Entries in Arizona (224)


Sheriff Arpaio Wants Armed Volunteers at Schools 

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- Controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio wants to put armed volunteers outside schools in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting.

Arpaio said in an interview with ABC/Univision on Friday that putting armed guards around schools would deter would-be shooters from committing violent acts. He plans to place his 3,000-person strong "volunteer posse" around Phoenix-area schools for added protection.

"I think it's the appropriate time to utilize this free resource to try to prevent any more massacres," Arpaio said.

The sheriff said he has the authority to direct his volunteers to guard the schools. The "posse" includes everyone from former law enforcement officials to lawyers, Arpaio said. The sheriff's office trains them on how to use weapons properly, he said.

The remarks come shortly after National Rifle Association Executive Director Wayne LaPierre called for armed police officers in every school in the country.

"It doesn't matter whether they like it or don't like it," Arpaio said, regarding whether schools want armed guards. "I'm still going to do it. I can't imagine criticism coming when they're given free protection."

It's not the first time the sheriff has suggested using armed volunteers to combat violence. His posse patrolled malls following incidents in the mid-1990s, and the group has also "gone after illegal immigration and drug trafficking," he said. The posse is comprised of volunteers who donate their time free of charge.

Arpaio is well-known within the Latino community for being a staunch supporter of Arizona's immigration laws, including the "show me your papers" provision that allows officers to check the immigration status of suspects they think might be in the country without permission.

"I'm always going to get critics," Arpaio said. "They'll probably say I've got the posse out there to arrest kids who are in this country illegally. That's not the case. That's not true. They're there to protect all kids."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mom Took Cancer-Stricken Daughter from Hospital Because of Bill

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The mother who took her cancer-stricken daughter from Phoenix Children's Hospital with a catheter still in her heart defended her actions, saying the hospital intimidated the family about paying the bill.

Surveillance video captured Norma Bracamontes walking out of the hospital with her 11-year-old daughter Emily on Nov. 28 at 10:30 p.m. along with a young boy.

Bracamontes said the hospital not only threatened her family, but they made threats to Emily as she battled leukemia.

"Emily, you're not going to go home cause your mom and your dad haven't filled all the forms, so blame them that you're going to be here stuck in the hospital," Bracamontes told ABC News, imitating an unnamed hospital official.

Bracamontes said in addition to the intimidation, the hospital provided insufficient care when her daughter became ill with the MRSA virus, which led to Emily's arm being amputated.

The Phoenix Children's Hospital released a statement to ABC News, saying, "Our policy is to provide services either free of charge or at a reduced amount to patients who are not able to pay for services."

In regards to the MRSA infection, the hospital said, "We steadfastly disagree with the assertions brought forth regarding the quality of care Emily received."

Emily and her family are back home in Mexico continuing her fight against leukemia, and she credits her mother with saving her life.

"She saved my life…she saved my life two times," Emily said.

"I know here in Mexico, I feel good because the me so much," she added.

Police began a frantic search for the little girl after the hospital reported her missing on Nov. 28.  Authorities and medical professionals feared the catheter in Emily's heart could become infected and potentially kill her if it was not removed by a medical professional.

A nurse supervisor called 911 when she realized Emily was missing and described how she was able to avoid detection.

"She was wearing a wig, which is not unusual.  A lot of our cancer patients wear wigs," the supervisor said.  "She wasn't wearing a wig when she went into the bathroom though and then she was wearing a wig when she came out and she was actually covering her right arm, the amputated arm."

Police said Bracamontes removed her daughter's IV before walking her out of the hospital in street clothes.  The family left the hospital in a black van and disappeared.

Bracamontes' husband, Luis, was stopped by Border Patrol agents on Dec. 1 when he was trying to leave Mexico and drive into Arizona.

Luis, 46, told authorities that the family lived a "nomadic" life, and did not have a permanent residence, ABC News affiliate KNXV-TV reported.  He also denied any involvement in removing his daughter from the hospital and provided "no valuable information" as far as the whereabouts of his daughter at that time, according to police.

Police who stopped Luis said he was a Mexican citizen with a U.S. Resident Alien ID card, and that the girl and her mother were U.S. citizens.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Secret Giving: ‘Secret Santas’ in NC Give Cash, Man Pays for Toys in Arizona

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- ‘Tis the season of giving, and this season, some generous people are giving in secret.

Three unidentified people dressed up as Santa Claus handed out an estimated $10,000-worth of $100 bills to strangers in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday.

“I’m shocked.  Oh my gosh, this is amazing,” Regina Brady told the Charlotte Observer newspaper as she received her cash.

The tradition of handing out money in Charlotte around Christmas started in 2008 with an anonymous local family calling themselves the Secret Santas, the newspaper reported.

But the Charlotte Secret Santas aren’t the only kind-hearted benefactors. In Anthem, Ariz., a man who wished to remain anonymous walked into the local Walmart and paid off the balances on several customers’ layaway items.

The man first came into the store on Nov. 29 and said that he wanted to settle layaway balances -- particularly for people who were paying for toys, Joe Malinconico, the store’s manager, told ABC News affiliate WKNX-TV in Phoenix. The first day, the Good Samaritan paid off three customers’ balances.  He returned the following day and settled the bills for 17 other customers -- to the tune of about $1,600.

At first, customer Patty Hiner found the good fortune hard to believe.

“When they called, I think I asked them three times, ‘Are you serious’?  Because I just didn’t believe that, you know, somebody had really came in and paid off my layaway for me,” she told WKNX.

According to Malinconico, the secret Santa said his own children were older and paying off the layaway balances was his way of helping people who were struggling.

“I have a feeling he’ll be back, I do,” Malinconico said.  “I’m hoping so.  He’s touching a lot of lives.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Father of Girl Missing from Cancer Ward Denies Role in Her Disappearance

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- The U.S. Border Patrol located the father of an 11-year-old girl whose mother had removed her from Phoenix Children's Hospital with a catheter still in her heart, but he has denied playing any role in taking the cancer-stricken girl from her sickbed.

Surveillance video captured the girl, identified only as Emily, along with a young boy and her mother, who police have now identified as 35-year-old Norma Bracamontes, walking out of Phoenix Children's Hospital at 10:30 p.m. last Wednesday.

Authorities and medical professionals fear the catheter in the girl's heart could become infected and endanger her life. The device was scheduled to be taken out before her mother removed an IV from the girl, who had been receiving chemotherapy, had recently battled an infection and had her right arm amputated.

When stopped while entering the United States last weekend, Luis Bracamontes, 46, told authorities that the family lived a "nomadic" life, and did not have a permanent residence, ABC affiliate KNXV-TV reported.

Police said that Bracamontes was a Mexican citizen with a U.S. Resident Alien ID Card, and that the girl and her mother were U.S. citizens. Other than that, Bracamontes provided "no valuable information" as far as the whereabouts of his daughter, Sgt. Steve Martos of the Phoenix Police Department said. Neither parent has been charged with a crime.

The family's not having a U.S. address has made the search for Emily difficult, Martos told ABC News last week. Since Emily and her family are from Mexico, they have no listed records in Arizona.

A nurse supervisor called 911 when she realized Emily was missing, and described how Emily was able to avoid detection.

"She was wearing a wig, which is not unusual, a lot of our cancer patients wear wigs," the supervisor said. "She wasn't wearing a wig when she went into the bathroom though, and then she was wearing a wig when she came out, and she was actually covering her right arm, the amputated arm."

Police said Norma Bracamontes removed Emily's IV before walking her out of the hospital in street clothes.

The family left the hospital in a black van and has not been seen since. Luis Bracamontes denied to authorities that he was driving the van.

Calls placed Tuesday to Phoenix Children's Hospital spokeswoman Jane Walton by ABC News were not immediately returned.

With the catheter still in her heart, Emily runs the risk of infection at both the site where the catheter entered her skin, and risks bacteria getting into the catheter at its tip, from where it could travel into her heart. At that point, the bacteria could enter her bloodstream.

Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News that the longer Emily is out of professional care, the chances of her developing sepsis increases.

"This is not hype, or an overblown concern," he said. "We have a patient who, with cancer, is in a precarious position for infection. The longer it takes, the more worried we get. The chances of an infection being introduced goes up and up each day."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mom Sought After Pulling Child from Hospital Cancer Treatment

Phoenix Police Department(PHOENIX) -- Police in Phoenix are searching for an 11-year-old girl who was removed from the hospital by her mother, where she was being treated for leukemia.

Police said the little girl, who has only been identified as Emily, also had her arm amputated due to an infection.  The authorities are not sure why the mother removed the child from Phoenix Children’s Hospital Wednesday night, but are worried about the catheter still in Emily’s chest.

“Our concern right now is for that catheter to be medically removed.  We understand that there is the possibility that the catheter could get an infection and thereby result in the death of this child really in the matter of days,” Sgt. Steve Martos told ABC News affiliate KNXV-TV Thursday night.

Surveillance footage from the hospital shows the mother, identified as Norma in a police press release, leaving with Emily around 10:30 p.m. local time Wednesday.  Police say Norma removed Emily’s IV before walking her out of the hospital in street clothes.

A young boy was also seen leaving with Norma and Emily.

Police believe the family then left the hospital in a black van and have not been seen since.  Detectives have made an effort to contact the family but to no avail, according to the statement.

It’s not clear how long Emily had been a patient at the hospital.  Police have not released the family’s last name.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Winning Tickets for Powerball Jackpot Sold in Arizona, Missouri

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Winning tickets for the record Powerball jackpot worth more than $587 million were purchased in Arizona and Missouri.

Missouri Lottery official Susan Goedde confirmed to ABC News Thursday morning that one of the winning tickets was purchased in the state, but they would not be announcing a town until later Thursday morning. 

Powerball's website reports the other winning ticket was purchased in Arizona.

Arizona lottery officials said they had no information on that state's winner or winners but would announce where it was sold during a news conference later in the day.

The winning numbers for the jackpot were 5, 23, 16, 22 and 29.  The Powerball was 6. 

Before the numbers were drawn on Wednesday, the jackpot swelled to $587.5 million, according to lottery official Sue Dooley.  The two winners will split the jackpot each getting $293.75 million.  The cash payout is $192.5 million each.

An additional 8,924,123 players won smaller prizes, according to Powerball's website.

"There were 58 winners of $1 million and there were eight winners of $2 million.  So a total of $74 million," said Chuck Strutt, Director of the Multi-State Lottery Association.

Hopeful players bought tickets at the rate of 131,000 every minute up until an hour before the deadline of 11 p.m. ET, according to lottery officials.

The jackpot had already rolled over 16 consecutive times without a winner.  That fact, plus the doubling in price of a Powerball ticket, accounted for the unprecedented richness of the pot.

"Back in January, we moved Powerball from being a $1 game to $2," said Mary Neubauer, a spokeswoman at the game's headquarters in Iowa.  "We thought at the time that this would mean bigger and faster-growing jackpots."

That proved true.  The total, she said, began taking "huge jumps -- another $100 million since Saturday."  It then jumped another $50 million.

The biggest Powerball pot on record until now -- $365 million -- was won in 2006 by eight Lincoln, Neb., co-workers.

Lottery officials put the odds of winning the $587.5 million Powerball pot at one in 175 million, meaning you'd have been 25 times more likely to win an Academy Award.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Arizona Man Freed After Decades, Still Denies Double Murders

Arizona State Corrections(NEW YORK) -- Bill Macumber, a convicted felon who spent almost four decades in prison for two murders he claimed his ex-wife framed him for, still denies he committed the crimes and said he "never lost hope" he would be granted his freedom.

"Justice late is still justice," a teary-eyed Macumber told reporters at a press conference in Phoenix shortly after being released from prison.  "When I was first questioned in 1974, I made the statement of innocence 10,000 times since, and I will take that statement to the grave."

The 77-year-old Macumber, who had no history of violence and has long maintained his innocence, was convicted in the 1970s in one of the most sensational murder cases in the history of Arizona.  Macumber was twice sentenced to life in prison for killing Joyce Sterrenberg and Tim McKillop, both 20 years old, and leaving their bodies in the desert.

After years of missing out on weddings and the birth of grandchildren, Macumber on Tuesday entered a plea of no contest for two counts of second-degree murder in Maricopa County Superior Court under an agreement with prosecutors and received a sentence of time served, securing his freedom.  Although the victims' family asked Judge Bruce Cohen to deny his request, prosecutors said they couldn't pursue a third trial because key evidence had been destroyed or lost.

Macumber has spent decades trying to clear his name.  His son, Ron Kempfert, and the Arizona Justice Project have been advocating for his release for years, saying that Ron's mother, Carol Kempfert, framed him and that another man committed the murders.

When Carol Kempfert first heard the news that her ex-husband was set free, she was in disbelief.

"It took me a while to process that they would let him out," she told ABC News in an exclusive interview.  "After the second hearing with the parole board, when they said that they didn't believe that I had framed him and sent him back to jail, I thought that was it and all of a sudden he's out."

Kempfert said she passed four lie detector tests when she was questioned by police and maintains that she never tampered with evidence.  Despite the court granting Macumber's request, Kempfert said that doesn't prove her ex-husband's innocence, and closure for her would have meant he stayed in prison.

"I knew what happened, I was there, and I know he committed them," she said.  "I would have to think that I was crazy, and I'm not.  I did not frame him, and he did admit it to me and he did do it, and the evidence was there."

"They need to know they just let a murderer loose," she continued.  "I feel sorry for the [victims'] families because I know they were unhappy with this, and all I can tell them is I did my best and it just didn't work, and I'm sorry for that."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Baby Gabriel's Mother Used Him as a Pawn in Custody Battle, Said Prosecutors

Comstock/Thinkstock(TEMPE, Ariz.) -- Nearly three years after 8-month-old Gabriel Johnson was reported missing in San Antonio, Texas, prosecutors say his mother used him as a pawn against his biological father because she was angry at him and wanted to hurt him in the aftermath of their relationship.

Closing arguments were heard on Tuesday in the trial of baby Gabriel's mother, Elizabeth Johnson, 26, in Superior Court of Maricopa County in Arizona. Johnson has pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, custodial interference and conspiracy in the December 2009 disappearance of her son.

Johnson had been embroiled in a custody battle with Gabriel's biological father, Logan McQueary. Johnson had wanted to put their son up for adoption, but McQueary did not.

While she was fighting with McQueary over custody of their son, Johnson left Tempe, Ariz., with Gabriel and traveled to San Antonio, Texas, on Dec. 18, 2009. Johnson failed to bring Gabriel back to visit with McQueary two days later, violating a court custody order.

Gabriel was last seen with his mother on Dec. 26, 2009. The following day, Johnson sent text messages to McQueary saying she had killed him.

Johnson listened tearfully in court as prosecutor Angela Andrews read portions of the transcript of the recorded conversation Johnson had with McQueary after she told him she killed Gabriel.

Johnson was recorded telling McQueary that she suffocated their son with a towel until he turned blue. She said she then put his body in a diaper bag and put the bag in the trash.

Later, Johnson told authorities she gave Gabriel to a couple she met in a park in San Antonio.

In his closing statements, Johnson's attorney, Marc Victor, said he disagrees that what Johnson did could be characterized as kidnapping.

Victor said he did not call witnesses because the state did not present a convincing case that Johnson was guilty of kidnapping. He instead said the lawsuit was an example of "an ugly custody interference case."

Victor had filed a motion to dismiss Johnson's kidnapping charge on Oct. 12, but Superior Court Judge Joseph Kreamer denied it.

Johnson did not take the stand during the trial. She cannot be tried for murder in Arizona since Gabriel was last seen in Texas.

Gabriel Johnson has still not been found. Police searched a Texas landfill in February 2010 for the child's body, but to no avail. His third birthday was in May.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bear Cub Finds Arizona Home Just Right

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SONOITA, Ariz.) -- A bear cub with a sweet tooth ravaged an Arizona kitchen.

The 30-pound cub broke in through the kitchen window of a home in Sonoita, Ariz., Thursday, and helped itself to a chocolate cake on the counter as well as jelly beans, chips and bread in the pantry.

The raid made the home’s owner, Phil Volk, think it was the work of his grandchildren, possibly up for a very early morning snack. When he went to check, instead of finding grandkids smeared in chocolate, he saw the bear, and the damage it had wrought.

“It pulled the lid off a chocolate cake on the counter and finished that off. It tipped the trash and went through the contents of that,” Volk told the Arizona Daily Star.  “It [the kitchen] was total disarray. He ate very well.”

Volk and his wife called 911 and the Arizona Game and Fish Department sent an officer to their home.  By the time the officer arrived, the bear, who did not attack any humans during his food attack, had made its way into a bedroom.

The wildlife official tranquilized the bear and removed it from the home, a department spokeswoman told the Daily Star.

Instead of returning the bear to the wild, however, wildlife officials sent it to the Heritage Park Zoo in Prescott, Ariz., nearly 260 miles away.

Officials told the Daily Star the bear had likely been abandoned by its mother and was too young to return to the wild.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Slain Border Agent Identified, Drug Traffickers Suspected

Slain border patrol agent Nicholas Ivie. Dept of Homeland Security(NACO, Ariz.) -- Two U.S. Border Patrol Agents were shot today near Naco, Ariz., leaving one agent dead and another badly wounded.

The gunshots were possibly fired by drug traffickers, federal and county officials said.

The slain agent was Nicholas Ivie, 30. His partner was not immediately identified. A third agent was unharmed.

The agents were part of a three man patrol in the area and were responding to a motion detection sensor when they encountered gunfire, according to Homeland Security officials. Authorities did not know if the agents returned fire.

The agent who was wounded was transported by helicopter to a hospital.

"Border Patrol agents on patrol in Naco, Ariz., were involved in a shooting Tuesday at 1:50 a.m.," U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement. "One agent died from his injuries and another, who sustained non-life threatening wounds, was airlifted to a hospital."

Cochise County Deputy Chief Rod Rothrock told ABC News affiliate KNXV, "Due to the time of day and the location, we suspect some kind of narcotics trafficking, but at this point that is speculative."

"Cochise County has been a smuggling corridor for many, many years and that seems to be unabated in modern times," he said.

Rothrock warned, "The danger zone can extend pretty far north of the border."

He said a manhunt was launched in the area, but came up empty.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a statement saying, "I am deeply saddened by the death of Border Patrol Agent Nicholas J. Ivie and the attack on another Border Patrol Agent early this morning. Both agents were on patrol near Bisbee, Ariz., when they came under fire from an unknown assailant."

She vowed to bring the assailants to justice and ordered flags flown at half staff.

Sources familiar with the sensors in the area said they are set to be triggered by a certain weight so that agents don't end up chasing rabbits or coyotes. The sensors are primarily intended to catch smugglers and some have cameras deployed with them. It is not yet know if a camera was operating in the vicinity of the sensor.

The last Border Patrol agent shot and killed along the border was Brian Terry, who was killed by bandits in a rugged part of the U.S.-Mexico border. The guns that killed Terry were linked to a gun trafficking operation run by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms bureau in Arizona called Operation Fast and Furious.

The agents killed and wounded today were assigned to a Border Patrol station that was recently named after Brian Terry.

Rothrock was asked whether any of the Fast and Furious weapons could have been used in today's shooting. "I can't say that's impossible, but at this point it would be purely speculative... As we speak it is not known."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio