Entries in Death (53)


Authorities Probing Death of Paralegal in Lawyer's Tub

Comstock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Authorities are hoping toxicology tests will give them clues into what killed a paralegal whose body was found in a condo owned by a prominent Philadelphia criminal attorney.

Investigators say a maintenance man found Julia Law naked and face down in a bathtub full of water Saturday around 10 a.m. Police say there were no signs of trauma or drugs found at the scene. An autopsy found water in Law’s lungs, ABC News station WPVI-TV reported Tuesday.

The condo was owned by Law’s boyfriend and boss, 58-year-old Charles Peruto, a prominent attorney known for his local mob clients. Peruto had given Law, his girlfriend of two months, a key to his apartment, investigators said.

Peruto told police he was in New Jersey Friday night into Saturday morning, overseeing construction on a new home, according to WPVI. While police have questioned Peruto as a witness, they do not consider him to be a suspect.

Police are waiting for results of more tests, which will ultimately give them a better idea to what killed Law.

Peruto released a statement earlier this week saying, “Julia was a beautiful, caring free spirit hippy, who I was blessed to have known. Words can’t express how sad I am to finally have met someone who I believed truly loved me. You should all have someone touch your life, like she did mine. Pray for her. She was an angel.”

Neighbors in the Center City neighborhood of Philadelphia are not rushing to judgment about the details surrounding Law’s death.

“This is not a crime, it’s a tragedy. Until someone tells me otherwise, there’s no proof of foul play or crime. It could be a million things,” neighbor Pamela McCarthy said.

Law would have turned 27 Tuesday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Marine Killed by Police Linked to Two Deaths

KLST/ABC News(EDEN, Texas) -- Police on Sunday identified a U.S. Marine accused of a drive-by shooting rampage that left one woman dead and five others injured in Texas, and said they believe he is also be responsible for the death of another woman in North Carolina the day before.

Esteban J. Smith, 23, was killed in a shootout with police early Sunday morning after randomly firing on five vehicles from his pickup truck as he drove around Concho County, Texas, according to Tom Vinger, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Smith is an active duty Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. His rank and service record have not been made public.

He allegedly began the spree around 4:30 a.m. Sunday, opening fire on a vehicle in Eden, Concho County, where a woman was wounded.

He then allegedly fired at a car at a convenience store, injuring two people.

The next shooting occurred at approximately 5:30 a.m. back in Eden, where another woman was injured.

None of the four were seriously hurt.

Just after 6 a.m., the Concho County Sheriff's Office received a call about shots fired, and when they investigated found a woman shot to death in her car in Eola.

The deceased woman has been identified as Alicia Torres, 42.

When Concho County Sheriff Richard Doane caught up with the suspect about 15 minutes later, Smith allegedly opened fire on his vehicle, wounding him.

Highway Patrol troopers and a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game warden arrived on the scene, and Smith engaged them in a firefight. He was killed in the shootout.

Police discovered "an assault rifle, a handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition" at the scene, according to Vinger.

Smith has also been linked to the death of another woman, whose body was found on Sunday at the Sunset Inn motel in Jacksonville, N.C., police said.

There are more than 1,500 miles separating the two incidents.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


NYC Teacher Offers Suicide Note Writing Class

Stockbyte(NEW YORK) -- Philosophy professor Simon Critchley from New York City's New School said he believes that the only way to really learn how to live is to prepare to die.

So, as part of a larger theatrical installation this spring called School of Death, he offered a suicide note writing workshop to anyone who was interested in appreciating its literary art form.

The notes studied ranged from the terse and emotionally conflicted -- "Dear Betty: I hate you, Love George" -- to the narcissistic: "Now you will appreciate me."

One man, before killing himself, wrote on the back of his wife's photograph after she had run away with his brother, "I present the girl I thought I married. Always remember, I loved you once and died hating you."

"The worst thing that can befall us is to die alone," said Critchley, 53. "And the suicide note in some strange way is not to die alone. It's always addressed to someone. It's a failed attempt at communication."

He said that if people were more comfortable talking about death, there might be fewer suicides.

"We talk about taxes, but death is kind of obscene," he said. "When faced with the actual issue -- for example the Terri Schiavo case -- we don't know what to do, emote or gloat."

The workshop, which was first reported by The New York Times, was advertised through social media. Those who signed up, ages 20 to 50, analyzed some of history's most famous last words, those of Adolph Hitler, Virginia Woolf and Kurt Cobain.

Suicide notes are part of the "fantasy to get our last word," said Critchley. "Saying goodbye also says how much someone means to you."

Novelist Woolf, just before drowning herself in 1941, writes to her husband, Leonard Woolf, that she is "going mad again" and hearing voices. "I can't fight any longer," she wrote. "...I can't go on spoiling your life any longer. I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been."

Hitler writes in 1945 from the Berlin bunker where he and lover Eva Braun took cyanide: "I have chosen death in order to escape the terrible situation of disgrace I am currently in. ...Things were going just as planned before, but little did I know it would backfire on me."

In 1994, Kurt Cobain, borrowing liberally from songwriter Neil Young, writes with great affection to his wife, Courtney Love, and daughter Frances: "I am too much of an erratic, moody baby! I don't have the passion anymore, and so remember, it's better to burn out than fade away." He then shot himself in the head.

Critchley's class may seem macabre, but some experts say it is refreshing.

"Morbidity has become fashionable again," said Elke Weesjes, founder and editor- in-chief of the United Academics Journal of Social Science. She is currently working on a journal with the theme "Morbid Curiosity," covering topics such as post-mortem photography, taxidermy and skull worship.

"Before 1880 people butchered their own animals; death was laid out in the parlor before the whole family," said Weesjes, 33. "People who moved to America were fleeing death one way or another -- fleeing the Holocaust, pogroms and famine. We have created a false society and island away from disasters. Death is not part of our everyday life anymore."

Though Weesjes did not attend Critchley's class she said, "Maybe it's good to have a smile on your face and laugh about it, but actually talking about it is a very good thing."

"The Western world is about to get ready to bury the biggest generation in history – the baby boomers," she said. "It only makes sense to start thinking about it. … Denying death can't be healthy."

Critchley said that he initially feared people would think the class was a joke, but he added that students, who had to write their own suicide notes, were, "earnest and engaged."

Wrote one woman: "I am so filled with love it is still all too much to bear. I cannot find my way. The world is all wrong and although I withstood the worst of it, I lost out."

But another was less emotional: "I am sorry, mostly to my dog. Love, Lauren. P.S. Please don't bury me in Los Angeles."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Pat Summerall Passes Away at Age 82

Focus on Sport/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- Former Fox and CBS NFL announcer Pat Summerall passed away on Tuesday after suffering cardiac arrest, according to his wife Cheri. He was 82 years old.

Summerall played in the NFL from 1952 through 1961, suiting up for the Detroit Lions, the Chicago Cardinals and the New York Giants. As a placekicker, he converted 100 of 212 field goals in 109 career games.

Following retirement, he joined CBS in the mid-1960s, taking part in NFL, NBA, PGA Tour and tennis broadcasts. In 1981, he was paired with former Oakland Raiders head coach John Madden, forming one of the most popular tandems in sports broadcasting history.

The duo joined Fox in 1994 after CBS lost the rights to broadcast NFL games. They continued calling games together until Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002.

During his broadcast career, Summerall called more Super Bowls on TV, 16, than any other broadcaster. He was also known for lending his voice to the Masters golf tournament and tennis' U.S. Open.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Navy SEAL Killed in Freefall Training Was Member of Seal Team Six

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Eric S. Logsdon(WASHINGTON) --The Navy SEAL killed in a parachute training accident was identified in a Navy press release Saturday morning.

Navy officials identified the deceased as Brett "Shady" Shadle, 31. Shadle had been a member of SEAL Team Six, the most elite of the SEAL teams and the one tasked with the historic May 2011 raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Shadle was "one of the best," a former colleague in the elite unit told ABC News.

"Both tactically on the battlefield and at home, he was one of the best SEALs I've ever worked with," said an ex-SEAL Team Six member who served with Shadle for years. "His reputation was that of a great operator, a true friend and a nice guy."

Shadle, a 31-year-old Pennsylvania native, was one of two SEAL Team Six members involved in a serious accident during routine freefall training in Arizona Thursday. Both SEALs were taken to a nearby hospital where Shadle succumbed to his injuries, according to officials. The other SEAL is in stable condition, the Navy said.

"[Shadle] should be remembered as a hero, a father, a friend and an American," Shadle's former SEAL colleague said. "He sacrificed everything for his country."

The second SEAL, who was not identified, remained in stable condition according to the Navy press release. The accident is under further investigation.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Skydive Instructor, Student Killed in Florida Jump

ABC News(ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla.) -- Police are investigating how an experienced sky diving instructor and his student fell more than 13,000 feet to their deaths and did not deploy their main parachutes at a popular southwest Florida camp.

Pasco County sheriff’s authorities identified the victims as 41-year-old instructor Orvar Arnarson and 25-year-old student Andrimar Pordarson. The men were part of a group from Iceland, training and vacationing at Skydive City in Zephyrhills, Fla., on Saturday.

T.K. Hayes, general manager and president of Skydive City, said it appears Arnarson and Pordarson didn’t activate their main parachutes.

“There’s a multitude of scenarios. They lost track of altitude, weren’t paying attention for whatever reason if they were distracted, most likely by something else going on. Who knows,” Hayes said Sunday.

Both men had backup automatic activation devices, which deploy if the main parachutes are not opened in time. The backup chutes, the company says, did not fully inflate before they hit the ground.

The two men had successfully completed two other jumps Saturday morning with 20 other people. The men jumped separately, not in tandem. When Arnarson and Pordarson did not return from their third jump, Pasco County sheriff’s department launched a search to look for the two skydivers.

Following a nine-hour search, the pair were finally located in a wooded area near Zephyrhills Municipal Airport, about a mile away from where they were supposed to land.

Authorities hope a camera worn by one of the men may give them some clues into what happened during the jump.

“We’re reviewing the tape. We’re reviewing anything that may have been said, on the camera,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said.

Last year across the U.S., 19 skydivers died out of 3.1 million jumps, according to the United States Parachute Association.

Arnarson was a seasoned veteran of the dare-devilish sport, who reportedly had thousands of successful jumps under his belt. For Pordarson, this was his eighth jump.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Aaron Swartz' Death Fuels MIT Probe, White House Petition

Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has launched an internal probe of the events leading up to the suicide of Internet activist Aaron Swartz, who was facing federal charges for allegedly hacking into the school's journal archives.

"It pains me to think that MIT played any role in a series of events that have ended in tragedy," MIT President L. Rafael Reif said in a statement.  "Now is a time for everyone involved to reflect on their actions, and that includes all of us at MIT."

Swartz' legal troubles began two years ago when prosecutors said he illegally downloaded millions of scientific journals from MIT and JSTOR, a journal storage repository.  Swartz, 26, had been an advocate for open access and the freedom of information online.

He was due to stand trial in April, and if convicted, could have faced decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines.  Swartz had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Hal Abelson, a professor at MIT, who is also the founding director of both Creative Commons and the Free Software Foundation, has been tapped to lead the school's internal probe.

"I have asked that this analysis describe the options MIT had and the decisions MIT made, in order to understand and to learn from the actions MIT took," Reif said.

Furor over Swartz' death has reached the White House in the form of a petition asking for the removal of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz who pressed the case against Swartz.  The petition has been signed by nearly 12,000 people and needs 25,000 signatures by Feb. 11 to garner an official response from the White House.

Swartz's family and supporters have laid blame for his death on an aggressive prosecution that used its powers to "hound him into a position where he was facing a ruinous trial, life in prison."

"Aaron's death is not simply a personal tragedy.  It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach," Swartz' family and partner said in a statement that also had harsh words for MIT.

"Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's office and at MIT contributed to his death," the statement said.

JSTOR, which had stated it did not want to pursue charges against Swartz, posted a statement offering condolences to his family.

"He was a truly gifted person who made important contributions to the development of the internet and the web from which we all benefit," JSTOR said in a statement.  "The case is one that we ourselves had regretted being drawn into from the outset."

When Swartz was 14, he helped create RSS software, revolutionizing the way people subscribed to and consumed information online.

As an adult, he co-founded Reddit, a social news website, and railed against Internet censorship through the political action group Demand Progress.

His funeral is scheduled for Tuesday, in Highland Park, Ill., his family said, and they said that remembrances of Swartz and donations in his name could be made at

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Georgia Official's Mysterious Death Rattles St. Simons Island YORK) -- A tight-knit, one-road Georgia island has been rocked by the mysterious death of a town official who was known as a family man and church leader.

The body of Tom Sublett, 52, was found floating in a marina less than a mile from his home on the picturesque St. Simons Island on Dec. 11.  He was found with his hands bound in front of him and with a gunshot wound to the head.  An autopsy concluded he died by drowning, authorities said.

His silver Toyota was about 150 yards away.  Sublett's wife Carol had reported him missing the night before when he didn't come home from a regular poker game.

"This is a small community that basically has one road on and off the island and only one road that goes the full length of the island," a longtime friend, Cap Fendig, told ABC News.  "It's a shocking event.  Crime, certainly violent crime, is almost totally unheard of."

Sublett was the Glynn County Commissioner and was serving the final month of his four-year term when he died.

The Glynn County Police Department released a list of evidence that was found at the death scene, including blood samples, a laptop, a gun holster, magazine rounds and empty prescription bottles.  There is no gun on the evidence list and authorities will not comment on whether a weapon has been found.

Fendig, 58, is a life-long resident of the island and said he had been friends with Sublett for many years.  Fendig served as county commissioner for eight years.

"I was quite shocked and very upset at the loss of a friend and the possibility that he was murdered," Fendig said.  "He was a nice guy, a good leader, open-minded, a strong leader in the church, had a big family and long community ties.  It's just not the norm."

Fendig said he last communicated with Sublett about a week before his death.  He emailed him to thank him for his service as county commissioner and said they should go fishing once his term was up.  He said Sublett replied that he looked forward to doing that.

Fendig's brother, also a close friend of Sublett's, saw him the day of his death.  The two men pulled up beside each other at a stop light, waved and then chatted on the phone for a few minutes.

Fendig's brother said there was "no indication" from that conversation that anything was wrong or unusual with Sublett.

The case has been classified a "death investigation," according to spokesman John Bankhead of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).  The GBI is leading the investigation.

Despite a $50,000 reward offered for information in the town, Bankhead said that "very little, if any, information" has come in.

Police have been tight-lipped about the case, leading many on the island of about 18,000 people to speculate.

"They have not [said much] and that leaves more to the imagination," Fendig said.

Fendig said unsubstantiated rumors are circulating about possible financial troubles, an insurance policy, real estate problems and family issues.  There has also been speculation in the community about whether the death was a murder or a suicide.  The Sublett family did not respond to a request for comment.

"People are clear that this wasn't an impulsive or random act of violence.  It either was self-inflicted or a professional hit," Fendig said, based on the amount of evidence at the scene.

"It's left the community very unsettled," he said.  "He was an elected official, a leader in his church and, on the surface, a strong family guy.  It's very disconcerting for everyone."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


NYC Subway Push Killing: Suspect in Custody

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After a two-day search, New York City police say they have apprehended a suspect in Thursday night's subway-platform death.

"Detectives have in custody a woman who has made statements implicating herself in the death of Sunando Sen in the 108th [Precinct] on Thursday night," NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne announced in a written statement on Saturday.

On Thursday night, a woman shoved a man from a subway platform at Queens Boulevard, and the man was crushed beneath an oncoming train. Police had searched the area for her after the incident.

The victim was Sunando Sen, identified by several media outlets as a graphic designer and Indian immigrant who opened a print shop, Amsterdam Copy, on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Sen was struck by the No. 7 train after the unidentified woman allegedly pushed him from the northbound platform at 40th Street and Queens Boulevard at 8:04 p.m. on Thursday.

Witnesses told police they had seen the woman mumbling to herself, pacing along the platform. She gave Sen little time to react, witnesses said.

"Witnesses said she was walking back and forth on the platform, talking to herself, before taking a seat alone on a wooden bench near the north end of the platform. When the train pulled into the station, the suspect rose from the bench and pushed the man, who was standing with his back to her, onto the tracks into the path of the train," Browne said. "The victim appeared not to notice her, according to witnesses."

Police released brief surveillance video of the woman fleeing the subway station, and described the suspect as a woman in her 20s, "heavy set, approximately 5'5" with brown or blond hair."

It was New York's second death of this kind in less than a month. On Dec. 3, 58-year-old Ki-Suck Han of Queens was shoved onto the tracks at New York's Times Square subway station. Two days later, police took 30-year-old Naeem Davis into custody.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Memorial Held for Slain Wisconsin Police Officer

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(MILWAUKEE) -- Police officers and others across southeast Wisconsin are paying their respects this Saturday to Officer Jennifer Sebena.

The 30-year-old was found dead of multiple gunshots earlier this week as she patrolled the streets of Wauwatosa, a suburb of Milwaukee.

Sebena's husband has been charged with her death.

Associate Pastor Steve Sonderman eulogized Sebena as one whose life dream was to become a police officer and said, “Her life was about protection, service, sacrifice and investing in others.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio