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Thursday
Aug042011

Serial Butt-Slasher in Virginia

Getty(FAIRFAX, Va.) -- There appears to be a serial slasher on the loose in Fairfax, Va., who targets his female victims in one area of their bodies: their buttocks.

Fairfax County police believe that the apparent serial slasher has been using a box cutter or razor to slice women's rear ends in Fairfax County retail stores since February.

So far, six women have reported being victimized, police said, but authorities would not be surprised if more women realize that they have been victims of the same type of assault and come forward.

On Monday, Aug. 1, a sixth victim reported such an assault to Fairfax County Police. The 21-year-old woman was shopping at the T.J. Maxx at Fairfax Towne Center in Fairfax, Va., on June 8 when she felt a pinch on her buttocks. The woman did not realize that she had been the victim of a slashing until Monday, telling cops only after the attacks came to the public’s attention.

On July 25, another woman suffered the same type of assault at a Forever XXI store in Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, Va.

According to Fairfax County Police, the 18-year-old victim was shopping when she noticed clothes that had fallen off of a rack behind her and saw a man bending down to pick them up. She immediately felt a "sharp pain" and believed one of the hangers had struck her.

A short time later, the victim discovered that her denim shorts had been slashed; her buttock had been cut and was bleeding.

In each case, the suspect distracted his victim before cutting her. The victims have all been teenaged women or in their early 20s. Police don't have reason to believe there won’t be another assault and are not sure his slashings may not be isolated to Fairfax.

Gregg McCrary, a former FBI profiler for 10 years who teaches forensic psychology at Marymount University in Arlington, Va., said that the suspect may have a rare sexual disorder: piquerism.

"The offender probably derives sexual gratification from slashing or pricking or piercing women in sexually significant areas of their body," McCrary said.

He says these actions are consistent with this rare disorder because he only targets victims’ buttocks. Some piquerists “plateau off” while other transition to be more sexually violent offenders. He expresses concern due to the fact that the offender has gone beyond fantasy into physically harming women.

Thursday
Aug042011

Feds Join Hunt after University of Michigan Sex Assaults

http://fbi.gov)(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) -- A string of sexual assaults that has plagued the community surrounding the University of Michigan over the past two weeks has prompted more than 500 calls to the city's tip line, but has led to no arrests. The FBI is now involved.

Since July 15, police said six women have been sexually assaulted in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor, shaking the college town that is home to the university.

"That is unusual for our town and unusual to occur in such a short time span," said Lt. Angella Abrams of the Ann Arbor Police Department.

The attacks began on July 15 and the most recent occurred on Tuesday, July 26. All cases have involved women walking alone and being grabbed from behind, according to police, who have released two composite photos based on victim accounts of an unknown male or males who are suspected to range in age from 20 to early 30's.

The composites look like two different men.

"We're using the composites, but we're not singling out that it may be more than one. It may be one or two predators," said Abrams.

She said that more than 500 tips have come into the department's tip line concerning the cases.

As the university prepares to welcome thousands of freshmen onto campus at the end of the month, director of public affairs Kelly Cunningham said they are working to ease parents' concerns, and are placing information in orientation materials. E-mail messages have been sent out to students and posters with the composite sketches have been distributed throughout the campus, she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug042011

Warren Jeffs Trial: Sex Tape Details Emerge

TRENT NELSON/AFP/Getty Images(SAN ANTONIO) -- Fundamentalist Mormon religious leader Warren Jeffs was found guilty Thursday on two charges of aggravated sexual assault.

Texas state prosecutors wrapped up their case against Jeffs by using his own words against him: A disturbing August 2006 recording of what Jeffs' called a "heavenly comfort" training session with three of his so-called "spiritual wives."

One of the females was exactly 12 years, one month, and three days old when the recording was made. Jeffs was charged with aggravated sexual assault, considered a first-degree felony.

Sexual contact with his wives, Jeffs believes, revives him spiritually and brings the girls closer to God.

The recording was made at the Yearning for Zion ranch in Texas, owned by the FLDS. It begins with Jeffs asking the girl how she feels.

"Feels good," she responds, according to a copy of the transcript reviewed by ABC News.

"Everyone else let go of me, back away a little" Jeffs says soon after. "Please get on the other side of the bed. You shall learn the powers of the spirit of God as a heavenly wife should," Jeffs tells the 12-year-old. "Let the heavenly comfort hear us."  

"We bless you, by the Lord, at this young age. To come to know God and his power, and feel his presence," says Jeffs, according to the transcript.

Throughout the 20-minute tape, there are periods where sounds described by the transcript as "rhythmic heavy breathing" can be heard.

At one point, Jeffs again asks the girl how she feels.

"I feel fine, thank you," she says.

Jeffs later tells a woman in the room to "face her” -- an apparent reference to the 12-year old. He is also heard saying, "...want to distract her."

As the session ends, Jeffs begins to pray.

Texas Ranger Nick Hanna testified the recording was found when Jeffs was arrested during a traffic stop in Nevada a few weeks later. Another copy was found at the Yearning for Zion ranch when it was raided in 2008.

Jeffs, the leader of a radical sect of Mormonism know as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS), is on trial for two counts of sexual assault of a child. He is accused of forcing two teenage girls into "spiritual marriage," and fathering a child with one of them when she was 15. The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug042011

Report: Gunman on Campus at Virginia Tech

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(BLACKSBURG, Va) -- Once again, a gunman is reportedly on the campus of Virginia Tech, according to a posting on the school's website at 9:37 a.m. Thursday morning.

School officials are urging students to remain indoors while emergency personnel respond. The gunman is allegedly outside the Dietrick Dining Hall of the school's campus.

Officials say witnesses saw a 6 foot tall white male with light brown hair outside the New Residence Hall East holding what appeared to be a handgun at 9:09 a.m. The witness, three juveniles attending a camp at the school, say the weapon was covered up with a cloth.

The suspect is described as wearing a blue and white vertically striped shirt with gray shorts and brown sandals. He was allegedly walking quickly in the direction of the volleyball courts.

Virginia Tech is currently holding summer session classes, which run through August 14.

Authorities say they have yet to find a suspect matching the description.

Officials held a briefing in which they confirmed that although individuals have been stopped and questioned, there are no suspects in custody and there have been no further sightings of the alleged gunman.

The alert will remain in effect until more information is known. Authorities will continue to patrol campus.

On April 16, 2007, 49 students and faculty members were shot, 33 fatally, at the hands of Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho, who took his own life after the massacre.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug042011

California Mom Faces Murder Charges for Alleged Meth-Laced Breast Milk

BananaStock/Thinkstock(HUMBOLDT, Calif) -- The Humboldt County District Attorneys Office has filed a murder charge against 26-year old Maggie Jean Wortman on allegations she killed her 6-week-old son by feeding him methamphetamine-laced breast milk.

The Times Standard reports Wortman was originally facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and felony child endangerment on July 20, but the DA’s office recently decided to file a murder charge in light of evidence presented during the hearing.

Detectives originally arrested Wortman after a two month investigation determined her son died in November due to “methamphetamine toxicity.” Wortman's 19-month-old daughter is reportedly in protective custody after she also tested positive for methamphetamine.

Wortman is currently being held in the Humboldt County jail without bail.

Reacting to the DA’s decision Tuesday, Wortman’s attorney M.C. Bruce says the facts of the case don’t support the charge.

She faces a maximum prison sentence of nine years if convicted on all counts.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug042011

Ohio Quintuplets Celebrate First Birthday

ABC News(MASSILLON, Ohio) -- There was a big birthday celebration on August 3rd, and it wasn’t for President Obama. The Spiocchi quintuplets of Massilon, Ohio celebrated their first birthday at Akron Childrens’ Hospital.

The four girls and one boy: IIah, Paige, Ellie, Gia and Enzo, are all healthy after their first year, and their mom Annie attributes it to the help of her family and friends and her husband’s strict visitation policy.

Annie said that while the first six months seemed like forever -- spending much of that time in the neonatal ICU -- she felt fortunate to have received so much help from friends and family.

Her husband, Vince, had strict rules as to who was allowed to see the babies. The quintuplets were born at a little more than 24 weeks, the second youngest set of quintuplets to have ever survived, and Vince explains the “amazing” statistics by saying, “you can’t look at this and not realize there’s a higher power at work here.”

After the quintuplets were born, the family had to buy a larger house and a 12-passenger van.

In addition to the quints, the Spicocchi's also have a five-year-old son and a 15-year-old daughter. Vince Spicocchi credits daughter Taylor for stepping forward and being very actively involved in taking care of her siblings.

Doctors who helped deliver the quintuplets also attended the birthday party, which included a cake and punch.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug032011

Pick-Up Truck Driven By Celina Cass' Stepfather Seized By Police

FBI(STEWARTSTOWN, N.H.) -- Police investigating the suspicious death of 11-year-old Celina Cass focused on the fifth grader's home Wednesday, taking a truck that neighbors said was driven by the girl's stepfather.

Investigators hauled away a silver pickup truck from the Cass home Wednesday afternoon, part of their continued search for evidence and witnesses.

Neighbor Shannon Towle told ABC News that Wendell Noyes, Celina's stepfather, drives a truck matching that description. She often sees Noyes at her husband's West Stewartstown store, Towles Mini Mart, where he is a regular customer.

She said in the small town of 800 the fact that he drives a silver pickup is "common knowledge."

Noyes, 47, was taken by ambulance to a hospital Monday after behaving bizarrely. His odd behavior and hospitalization came about the same time that searchers found the girl's body in a nearby lake next to a dam.

Court documents obtained by ABC News reveal that Celina's stepfather, Wendell Noyes, has a troubled past. In 2003, the stepfather was involuntarily committed to a hospital because of schizophrenia and arrested for threatening an ex-girlfriend, according to court documents.

Noyes was charged with violating a protective order held by his ex-girlfriend and for criminal trespassing, criminal threatening and hindering apprehension. The girlfriend, who lived with her two kids at the time, said Noyes broke into her home while she was sleeping, lifted her mattress and slammed it down and then threatened to throw her down the stairs.

So far nobody has been named a suspect in Celina's disappearance and death.

Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said Tuesday evening that Celina's autopsy has been completed and the cause and manner of death are still pending.

A dive team pulled Celina's remains from the Connecticut River Monday, just a quarter mile from her hometown of West Stewartstown, N.H.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug032011

Warren Jeffs Prosecution Rests After Playing Audio Sex Tape

TRENT NELSON/AFP/Getty Images(SAN ANTONIO) -- In an audio tape played Wednesday at the trial of polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs, jurors heard the religious leader allegedly having sex with a 12-year-old girl and telling her to feel "the spirit of God."

The recording was the final piece of evidence offered by the prosecution before resting its case in the sexual assault trial against Jeffs.

Jeffs, the leader of a radical sect of Mormonism known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Ladder Day Saints (FLDS), is on trial for two counts of sexual assault of a child. Jeffs is accused of forcing two teenage girls into "spiritual marriage," and fathering a child with one of them when she was 15. The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Jeffs, who is acting as his own lawyer, can now call his own witnesses.

The prosecution's last piece of evidence was the graphic audio recording played in court Wednesday. In it, Jeffs can be heard offering prayer and telling the girl - who he refers to as his "heavenly comfort wife" - to "feel his presence...the spirit of God."

The girl can be heard speaking very briefly, and other sounds on the tape suggest the two were having sex.

The tape is one of several seized by police and submitted as evidence in the case against Jeffs. On Tuesday, prosecutors played three other tapes they say prove Jeffs "married" and assaulted underage girls.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug032011

Casey Anthony in Ohio as Thursday Probation Deadline Looms

File photo. Red Huber-Pool/Getty Images(ORLANDO) -- Photos emerged Wednesday of Casey Anthony strolling the streets of Ohio, as her lawyers fought an order that would require her to report to a Florida probation officer Thursday morning.

The legal battle prompted Judge Stan Strickland, who ordered Anthony to return to Florida to serve out a year's probation, to recuse himself from the case Wednesday. He did not specify his reason for the recusal.

Anthony's lawyers had accused Strickland of being prejudiced against her and had previously forced him off her murder trial in which she was acquitted of killing her daughter Caylee.

The case will now be handled by Judge Belvin Perry, the same judge who presided over the murder trial. Unless Perry blocks Strickland's order, Anthony will be required to report to a probation officer in Orlando by Thursday at 10 a.m., said Gretl Plessinger, the communications director for the Florida Department of Corrections.

Anthony has been in hiding since her acquittal and release from jail on July 17. If ordered back to Florida for probation, she will likely be flushed out into the open again.

"She will be treated as any other offender," said Plessinger. "Her address where she lives will be made public."

In January 2010, Strickland sentenced Anthony to serve 412 days in jail and a year's probation after she pleaded guilty to stealing checks from her friend Amy Huizenga during the time that Caylee was missing.

Strickland claimed in court documents filed Monday that he intended for Anthony to serve the year's probation once she was released from jail. He also required that Anthony pay $348 in court costs and $20 a month for the supervision required with her probation sentence.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug032011

Missing Hiker Found After 3 Days in Forest

Hood River County Sheriff's Office(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Pamela Salant spent three nights lost in the Oregon wilderness, relying on moss to keep warm and creek water to stay hydrated. She ate berries and caterpillars, and conjured up images from Touching the Void, a harrowing tale of survival in the Andes, to help guide her.

And on Tuesday afternoon, Pamela Salant, 28, a teacher in Southeast Portland, was rescued by an Oregon Army National Guard helicopter after she was spotted sitting on a log in Mt. Hood National Forest's Lindsey Creek. She had broken her leg after a 50-foot fall when she went off the trail, and had been propelling herself toward what she hoped would be the Columbia River -- and rescue -- by scooting along on her buttocks.

Her adventure started on Saturday when Salant was hiking with her boyfriend, Aric Essig, in Mt. Hood National Forest. The two had parted company shortly after noon, after dropping off their gear near Bear Lake, for what was expected to be a short while.

"I walked all around the lake expecting to meet up with her at some point, and I walked all the way back to the camp and just didn't see her," Essig told ABC News affiliate KATU.

Sunday morning, when Essig had not seen or heard from his girlfriend, he called the sheriff's office to report her missing, igniting a massive search of the area that included "30 ground searchers and dog teams and a lot of experienced searchers," according to Matt English, detective and PIO with Hood River Sheriff's Office.

Salant, meanwhile, was lost in one of the roughest areas of the Oregonian wilderness, known for its steep drops and thick vegetation, right where the Cascade Mountains meet the Columbia River Gorge. She had no cellphone with her.

She was scooting along Lindsey Creek, hoping to reach the Columbia River. She was unable to reach the Columbia but ended up in a steep drainage area about a mile and a half from her initial destination.

Sheriff Joe Wampler said the helicopter crew spotted Salant sitting on a log in the creek, waving, and sent a medical rescue helicopter from Salem to get her out. The sheriff also said that while she would have been easier to find if she had stayed near her initial fall sight, she did the next best thing by following a body of water.

Salant was airlifted to Legacy Emmanuel Medical Center, where doctors said she was in serious condition. She remains resilient. According to English, "She's a bit beat up, but she's talking and coherent."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio