Illinois Woman Charged with Killing Son, 5-year-old Girl Denied Bail

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The Illinois woman charged with the murder of her 7-year-old son, who she stabbed over 100 times, and a 5-year-old girl in her care was denied bail by a Chicago-area court on Thursday.

Elzbieta Plackowska, of Naperville, Ill., will be held without bond in DuPage County, ABC News' Chicago affiliate WLS-TV reported.  The 40-year-old woman was charged with two counts of first-degree murder Wednesday evening.

Plackowska, who was babysitting the 5-year-old girl, was arrested after the children were found by police slashed and stabbed on Tuesday at 10:15 p.m.

The children were identified as her son, Justin Plackowski, and Olivia Dworakowski.

Plackowska was covered in blood when she was taken into custody, according to WLS-TV.  Investigators from the Naperville Police Department and the DuPage County States Attorney's Office questioned her before charges were filed.

Police found two dead dogs in the home that also were stabbed, WLS-TV reported.  Investigators said there was no reason to believe that any additional suspects were at large.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Plackowska has given authorities various explanations for what happened, including hearing demonic voices that led her to kill the children.

The girl attended kindergarten at Brookdale Elementary School and the boy was a student at Scott Elementary School.

"This is an extremely difficult time, but this is an extremely strong community and I'm confident in this community and our school district that we will pull together and move through this tragic event," said Naperville School district Superintendent Dan Bridges.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gas Fires Still Burning in New Jersey, Where Threat Remains of Possible Explosion

Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- On the long and slender stretch of New Jersey barrier beaches that includes Brick Township, the hiss of gas seems to be heard everywhere. And between gas fires and the ocean surge, dozens of homes have been destroyed – 60 in Brick Township alone.

The threat from gas is widespread and the risk of further fire and explosion continues along this devastated coastline where many homes were lifted from foundations and their gas lines ruptured. And officials say it will continue until flames are brought under control and utilities are able to turn off the main gas line serving the two barrier islands on this stretch.

Along a stretch of barrier island in Brick Township where the gas lines continue to burn, they create a painful image that puts a lens onto a broader issue facing communities along this sandy coast that include Seaside Heights, Ortley, Ortley Beach and Lavalette.

In Brick Township, fire companies were standing by as officials awaited utility workers who would burn off and turn off the gas.  While some officials downplayed the risk from fire, others offered a different estimate of the gas risk.

“We have one main gas line that goes over to the island. We are trying to cut the main line to cut it for the [barrier] islands,” said Rich Peterson of the county’s Office of Emergency Management. “The utility is doing that. [There is a] possibility of more explosions.  We are working closely with New Jersey Natural Gas to cut those lines. But the gas is just one hazard.  Lots of dangerous material, debris.”

In Brick Township, the area where the homes were destroyed had finally become accessible and so far 70 people have been rescued and there are no reports of fatalities as of yet.

Overall, says Peterson, more than 500 have been rescued from the barrier islands.

“Our biggest concern is, we want to get everyone out of the barrier islands.  People are still there.  We’ve gotten 500 people from two barrier islands. We have crews out there, zodiac boats, National Guard Blackhawk helicopters.”

In addition to turning off the gas, which will be done by workers from N.J. Natural Gas, the plan now is to secure the area with police and the National Guard and start to clean up as soon as it is safe.

Wednesday afternoon, only 12 gas trucks have been spotted. There are no fleets, just a team here and there.

And as residents and rescue workers wait, the question is: Does the risk of more explosions and more fires grow?

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


In Flooded Hoboken, NJ, National Guard Rescues Stranded Residents

Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(HOBOKEN, N.J.) -- Across the Hudson River from storm-battered New York City, residents in Hoboken, N.J., waded through near waist-high water with their children and their belongings.

"Our basement got completely flooded," said resident Susie Zuckerman. "The water started gushing through the garage door in our building. We're doing the best we can do. We're not going to leave -- there's nowhere to go."

Superstorm Sandy's massive storm surge flooded the streets of Frank Sinatra's birthplace, where the water has receded 18 inches in the last 24 hours. The usually bustling downtown Hoboken area is now dotted with debris and broken storefronts, as the sound of generators churns.

Over 50,500 people live in the two-square-mile city, and many residents said they were told not to expect power for up to 10 days. In the meantime, Hoboken City Hall was set up as a shelter.

The communal area of one apartment building was jammed with its residents all charging phones, making toast and playing with children as Halloween pumpkins lined the room. City councilman David Mello said he was weighing his options about whether to have his family leave.

"I might get my family out of here, but I'm gonna stick around. This is obviously unparalleled," Mello said. "The biggest concern here is we might run out of gas for the generators. We only have more to last 48 hours. If that runs out, we'll have to evacuate."

The National Guard arrived on Tuesday night to help with search and rescue. Army personnel used boats to help get to people trapped in their apartments.

"I've been waiting to leave for three days," said a woman named Rosie as she piled into the back of an Army truck with a smile on her face.

At another apartment building on the corner of First and Harrison, a mother held her baby as they peered out of their third-floor apartment, waiting to be rescued.

Hoboken is also home to many New York City commuters. Samantha Bennet, 26, works for an Internet start-up in the city called Passenger and left Hoboken Wednesday with her husband Steve Bennet after their apartment building flooded, and went to nearby Jersey City to stay with a friend.

"There was about eight feet of water in our basement," Bennet said. "It has receded. We were actually pretty lucky...every basement apartment has at least four to six feet of water."

Bennet said her apartment was on the third floor, so they weren't affected by flooding, but that they didn't have power or hot water. Although the storm surge came up Monday night, she didn't evacuate until Wednesday because only basement and ground floor apartments in Hoboken were ordered to evacuate.

"It was like an exodus, people with backpacks and bags walking out of Hoboken," she said.

Bennet said the standing water is starting to smell like oil from submerged cars on the streets, and sewage because the sewer system was backed up.

"People were using half of fan covers to clean out the gutters so the water would go into the sewer," she said. "They were also using rakes, but they kept breaking ... and as soon as they got the leaves out, more would come back in."

In the wake of the widespread damage in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie Wednesday issued an executive order to postpone all Halloween celebrations in his state until Monday. For those residents living on the New Jersey coastline, Christie described the damage as "unfathomable" and "unthinkable."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cops Hunt Serial Pipe Bomb Thrower in Virginia

ATF(STAFFORD COUNTY, Va.) -- Federal, state and local police are on the lookout for a man they said targeted two policemen and an ex-girlfriend in homemade pipe bomb attacks.

Police officials in Stafford County, Virginia said in a press release that Lawrence Alan Stewart, 25, is suspected of detonating three pipe bombs within a few minutes of each other at separate locations early in the morning Tuesday. The targets of the attacks were a county detective, a county deputy and an ex-girlfriend of Lawrence's, police said.

While no one was killed or injured in the attacks, authorities said Lawrence is still on the loose and could be a threat to the public.

"We are concerned that this guy could be running around with a carload of pipe bombs, and we want to catch him before anyone else is targeted and certainly before anyone is injured or killed," said Richard Marianos, special agent in charge of the ATF's Washington, D.C. field office.

A press release from the Stafford County Sheriff's Office said Lawrence is considered "armed and dangerous."

Lawrence has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of arson and one count of using a weapon or device for a terror act, police said.

"Rest assured that every investigative and law enforcement technique is being utilized to locate and arrest Laurence Stewart," Sheriff Charles Jett said. "I am hoping that the public can assist authorities in locating Stewart."

Police are asking anyone with information that could help the investigation to call the Sheriff's Office at 540-658-4400, Crime Solvers at 540-659-2020 or by texting STAFFORD and your tip to CRIMES (274637).

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


President Obama, NJ Gov. Chris Christie Tour Superstorm Sandy's Devastation

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(BRIGANTINE, N.J.) -- President Obama surveyed the devastation wreaked by the superstorm Sandy Wednesday with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in what both men said was a non-political event. But it was a powerful image of bipartisan cooperation just six days before the election.

Following a helicopter tour of the state's battered shoreline, Obama expressed his sympathies and promised the full weight of his office and the federal government in providing aid.

"We are here for you, and we will not forget," Obama said. "We will follow up to make sure you get all the help you need until you rebuild."

"I don't want anybody to feel that somehow this is all going to get cleaned up overnight," Obama said. "But what I can promise you is that the federal government will be working as closely as possible with the state and local officials, and we will not quit until this is done."

Obama was accompanied on the tour by Christie, a vocal supporter of Obama's challenger, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. However, Christie has praised the president for his oversight of federal emergency efforts.

Christie again thanked the president Wednesday, saying the two men had a "great working relationship" and that the president "sprung into action immediately."

Although it was not a political statement, Christie's comments were an unlikely endorsement of the president's leadership at a crucial juncture in the presidential race.

Together, the two men cut a surprising image of bipartisanship and cooperation ahead of next week's vote, as polls show the race in a dead heat nationally.

New polls in three key swing states show Obama holding his lead in Ohio and wiping away Romney's advantages in Virginia and Florida.

[ PHOTOS: East Coast Hit by Superstorm Sandy ]

Obama leads 49 percent to 47 percent in Virginia and had a 48 percent to 47 percent edge in Florida, according to the Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll.

Obama's leads in those two states were within the margin of error, meaning the candidates were essentially tied. But Romney was leading in those states just a few days ago in other polls.

In Ohio, Obama is maintaining a five-point lead, with a 50-45 margin, according to Quinnipiac.

In a new video Wednesday, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said he thinks Obama is in the dominant position heading into Election Day because, "We are ahead or tied in every single battleground state."

The Romney campaign disputed the results of the Quinnipiac survey, claiming it overestimated the size of the Democratic turnout.

Ohio, Virginia and Florida are among the most vital of the battleground states for both campaigns.

The Quinnipiac survey was the first major poll of the swing states released since superstorm Sandy made landfall in Atlantic City, N.J., Monday evening, wreaking billions of dollars in damage and delivering an October surprise that no pundit predicted. The polling, however, was done before Sandy arrived and may have altered voter attitudes towards the candidates.

Romney Wednesday went back to a day of full campaigning after a brief respite out of respect to the storm victims, and his campaign hoped that the momentum generated in the days before Sandy would hold through Election Day.

He was to attend two "victory rallies" in Florida today with a number of high-profile conservatives, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Sen. Marco Rubio.

Obama was to return to campaigning Thursday with events in Green Bay, Wis., Las Vegas and Boulder, Colo.

Meanwhile, Romney and conservative super PACs were spending big in the Democratic-leaning states of Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Republicans said Romney's slim lead in nationwide polls gave them the opportunity to go after Obama in blue-leaning states, which the president did not yet have fully locked up. The Democrats, however, said Republicans were spending money in blue-leaning states because the swing states were already saturated with political ads, and buying new ads would be prohibitively expensive for outside groups.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NJ Gov. Christie Postpones Halloween After Sandy’s Damage

Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images(TRENTON, N.J.) -- Citing concerns that costume-adorned children could be endangered as they navigate floodwaters, downed power lines and trees on their way to neighborhood doors, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed an executive order postponing Halloween until Monday.

Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the Garden State and Christie said that the state “kind of took it in the neck worse than any other place.”

“I’ve taken this action to minimize additional risks to lives and the public safety as we begin the process of rebuilding and recovering from Hurricane Sandy,” said Governor Christie in a press release announcing the order. "In too many communities in our state, the damage and losses from this storm are still being sorted out, and dangerous conditions abound even as our emergency management and response officials continue their work. As Governor, it is my responsibility to use all available resources of the state government to protect against the emergency created by Hurricane Sandy – postponing Halloween celebrations by five days is a commonsense and necessary step to accomplish that.”

After the announcement, Gov. Christie took to Twitter to say, “I better see you all out there on Monday with your costumes on and candy in tow.”

A state of emergency is still in effect for New Jersey.

The New Jersey governor is not the only one cancelling Halloween festivities. The Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management and the New York Police Department canceled the annual Village Halloween Parade that normally takes place on Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village on Halloween night.

The cancelled parade, which typically hosts thousands of New Yorkers and tourists, includes hundreds of floats, performances, puppets and dance artists, but its cancellation was announced on Tuesday, making it the first time in nearly four decades that the parade would not go on.

Halloween was also cancelled at the White House, where the recent tradition is for the families of military personnel to trick-or-treat with the president and first lady.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Superstorm Sandy Unearths Bones, Caskets

Thomas MacMillan/New Haven Independent(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Residents of New Haven, Conn., got an eerie Halloween surprise when a famed tree uprooted during Hurricane Sandy, unearthing the bones of a woman who died nearly 200 years ago.

Around 6 p.m. on Monday the famous tree at New Haven’s Upper Green, named the “Lincoln Oak” after President Abraham Lincoln, was uprooted as Sandy swept through. New Haven resident Katie Carbo was passing by when she saw the back of a skull in the 60- to 70-foot-tall tree’s roots, police said.

Carbo quickly contacted the New Haven police, and soon after detectives were on the scene as a crowd of onlookers formed. Officer David Hartman with the New Haven Police Department told ABC News that the timing of the discovery was particularly striking.

“I found myself standing there, among onlookers saying, ‘wow this is really cool, the day before Halloween,’” he said.

Detectives from the NHPD’s Bureau of Identification and the state Medical Examiner’s office came to collect the bones, which Hartman said included a spine and rib cage. New Haven police also contacted staff from Yale University’s anthropology department, Hartman said.

The NHPD said that they have not launched a criminal investigation into this discovery, and that the remains are being taken to the medical examiner’s office.

New Haven police said that the bones belonged to a probable victim of yellow fever or smallpox, who likely was buried between 1799 and 1821, when the headstones were removed to New Haven’s Grove Street Cemetery, but the bodies were never relocated.

The Lincoln Oak was planted at the town green by Admiral Andrew Hall Foote’s Grand Army of the Republic post, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birthday in 1909, according to the New Haven police.

Robert S. Greenberg, a local historian, said that the town green is the burial ground for as many as 5,000 to 10,000 bodies.

Hartman said that he learned that this is actually not the first time this has happened on the historic Upper Green. According to a local historian, the same situation occurred in 1931, when an uprooted tree brought up skeletal remains, he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dad Who Taped Toddler's Mouth Shut Acquitted

Facebook(CHICAGO) -- A Chicago father who posted a Facebook photo of his little girl bound with tape has been acquitted of an unlawful-restraint charge, but a judge said he needed more time to rule on an aggravated domestic-battery count.

Andre Curry, 22, used painter's tape to bind his 22-month-old daughter's wrists, ankles and mouth, and placed the photograph on Facebook, according to the Chicago Police Department.

Curry posted the image with the caption, "This is wut happens wen my baby hits me back ; )"

Since his arrest in December, Curry and his defense team have denied the charges, saying he is a good father who was just being playful with his daughter.

"Was this something stupid to do? No question about it," Curry's attorney, Sam Adam Jr., said in court, according to the Chicago Tribune. "But they're asking you to find him guilty of some very serious charges."

Curry, who has since removed his Facebook page, could face up to seven years in prison if he is convicted on the more serious aggravated domestic battery charge.

The toddler is in the custody of her mother. Curry is banned from having contact with his daughter unless it is through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

The judge did not set a date Tuesday for when he will rule on the aggravated domestic-battery count.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Visits FEMA HQ Before Touring Storm Damage

File photo. (Dennis Brack-Pool/Getty Images)(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Wednesday visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., ahead of his visit to New Jersey to tour the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

The president met with agency officials and several cabinet secretaries to thank them for their hard work. “You all deserve a pat on the back,” Obama said, according to pool reports, as he sat around a large conference table flanked by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

Obama has cancelled his campaign events for a third day in the row to tend to the storm and recovery efforts. Wednesday afternoon, he will travel to Atlantic City, N.J., where he'll view the damage first-hand with Gov. Chris Christie, who, despite being a high-profile surrogate for GOP nominee Mitt Romney, has praised the president’s handling of the storm.  

Wednesday marks Obama’s second visit to FEMA headquarters this week. On Sunday, he was briefed on preparations by the FEMA team ahead of the storm.

The president was joined at Wednesday’s briefing at FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security John Brennan, and other senior members of his team. Vice President Joe Biden joined the briefing by video teleconference.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gov. Chris Christie Vows NJ Will Rebuild After Superstorm Sandy

Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Residents along the East Coast are beginning to pick up the pieces after deadly superstorm Sandy devastated the most densely populated region in the country, with New Jersey experiencing "unthinkable" damage to its coastline as homes were swept from their foundations and amusement park rides were washed into the ocean.

President Obama will arrive in New Jersey Wednesday afternoon to survey the damage with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.  Obama declared parts of New Jersey, along with parts of New York, a major disaster area, which would allow federal funding for storm-related repairs.

More than eight million people are still without power across several states and Sandy is now being blamed for at least 50 deaths in the U.S.

Hundreds of thousands of people who had to evacuate their homes are now wondering what -- if anything -- was left.  For those residents living on the New Jersey coastline, Christie described the damage as "unfathomable" and "unthinkable."

"The boardwalk we walked on together this summer greeting residents, talking to those business owners, it's gone," Christie said at a Tuesday evening press conference after surveying the damage.

Images from around the storm-affected areas depicted scenes reminiscent of big-budget disaster movies.  In Atlantic City, N.J., a gaping hole remained where a stretch of boardwalk once sat by the sea.

"It won't be same.  It will be different because many of the iconic things that made it what it was are now gone and washed into the ocean," Christie said.

Christie said that he plans on speaking to Obama about getting Army Corps of Engineers into the state to begin rebuilding as soon as possible, especially the Jersey Shore.

"As a kid who was born and raised in this state and who spent a lot of time over my life, both my childhood and my adult life, at the Jersey Shore.  We'll rebuild it.  No question in my mind we'll rebuild it," the governor said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio