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Friday
Feb102012

Fugitive in 20-Year-Old UK Heist Caught in Missouri

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(OZARK, Mo.) -- A former British security guard suspected of absconding with a van containing $1.5 million in a 1993 heist has been arrested in Missouri after it was discovered that he was living with his family in the U.S. under an assumed name for 15 years.

Edward John Maher, known in the U.K. as "Fast Eddie" since he vanished after driving off with $1 million pounds, was apprehended by the FBI and police in Ozark, Mo. on Wednesday, according to FBI agent Josh Nixon.

"Our investigation with Ozark Police Department pretty much determined he was likely the fugitive," Nixon told the Springfield News Leader. "He was fully cooperative when he was confronted."

Once apprehended, Maher, who was working as a cable installer and living in the tiny town of Ozark, was positively identified as the suspect in the 1993 robbery where he drove off with cash in a van that had been parked in front of a Lloyds Bank in Felixstowe, England. Investigators at the time reportedly found two abandoned getaway cars nearby.

The news media in Britain has called "Fast Eddie's" 1993 robbery "the perfect crime."

Maher had reportedly been living under a brother's name, Michael Maher, but also used several other phony names, including Stephen King, while in the U.S.

The man's true identity was discovered after Ozark police were given an anonymous tip that the culprit in the infamous heist was living in the area, according to Nixon. Ozark police's investigation determined that the man might be Maher, but they turned to the FBI for assistance with the investigation.

Police in Suffolk, England, have been able to determine that after the robbery, Maher flew to Boston, where he met up with his girlfriend and young son, the News Leader reported. Nixon told the paper that it's likely Maher and family members moved frequently before arriving in Ozark two years ago.

The Feds found four illegal firearms in the home where he was apprehended. Several other people were inside the home, and were soon identified as family members, Nixon said.

Maher was charged with being an illegal alien in possession of firearms and was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where he is being held without bond.

He appeared before a federal judge Thursday afternoon for his initial appearance in the gun case. His next court appearance is Feb. 22 and he will be held by the U.S. Marshal's Service until then. It's unclear if he has been charged in the U.K. for the nearly 20-year-old robbery. 

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb102012

School Bus Driver Saves Students from Burning Bus

George Doyle/Stockbyte(CHARLOTTE, N.C) -- Bus driver Lindora Richardson was driving her normal after-school route in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday when she noticed a burning smell.

“I smelled something and I just knew it didn’t smell right,” she told ABC News Charlotte affiliate WSOC-TV.

Smoke then started pouring from the steering wheel of the 13-year-old bus and that’s when Richardson took action. “As I saw the smoke, I knew it was time to get the kids and myself off the bus,” she said.

Richardson led the six kids out the back of the bus before it burst into flames less than five minutes later.

“I was calm and they were calm and I felt that’s what aided in a safe delivery for the kids,” Richardson, 37, said. “I’m no hero. ...I was just doing my job.”

Fire investigators told WSOC-TV that they believe the blaze was caused by an electrical wiring malfunction.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb102012

Jerry Sandusky Returns to Court Seeking Change to Terms of Bail

Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesUPDATE: Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky dismissed allegations Friday that he has been leering at school children from his back deck and argued that he should be allowed to visit at least with his grandchildren while under house arrest for child molestation charges.

Judge John Cleland said that he would rule on the requests from both the defense and the prosecution quickly, perhaps by next week.

(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky will be back in court Friday morning, hoping to convince a judge to change the conditions of his house arrest so that he can see his grandchildren.

The 68-year-old, who is charged with 52 counts relating to child molestation for the alleged abuse of 10 victims during a 15-year period, says his grandkids have expressed sadness about not being able to see him and he wants the terms of his bail changed so they can visit.

Still, prosecutors oppose it. They say house arrest is comparable to incarceration and, therefore, Sandusky should be treated as if he were locked up in Centre County prison.

"House arrest is not meant to be a house party. Contact visits do not occur in the Centre County prison and should not occur during [Sandusky's] house arrest," Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly wrote in objections submitted to the court, according to StateCollege.com.

"This defendant is categorically different from other defendants and should be treated differently from others on house arrest in Centre County," she continued.

Prosecutors say Sandusky's home is where many of his alleged victims were molested, and if anything, they want to see his bail terms tightened so that he can't sit on his back porch, as he's currently allowed to do. His outdoor presence has concerned local residents, especially since there's a school playground adjacent to his property.

Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola, called the fears "totally unfounded."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb102012

Obama Frees 10 States from 'No Child Left Behind' Requirements

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama announced Thursday that 10 states are freed from the central requirements of the “No Child Left Behind” education law in exchange for their promise to adopt higher standards and reform the way they evaluate students.

“If you're willing to set higher, more honest standards than the ones that were set by "No Child Left Behind," then we're going to give you the flexibility to meet those standards,” the president said. “We combine greater freedom with greater accountability.”

Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee have all been exempt from meeting the 2014 NCLB targets in exchange for embracing reforms that the White House deems necessary. To qualify, states must adopt “college and career-ready” standards, link teacher evaluations to student performance and create an accountability system to reward their best schools and report their lowest-performing ones.

The president said he was giving these states “the green light to continue making the reforms that are best for them,” explaining that “if we're serious about helping our children reach their full potential, the best ideas aren't going to just come from here in Washington.”

As currently written, the Bush-era law allows states to set their own goals for academic success, but they risk losing federal education funding if their students fail to show “adequate yearly progress.”  Critics, including Obama, say this system encourages states to “dummy down” standards to report better progress.

“The goals of 'No Child Left Behind' were the right ones,” Obama said. “We've got to stay focused on those goals. But we've got to do it in a way that doesn't force teachers to teach to the test or encourage schools to lower their standards to avoid being labeled as failures. That doesn't help anybody; certainly doesn't help our children in the classroom.”

Eleven states requested waivers after the president announced last September that he would allow states flexibility from the strict mandates of the law. New Mexico, the 11th state in the first round, had an “incomplete” application, but continues to work with the White House.

Twenty-eight other states along with Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., have indicated their intent to seek flexibility.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb102012

Pentagon Eases Restrictions on Women Serving in the Military

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- America’s fighting women are getting closer to the front lines.

The Pentagon announced rule changes Thursday regarding the roles of women in the military that must first be approved by Congress before taking effect as soon as this summer.

Basically, nearly 14,000 combat support positions will be available to female service members that will put them near the front lines although they still won’t be allowed to join infantry combat units.

Once only reserved for men because the jobs were at the combat brigade level, the new positions will now be available at the lower battalion level and include communications, intelligence and logistical jobs.

Most of the women affected by the changes are enlisted in the Army, which deploys the greatest number of ground combat units.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb102012

Couple Catches Purple Squirrel in Pennsylvania

Courtesy Michelle Emert Carithers and Connie Emert(JERSEY SHORE, Pa.) -- Percy and Connie Emert from Jersey Shore, Pa., have been battling the squirrels that damage their bird feeders for some time, but until Sunday they’d never seen a rodent like this -- a purple squirrel.

Connie Emert told ABC News that she’d seen the oddly colored squirrel for about a week prior to capturing it, but her husband didn’t believe her.

“He figured it was just an off-color squirrel,” she said.  “But when we trapped it on Sunday he was like, ‘My God, you were right.  It was really purple.’”

Percy Emert traps the squirrels that damage the feeders and sets them free far away from the yard.  Connie Emert estimated he's trapped at least 50 squirrels this winter.

The couple released the squirrel on Wednesday after showing it to family, friends and neighbors.

The Emerts said they have no idea how the squirrel acquired its unique coloring.

“We’ve never seen one before and no one else ever did either,” Connie Emert said.  “No one else can explain it.  No one has any idea what happened to him.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb102012

Will US Navy Name Ship After Gabrielle Giffords?

Gabrielle Giffords with her husband Mark Kelly. ABC/Ida Mae Astute(WASHINGTON) -- Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is coming to the Pentagon on Friday as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announces the name of the Navy’s newest ship. Her visit has set off speculation that the Navy might name the ship after her.

Also in attendance at Friday afternoon’s brief ceremony in the Pentagon Courtyard will be Roxana Green, the mother of 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green. Green was among those killed in last year’s deadly shooting rampage in Tucson that targeted Giffords as she met constituents outside a supermarket.

Navy spokespersons are not commenting on whether their presence at Friday’s event is tied to the ship’s name and they are not providing any clues about what the ship’s name might be.

Also on hand for the event will be former Rep. Ike Skelton who, along with Mabus, will ”reveal” a placard that will have the name of the ship on it. Skelton is a former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Giffords is still recovering from the gunshot wound to her head that she suffered during last January’s shooting incident. Just two weeks ago, she stepped down from Congress. She will be at the White House Friday morning as President Obama signs into law the last piece of legislation that she had proposed as a member of Congress.

The ship being named on Friday will be the Navy’s 10th Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a new type of ship designed to bring the Navy fighting power into shallow coastal areas. The first two ships in this class were called Freedom and Independence, but since then the conventional practice has been to name the other ships in the class after a city.

The Navy has also named ships after living persons with some recent examples being the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush and the submarine USS Jimmy Carter.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb092012

Josh Powell Told Sons He Had 'Surprise' For Them, Social Worker tells ABC News

KOMO/ABC News(TACOMA, Wash.) -- Josh Powell told his sons he had a "big surprise" for them as they ran toward his home Sunday, just moments before he attacked them with a hatchet and then blew them up, social worker Elizabeth Griffin Hall told ABC News on Thursday.

"He caught my eye, his shoulders were slumped. He had a sheepish look," Hall told ABC’s 20/20 in an exclusive interview. "He just shrugged his shoulders and slammed the door."

Hall said she had been taking the boys, Charles, 7, and Braden, 5, on supervised visits to Powell's house for three months.

Powell, who was the sole suspect in his wife Susan Cox's disappearance in 2009, had lost custody of the children in September and lost an appeal to get his children back just four days before he decided to kill them.

Hall said the children loved being with their father. "One of them said what he wanted to do was go home and live with his daddy," she said.

And during visits with Powell, "I would see them light up."

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Watch "Sins of the Father" on ABC's 20/20 Friday at 9 p.m. ET for more. A preview of the report, including more with social worker Elizabeth Griffin Hall, will air on Thursday night's World News with Diane Sawyer and Friday's Good Morning America at 7 a.m. ET.

On Sunday, the children bounded out of her car and took off running for their father's house with Hall a few steps behind. Powell let them in, gave Hall his odd look, and locked the door.

As Hall banged on the door, "I heard him say, 'Charlie, I've got a big surprise for you'... And then I heard Braden cry out."

Powell often had surprises for the boys, Hall said, and the younger boy had a sore foot that Hall thought he had banged into something, but police later determined that Powell had used a hatchet to chop at his sons' heads and necks.

"I'm saying, 'Let me in, Josh, let me in,'" Hall said. "I realized I didn't have my phone in my hand and I could smell gas. Too much time had passed and I could smell gas."

Hall said she went to move her car and call 911, whom she said did not acknowledge that it was a true emergency. She called her supervisor, but it was too late.

"I said to [her boss] Lynne, something terrible is happening here, and I was on the phone with Lynne when the house exploded," she said.

Powell had laced the home with gasoline and accelerants and set it on fire, blowing up the home. All three were killed.

"I wanted to get to the kids," she said. "I wanted to get to the kids. I would have broken in if I could."

Hall told the story of what happened over and over again to authorities as they arrived and assured her she could not have done anything differently. She blames Powell fully for what happened, and said she never thought he would hurt the boys. But now, she said, she knows he would have done anything to kill them, even if they had the supervised visitation somewhere else.

"How this happened is that Josh Powell was really, really evil. I couldn't have stopped him," she said.

"I did everything I was supposed to do. I did everything right and the boys are still dead," Hall said. "It took just a second. When I close my eyes I see him and he was so normal. He did not look like a monster."

She has sweet memories of the boys.

"I loved the boys. I was like a grandma to the boys. They crawled all over me," she said with a laugh.

Braden, who was just 5, "was a free spirit" who "smiled all the time."

"He was always making things and giving them to me," she said.

The older boy "was smart and funny. He loved bugs and frogs. He had a bird." Charlie was looking forward to having his own frog pond when he moved back with his dad, she said.

"They are not going to grow up," Hall said later. "They're not ever going to look at bugs and frogs again."

Hall said she loves working with children. "God called me to do this," she said.

"I am not going to be his victim. He's not going to destroy my passion for children. He's not going toss top me from working with children," she said.

But the memory of Charlie and Braden will stay with her forever, Hall said.

"The world lost two beautiful boys to a monster."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb092012

George Huguely Trial: Other Man Saw Yeardley Love in Violent Choke Hold

Comstock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- The man whose on-and-off relationship with Yeardley Love allegedly enraged George Huguely V testified Thursday that he once witnessed Huguely trapping a hysterical Love in a violent choke hold.

Michael Burns, a University of North Carolina lacrosse player, told jurors that in February 2010, he heard cries of "Help me, help me," coming from Love's bedroom and went in to find Huguely throttling Love.

"I saw George's hands around Yeardley's neck," Burns said. Prosecutor Warner "Dave" Chapman had Burns stand up in court and demonstrate what he saw.

Huguely released her and turned to the wall as Love ran out of the room. Burns said that she was crying hysterically and said to him, "Thank you so much. I couldn't breathe."

The relationship between Burns and Love infuriated Huguely, who allegedly said in an email to Love days before her death, "When I found out about Mike Burns, I should have killed you."

Burns told the court that although he and Love were not dating, they had "hooked up" a few times over the course of their college years, including the night he walked in on the choke hold. The last time they had been together was April 25, 2010. Love was found dead on May 3, 2010.

Huguely, 24, is charged with first-degree murder as well as five other charges in the death of his ex-girlfriend and University of Virginia classmate.

Love, 22, was a star lacrosse player at the school and a senior just weeks away from graduation. Huguely was also a lacrosse player for the school's nationally ranked men's team.

A number of Love and Huguely's friends and teammates testified Thursday, and alcohol consumption was a main point of discussion. Friends said that Huguely drank four times a week, getting drunk each time. His teammates were so concerned that they were planning an intervention after the end of the season.

Stephanie Aladj, one of Love's sorority sisters, was among the former students who testified. Love was supposedly upset that Huguley was texting Aladj, who described her relationship with Huguely as "on and off again." She said that she and Love were on good terms.

Earlier Thursday Dr. Danny Mistry, the primary care physician for UVA sports teams, told the court that Love was an athlete in excellent shape.

When the doctor was asked if there was any medical reason Love should have passed away on May 3, 2010, he said, "No ... She was in very good shape," Mistry said.

The second day of testimony began with a police officer who gave a graphic description of what he found when he arrived at Love's apartment. Jurors also saw photos of Love's lifeless body, drawing sobs from her family in the courtroom while Huguely kept his head down.

Charlottesville Police Officer K.W. Blackwell was one of the first responders to arrive at Love's room and find her on the floor. The officer was responding to a 911 call for a possible alcohol overdose.

"I realized it was nowhere near the report that came in," Blackwell said.

"Her right eye was swollen shut…she had a black eye," Blackwell told the court. "There was dried blood around her mouth and nose."

Jurors were shown the first graphic photos of the trial Thursday morning. They saw images of EMTs attempting to revive Love, which brought her family to tears. Huguely's head was down while the photos were up.

"There was no sign of life," EMT Michael Hanshew testified. He said medics tried to resuscitate Love for about 25 minutes with no success.

Spectators in the courtroom could not see the images. An attorney representing a number of news outlets is filing a request for the photos to be made public.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb092012

Adios La Nina: Quieter Hurricane Season?

(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration )(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- Those cooler-than-normal tropical Pacific ocean temperatures known as La Niña are expected to weaken and dissipate this spring, government forecasters said Thursday.

La Niña -- or the lack of it -- could mean good news when it comes to the upcoming hurricane season, said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climate Prediction Center.

“If we have La Niña, that would argue for an active hurricane season. If you take it away, maybe it takes away some of the activity,” Halpert tells ABC News.

That’s because La Niña typically helps reduce those hurricane-killing atmospheric gusts known as wind shear.  Without those high winds, the path is clear for tropical waves to more easily develop into hurricanes.  (The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season was particularly active, producing 19 tropical storms including seven hurricanes.)

Halpert adds that it’s still too early to tell just how La Niña and other weather patterns might affect hurricane season.  Forecasters at NOAA will issue their initial hurricane outlook in May.  The start of hurricane season is June 1.

The effects of La Niña [animation here] are mostly felt in winter, typically leading to drier conditions in the southwest and plains and colder, wetter-than-normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest.  It’s counterpart, El Niño, refers to unusually warm waters in the Pacific.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio