Search

Saturday
Apr272013

Asian-American Frat Under Fire for Blackface Video

Youtube(IRVINE, Calif.) -- The Lambda Theta Delta Fraternity at the University of California, Irvine, has apologized after the release of a YouTube video featuring one of its members in blackface.

The video depicts members of Lambda Theta Delta, an Asian-American fraternity, performing to the Justin Timberlake Song, “Suit and Tie.”   Members say it was designed to promote an upcoming fraternity event.

Halfway through the clip, one of the members, in an attempt to portray rapper Jay-Z, appears made up in blackface.

Blackface is a type of theatrical makeup popularized in American minstrel shows in which typically white performers painted their faces black to create a caricature of a black person.  The shows commonly played on racial stereotypes and have long since disappeared from the scene.

“I feel personally offended at that act whether it was for ignorance, whether they just didn’t know about it, I feel like that’s not an excuse,” Ayana Baines, member of UC Irvine’s Black Student Union told ABC News affiliate KABC-TV.

Lambda Theta Delta President Darius Obana told KABC-TV the makeup was meant to distinguish one of the performers as Jay-Z.  “In a nutshell it was pretty much just to play that role and be Jay-Z and kind of distinguish himself from the other guys in the video,” he said.

The fraternity removed the video and apologized after the uproar, issuing the following statement on its Facebook page.

“Lambda Theta Delta sincerely apologizes for the extremely racist content of the ‘Suit and Tie’ video. The use of black face in the video is incredibly offensive as well as insensitive. This behavior is simply unacceptable and the individuals responsible for the video have already been reprimanded.”

The statement explained that the members who produced the video were ignorant of the history of blackface in America, and that the video was removed when other fraternity members who were aware of its potentially offensive nature became apprised of its existence.

Some UC Irvine students, however, said that the fraternity members who originally posted the video knew it could be viewed as offensive because they had inserted a disclaimer into the video that said, “no racism intended.”

School administrators are investigating the incident to see whether disciplinary measures are warranted.
“Once that investigation is concluded, we will determine where the facts lie, what appropriate measures should be taken, and if discipline is called for,” UCI Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Thomas Parham told KABC-TV.

Obana says that fraternity members have been harassed in the wake of the video controversy, and said that it wasn’t a “very educated,” move to post the video online.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr272013

FBI Arrests Suspect in Ricin Mailing Case

iStockphoto(TUPELO, Miss.) – The FBI announced Saturday that it has arrested the man who allegedly sent ricin laced letters to President Obama and other high-ranking officials.

James Everett Dutschke was at approximately 12:50 a.m. on Saturday at his home in Tupelo, Miss.

He was taken in without incident by special agents of the FBI, and is currently being held at a facility in Oxford, Miss.

According to local police sources, there will be no court activity regarding Dutschke or the case until Monday.

Dutschke, a karate teacher, allegedly sent packages laced with the deadly poison were sent to Obama, as well as to Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Sadie Holland, an 80-year-old Mississippi judge.

Charges had initially been filed against Elvis impersonator Paul Kevin Curtis, but were later dropped and authorities focused their attention on Dutschke, who has connections to Wicker and Holland.

Curtis and Dutschke do not like each other. Dutschke claims that Curtis is trying to frame him. Authorities have found no evidence to back his accusations.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr272013

Woman Climbs Out of Canyon in Freezing Temperatures after Car Crash

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WOODLAND PARK, Colo.) -- A Colorado woman had to climb out of a canyon in freezing temperatures after her car plunged into it on Tuesday.

Sany Mileto, 43, does not remember her Jeep SUV going off the road on Tuesday night, shortly before 11 p.m. She was knocked unconscious during the crash, and awoke to find herself at the bottom of a canyon in a remote area of Telle County, several hundred feet from the road.

As temperatures dropped, Mileto found a blanket in her car, and started a fire to try to keep warm. Unfortunately, she had just filled up her car with gasoline. Some of the gas spilled in the crash caught fire, and Mileto’s car burst into flames.

“It's like when things go bad, they go worse. Well, that's how I felt,” Mileto said.

It was then that Mileto realized she needed to get out of the canyon.

“I wanted to stay there. It would have been easy. However, if I would have nobody would have found me. I was too far down,” Mileto recalled.

“It was a moment of life or death,” Mileto said. “What am I going to do, sit down here and freeze? Or, try to take matters in my own hand.”

Mileto, wrapped only in a blanket and missing one shoe, began the arduous climb. The ascent took hours, and her feet were badly frostbitten in the process.

She managed to wave down a camper driving by when she got to the top.

Now in the hospital, doctors are trying to see if they can save Mileto’s frostbitten toes.

It’s not known what caused the initial crash, but conditions on the road that night were icy, and black ice is a definite possibility.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr272013

Mom Allegedly Tells 9-Year-Old Son he has Fatal Cancer as Part of a Scam

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(PENNSAUKEN, N.J.) -- A New Jersey mother faces arrest for an alleged scam in which she told her 9-year-old son, family and friends that the boy had stage three cancer.

Susan Stillwaggon, 35, of Pennsauken, N.J., has been charged with theft by deception, forgery, endangering the welfare of a child and using a child to commit a criminal offense.

Stillwaggon allegedly told her son, that he had stage three Hodgkin's lymphoma, and she accepted at least $3,500 in funds raised for the boy.

Police said "quite a few" people have been identified as victims of the scam, and they are looking for others.

"Stillwaggon led her son to believe that he suffered from the fatal illness," the Pennsauken Township Police Department said in a news release. "Investigation confirmed that the boy does not suffer from any life-threatening illnesses."

An anonymous tip led police to investigate Stillwaggon.

"There were events held," Pennsauken Detective Sgt. Cheryl Duffy told ABCNews.com. "There were probably 10 different people that organized some kind of something, be it a cupcake sale or those little Livestrong-type rubber bracelets. I've got kids walking around with canisters, and I've got Bingo events."

Stillwaggon has not been arrested yet, because she's in the hospital receiving psychiatric treatment, her mother told Duffy, he said.

"She told him he has cancer," Duffy said of the young boy. "That's why she's charged with endangering the welfare of a child."

The New Jersey Division of Children and Families has become involved in the case but said it found no signs of physical abuse. The charge of endangering the welfare of a child stems from mental abuse or neglect as defined by law.

Police do not believe that any other family members knew about the alleged hoax, including the boy's father.

"It's actually plausible why he didn't catch on," Duffy said. "It's a single-income family, and he's the sole breadwinner. He's a truck driver gone for extended periods of time. Mom's a stay-at-home mom in charge of all the kids' appointments, so it was whatever she relayed to him."

Members of the Stillwaggon family did not respond to requests for comment by ABC News. Duffy said that as of Thursday, Stillwaggon had not retained an attorney.

Yale University professor of psychology Alan Kazdin said that caring for the child right now was very important.

"Is there a potential for trauma? Absolutely," Kazdin told ABCNews.com. "We're concerned about trauma. We're concerned about anxiety."

Kazdin, who is not involved in the case, said the boy is the victim of a "double whammy." He was told he was sick and then found out he wasn't, but learned that his mother was allegedly lying.

"He's got two things going on that are really bad," Kazdin said. "He's got the weird situation that a horrible thing happened -- he was told he was [really sick] -- and once it comes out in the open, it gets worse in another way."

It's possible that the boy could be humiliated or potentially even have people try to take things out on him as a result of his mom's alleged actions, Kazdin said.

"Separation from mom is a third part," he said. "Separation from your most significant other. That's huge for a child."

Kazdin said it was important for the boy to connect to a support system and maintain routines during this time. He suggested that the people around him should look out for red flags, such as sleepless nights, depression or avoiding going to school, where people may ridicule him.

The scam had allegedly been going on since the beginning of March, but Duffy believes it might have been going on for longer.

Stillwaggon's first court appearance is scheduled for May 2, 2013.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr262013

Remains Identified as Missing Texas Teen Hailey Dunn

Comstock/Thinkstock(SNYDER, Texas) -- The remains of a teenage girl discovered near a Texas lake last month have been positively identified as missing teen Hailey Dunn, authorities confirmed Friday.

Investigators have confirmed the remains found near Lake J. B. Thomas in Snyder, Texas, in March belonged to the missing Colorado City, Texas, teen, Scurry County sheriff officials announced Friday at a news conference, according to ABC News affiliate KTXS-TV in Abilene, Texas.

Dunn disappeared from her home in Colorado City in 2010, and had been listed as a missing person with the Colorado City Police Department ever since.

The teen’s scattered remains were discovered on March 16, 2013. The Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Rangers and FBI investigators spent nearly four days gathering the remains and evidence that could lead to a conviction.

The remains were sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification for DNA analysis, according to a news release from the Scurry County Sheriff’s Office.

Officials said Friday the investigation into the 13-year-old’s death continues and they have not identified the case as a homicide, nor have they ruled it out.

After Hailey Dunn‘s mother, Billie Jean Dunn, 35, reported Hailey missing, the investigation looked at Dunn and her live-in boyfriend, Shawn Adkins, 25. Both Dunn and Adkins failed lie detector tests, admitted to taking drugs the night before Hailey’s disappearance and had refused to cooperate with police.

Law enforcement officials have named Adkins as a “person of interest” in the case, but have not charged him. Both Adkins and Billie Jean Dunn have denied any involvement in the teen’s disappearance.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr262013

Couple Survives Boston Marathon Bombing and Virginia Tech Massacre

Kelly Willard(CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio) -- Kelly Willard was thrilled when she finished the Boston Marathon. Her cell phone was dead, but she was excitedly waiting to reunite with her husband and kids in the family meeting area two blocks from the finish line.

Then two bombs went off, Willard didn't know where her family was and began to have flashbacks to another terrifying event she and her husband had experienced -- the Virginia Tech catastrophe in 2007.

"There's very few times that you have terror set in, but in my life I remember feeling a certain way during the massacre -- just sheer terror -- and feeling that way at Boston, not knowing what was happening," Willard told ABC News. "I definitely had flashbacks to Virginia Tech."

Willard, 32, and her husband Ryan Willard, 34, live in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, with their two young daughters but have found themselves in the middle of national tragedies not once, but twice in their lives.

Willard was completing her veterinary degree at Virginia Tech in 2007 so she and her husband were living in Blacksburg, Va., for 10 months. On April 16, 2007, she arrived at the on-campus veterinary hospital to the news that a female student had been shot to death in her residence hall.

The veterinary hospital was just a few buildings away from where some of the shootings took place. Willard and her classmates were on lockdown for almost 24 hours. Her husband, a teacher, was at school about 10 minutes away and his school was also on lockdown.

"There's the terror and fear of what's going to happen next," she said. "Is there more? You just don't feel safe."

This was the feeling that rushed back to Willard when the two bombs went off at the Boston Marathon.

She finished the race about 45 minutes before the explosions, but her cell phone had run out of battery during the run. Her husband and two daughters had cheered her on from a spot earlier in the race and were on a train heading to the family meeting area a few blocks from the finish line.

Willard was sitting with some other runners when they heard a very loud noise from the direction of the finish line.

"We heard an explosion and we just looked at each other and thought, 'That didn't sound right,'" she said. Seconds later, they heard a second explosion. "Then you just saw people screaming and the terror."

As people started running, no one knew what was going on. A passerby told Willard they thought a bomb had gone off in a restaurant, but word eventually spread that two bombs had gone off near the finish line.

"You go from being so excited and happy about the race and then it just goes into sheer terror where I just wanted to see my husband and kids," she said.

Ryan Willard and the couple's two daughters had been forced off the train a few stops away and had to make their way through the chaos to look for their wife and mom. She had borrowed a stranger's cell phone after the race to text that she had finished, but Ryan Willard couldn't get in touch with his wife after that.

"Everybody else was running the opposite direction and we're trying to go up stream," Ryan Willard told ABC News. Like his wife, he was also taken back to Blacksburg during the fray.

"It was sort of flashback-y in a lot of ways," he said. "You get the same feelings. You want to make sure the other is safe first of all and then it doesn't hit you for a couple of days."

The family was eventually reunited, contacted their extended family to let them know they were safe and took a stunned two mile walk back to their hotel.

"It was surreal and it didn't even sink in until we got back," Kelly Willard said. "You just feel terror. You're very thankful that you're okay, but it's just heartbreaking for the people involved."

"It definitely makes us appreciate our relationships with the people we care about," Ryan Willard said.

His sister-in-law posted on Facebook that the couple was safe and by the time they made it back to their hotel, the post had more than a hundred likes and comments.

"It was unbelievable the number of phone calls and texts from people we hadn't heard from in years," he said. "To feel that cared about, it certainly makes you appreciative."

Kelly Willard said that experiencing both events has made her realize that anything can happen in a small town or a big city, but that she cannot let that negatively impact her life.

"What are the odds something like this would happen again? Now after having the odds increase a bit, it makes me a little nervous, but I don't want to stop living life," she said. "You never know what's going to happen, but you don't want to live in fear or else the terrorists or sick people win."

She re-qualified for next year's Boston Marathon and said she is "definitely" going back.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr262013

Sept. 11 Attack Plane Landing Gear Found in New York

Landing gear from 9/11 attack plane found wedged between two NYC buildings. (NYPD)(NEW YORK) -- Twelve years later, New Yorkers are still discovering remnants of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

What New York City police say was part of a landing gear from one of the planes hijacked and crashed on 9/11 was found wedged between two buildings a few blocks from the World Trade Center site. It was wedged between 51 Park Place and 50 Murray Street.

51 Park Place has been the site of a proposed Muslim Community Center, a project critics called the Ground Zero Mosque.

Surveyors hired by one of the property owners were inspecting the buildings when they found the piece, which, police said, includes a "clearly visible Boeing identification number."

The site of the discovery is being treated like a crime scene and it will be up to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York to decide whether to search it for human remains.

Forensic scientists from the medical examiner's office have spent the past few weeks at a landfill on Staten Island sifting debris from the World Trade Center site. They've found a number of potential human remains they hope can ID the 41 percent of New York 9/11 victims who still have not been formally identified.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr262013

Boston Bombing Suspect’s Mother Was Also in US Terrorism Database

Obtained by ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The name of the mother of alleged Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was placed in a U.S. terrorism database at the same time her son’s was in October 2011.

The CIA requested that both their names be placed in the U.S. government’s terrorism database known as TIDE (Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment) after it received information from the Russian government that it considered the pair to be potential Islamic militants.  An earlier FBI investigation prompted by another Russian request determined that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had no ties to terrorism.

Tsarnaev died in a fierce gun fight with Boston police last week.  He and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, are accused of carrying out the bombings at the Boston Marathon that killed three and injured more than 260. Dzokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is in the Federal Medical Center Devens, about 40 miles from Boston.

On Thursday, at a news conference in Makhachkala, Russia, Zubeidat Tsarnaev said her sons had been “framed” by U.S. authorities, and she denied that her son had made contacts with Islamist militants during an extended visit to Russia last year.

Inclusion on the TIDE list of 700,000 names does not mean individuals are suspected of carrying out terrorist activities or that they require surveillance or face travel restrictions.  Instead, the list, maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center, serves as the base point for relevant federal agencies to come up with more specific watch lists that match their criteria, such as the Transportation Security Administration’s no-fly list.

Earlier in the week U.S. officials confirmed that Russia’s intelligence agency, the FSB, had made two separate requests of the FBI and the CIA to investigate Tamerlan Tsarnaev for potential ties to Islamic extremists.  The FBI’s investigation in early 2011 concluded that Tsarnaev did not have ties to terror groups.  That information was conveyed to the FSB, but the FBI never received a response.

The intelligence official says that a subsequent FSB request sent to the CIA in September 2011 to investigate Tamerlan Tsarnaev also contained information about his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva.

The official said the Russian request indicated the pair were considered to be strong believers in Islam and potential militants, and it was feared they might cause trouble if they came back to Russia.

A U.S. official said earlier this week that the CIA had “nominated” Tamarlan Tsarnaev’s name for inclusion in the TIDE database out of “an abundance of caution.”  It was later determined that the alternate spelling of his names and dates of birth provided by Russia to the CIA were all incorrect.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was also included in a separate database in the spring of 2011 as the FBI tried to determine whether he had conducted any foreign travel.

Those entries place in TECS — the Treasury Enforcement and Communication System — remain active for only a  year.

This was the database that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a Senate panel Tuesday had “pinged” when Tsarnaev left the United States in January 2012 on a six-month trip to Russia. The trip has been a focus of speculation that Tsarnaev might have made contact with or received terrorist training in the Dagestan region where he was visiting relatives.

A U.S. official explained that the positive hit when Tsarnaev left the United States resulted in the Joint Terrorism Task Force’s being notified that he had left the country. It is unclear which federal agency within the task force would have actually received the notification of his travel and what was done with the information.

When Tsarnaev returned to the United States in June 2012, there was no “ping” of his TECS database entry because it had already expired.  TIDE entries do not expire, but there was also no positive hit in the TIDE database because it turned out that all of the personal details provided to the CIA by Russia were inaccurate.

According to the official, even if Tsarnaev’s name and details had been accurately fed into the TIDES database, U.S. customs officials would have found that the FBI’s investigation had been closed and that it had not been determined that he was a threat.

Furthermore, even if the TECS database entry for Tsarnaev had not expired after a year, that, too, would have brought up the information that his case had been closed.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr262013

George Huguely Allowed to Appeal UVa. Lacrosse Murder Conviction

Albemarle/Charlottesville Regional Jail(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Ba.) -- Convicted University of Virginia lacrosse player George Huguely V has been granted an appeal in the murder of ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love.

Huguely, 25, was convicted of second-degree murder and grand larceny in February 2012 for the beating death of Love. He was sentenced to 23 years for murder, plus one concurrent year for the grand larceny conviction in August 2012 for stealing her computer.

His legal team argued in court filings that there were a number of "constitutional and procedural errors" in the trial, including that instructions given to jurors on the pivotal point of malice were "inadequate" and that there was a lack of evidence to support a murder charge.

The Virginia Court of Appeals did grant the appeal, but not on those grounds. The appeal was granted on the defense's arguments that Huguely was denied his right to counsel when the trial was forced to proceed despite one of his lead attorney's illness nine days into the trial and that the jury was not fair and impartial.

There was a claim that one of the jurors should have been excluded when there were doubts about her impartiality.

Either the defense or the prosecution can challenge the appeal if they wish.

"We are delighted that the Court of Appeals granted our petition for appeal," Huguely's attorney Paul Clement told ABC News. "Although we may ask the Court to broaden the appeal, the Court of Appeals' action underscores that there are serious issues about whether George received a fair trial that complied with his constitutional rights. We look forward to proceeding with the appeal on the merits, and we remain hopeful that the Court of Appeals will order a new trial."

Huguely was convicted of killing Love, 22, in a drunken rage in May 2010 just weeks before she was to graduate from the University of Virginia. Both Huguely and Love were star lacrosse players on the university's elite teams.

Huguely faced six charges, including first-degree murder, in Love's death.

Through a 12-day trial in February 2012, jurors listened to testimony from nearly 60 witnesses and saw a video of Huguely's police statement, graphic photos of Love's battered body, and read text and email correspondence between the two.

Though charged with first-degree murder, the judge gave jurors a menu of lesser charges they could choose from: second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.

Neither the prosecution nor the defense denied that Huguely was in Love's room the night of her death and was involved in an altercation with her. They differed on the severity of the encounter and whether Huguely was directly and intentionally responsible for Love's death.

Over the course of the trial, prosecutors painted a portrait of Huguely as a violent and enraged man who savagely beat Love in her bedroom and left her there to die. Prosecutors claimed that Love died from blunt force trauma to the head.

The defense depicted Huguely as a troubled young man whose problems with alcohol spiraled out of control. They described Huguely and Love's relationship as mutually tempestuous, with both of them jilting and betraying each other. They maintained that Huguely went to Love's bedroom with the intention to talk to her and that, while things got heated and he pushed her around a bit, he did not do anything severe enough to kill her.

During deliberations, jurors had the option of looking at evidence from the trial again, including Huguely's video-taped statement to the police hours after Love's death. Huguely said he and Love had wrestled on the floor, but that he never struck her.

Before finding out Love was dead, Huguely told police in his video-taped statement that when he went to see his former girlfriend the night of her death he told her to "chill out" and "shook her a little."

"We were just going to talk," Huguely told the officer in the video. "It was not at all a good conversation."

Huguely's legal team has filed motions for a new trial twice before and has been denied both times.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr262013

Feds Search Landfill for Boston Suspect's Laptop

FBI(BOSTON) -- Investigators in white hazmat suits are searching a landfill for a laptop tied to the accused Boston Marathon bombers, one of a potential lead that emerged as a result of interviews with men from Kazakhstan who knew the terror suspects, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Immigration officers arrested the two men, Dias Kadyrbayev, 19, and Azamat Tazhayakov, 20, on Saturday on suspicion that they had violated the terms of their student visas because they were no longer attending classes. They are being detained on the administrative charges at the Suffolk County (Mass.) House of Corrections.

The men lived in an apartment near the campus of University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, had been enrolled as a student. Both Tsarnaev brothers were believed to have visited the New Bedford apartment of Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov after the bombing, according to three law enforcement sources, who spoke on the condition they not be named because they were discussing an ongoing investigation. The police sources told ABC News they traced calls and Russian language text messages from one of the bombing suspect's cell phone to the Kazakhstani men.

It was through the Kazakhstani men that investigators learned of the possible whereabouts of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's laptop and authorities have been searching the New Bedford landfill for the past three days, the police sources told ABC News. And, the sources said, agents found a cell phone believed to belong to Tamerlan Tsarnaev's in the New Bedford apartment.

One of the New Bedford men drove a BMW with a vanity plate that read "TERRORISTA #1" on the front, which his father told reporters was an unfortunate joke gift from some friends in Spain.

Azamat's father, Murat Kadyrbayev told reporters that the two young Kazakhs are simply in Tsarnaev's social circle, according to a report in the New Bedford-area newspaper South Coast Today. "They knew Tsarnaev and hang around together sometimes," he said, maintaining they "were questioned only as witnesses."

Tsarnaev and the two Kazakhstani men posed in a photograph together while on a trip to New York's Times Square, a photo that has attracted attention since Thursday, when New York officials said they learned that Times Square was allegedly the Tsarnaev's next target.

New York police say Times Square narrowly missed being attacked by the accused Boston bombers, with the surviving suspect allegedly telling interrogators that he and his brother made a spontaneous decision to continue trying to maim and kill Americans.

"He told the FBI apparently that he and his brother had planned to drive to New York and detonate additional explosives in Times Square," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at an afternoon City Hall press conference.

But New York was spared, officials say, at the moment the two accused bombers realized the Mercedes they carjacked in Cambridge needed gas.

"The driver used the opportunity to escape and call the police that led to the shootout in Watertown," said New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio