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Monday
Aug252014

James Foley's Family Posts Letter Sent During His Captivity 

John Cantlie/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  The family of James Foley, the American journalist who was executed by ISIS, posted the text of a letter that Foley was able to sneak past his captors and send to them in a most unusual way.

In the letter, which his family shared to their Facebook page Sunday, Foley says he used memories of "great family times" to take him far from his prison.

"Dreams of family and friends take me away and happiness fills my heart," he says.

According to the post, Foley had a fellow hostage who was about to be released memorize the letter. That person called Foley's mother shortly after his released and dictated it to her.

 


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Sunday
Aug242014

Governor Declares State of Emergency After Magnitude 6.0 Earthquake Strikes San Francisco Bay Area

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NAPA, Calif.) -- A 6.0 magnitude earthquake hit the the Bay Area just north of San Francisco at about 3:20 a.m. Sunday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Seismologist Jessica Turner with the USGS says the quake, felt across large areas of California, occurred about 51 miles southwest of Sacramento.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company reported over 15,000 outages most of which are in the area of Napa, Santa Rosa and Sonoma.

"I woke up in the middle of the night to the most violent shake I ever felt. I thought it was the end of the world really," said Alex Simenstad who lives in downtown Napa close to the epicenter.

According to the USGS, at least 22 aftershocks have been reported, with the strongest registering at 3.6 on the Richter scale.

The USGS says the quake is the largest to strike the area since 1989 magnitude Loma Prieta quake.

"I was alone in the house so I didn't know what to do, and the first thing when it stopped - I ran under the table and tried to get cover because it's the first thing they say to do for an earthquake is get under the table," Diana Martini, who lives in Valejo, told ABC News.

Martini said her television crashed to the ground, along with some of her dishes.

"I'm on the first floor, so that was the scariest thing. I thought the building was going to come down," she said.

Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa reported having treated approximately 120 patients who were injured in the earthquake, according to Napa City Fire’s Darren Drake. Three of those patients, including one child, are in critical condition.

The city of Napa said that there were an estimated 50 gas main breaks and 30 water main leaks.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency late Saturday morning, activating the state's emergency personnel, equipment and facilities.


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Sunday
Aug242014

Northern California Couple Still Has Each Other After Losing 'Everything' in Fire

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NAPA, Calif.) -- In the aftermath of the South Napa Earthquake that hit northern California Sunday morning, one couple is trying to pick up the pieces after losing everything when their mobile home was destroyed.

Bill and Theresa, who declined to give ABC News' San Francisco station KGO-TV their last names, were sleeping when they woke up to their home engulfed in flames.

"The earth moved, the house moved," Bill said.

"It was bad," Theresa added. "We lost everything."

"Not everything," Bill responded, as he turned to hug her.

The couple was still looking for their kitten, Coco, who they only just got two months ago.

Fires caused by the earthquake destroyed four mobile homes and damaged two others at the Napa Valley Mobile Home Park.

The South Napa Earthquake damaged much of the Bay Area and left thousands without power. It is the largest earthquake to hit the area in the last 25 years.


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Sunday
Aug242014

Tropical Storm Cristobal Moves Northwest, Hits Parts of the Bahamas

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Tropical Storm Cristobal was moving slowly north northwestward near the southeastern Bahamas Sunday, and was expected to bring heavy rain and gusty winds to the Turks and Caicos as well as portions of the Bahamas.

According to an advisory from the National Hurricane Center late Sunday morning, the storm had sustained winds at 45 mph and was moving north-northwest at 7 mph. Tropical Storm Warnings remained in effect for the Turks and Caico and southeastern Bahamas for the rest of the day.

The forecast track has been slightly shifted farther east, compared to earlier advisories. Cristobal is forecast to slowly strengthen over the next 48 hours and should become a hurricane sometime Wednesday morning.

There is no direct impact expected for the United States, but there will likely be rough surf and dangerous rip currents along the East Coast for the next several days.

Hurricane Hunters, which fly into tropical systems to investigate their development and grab the latest atmospheric data on the storm, caught a unique glimpse of the third tropical system of the Atlantic Hurricane Season forming from above.


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Sunday
Aug242014

Coast Guard Finds Four Bodies in Ocean Off the Coast of Florida

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- The U.S. Coast Guard located four bodies in the water about 20 miles off the coast of Hollywood Beach in Florida on Sunday morning.

The Coast Guard confirmed the discovery, noting that a search was ongoing for other possible people in the water. The Coast Guard was alerted to two male bodies floating in the water east of Hollywood Beach. They later discovered a female body. No information has been provided about the fourth body found.

The Coast Guard did not immediately release any additional information about the bodies, or how they might have ended up in the ocean.


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Sunday
Aug242014

Rifles and Body Armor Taken After Undercover SWAT Car Burglary

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HEBER CITY, Utah) -- An undercover SWAT car was burglarized sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning in Heber City, Utah, according to local police.

The car was just one of three that was either burglarized or stolen in the area. While the car wasn't stolen, the thieves managed to take numerous police items, including an AR-15 rifle, a pistol, a shotgun and SWAT body armor and uniforms.

"These are brazen criminals; we would like to stop quickly. It's important to find them and get the equipment back in the right hands," Heber City Police Department Lt. Jason Bradley said in a statement.

Police haven't said if the car was targeted because it was a SWAT vehicle, but Public Information Officer Xela Thomas said the car had "minimal police decals" and wasn't in use at the time of the burglary.

Police did not describe the car, since they hope to use it in future operations, but Thomas said it was generic and didn't have any special features such as armored siding.

Another car four houses down from the SWAT vehicle was also burglarized and a third was stolen.

Anyone with information can call the police department at 435-654-1411.


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Saturday
Aug232014

Ferguson Cop in Fatal Shooting Gets 'Unwavering Support'

Scott Olson/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) -- About a hundred people turned out at a rally in an affluent St. Louis neighborhood Saturday to voice their "unwavering support" of Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Missouri two weeks ago.

The speakers and many in the crowd at the cookout-style event -- complete with a classic rock soundtrack -- gathered in the parking lot of Barney's Sports Pub, about 30 minutes' drive from Ferguson. The group not only voiced support of Wilson, but also anger at media coverage of the shooting and its aftermath.

The killing of Michael Brown sparked protests in Ferguson that were often peaceful but sometimes turned into angry or violent confrontations with police. The St. Louis suburb was also racked by looting, leading to the state Highway Patrol being given authority and the National Guard being called out to try to maintain order.

Tensions seemed to ease some this week, however, and after several peaceful nights, the National Guard was ordered to leave the city.

Many of the attendees at the rally Saturday were clad in blue T-shirts with a white police shield reading "Officer Darren Wilson -- I Stand By You -- 8-9-14." Several said they were relatives of people in law enforcement, and there were some uniformed police officers also in attendance, but they remained inside the bar.

Horns honked as cars passed the rally, where participants held signs reading, "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" and "I Don't Support a Race / I Support the TRUTH."

"Our mission is to formally declare that we share the united belief that Officer Wilson's actions on Aug. 9 were warranted and justified. And he has our unwavering support," said the organizer of the rally, who would only let herself be known publicly as "Darren Wilson."

The female speaker then accused the press of exacerbating the tensions in this area and "putting people's lives at risk."

"Stop drawing maps to houses, broadcasting in front of parties' homes, knocking on their families' doors, putting people's lives at risk. This is unethical, poor journalism and a travesty to its case," she said in a brief prepared statement.

Before the rally began, a lone African American protester burst into the parking lot and grabbed the press's attention, loudly asking why police weren't being called to break up the assembly.

"Why ain't they shooting on y'all?" Sandra Fifer of St. Louis asked. "Where are the police?

"The police should be out here, because when we congregate, they're all out here with their guns. And we're unarmed. [These people] are unarmed. Why aren't the police out here?" she said.

Several of Wilson's supporters at first tried to shout her down, but then they allowed her to speak.

"We're always looked at as criminals because of the color of our skin, and I'm sick of it. It's not right," Fifer said. "We're not allowed to stand peacefully on the corner, even at 3 [p.m.], we're called 'gangsters and thugs.'"

The woman left peacefully, and, seemingly proud that the moment hadn't turned into a larger spectacle or escalated into violence, the crowd cheered.

"Awesome. That's how it should be done," one said to applause.


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Saturday
Aug232014

Woman Carrying Fake Babies in Maternity Ward Charged with Trespassing

iStock/Thinkstock(MERCED, Calif.) -- A woman accused of trespassing at the maternity ward of a California hospital denied doing anything wrong, despite police saying they caught her wearing scrubs and carrying a doll created to look like a real infant.

Tonya Whitney was arrested Friday, according to ABC News affiliate KFSN-TV in Fresno, Calif., and given a citation for trespassing.

"I, in no way, tried impersonating a nurse," Whitney said. "I, in no way, ever thought or tried to steal a baby."

Whitney said she arrived at the hospital with the lifelike dolls because she wanted to market them to the hospital for use during training or as a therapeutic tool. The dolls, called "reborns," mimic the appearance of newborns.

Whitney told KFSN she only went to the maternity ward because an emergency room nurse told her she could show the dolls to the maternity staff. However, once Whitney and her husband arrived on the maternity ward, the staff became concerned about why the pair was there.

A security guard stopped them from entering and took their picture before they left. Police and hospital administrators told ABC News they were concerned because Whitney was wearing hospital scrubs and attempted to get into the maternity ward on two different days.

Whitney said that she wore the scrubs because they fit her.

"Well, I've gained weight in the last couple months and that's all I had that fit," she told KFSN.

Mercy Medical Center hospital spokesman Robert McLaughlin told ABC News the couple treated the dolls like real infants.

"They acted like they were real," he said. "They hold them and hug them and change their diapers. It's very odd."

McLaughlin also said Whitney had an outdated business card of the directors and said she had an appointment with an educator, which wasn't true.

Whitney told KFSN she realizes her lifelike dolls can be disturbing for some people, but said when hospital staff was concerned, she and her husband simply left.

"My dolls can be kind of freaky," Whitney said. "So we just apologized and left."

 



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Saturday
Aug232014

Demonstrators Protest Against NYPD Chokehold Death of Eric Garner 

Kena Betancur/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Thousands of demonstrators gathered Saturday on New York's Staten Island to protest the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed man who lost his life following a police chokehold.

Protesters chanted "I can't breathe" -- the words Garner was heard saying during the July incident -- as they marched along sidewalks in the neighborhood.

During the "We Won't Go Back" rally, attendeespromised a peaceful demonstration and parents demanded that police stop targeting their young men.

Some attendees claimed the issue of racial profiling by police still persists and continues circumstances similar to Garner's death. The 43-year-old was confronted by officers for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. The city's medical examiner ruled his death a homicide.

"The same issues that we were fighting in the 60s we're right back at it again," said protester Jeff London. "It hasn't stopped."

Participants also chanted, "Don't Shoot," the rallying cry that could be heard throughout Ferguson, Missouri during recent protests over the deadly police shooting of an unarmed teen Michael Brown. 


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Saturday
Aug232014

Texas Babysitter Accused of Setting Fire to Family's Home

iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- A Texas woman was apparently so annoyed with two girls she babysat, police say she decided to set their bedrooms on fire.

Martha Dreher is charged with arson. She cared for Glenn Williams' two daughters.

"It was definitely a vendetta against the two girls," Williams said.

Dreher, 57, had worked for the family for a few months. She denied setting the fire at the family's home in Austin, Texas, but told investigators she was tired of dealing with the girls and wanted to quit, according to Williams.

"She said that it was horrible, that the girls - my oldest - had been very disrespectful," said Williams.

Surveillance video captured Dreher driving up to the empty house earlier this month, then leaving 20 minutes later as flames were visible from the girls' bedroom, police say. Hours later, the girls' brother came home.

"My son Adam came in and said, 'Dad, I just went to the kitchen - lot of smoke,'" said Williams.

No one was injured.

Dreher has pleaded not guilty. Her attorney, Amber Bode, said Dreher had no reason to lash out at the girls.

"The thing that we are going to be pushing for - in addition to, obviously, lie detector tests and everything else that we can do to prove her innocence - is evidence," said Bode.

The Williams family is now gutting their 90-year-old historic home.



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