SEARCH

Tuesday
Sep242013

Death Toll in Colorado Floods Rises to Eight

RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images(FORT COLLINS, Colo.) -- An eighth person has been confirmed dead as a result of the flooding that has destroyed homes and wiped out roads in Colorado.

After days of searching, the Larimer County Sheriff's Office announced on Monday that the body of an unidentified female was found Saturday along the raging Big Thompson River.  

The body is believed to be that of a 79-year-old  woman who was washed away in the flooding when her home ripped apart. She had been listed as missing.

Several dozen people still remain unaccounted for, according to the Colorado Office of Emergency Management.

The floodwaters have damaged more than 16,000 homes and nearly 2,000 others have been destroyed.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep232013

Georgia Family Donates Cancelled Wedding's Reception to Homeless

Alvin Evans(ATLANTA) -- When Willie and Carol Fowler's only daughter cancelled her wedding 40 days before she was set to walk down the aisle, the parents were faced with a venue, food and entertainment that had all been paid for.

But instead of canceling everything and losing their deposits, they decided to change the guest list -- to 200 homeless people.

"We went home that evening and my husband woke up the next morning and I was in the process of canceling out the venue and he said, 'No, what we'll do is donate it to Hosea Feed the Hungry,'" Carol Fowler told ABC News Monday.

"It was a vision," Fowler said of her husband's idea. "He said he had prayed on it during the night and God had directed him and that's what we were going to do."

The Fowlers called Hosea Feed the Hungry, an organization that their daughter had volunteered for when she was younger. It is a nonprofit organization in Atlanta, Ga., that provides homeless individuals with services and resources.

"When they first called, the administration thought it was a prank call because it was too good to be true," Quisa Foster of Hosea Feed the Hungry said. "It's a very creme de la creme wedding venue, so to say that you're going to host 200 homeless individuals at Villa Christina -- it sounds like a prank call."

The Fowlers persisted and eventually had a meeting with the organization to prove their good intentions and plan the event.

On Sept. 15, buses transported 200 homeless women, children and families to Villa Christina for the event. It began at 2 p.m. with outdoor appetizers and space for the children to run and play.

The event then moved inside, where approximately 50 children had a room to themselves with face-painting, juggling and crowns.

"The children had chicken fingers, French fries, fresh fruit and chocolate chip cookies," Carol Fowler said. "The adults had salmon and chicken."

"All the plates were empty and there wasn't any leftover food at all. It was an eye-opening experience," Foster said. "You go to weddings sometimes and you see a lot of people really waste food. We take so many things for granted. These clients or guests, as we call them, they don't."

The day's "inspiration program" included a motivational speaker for the adults.

"When you look at the faces of the women and children and actually participated in the event, they look like you and me," Foster said. "These are working families that for whatever reason -- the recession, economic turn -- have found themselves in a place where they're without a place to live and starting over."

"It was a wonderful event. It brought tears to my eyes," she said.

The Fowlers were very involved in the whole event and enjoyed greeting all of their guests. Their daughter was also on hand for a day that was "bittersweet but rewarding" for her, Willie Fowler said. The family declined to comment on why the wedding had been cancelled.

"There is no way to explain how it makes you feel, but it's wonderful," Willie Fowler said of seeing the joy at the event.

"It's just that wonderful, rewarding feeling," Carol Fowler said. "If we could just inspire one youth in that crowd to rise above the situation today and be a very responsible member of society tomorrow, that would be extremely rewarding."

The Fowlers are hoping to make the affair a yearly event that will be two days and incorporate educational elements for the participants.

They pointed out that events are cancelled all the time and encouraged others to think about donating.

"If you have cancelled an event, do not walk away. Pick up the phone and call your favorite charity and offer it to them," Carol Fowler said. "We're regular, working people and anybody can do this. This is not star stuff."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep232013

‘Anti-Social’ Gorilla Gets a Fresh Start in a New Home

Patrick, a 430-pound silverback gorilla, sits in the Dallas Zoo on June 18, 2013. (Courtesy of the Dallas Zoo)(DALLAS) -- A silverback gorilla at the Dallas Zoo who got a reputation for being “anti-social” is getting a chance to start with a clean slate, thanks to some caring zookeepers who scouted a new home for him.

Patrick, a 23-year-old gorilla who spent the last 18 years of his mostly solitary life in Dallas, is moving this October to the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, S.C., officials said.

Patrick, who was born at the Bronx Zoo in 1990 and was abandoned by his mother, has had a difficult time developing solid relationships with other gorillas, though he gets along well with his handlers, zoo officials said.

While the 430-pound gorilla is not a threat, he behaves with indifference towards other gorillas, especially females, according to Dallas Zoo supervisor Keith Zdrojewski. Patrick interacts better with humans and maintains great relationships with them, he said.

“He tries to get the keepers to chase him around,” Zdrojewski said. “He’s one of the best trained gorillas we’ve ever seen. He enjoys the interaction, he enjoys it very much.”

When Patrick observes other gorillas from behind a screen, he responds positively since it reduces his stress, Zdrojewski said. “There’s something about being with gorillas in the same room that’s a problem,” he said.

John Davis, curator of mammals at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, said that Patrick’s transition to a new environment should not be problematic for the gorilla.

“Gorillas, like people, are all different,” Davis said. “We put them in what is evaluated as the best social context and facilities for them. The process of accepting Patrick is not uncommon [in] moving gorillas.”

Staff members from the Dallas Zoo will accompany Patrick during the transfer so that he is comforted by familiar faces, Davis said. Once Patrick arrives at his new habitat, he will be tested and evaluated to ensure that he adapts positively.

“We will only expose Patrick to new changes in his environment based on the rate at what he can handle and what he’s comfortable with,” David said. “Staff members will expose him to the other gorillas in a controlled dose.”

Kristen Lukas, chair of the Gorillas Species Survival Plan for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, said that determining gorilla psychology is more difficult than assessing human psychology. Patrick’s behavior issues are believed to be a result of his early experiences.

“Gorillas who have experienced long periods of hand-rearing or time spent with humans in the past can have more difficult time socializing with other gorillas as adults,” she said.

Several zoos worked together during the last few years to help plan Patrick’s move, Lukas said. The decision to move Patrick to Riverbanks Zoo and Garden was made in the interest of improving his ability for success.

“We try very hard not to label a gorilla as difficult,” she said. “I would never label him as difficult, just a gorilla that needs a different opportunity to be his best self.”

The Dallas Zoo will host a “We’ll Miss Ya, Patrick” celebration for Patrick on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 28 and 29.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep232013

Retrial Hearing Set for Arizona Mom Freed from Death Row

Arizona Department of Corrections(PHOENIX) -- Attorneys are scheduled to return to court on Monday to discuss the retrial of an Arizona mother who was released from prison earlier this month after her conviction was thrown out in the 1989 murder of her 4-year-old son.

Prosecutors and Debra Jean Milke's defense team are expected to discuss how to proceed with a retrial against the 49-year-old woman, decades after she was convicted and condemned to death row.

Milke was released on Sept. 6 on a $250,000 bond as she awaits the next phase of her legal process.

Her retrial is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 30.

In December 1989, according to prosecutors, Milke told her 4-year-old son, Christopher, that she was going to take him to see Santa Claus.  Instead, they said, Milke handed her son over to two men who took him into the Arizona desert and killed him so she could collect an insurance payout.

Prosecutors said Milke confessed to Phoenix Police Det. Armando Saldate. However, he said he failed to tape record it.

Milke denied that she ever confessed, but was found guilty and sentenced to death.

In March, a federal appeals court overturned her conviction because the prosecution did not disclose Saldate's history of misconduct, which included eight cases in which judges tossed out confessions, indictments and convictions because he lied under oath or violated suspects' rights during interrogations.

Roger Scott and James Styers, the two men who prosecutors claimed actually killed Milke's son, were convicted and remain on death row.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep232013

'House of Horrors' Abortion Doctor Defends His 'War Against Poverty'

WPVI(PHILADELPHIA) -- Kermit Gosnell, the former abortion doctor sentenced to life in prison for his role in three murders that took place at his Philadelphia clinic, has said that he performed hundreds of illegal abortions as "a soldier in a war against poverty."

Gosnell, 72, was found guilty in May on three counts of murder, one count of involuntary manslaughter, and many lesser counts relating to illegal late-term abortions performed at his West Philadelphia "house of horrors" clinic.

Among the crimes that outraged people was testimony that Gosnell killed infants born alive by snipping their spinal cords.

Philadelphia reporter Steve Volk, who spoke with Gosnell in exclusive interviews from prison where he is serving three life sentences, told ABC News that Gosnell is an "intelligent" and "charismatic" man who insists that he is not a "monster."

"He believes himself to be innocent...in this larger spiritual sense.  He believes he was performing a service for people that asked him," said Volt whose article "Gosnell's Babies" will appear in Philadelphia magazine on Tuesday. "He believes he was a soldier at war with poverty.  He has a sense of righteousness, that whatever rule he broke, it was worth it."

Volk, who covered Gosnell's trial and has been speaking and corresponding with him since he entered prison, said that the convicted killer sees abortion as sinful on some level, but a lesser sin than a child being born into a life of poverty.

"It's not as if he feels guilty about what he did. He sees the world is a dark place.  He sees himself as having performed a noble function in society. For him, in a perfect, idealized world, it wouldn't be necessary," Volk said.

Gosnell ran the Women's Medical Society in west Philadelphia for decades until February 2010, when FBI agents raided his clinic looking for evidence of prescription drug dealing.

Instead they found, as reported in a nearly 300-page grand jury report released in 2011, a filthy, decrepit "house of horrors." Blood was on the floor, the clinic reeked of urine and bags of fetal remains were stacked in freezers.  

The clinic was shut down and Gosnell's medical license was suspended after the raid. It was described by the grand jury as a "pill mill" for drug addicts by day and an "abortion mill" by night.

Prosecutors alleged that Gosnell killed seven babies born alive by severing their spinal cords with scissors, and that he was also responsible for the 2009 death of Karnamaya Mongar, a 41-year-old refugee from Bhutan. She died from a lethal dose of drugs at the clinic, the jury concluded.

Speaking with Volk about Mongar's death, Gosnell said that one death in 40 years of practice does not indicate a poor record.  He also said that he believes Mongar had been previously medicated before he saw her.

"He insists that she had some sort of drugs before the clinic," Volk said. "He thinks she had some sort of pain patch."

Volk says that Gosnell has had contact with his wife Pearl, who is serving seven to 23 months in prison for helping him perform illegal abortions, and that he has been in contact with his own children.

Calls placed to Gosnell's attorney by ABC News were not immediately returned.

While in jail, he has been reading the Bible, perfecting his Spanish, exercising and has been contacting charities, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative in attempts to be heard on issues like prison and justice reform.

"He believes that he gained insight into what it's like to be pushed into the system, without the capacity to explain himself," Volk said.  "He believes if he could have spoken about his rationale for doing things, he wouldn't be in jail...There is no anger, no desperation [in his voice.]  He believes he was in a war, and that 'they' won."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep232013

Okla. Mom Sets Online Trap to Catch Daughter’s Alleged Predator

Photodisc/Thinkstock(TULSA, Okla.) -- An Oklahoma mother launched her own "To Catch a Predator" sting operation, posing as her 11-year-old daughter on social media after the girl began receiving lascivious messages from a neighbor, police said.

Rafael Reyes, 46, was arrested last week and charged with one count each of molesting and making lewd statements to a minor, according to Tulsa Jail booking records.

Reyes is accused of contacting the girl via Facebook in an effort to arrange a meeting for sex and to ask for explicit photographs, according to ABC News affiliate KTUL-TV. Little did he know, however, that he was really communicating with the girl’s mother.

Reyes and the girl’s mother traded messages for a week between Sept. 11 and 19.

The girl told her mother that she had previously been molested by Reyes and that he once drank her urine, according KTUL.

Police said Reyes knew the family and previously lived with them. He allegedly tried to make contact with the girl twice last week, arriving at the family’s home only to be turned away by her mother.

His bond was set at $70,000. Authorities did not know if he had obtained a lawyer since being booked.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep232013

Vice President to Travel to Colorado to See Flood Damage

Official White House Photo by David Lienemann(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden and his wife will travel to Colorado on Monday to view damage caused by widespread flooding and oil spills.

President Obama has already declared Colorado a major disaster area and the potential for million of dollars in federal aid to help the state recover has prompted a visit from the vice president.

Last week's floods damaged more than 15,000 homes and killed at least eight people.

Already, more than $4 million in disaster grants have been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep232013

Firefighters Uncover Mysterious Plane Submerged in NC Lake

WSOC(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Firefighters on a training exercise in a North Carolina lake uncovered what appeared to be a small plane submerged nearly 100 feet below the water's surface.

Side-sonar imaging revealed the plane sunk in the deepest part of Lake Norman, near Cornelius, N.C., on Sept. 5, Charlotte Fire Department Capt. Robert Brisley told ABC News.

"Years ago, it took a hit or miss to find things or people [in the water]," Brisley said.  "This equipment allows us to identify points and images before we put divers deep into the water."

Members of the Charlotte Fire Department dive team went into the man-made lake to get a closer look, Brisley said. Diving down, they found a small, single-engine aircraft that sunk approximately 90 feet below the water's surface.

While the crew couldn't get the doors of the plane open, its search revealed there were no victims in the crash, Brisley said.

Charlotte Fire Department personnel then handed over information about the plane, including its tail number, to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA is searching through aircraft ownership records to determine the aircraft's last owner, it said in a statement.  It is not clear what type of plane it is or how it ended up in the lake.

Barbara Anderson, of Cornelius, believes the sunken aircraft might be hers, and contacted the FAA once news of the plane broke.

Anderson told ABC's Charlotte affiliate WSOC-TV that her plane had dropped down to the bottom of Lake Norman after flight instructors were using it for training more than 30 years ago.

"We got a phone call that said your plane has sunk," she said. "They landed, forgot to put the gear up to lock it up and she sunk."

While the pilots were unharmed, the plane was never recovered from the lake, she said. She spent thousands of dollars in the hopes of finding it, but to no avail.

"Every time I'd go out flying, I'd look," Anderson said. "One day, I saw it.  The sun glanced right down on it.  And I called back and said I found it, but by the time they got down there with the boats and things, it had shifted."

It's not known exactly how long the plane had been in the lake, WSOC-TV reported.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep222013

Memorial Service Honors Victims of Navy Yard Shooting

Matt McClain/ The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A memorial service was held on parade grounds at the Marine Barracks Sunday evening to honor the victims of Monday's Navy Yard shooting.

The ceremony honored the 12 people who lost their lives just blocks away in the mass shooting spree. More than 4,000 people were in attendance Sunday to mourn.

With the flag flying at half staff, President Obama spoke at the memorial. "We cannot begin to comprehend your loss," Obama said to the families of the victims.

"The tragedy and the pain that brings us here today is extraordinary. It is unique. The lives that were taken from us were unique. The memories their loved ones carry are unique and they will carry them and endure long after the news cameras are gone," Obama said.

He also referenced the pattern of mass violence in the country. "As President, I have now grieved with five American communities ripped apart by mass violence. Fort Hood, Tucson, Aurora, Sandy Hook, and now the Washington Navy Yard."

The murder rate in America is three times more than in other developed nations, and gun violence in America is 10 times more than in other developed nations, Obama said.

"There is nothing normal" about these tragedies, Obama said.

"Once more our hearts are broken," Obama said. "Once more we ask why."

Other speakers included Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, and Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep222013

Billie Jean King's Historic Win Still Making Waves

(NEW YORK) -- Tennis legend Billie Jean King said today in an interview on This Week that she felt like her historic "Battle of the Sexes" with Bobby Riggs was "life and death," and dismissed recent allegations that Riggs threw the match 40 years ago, so he could win a bet.

The match, which took place in September 1973, is seen as a milestone for gender equality in professional tennis.

King was 29-years-old during the famed showdown against Riggs, a 55-year-old former Wimbledon champion and proud male chauvinist. King, who holds 39 Grand Slam titles and 20 wins at Wimbledon, was a vocal advocate for equal pay for women in tennis.

She initially refused to play against Riggs, who was well known as a tennis and golf hustler, but King said she changed her mind after Riggs easily defeated Margaret Court, the top female player at the time, in a less publicized "Battle of the Sexes" match.

"I knew at that moment. I had to play him," King said. "I thought we were on our way, we were changing things for women, and I wanted that to continue."

King knew that a win against Riggs would be a win for feminism and equality, but a loss, she said, could set the movement back.

"Emotionally, I felt like it was life and death," King said.

More than 50 million viewers watched as men from Rice University's track team pulled King onto the court in a chariot. Her arrival was grand and her subsequent win seemed easy.

Riggs eventually jumped over the net to give King some well-earned credit.

"He said, 'I underestimated you,'" King remembers.

However, a man claiming to have overheard Riggs before the match has stirred up controversy, saying that Riggs threw the match to win a bet. King dismissed the accusations.

"People are upset I beat his butt, that's why," King said.

Despite the initial rivalry and recent controversy, King said she respected Riggs and considered him to be one of her heroes.

"I stayed in touch with Bobby. The night before he passed away I talked to him," King said. "He said, 'We did make a difference.'"

The impact they made can be seen not only in tennis, but across the sports world. The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., is named in her honor and King says that female athletes today are living the dream.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio