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Thursday
Jan032013

Colorado Springs Cops Crack 1976 Murder

Colorado Springs Police Department(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) -- Colorado Springs police believe they have solved a 36-year-old cold case by linking a man serving time for a sexual assault to the 1976 murder of a hotel maid.

Authorities said a DNA analysis led to the arrest of Robert Baillie, 58, who is already in the state’s prison system serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole for a sexual assault.

On Dec. 3, 1976, the body of Janet Conrad, a maid at the Antlers Plaza Hotel, was discovered in a linen room on the tenth floor. Police said the 34-year-old woman had been strangled or suffocated.

Over the years, authorities interviewed countless witnesses. However, no suspects developed.

A break in the case came in 2009 when the Colorado Springs Police Department received a grant from The National Institute of Justice under the “Solving Cold Cases With DNA” program. The money allowed authorities to re-examine Conrad’s murder and pinpoint biological evidence they may have missed.

The DNA evidence was then run through the Combined DNA Index System database, and was found to match Baillie.

“It feels amazing,” Lt. Adrian Vasquez of the Colorado Springs Police Department told ABC News affiliate KRDO-TV.  “The guys are very ecstatic about this, being able to call the family up. You don’t really bring closure to a family in something like this.  But just being able to give them that good news, and let them at least understand that somebody has been brought to justice.”

Baillie’s next parole hearing is in January 2014.

It was not yet known whether he had an attorney.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan032013

Senate Intel Committee Probes Bin Laden Movie Torture Scenes

COLUMBIA PICTURES(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Intelligence Committee has launched a new probe to determine how much the CIA may have influenced the portrayal of torture scenes shown in Zero Dark Thirty, the Hollywood dramatization of the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden.

The probe, confirmed to ABC News by a spokesperson for the committee's chairman, will attempt to answer two questions: Did the CIA give filmmakers "inappropriate" access to secret material, and was the CIA responsible for the perceived suggestion that harsh interrogation techniques aided the hunt for America's most wanted man?

In a press release Thursday, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office said Feinstein, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D.-Mich., and former presidential candidate John McCain, R.-Ariz., –- the latter two are ex officio members of the Intelligence Committee – sent two letters to acting CIA Director Michael Morell in December asking just what the CIA might have told the filmmakers about the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation.

The first letter, dated Dec. 19, focused on the possibility that the CIA "misled" the filmmakers into showing torture as an effective tactic.

"As you know, the film depicts CIA officers repeatedly torturing detainees. The film then credits CIA detainees subjected to coercive interrogation techniques as providing critical lead information on the courier that led to the [bin Laden] compound," the letter says. "The CIA cannot be held accountable for how the Agency and its activities are portrayed in film, but we are nonetheless concerned, given the CIA's cooperation with the filmmakers and the narrative's consistency with past public misstatements by former senior CIA officials, that the filmmakers could have been misled by information they were provided by the CIA."

Two days after the letter was sent, Morell posted a statement on the CIA website explaining that the movie was "not a realistic portrayal of the facts" but said some information did come from detainees subjected to enhanced interrogation.

"...[T]he film creates the strong impression that the enhanced interrogation techniques that were part of our former detention and interrogation program were key to finding Bin Laden. That impression is false," Morell said. "As we have said before, the truth is that multiple streams of intelligence led CIA analysts to conclude that Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad. Some came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques, but there were many other sources as well. And, importantly, whether enhanced interrogation techniques were the only timely and effective way to obtain information from those detainees, as the film suggests, is a matter of debate that cannot and never will be definitively resolved."

The trio of Feinstein, Levin and McCain wrote the second letter on New Year's Eve in apparent frustration with that statement and asked Morell to provide information on what exactly the CIA learned from detainees who underwent harsh interrogation – and if it was learned before, during or after the detainees' ordeals.

A CIA spokesperson told ABC News Thursday the agency had received the letters and "take[s] very seriously our responsibility to keep our oversight committees informed and value[s] our relationship with Congress."

Directed by Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow and hailed by critics since its limited release last month, Zero Dark Thirty has also become a lightning rod for the ongoing debate over the role torture may have played in the ultimately successful hunt for bin Laden. The movie features multiple scenes in which American interrogators oversee or take part in harsh techniques including simulated drowning, violent beating, and force feeding of alleged al Qaeda operatives or associates.

In his book The Finish, Black Hawk Down author Mark Bowden wrote that enhanced interrogation appeared to play a significant role in corroborating the identity of an al Qaeda courier who years later led U.S. officials to bin Laden. At least two detainees who underwent enhanced interrogation – one of them the former high-level al Qaeda operative Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded a reported 183 times – acknowledged the existence and the nom de guerre of the courier but failed to provide any more complete or accurate information about him, Bowden wrote.

In their letters, the senators said that based on the material they had been given by the CIA, no detainee reported the courier's full name or specific whereabouts and that the agency actually learned the vital information that led to bin Laden "through means unrelated to the CIA detention and interrogation program."

As to whether Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal were ever given inappropriate access to information, Boal told ABC News' Nightline in an exclusive interview in November that he never received classified documents.

"I certainly did a lot of homework, but I never asked for classified material," Boal said. "To my knowledge I never received any."

Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group, is involved in ongoing litigation with the goverment over exactly what information was shared with the filmmakers. The group previously obtained documents that its president said "provide more backing to the serious charge that the Obama administration played fast and loose with national security information to help Hollywood filmmakers."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan032013

James Holmes’ Defense Witnesses in Colorado Shooting to Testify on ‘Mental State’

Joshua Lott/Getty Images(AURORA, Colo.) -- A judge ruled Thursday that public defenders for accused Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes can call two unidentified witnesses at next week’s preliminary hearing to testify about the defendant’s “mental state.”

Arapahoe County, Colo., prosecutors had sought to keep the witnesses out of court, but Judge William Sylvester ruled that the now-25-year-old accused killer has a right to call the witnesses at a preliminary hearing.

The Jan. 7 preliminary hearing will essentially be a mini-trial in which prosecutors will present witness testimony and evidence to convince the judge that there is enough of a case against Holmes to proceed to a trial.

Witnesses to be called for the prosecution include the Aurora police lead detective, first responders, the Arapahoe County coroner and likely a computer forensic specialist, according to prosecution sources who declined to be identified, citing a gag order in the case.

A top priority, the prosecution sources say, will be showing that Holmes acted with premeditation when he allegedly murdered 12 people and wounded 58 on the night of July 20 during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.

Defense attorneys may pursue a legal strategy to show that Holmes was not in his right mind at the time of the shooting.

Holmes, who has not yet entered a plea, has been repeatedly described in court by his legal team as mentally ill. While a graduate student at the University of Colorado, he was in the care of a psychiatrist.

Prosecutors say they will also present photos, video and 911 calls during the hearing, which is expected to last all week.

It’s not clear what the two witnesses’ relationship is to the shooting, or to Holmes.

Prosecutors, Judge Sylvester’s order says, contend that “neither witness has personal knowledge of the events at the Century Aurora 16 Theater.”

Sylvester said the witnesses are non-expert “lay witnesses” who have so far chosen not to be interviewed by defense investigators but have been cooperating with law enforcement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan032013

Jodi Arias Trial: Jurors Shown Photos of Victim's Dead Body in Shower

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- Prosecutors in the Jodi Arias murder trial showed jurors a photograph of her former lover, Travis Alexander, lying slashed and lifeless in a pool of blood in his shower.

The gruesome scene was introduced on the second day of Arias' trial, along with a slew of evidence, including a man's bloodied T-shirt.

Defense attorneys for Arias portrayed Alexander as a controlling and abusive lover to the Arizona woman who killed Alexander in self-defense.

 

Evidence emerged Thursday showing they exchanged electronic messages filled with sexually crude references about each other, and the jury heard a recorded phone call between Arias and Police Det. Esteban Flores where Arias said the couple was so distrustful of each other that they shared their online passwords.

"He gave me his Facebook password and MySpace and I gave him my Facebook and Gmail account. Reason we did that [is] because we thought, 'What can we do to reestablish trust?'" she said. "It didn't work."

In a case that is already being compared to the dramatic 2010 murder trial of Casey Anthony, Arias, 32, is facing the death penalty if convicted in the capital murder case.

She is accused of stabbing Alexander 27 times, slitting his throat and shooting him in the head in the shower of his Mesa, Ariz., home in June 2008. A jury will have to decide if she is a cold-blooded murderer or was a victim of domestic violence, as she claims, who was forced to kill.

In the most dramatic moment Thursday, prosecutors showed the jury a graphic photo of Alexander's face and body where he was found.

Earlier, the prosecution introduced emails between the couple. On cross-examination, a defense lawyer asked Flores whether Alexander referred to Arias in those emails with a crude sexual term as well as other insulting words.

"Do you recall her saying he had said several mean things to her?" defense lawyer Kirk Nurmi asked.

"Yes," Flores answered.

Nurmi asked if Alexander referred to Arias "as a slut." "Yes," the detective said.

"As a whore?" the lawyer asked. "Yes," he replied.

Bags of evidence from Alexander's apartment were displayed in court Thursday, including a men's T-shirt soaked in blood that was held up for the jury to see.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez provided jurors with a look inside Alexander's home, presenting pictures of the garage, laundry room, hallway and where Alexander kept his punching bag in his bedroom.

Appearing in court Wednesday as the trial opened, Arias cried through much of the opening arguments. Prosecutor Juan Martinez told the court that it's clear that Arias murdered Alexander.

"This is not a case of whodunit," he said. "The whodunit sits in court today."

Prosecutors told the jury Wednesday that Alexander was a devout Mormon who was seduced and then stalked by Arias, and killed by her in a jealous rage when she learned he was dating other women.

The couple only dated a few months after meeting in 2006 at a work convention in Las Vegas. They broke up in June 2007 but continued a sexual relationship that continued until the day of the crime.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan032013

Girl Dies from New Year's Gunfire, Home Robbed During Hospital Vigil

Hemera/Thinkstock(ELKTON, Md.) -- A 10-year-old girl struck in the head by a stray bullet fired during a New Year's Eve celebration died Thursday morning as her family learned their home was robbed of its Christmas presents as they kept vigil over the little girl in a hospital.

Aaliyah Boyer, 10, from Lancaster County, Penn., was visiting family in Elkton, Md., when just after midnight on New Year's Eve, while watching fireworks, she was struck by a bullet, said Michael Holmes, a spokesman for the Cecil County Sheriff's Office.

"The wound in her head was caused by celebratory gunfire," Holmes told ABC News.

As the girl's family stayed at her bedside, thieves robbed the family's Maryland home, stealing Christmas presents, Aaliyah's mother told ABC News affiliate WPVI-TV. She also warned against scam Facebook accounts that have been set up to raise money off their loss.

Thursday morning the family agreed to donate Aaliyah's organs, WPVI reported. A 3-year-old girl who was in the same hospital is receiving Aaliyah's heart. Her lungs and liver were also donated, the station reported.

Police said a homicide investigation is under way in Maryland.

Cops are "searching door to door looking for information as well as searching those homes with known firearms," Holmes said.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan032013

Thieves Caught on Camera Stealing ATM Machine

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Police in Houston are on the lookout for a trio of men who decided to take a go-big-or-go-home approach to stealing cash. The men stole an entire ATM from a local food store in southwest Houston, breaking through the shop’s glass windows and bars and loading the machine onto their truck.

Police discovered the ATM theft around 3 a.m. Wednesday morning after responding to an alarm at the Super Way Food Store.  The store’s windows were smashed and there was a hole where the ATM had been bolted to the floor.

“It was a mess,” store clerk Linh Nguyen told ABC News.  “All the shelves had been pushed all the way back.  Everything was fallen on the ground.  There was broken glass and broken gates.”

The store’s surveillance cameras captured the theft, which reportedly took less than two minutes.  A witness also told police that he saw three male suspects pull up in a green Ford F-250 pickup, according to local ABC affiliate KTRK.

The men fled the scene.

The shop is now re-open for business.

Houston police have not responded to a request for comment.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan032013

ICE Agents Arrest 245 Alleged Pedophiles; 44 Children Rescued

ICE(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents announced Thursday they have rescued 44 children from sexual abuse as part of a child pornography investigation that netted 245 arrests over five weeks late last year.

Agents have identified an additional 79 individuals who have been abused as children including 24 victims who now may be adults and are seeking the public's help to identify individuals who are alleged to be sexually abusing young children, with the images posted on the Internet.

"Many times, our investigations into people who possess and trade child pornography reveal new material that points to the ongoing sexual abuse of children. In these cases, our primary objective is to rescue the victim from their horrific situation. And our next step is to arrest and seek prosecution for their abusers," said ICE Director John Morton in a statement.

Among those arrested: Bradley Vaine from Fresno, Calif., who was allegedly abusing a 7-year-old girl who suffered from mental disabilities. Also arrested was Samuel Gueydan from Clovis, Calif., who allegedly had more than 1.2 million images and 7,000 videos of child pornography on his computer, ICE said.

The investigation was dubbed "Operation Sunflower" to commemorate the anniversary of a case where agents discovered evidence that a child was in imminent danger of being raped by a relative. According to ICE, the tip initially came from Dutch investigators who found Internet postings suggesting the girl was in imminent danger.

Investigators turned up an image of the girl taken in a moving vehicle. The image held a critical clue -- a road sign in the background containing an image of a sunflower. A sharp-eyed agent discovered the sunflower emblem was unique to road signs in Kansas. ICE agents spent several days combing Kansas highways to find the exact spot where the photo was taken. Eventually they traced the location, which led them to the girl, sparing her from being further victimized, the agency said.

As part of "Operation Sunflower" agents have sought a Jane and John Doe warrant for an unknown man and woman who are depicted in a video sexually abusing a young girl who appears to be 13 years old. Agents, who believe the video is about 11 years old, said they want to solve the case to identify the abusers. Jane Doe is believed to be 35 to 45 years old in the video, which depicts her with several tattoos including a butterfly on her right hip and a blade tattoo on her right shoulder along with a curled up cat. Based on forensic analysis, agents believe the abuse occurred in the Los Angeles area, ICE said.

Agents said they are also seeking an unidentified white male with gray and white hair, a full beard and wearing wire-framed eyeglasses, who was sexually abusing a toddler in Internet images. A second suspect being sought by Homeland Security Investigations agents out of Portland, Ore., is a white male with a tattoo on his right tricep who was allegedly sexually abusing a young male child.

ICE's efforts in recent months to identify unknown abusers led to agents arresting two suspects who were allegedly molesting young girls on the internet. Last September, Michael Serapis Freeman and Michelle Lee Freeman turned themselves in to local police in Oregon after a media campaign resulted in tips identifying Michelle Freeman as the Jane Doe suspect.

Last month Corrine Danielle Motley of Okaloosa County, Fla., was arrested and charged with the production and distribution of child pornography. Motley, 25, was arrested by the Northwest Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force members and Homeland Security Investigations special agents.

Calls to the suspects named in this story and emails to their lawyers weren't immediately returned.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan032013

Teen Drugs Parents’ Milkshakes for More Internet Access?

Comstock/Thinkstock(ROCKLIN, Calif.) -- A California teenager unhappy with her parents’ Internet access rules is accused of drugging milkshakes for her parents in order to put them to sleep, according to police.

The parents, who have not been identified, do not allow their daughter to access any wireless Internet at home after 10 p.m. every night.

“The daughter didn’t think that was a good idea,” Rocklin Police Lt. Lon Milka told ABC News. Rocklin is a city about 25 miles northeast of Sacramento.

On Dec. 28, the teen and her friend got milkshakes for the parents and “secretly” put the friend’s prescription sleeping medicine into the drinks, police said.

“They only had about a quarter of the shake because it tasted really funny and had a gritty feel to it,” Milka said. But it was enough to affect them and they fell asleep within the hour. The teens were free to use the Internet.

The parents woke up around 1 a.m., feeling “hangover-like” symptoms of grogginess and headaches so they went back to sleep. They had not consumed any alcohol or drugs, Milka said.

The next morning, they suspected they had been drugged and headed to the police station where they bought $5 drug tests.

“Usually, parents buy to see if their kids are using illegal drugs, but these parents used it on themselves,” Milka said. The parents said the drug tests were positive and reported the teens to the police.

Both teens were arrested on charges of willfully mingling a pharmaceutical into food and conspiracy and were booked into Placer County Juvenile Hall on Dec. 31.

The 15-year-old and 16-year-old are not being identified since they are minors.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan032013

Sandy Hook Parents Shadow Students on Return to School

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Parents in Newtown, Conn., put their children on school buses Thursday morning and waved goodbye as the yellow buses rolled away.  But this first day back since the pre-Christmas massacre is anything but normal for the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Erin Milgram, the mother of a first grader and a fourth grader at Sandy Hook, told ABC's Good Morning America that she was going to drive behind the bus and stay with her 7-year-old Lauren for the entire school day.

"I haven't gotten that far yet, about not being with them," Milgram said.  "I just need to stay with them for a while."

Thursday is "Opening Day" for Sandy Hook Elementary School, which is re-opening about six miles away in the former Chalk Hill school in Monroe, Conn.

Lauren was in teacher Kaitlin Roig's first grade class on Dec. 14 when gunman Adam Lanza forced his way into the school and killed 20 students and six staffers.

Roig has been hailed a hero for barricading her students in a classroom bathroom and refusing to open the door until authorities could find a key to open the door.

The 20 students killed were first-graders and the Milgrams have struggled to explain to Lauren why so many of her friends will never return to school.

"She knows her friends and she'll also see on the bus... there will be some missing on the bus," Milgram said.  "We look at yearbook pictures.  We try to focus on the happy times because we really don't know what we're doing."

"How could someone be so angry?" Lauren's father Eric Milgram wondered before a long pause.  "We don't know."

The school has a lecture room available for parents to stay as long as they wish and they are also allowed to accompany their children to the classroom to help them adjust.  Counselors will be available throughout the day for parents, staff and students, according to the school's website.

The first few days will be a delicate balancing act between assessing the children's needs and trying to get them back to a normal routine.

"We don't want to avoid memories of a trauma," Dr. Jamie Howard told Good Morning America.  "And so by getting back to school and by engaging in your routines, we're helping kids to do that, we're helping them to have a natural, healthy recovery to a trauma."

Security is paramount in everyone's mind.  There is a police presence on campus and drivers of every vehicle that comes onto campus are being interviewed.

"Our goal is to make it a safe and secure learning environment for these kids to return to, and the teachers also," Monroe police Lt. Keith White said at a news conference on Wednesday.

A "state-of-the-art" security system is in place, but authorities will not go into detail about the system, saying only that the school will probably be "the safest school in America."

Every adult in the school who is not immediately recognizable will be required to wear a badge as identification, parent and school volunteer Karen Dryer told ABC News.

"They want to know exactly who you are at sight, whether or not you should be there," Dryer said.

Despite the precautions and preparations, parents will still be coping with the anxiety of parting with their children.

"Rationally, something like this is a very improbable event, but that still doesn't change the emotional side of the way you feel," Eric Milgram said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan032013

Caught on Video: Robbers Break Into NC Home

ABC(DURHAM, N.C.) -- Home break-ins are all too frequent over the holidays, and the burglars often get away. But a North Carolina couple robbed while away on Christmas vacation is hoping their own detective work can crack the case.

After home surveillance video caught three men allegedly breaking in and robbing their Durham, N.C., home, Matt and Beth Robinson posted the video of the robbery on YouTube in hopes that the footage would help bring the crooks to justice.

“We moved here about five years ago and I put in a two camera system for the front and back doors because I work from home. It sounds strange to some people, but it’s not that expensive,” Matt Robinson said. “We can check the cameras on our cell phone. We can do stuff like that and we noticed that they weren’t working. [Beth's] dad called and said someone broke into your house,” Robinson said.

The video, published on YouTube on Dec. 31, just two days after the couple said the robbery took place, has since gone viral with more than 350,000 views.

In the surveillance video, one man was captured ringing the front door while two others sneaked through the back by kicking through the door on Dec. 29 at 8:30 p.m., according to the timestamp.

One of the men searched the living room and he appeared to be trying to lift the TV off of the wall but had no luck. He then turned his attention to cabinets and other drawers in the living room before peeking out the window to make sure the coast was clear.

“When they entered the home they did not notice the cameras. But they did manage to find this one eventually and cut it,” Robinson said.

Robinson said the men poured bleach all over the family’s computers hoping to disable the surveillance system, but it was already too late.

Robinson said the men stole an iPod, X-Box, a Netflix box and some cash.

The Robinsons say they hope the video will lead to an arrest.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio