a school shooting that we had, where the reload became very instrumental in allowing the teacher to actually tackle a student that was trying to reload a double-barreled shotgun," he said.

Police believe that last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Adam Lanza was armed with high-capacity magazines. He fired at least 30 times before having to stop to reload.

Johnson said there is no reason that the general public should have access to high-capacity magazines.

"I have to advise you that even for law enforcement, 100-round magazines, 50-round magazines, have no place for law enforcement," Johnson said. "Certainly, we believe that limiting a magazine to 10 rounds, what was in place from '94 to 2004, is wise and certainly could save lives in America."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec202012

Midwest Blizzard Threatens Christmas Travel

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A pre-Christmas blizzard that is battering at least eight states in the middle of the nation could trip up travelers headed home in the coming days.

As of Thursday afternoon, nearly 20 inches of snow had been reported in Colorado just west of Denver. Six to 10 inches had been reported in Nebraska. Between 3 and 8 inches had accumulated in Iowa and more was possible. Snow was falling 2 inches per hour in Wisconsin.

No planes were able to land at Iowa's Des Moines International Airport late Thursday afternoon. All flights were cancelled until at least 11:45 a.m. Friday.

Chicago may prove most problematic for travelers. Rain had cancelled 400 flights into and out of Chicago O'Hare by late afternoon Thursday, according to data from FlightAware.

Snow and wind expected Thursday night was likely to further complicate travel and likely cancel more flights.

American was cancelling all flights to and from O'Hare at 9 p.m. ET.

Southwest Airlines was cancelling all departures and arrivals at Midway Airport as of 4 p.m. local time. On a typical day, the airline has between 200 and 220 flights in and out of Midway.

Southwest was also planning to cancel all arrivals and departures from the Milwaukee Airport as of 6 p.m. local time. Southwest has 35 flights in and out of Milwaukee.

Several airlines issued flexible travel policies Thursday, allowing travelers with flights into, out of and through affected areas to change their plans without penalty.

For example, travelers headed to O'Hare Thursday on American Airlines could change their flights to any day from Dec. 21 to Dec. 25. Delta, United and others had similar policies.

Airlines for America, an airline industry trade group, estimated that 42 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines for the 21-day holiday travel period from Dec 17 to Jan 6. Daily passenger volumes are expected to range from 1.5 million to 2.3 million people.

The busiest days of the Christmas travel season were expected to be Dec. 21, 22, 23 and 26, and Jan 2. Foul weather in major hub cities, particularly on those days, would most certainly cause travel headaches on the roads and in the skies.

When bad weather grounds flights at major airports, delays pile up around the nation, stranding travelers even in places where the weather is good. And because planes fly so full around the holidays, it's difficult for the airlines to find empty seats to accommodate fliers whose flights have been cancelled.

Passengers are entitled to a refund if their flight is cancelled.

Travelers should confirm their flight is taking off as planned on their carrier's website before leaving their homes.

If you are at the airport by the time you find out, use every avenue available to get re-accommodated. While you stand on line to talk to a customer service agent, also call your carrier and use Twitter to get in touch with your airline. Many airlines are faster to respond on Twitter than on the phone. Delta Airlines and JetBlue are particularly active.

A few Twitter handles to know:
@JetBlue
@DeltaAssist
@AmericanAir
@United
@SouthwestAir
@FlyFrontier
@USAirways

Travelers who find themselves stranded and in need of a hotel room should use apps such as HotelTonight, Travelocity's LastMinute.com hotel booking app and the Priceline app to find deals on last-minute hotel stays.

The Midwest storm was expected to move east Thursday night, spreading rain into the Northeast, with some areas from Washington, D.C., to Boston getting as much as 2 inches.

Behind the storm, cold air was forecast to come in and change rain to snow in western Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York and West Virginia, where 3 to 14 inches (in the highest elevations) could accumulate.

The severe weather was also impacting drivers in the Midwest Thursday afternoon. In Iowa, there were more than 88 crashes, with hundreds of motorists calling for assistance. Most of Wisconsin was reeling, with hundreds of emergency calls placed. In Missouri, emergency responders were being dispatched to everything from slide-offs and minor crashes to sites where injuries had occurred.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio