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Monday
Nov042013

Colorado Kidnap Suspect Told Girl to ‘Give Him a Hug’

Aurora Police Dept(AURORA, Colo.) -- The man who allegedly kidnapped an 8-year-old girl through her Aurora, Colo., bedroom window told her to “give him a hug” as she struggled to keep him from coming inside, according to a newly released arrest affidavit.

The girl, who escaped a few minutes later by yelling and pinching the suspect, told police she saw the man take off the screen to her bedroom window.

“She told him, ‘I can’t talk to strangers,’” police said in the affidavit released Monday.

“He told me to give him a hug and I was trying to close the window but I couldn’t,” the girl told investigators.

John Stanley Snorsky, 26, is in custody facing charges of first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary and second-degree kidnapping. He has not entered a plea.

DNA found on the girl’s clothing matched a DNA sample obtained from Snorsky, the affidavit says.

Aurora police responded to a 911 call just after midnight Oct. 28 reporting that someone had cut through a screen and opened a window into the girl’s bedroom.

The girl’s mother, Rebecca Ramirez, told police she heard a noise that “sounded like someone stepping on and breaking a stick” outside of her window. Ramirez looked outside and didn’t see anyone, the affidavit says, but then heard her daughter start to yell, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy” multiple times from outside.

The girl’s father, Ivan Juarez, came running to his daughter’s bedroom. He could hear her yelling for him outside, the document says, and he jumped through the bedroom window and ran toward an alley behind the house to find her.

As he ran, the girl came walking toward him. At that point, Juarez told police he saw a silver-colored newer model car, possibly a BMW, speeding away down the alley.

Snorsky, on parole after a 2004 burglary conviction, was arrested the day after the kidnapping on an unrelated parole violation. Police allege that in September, Snorsky stole $14,000 in cash and $43,000 worth of jewelry, coins and artwork in September from his roommate and then tried to sell it at pawn shops around the Denver area.

After he was arrested in the earlier case, police began to suspect he might have been the kidnapper when they noticed clothing in his residence that matched the description of the kidnapper’s, according to the affidavit.

While in custody, Snorsky told detectives that he drives a silver Mercedes-Benz, the affidavit says.

During an interview with investigators, Snorsky said he had been in Denver for a concert earlier in the evening with friends but then drove home by himself. Snorsky said he did not stop anywhere on the way home, the affidavit says.

When asked what he knew about the kidnapping, “he said he did not watch the news and did not know what was going on,” police wrote in the affidavit.

Kidnappings by strangers are rare, occurring about 115 times a year nationwide, according to statistics from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Experts say most such abductions take place as a child is walking to or from school.

More than 200,000 children are abducted annually by family members, according to the center.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov042013

Police Respond to Reports of Gunfire at NJ Shopping Mall

WABC-TV(NEW YORK) -- New Jersey police responded Monday night to an "active shooter" alert after shots were fired at the Garden State Plaza Mall at about 9 p.m., authorities say.

The mall was evacuated and a Bergen County spokeswoman confirmed that SWAT teams responded to the area around Nordstrom at the mall in Paramus, N.J., about 25 miles west of New York City.

County spokeswoman Jeanne Baratta said the first call came in shortly after 9 p.m. EST: "Gunman inside the mall."

"I saw like 20 police officers running with what looked like machine guns, just running into the mall," an unidentified witness told ABC News Radio.

There have been no reported injuries at this time.

Initial reports from authorities that responded to the scene had witnesses describing a potential shooter wearing tactical gear, with a backpack and wearing a helmet, a federal law enforcement source told ABC News.

Several mall employees ran to the Chili's Grill & Bar. A Chili's employee who identified himself only as Sean told ABC News that about 30 patrons and employees are holed up in the restaurant, which is about 100 yards from the mall.

One mall employee reported hearing shots fired. Police had asked people at the restaurant to stay where they are and lock down.

The Garden State Plaza Mall features more than 300 retail stores including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov042013

LAX Shooter’s Family ‘Shocked and Numbed’

FBI/ABC News(PENNSVILLE, N.J.) -- The family of Paul Ciancia, the 23-year-old who allegedly walked into Los Angeles International Airport Friday and opened fire on Transportation Security Administration officers, said on Monday they are “shocked and numbed” by what their son did.

Ciancia family attorney John Jordan said at a press conference Monday that the family is cooperating with authorities in order to fully understand what happened.

“Paul is our son and brother. We will continue to love him and care for him,” the attorney said on the family’s behalf. “We hope the public will understand this is difficult time for our family too. The Ciancia family and their friends and neighbors need time to heal, so we ask that you please respect our privacy.”

Ciancia is accused of walking into the airport’s Terminal 3 around 9 a.m. Friday and opening fire with a rifle, killing one TSA official and injuring others. He was shot by airport police and is being held at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center under heavy sedation.

Jordan spoke outside of the Pennsville, N.J., police station in the town where Ciancia grew up and lived with his family. Jordan said the Ciancias wanted to extend their sympathies to the family of Gerardo L. Hernandez, the TSA officer who was killed.

Two other TSA officers, James Speer, 54, and Tony Grigsby, 36, were wounded. A teacher named Brian Ludmer was also struck by a bullet and remains hospitalized.

“They wish to convey their hopes that those wounded recover,” Jordan added.

The suspect was described as a loner by those who went with him to Salesianum High School, a private, Catholic all-boys school in Delaware. After graduating from there, Ciancia attended a motorcycle maintenance school in Orlando, Fla., and then moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a repairman.

A note he carried with him to LAX Friday expressed his anti-government views.

Federal prosecutors charged Ciancia with murder of a federal officer and commission of violence at an international airport. Both charges are potentially punishable by life in prison or the death penalty.

Police believe he acted alone.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov042013

Mississippi Family Vanishes After Car Wreck

Copiah County Sheriff's Department(HERMANVILLE, Miss.) -- Authorities are searching for a Mississippi family who vanished without a trace after a car accident over the weekend.

Although the family's abandoned, overturned SUV was found upside down in a ditch in Hermanville, Miss., Saturday morning, Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones told ABC News that the family was nowhere to be found.

Atira Hill, 30, her 7-year-old son, Jaidon, and her husband, Laterry Smith, 34, were last seen driving in their car on Friday, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said in a statement.

Copiah County sheriff's deputies received a call about a car on fire in a rural area at approximately 7:10 a.m. Saturday, Jones said.

When they arrived on the scene, they found a smoldering, tan Dodge SUV turned over in a ditch off the side of a road where there appeared to have been an accident.

"The car was smoking with nobody around it," Jones said.  "The sunroof was broken because [the car] was lying on its top and the left front fender had been damaged."

Initially, law enforcement officials believed the owners possibly set the SUV on fire so they wouldn't have to make car payments, Jones said.

"A lot of times people, when they want to do away with their vehicles, take them to the western part of Copiah County and set them on fire," he said. "This was not the case."

Investigators ran the plates on the car and learned who it was registered to and then called the family's relatives.

"We found out there were supposed to be three people in this vehicle," Jones said, but he declined to comment further on what he learned from family members.

Officials searched the wooded area around the car as well as local hospitals, but there have been no signs of the boy, his mother and stepfather.

"We have no idea where these people are," he said. "We have some people we need to talk to, but we can't find them."

Jones declined to comment on who investigators were hoping to speak with, but said they were continuing to follow any leads.

A spokeswoman from the FBI's Jackson Division, which is assisting in the investigation, declined to comment to ABC News.

According to her Facebook page, Atira Hill works as a nursing assistant at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Matt Westerfield, a spokesman for the hospital, told ABC News that an Atira Hill-Smith worked at the hospital.  She did not show up for work on Monday, he said.

She is not a patient at the hospital, Westerfield said.

Jaidon Hill is 3 feet tall and weighs 44 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes. Atira Hill is 5 feet tall, weighs 148 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes. Laterry Smith is 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighs 180 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Anyone with information about their whereabouts should contact the Copiah County Sheriff's Department.

ABC News' attempts to contact Hill and Smith's family members were not immediately successful.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov042013

Kidnap Survivor Michelle Knight Was Hung Like ‘Ornament on the Wall’

Cuyahoga County Jail(NEW YORK) -- Michelle Knight, one of three Cleveland women who survived a decade of imprisonment and torture, was tied by her hands, feet and neck and hung on the wall by her captor, she told Dr. Phil McGraw in an interview airing this week.

In a clip released on Monday, McGraw asked Knight what captor Ariel Castro used to tie her up once he had abducted her.

“One of those orange extension cords,” Knight said.  “I was tied up like a fish, an ornament on the wall.  That’s the only way I can describe it.  I was hanging like this [she motioned]…my feet and I was tied by my neck and my arms with the extension cord.”

Knight will be the first of the three women to publicly tell her story with a two-part appearance on the Dr. Phil show, which will air on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Amanda Berry, 27, and Gina DeJesus, 23, announced a book contract in October, but Knight, 32, declined to be part of the deal.

“Three women were taken, three women were rescued, but only two went home,” McGraw said in a news release, alluding to Knight’s refusal to reunite with her family after the women escaped.

“Knight recalls the day-to-day details of her decade in captivity in a manner that can be described as passionate, moving and poignant,” a news release from the Dr. Phil show said.  “She is the self-proclaimed most hated victim in the house, and according to Knight, suffered the most abuse at the hands of Castro.”

Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts of rape, kidnapping, torture and aggravated murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 1,000 years by an Ohio Judge on Aug 1.  He was found dead in his jail cell on Sept. 3.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov042013

NYU Student Hospitalized After Stuck Between Buildings for Two Days

ABC News | @FDNY/Twitter(NEW YORK) -- A New York University student is recovering in the hospital Monday after being rescued from between two buildings where he may have been trapped for up to two days.

Firefighters arrived shortly after 5 p.m. on Sunday and had to breach a concrete wall to get to Asher Vongtau, 19, who was wedged in a coffin-sized space between a 17-story NYU dormitory building and a parking garage in lower Manhattan.

"We had an unconscious male stuck in between two buildings," an FDNY spokesman told ABC News. "We had to breach a wall to gain access to get him out.  We had him in serious condition and he was rushed to Bellevue Hospital."

Vongtau was stuck at the ground floor, the FDNY said. The rescue took about an hour-and-a-half. It is unclear how he got stuck between the two buildings. Officials believe he may have been trapped for up to two days, according to ABC News' New York station WABC-TV.

NYU did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Friends told WABC that they reported him missing after a fire alarm drill.  When they called authorities to file a missing persons report, they were also told to check the roof of the building.

"We went door-to-door asking people what they knew about him and one person told us that the last that they'd seen, he was headed up the stairs," Vongtau's friend, Michael Yablon, told WABC.

Yablon said the friends went to security and told them they needed to check the roof. He said Vongtau's cellphone was found on the roof and that led to finding him.

"Had we not told the security guards -- the three of us 19-year-old students -- to check the roof, they would not have found him for who knows how long and he would probably be dead right now," Yablon said.

Vongtau is in serious but stable condition at Bellevue Hospital, according to WABC.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov042013

Cops: Truck Driver Was on Facebook at Time of Fatal Crash

Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images(YUMA, Ariz.) -- The trucker who crashed his semi into parked emergency vehicles on an Arizona highway was looking at photos of scantily clad women on Facebook at the time of the crash, according to investigators who examined dashcam video of the incident.

Arizona Department of Public Safety officer Tim Huffman was killed on May 6 when Juan Espinoza drove his empty fuel tanker down Interstate 8 highway at 65 miles an hour and plowed into three police cars and two fire trucks that were responding to a roadside accident.

Video of the incident shows Espinoza at the wheel of the 18-wheeler at 5 p.m., but his wallet was blocking the view of the dash camera that was pointed at him. According to documents from the investigation, police say the 33-year-old trucker intentionally placed his wallet there to block the camera while he was "looking at or manipulating his phone."

Moments before the impact, another police officer was frantically waving his arms in an effort to get the truck driver's attention before jumping out of the truck's path, witnesses said.

Espinoza now faces 20 felony charges, including second-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty, and was released on $200,000 bond.

The Arizona Republic newspaper obtained hundreds of documents from the investigation and the dash-cam video on Friday.

Jaron Millner of the Tacna Fire Department said in his witness statement that the truck tossed cars around "like they were toys," according to the newspaper.

Millner had just loaded patients into an ambulance. He described the crash as "the loudest, craziest banging commotion I've ever heard," the newspaper said.

When he was initially questioned by police, Espinoza said he'd looked away from the road at a passing truck, but the video of the crash doesn't appear to show a truck passing at that time.

At the moment of impact, Espinoza's white cell phone can be seen flying into the air.

Espinoza returns to court in December.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov042013

LAX Suspect Paul Ciancia Was a Loner, Former Classmates Say

(LOS ANGELES) -- The 23-year-old suspect charged in the deadly shooting at Los Angeles International Airport was described as a loner by former classmates at his private, all-boys school in Delaware.

"He was kind of a shy guy. He always kept to himself, was always walking around by himself. Didn't really talk to anybody at all," former classmate Jeff Skidmore said of alleged shooter Paul Ciancia.

Ciancia graduated in 2008 from Salesianum School, a Roman Catholic school, in Wilmington, Del.

"Everybody in our senior class talked. There were few people that kept to themselves, and he was definitely one of them," Skidmore added.

Ciancia, who was shot by airport police, is under heavy sedation and monitoring at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. He was dropped off at LAX Friday by a roommate who did not know what was about to happen, according to an official briefed on the case.

"He said he needed a ride to the airport to catch a flight, so he dropped him off," the roommate told ABC News.

The roommate is one of three who investigators have questioned. None of them were aware of Ciancia's intentions.

After Ciancia was dropped off, officials said he shot a Transportation Security Administration officer, Gerardo I. Hernandez, at point-blank range, left the scene and then returned to shoot him again after Hernandez was seen moving on a surveillance video. Hernandez later died. Ciancia is also accused of shooting two other TSA employees and a civilian.

Federal prosecutors charged Ciancia with murder of a federal officer and commission of violence at an international airport. Both charges are potentially punishable by life in prison or the death penalty.

Ciancia graduated in December 2011 from the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Orlando, Fla., according to the school, before he eventually made his way to Los Angeles.

Ciancia once lived at the Rancho Los Feliz Apartments with former roommate John Mincey, who said he saw the suspect just last week.

"He said he was going back to New Jersey, going to work for his dad, making amends with family problems and spending the holidays with his family," Mincey told ABC News station KABC-TV.

Mincey said he was a roommate with Ciancia until last February.

"I mean I didn't have any issues with him or anything. He was a really nice guy. A bit of a loner, introverted," Mincey said.

The suspected gunman grew up in the blue-collar town of Pennsville, N.J., where his family still resides. Ciancia's father called Pennsville Police Chief Allen Cummings after he learned of his son's alleged role in the shooting.

"He called me and said, 'AJ, is this my son I'm seeing on TV? At the shooting at the airport?' And I said, 'Paul, I don't know. I just heard from a reporter the same thing," Cummings told ABC News Sunday night.

The other two TSA officers wounded in the attack have been released from the hospital. On Sunday, the TSA identified them as James Speer, 54, and Tony Grigsby, 36.

It wasn't clear why Ciancia targeted TSA officers, but what he left behind indicated he was willing to kill any of them that crossed his path, authorities said.

The shooter's duffel bag contained a handwritten letter signed by Ciancia stating he'd "made the conscious decision to try to kill" multiple TSA employees and that he wanted to "instill fear in their traitorous minds," FBI Agent in Charge David L. Bowdich said Saturday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov042013

Bride Accused of Pushing Husband Off Cliff Wanted 'Cops Out of It'

DEA / G.SIOEN/De Agostini/Getty Images(KALISPELL, Mont.) -- A Montana newlywed accused of pushing her husband from a cliff to his death told Glacier National Park rangers where the body was, believing that having the search called off would keep police out of the case, according to newly unsealed court documents.

Prosecutors allege Jordan Graham, 22, pushed Cody Johnson, 25, face first off a cliff July 7, eight days after their wedding. Graham is charged with murder and making a false statement. She has pleaded not guilty and is free on bail.

Investigators say Graham tried to cover up the crime in the days after Johnson was killed by telling authorities he disappeared after going on a joyride with friends.

With Graham's murder trial set to begin Dec. 9, federal prosecutors are busy building their case against her. The documents were unsealed by a judge's order last week and one of Graham's friends told investigators she went back to the park to search for Johnson's body herself days after he died.

The young bride told her friend, "I don't care if they question me. I want the body found and the cops out of it," according to court documents.

"In her mind she's believing if she can get the police out of the case, in other words the body's found it's determined an accident, case is closed, she's home," former FBI agent and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett said.

The records also describe an email addressed to Graham from someone named "Tony." The email urged an end to the police search on July 10, three days after Johnson had died.

"Cody got out of the car and went for a little hike and they are positive he fell and he is dead, Jordan. I don't know who the guys were but they took off. So call off the missing person report. Cody is gone for sure," the email stated.

Investigators say the email was part of Graham's fraud and it was later traced to an account using a computer registered to the bride's father.

Graham's attorney says Johnson fell by accident during an argument with her that got physical.

Graham told FBI agents that she and Johnson were arguing on July 7 while walking in Glacier National Park near their home in Kalispell, Mont., when he grabbed her arm, according to an affidavit.

"She could have just walked away, but due to her anger, she pushed Johnson with both hands in the back and as a result, he fell face first off the cliff," the affidavit claims she admitted to investigators.

Charging documents in the case revealed that Graham told a friend that she was having second thoughts about the marriage, and that she said that she wanted to talk about her issues with Johnson the night he died.

Johnson was reported missing on July 8, after he failed to show up at work.

When interviewed by authorities the following day on July 9, Graham claimed that she saw "a dark-colored car pulling out of the driveway" after receiving a text from her husband saying he was heading out with a friend from out of town, according to the affidavit.

Graham reported the discovery of Johnson's body to a park ranger on July 11, according to the affidavit. When the park ranger commented that it was unusual that she was the one to make the discovery, Graham allegedly said, "It was a place he wanted to see before he died."

Police had to use a helicopter to retrieve Johnson's body from the steep cliffs below the park's Loop Trail. His body was recovered on July 12.

When interviewed by authorities on July 18, Graham admitted that she had lied about the death of her husband and provided false statements.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov042013

Police: LAX Shooting Suspect Returned to Victim and Shot Him Again

(LOS ANGELES) -- Authorities say the suspect in last Friday’s shooting at Los Angeles International Airport returned to one of his victims after he saw him moving and shot him again.

In a federal complaint filed Saturday night against Paul Ciancia, the alleged shooter in Friday's incident that left one dead and several more injured, investigators say Ciancia shot TSA employee Gerardo Hernandez at point-blank range and then preceded up an escalator.  According to the complaint, when Ciancia looked back and saw Hernandez moving, he walked back towards the wounded man and shot him again. The victim died.

Two other uniformed officers were shot and one civilian suffered gunshot wounds, according to the federal complaint.

The civilian has been identified as high school teacher Brian Ludner. Las Virgenes School Superintendent Dan Stepenosky says Ludner was shot in the lower part of his right leg, shattering the bones. He's scheduled for surgery Monday.

Ciancia allegedly had a Smith and Wesson .223 caliber M&P-15 assault rifle with him during the shooting.

The complaint also provided more information regarding the note that Ciancia reportedly left behind. In the note, Ciancia said he "made the conscious decision to try and kill" TSA employees.

Ciancia's note apparently went on to address TSA employees, saying that he was aiming to "instill fear in your traitorous minds."

Ciancia was shot four times by police and remains hospitalized and unresponsive after a gunshot wound to the face. He has been charged with murder.

The shooting began around 9:20 a.m. PST on Friday at LAX's usually crowded Terminal 3, and sent hundreds of passengers streaming out of the terminal, with many fleeing onto the airport runway.

A source briefed on the case tells ABC News that Ciancia was dropped off at LAX by a roommate who did not know what was about to unfold. According to the source, Ciancia had told the roommate he needed a ride to the airport to catch a flight. The roommate is one of three who have been questioned by investigators. None of the roommates were aware of Ciancia's intentions.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







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