Entries in Delaware (8)


Kidnapped 89-Year-Old to Captors: 'You Got to Be Kind to Other People'

ABC News(MILFORD, Del.) -- An 89-year-old woman who spent two days locked in her car trunk thinking she'd never be found has a message for her teen captors.

"You got to be kind to other people if you want somebody to be kind to you," Margaret Smith said.

The 4-foot-11 octangenerian's story began with an act of kindness on March 18.

Smith had stopped at the Chicken Man Convenience Store in Milford, DelAWARE for a Butter Pecan ice cream cone when two teenage girls approached her and asked for a ride across town.

"I decided not to, then I said, 'Well, a good deed,'" Smith said.

After driving around for a while, Smith said the girls snatched her car keys and stuffed her in the trunk of her Buick.

"The way they drove off flying, I didn't think nobody would ever find me," she said. "I just had to pray about and hope that I'd be found."

Smith spent the next two days crammed in the trunk, without food, water and her blood pressure medication. She said the only time the girls opened the trunk was to rob her of the cash she was carrying.

"I was very tired, cold, hungry, scared," Smith said. "I didn't know what to expect."
After spending 48 hours locked in her trunk, Smith's kidnappers inexplicably decided to dump her in a remote cemetery.

"I was crawling through the cemetery on hands and knees," Smith said. "Nothing but a pair of stockings on, no jacket...Finally somebody found me. I don't know who."

Smith was taken to a local hospital, where her family, who had reported her missing, received a call that she was safe.

Delaware State Police found Smith's car days later and arrested and charged five teenagers inside. All are believed to have some involvement in the kidnapping, robbery and theft, ABC News' Philadelphia affiliate WPVI reported.

Four of the teens, ranging in age from 14 to 17, are being charged as adults, while a fifth faces receiving stolen property and conspiracy charges as a minor.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Delaware Mothers Sue Day Care Over Forced Fights

(DOVER, Del.) -- The mothers of two 3-year-olds who were allegedly encouraged to fight by day care workers who then filmed it on a cell phone are suing the Delaware facility, its owners and several employees.

Police arrested three caregivers in August after detectives viewed the cell phone footage of the fight, resulting in a temporary closure of The Hands of Our Future day care in Dover, but now mothers Tamika Chandler and Makeisha Gray are seeking damages and allege that the March fight was not an isolated incident. They filed the personal injury case on Nov. 9.

"Plaintiffs Kylil and Nashon, three (3) years old at the time of the abuse, were forced to physically pummel each other on several occasions," the criminal complaint reads.

The mothers allege that the facility owners knew about the fights, which the suit calls "ongoing and recurring," yet did nothing to stop them, according to the complaint.

Tiana Harris, 19, Estefania Meyers, 21, and Lisa Parker, 47, were arrested on Aug. 20, and charged with second degree assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and conspiracy.

The new suit claims also include false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They also accuse the owners of negligence and breach of contract.

The video shows one of the toddlers crying mid-fight and "seeking refuge" with one of the caregivers, who then "physically restrained the fleeing child, and forced him to continue to fight," according to the complaint. Then, the remaining two day care workers are filmed laughing.

The day care reopened last month and is now on probation, according to state records.

Other violations from January 2012 included a failure to wash hands and disinfect surfaces after diaper changes.

The mothers' lawyer, James Meehan, declined to comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Toddler Gets Help After Aunt Has Seizure

ABC News(WILMINGTON, Del.) -- A three-year-old is being hailed as a hero for saving his aunt's life in Wilmington, Del., this week.

Tyrone Copeland Jr. was playing near his aunt in Speakman Park at 3 p.m. Friday when his aunt began to have a seizure. Instead of sitting idly by, the toddler ran across the park to bystanders, told them about the seizure and said they should call 911.

Tyrone told Paula Thomas that his aunt was "laying there and she's had a seizure and her mouth was closed," Thomas told WPVI-TV, ABC's Philadelphia station. She and another bystander then scrambled to follow the little boy back across the park to his aunt.

"This is something that a 3-year-old is saying," said Officer Mike Ivey, a spokesman for the Wilmington Police Department, emphasizing how impressive it is for a child Tyrone's age to communicate so well.

When police arrived, the toddler was back at his aunt's side. He told them his name, his aunt's name and his address. His aunt, Deneene Copeland, was unable to speak and disoriented because of the seizure, Ivey said.

"He is just amazing because he knew his name, he knew his address, and he told us concisely what was wrong and where to go," Thomas said.

Deneene was transported to a nearby hospital and returned home that evening. She had suffered seizures in the past, but police did not know the details of her medication condition.

The neighborhood policing unit is expected to have a ceremony in the toddler's honor next week, where he'll get a certificate of accommodation, Ivey said. It's not yet clear when that ceremony will be.

"I didn't even know he was able to do that," said Tyrone Copeland Sr., the toddler's father.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Day Care Workers Accused of Encouraging Toddlers’ Screaming, Crying Fight

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DOVER, Del.) -- Three day care workers are accused of encouraging a fight between toddlers in their care -- and police say a videotape shows the 3-year-olds punching each other, with one boy screaming, crying and trying in vain to escape.

Tiana Harris, 19, Estefania Myers, 21, and Lisa Parker, 47, were released from a Delaware jail Tuesday after posting $10,000 bond each following their arrest Monday on felony assault and conspiracy charges, along with a number of misdemeanor counts relating to child endangerment, according to a police news release.

The three women were employed by Hands of Our Future LLC Day Care, where, authorities said, they organized a fight between two toddlers while a number of other children were present.

Authorities obtained footage of the March 6 incident, which was taken on one of the accused women’s cellphones. The footage was discovered during an unrelated investigation, according to ABC News station WPVI.

Police have not released the video.

Officials in Delaware suspended the day care center’s license, pending a hearing, after the footage was discovered and the three were arrested.

Authorities held a meeting at the Dover Police Department on Monday for parents of the children who attended the Hands of Our Future Daycare, where officers answered questions relating to the incident.

Police were unavailable Tuesday night to tell ABC News whether or not the three women had attorneys.

A hearing is scheduled for the women Friday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pediatrician Accused of 'Waterboarding' Daughter

Sussex County Sheriff's Office(DOVER, Del.) -- A Delaware pediatrician who writes about near-death experiences of children and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show is accused of waterboarding his 11-year-old daughter for two years, according to Delaware State Police.

Dr. Melvin Morse, 58, and his wife Pauline, 40, were arrested Tuesday, a day after their daughter told a child advocate that her father had "waterboarded" her four times between May 2009 and May 2011 while her mother watched and did nothing to stop the abuse, Cpl. Gary Fournier told ABC News.

Delaware's Child Advocacy Center first became aware of the girl, whose name has not been disclosed, following a July 12 incident in which Morse was charged with third-degree assault for allegedly pulling his daughter out of a car, dragging her across a gravel driveway and spanking her in their Sussex County home, Fournier said.

The girl reported that incident to a neighbor who called police, Fournier said. Morse was later released from custody after he posted $750 in bail.

She later told the child advocate about the alleged waterboarding, police said, triggering the parents' arrest on Tuesday.

The Morses each face two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a second-degree felony conspiracy charge and four counts of felony first-degree reckless endangering for the alleged waterboarding incidents.

As a method of disciplining his daughter, Morse held her face under a running faucet, causing the water to go up her nose, Fournier said.

Melvin Morse is the author of two books on near-death experiences, Closer to the Light and Transformed by the Light. He appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and Larry King Live in 2010 to discuss his research on the psychological effects of being on the verge of death.

Melvin Morse's attorney, Joe Hurley, said he did not yet know enough about the case to comment on it, but said, "There is always another side to the story."

The Morses' daughter and her 5-year-old sister are in the care of the state's Division of Family Services. Their parents have been ordered not to have contact with each other or their children. Pauline Morse was released from Sussex Correctional Institute on $14,500 unsecured bail and could not be reached for comment.

Her husband is also being held there on $14,500 secured bond. Jason Miller, a spokesman for the Delaware attorney general's office, said the state issued an emergency petition to suspend Morse's medical license Wednesday.

The Morses will appear in court next week for a preliminary hearing.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nor’easter Building Up on the East Coast

ABC News (NEW YORK) -- After an early spring, a late season Nor’easter will move up the East Coast Sunday through  Monday bringing torrential rain, strong winds, high waves and snow.

Parts of 10 states are under flood watch advisories from New Hampshire and southern Vermont and Massachusetts, south to New Jersey, Delaware and eastern Pennsylvania.  Big cities under flood watches through early Monday include Boston, Hartford, New York City, Philadelphia, and Wilmington, Del., which may see two to four inches of rain.

Areas further inland, from western New York and western Pennsylvania down into West Virginia and Maryland, could see winds from 20 to 40 miles per hour and major snowfall. In high mountain areas like northwest Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains, snowfall could exceed a foot.  Counties in and around Pittsburgh could see 3-4 inches of snow.

The worst of the storm is expected to hit late Sunday and continue into Monday.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Leon Panetta Tells Air Force to Review Dover Mortuary Practices

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reaffirmed on Thursday that the recent flaps at the mortuary facility at Dover Air Force Base are a priority as he ordered the Air Force to conduct a new review that could lead to harsher disciplinary actions against those already reprimanded for improper disposal of body parts.

At a Pentagon briefing, Panetta said that the disposal of military remains and “ensuring the recovery and dignified return of our fallen heroes … is one of the department’s most sacred responsibilities.  And that’s why all Americans, including myself, are justifiably disturbed by the reports of mismanagement at Dover Port Mortuary that came to light this week.”

Panetta said that one of his first meetings after coming into office in July was with Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz on their investigation into Dover.

“They were forthcoming with me,” Panetta said.  “It was clear that they took these allegations seriously and that they were committed to strengthening the department’s handling of this most sacred and solemn task.”

Although the United States Office of Special Counsel produced a report that Panetta called “thorough,” he still requested an independent review by a “distinguished panel” because of additional questions raised.     

“This review commission will look at the processes and procedures there, and make sure that we are implementing the highest standards in dealing with the remains of our fallen heroes,” Panetta said.

With criticism that the Air Force’s own Inspector General investigation was light on punishments for those in charge at Dover, Panetta said he wanted to make sure appropriate disciplinary action was taken and determine whether or not there were “management reprisals” taken against the whistleblowers at Dover.

When asked if what happened at Dover is a black-and-white issue or if a higher moral standard should apply, Panetta responded that it was a command decision, but that “we have to pay the greatest respect and reverence to the remains of our fallen heroes.  That’s what I think ought to be considered in this situation.”

After the Pentagon briefing, Air Force Secretary Donley released a statement reaffirming that “there is no question the Air Force is accountable to our joint teammates and the families of the fallen for this critical and sacred mission.”

He said, “The lapses in our standards at Dover, which we sincerely regret, are our responsibility to fix.”

He promised that the new review would be “exceedingly thorough and rigorous” because the fallen and their families “deserve nothing less.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Air Force Disposed of War Dead Ashes in Landfill

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DOVER, Del.) -- For several years, the mortuary at Dover Air Force Base cremated the unidentified body parts of fallen service members and disposed of the ashes in a southern Virginia landfill, Air Force officials confirmed to ABC News.

The mortuary carried out the practice from 2003 to 2008, but now has a policy of burying these kinds of remains at sea.  It processes all of America’s war dead returning to the U.S. from overseas war zones.

The disposal of unidentified cremated remains at the landfill was first reported by the Washington Post on its website Wednesday evening.

The cremations “only occurred in instances where the person authorized to direct disposition of remains opted for military disposition of any subsequent portions of remains,” according to Air Force spokesman  Lt. Col. John Dorrian.

Subsequent remains refers to body part fragments of an individual that may have remained unidentified or were recovered after a funeral had already taken place.

Air Force officials acknowledge that the military branch did not discuss the military disposition option in detail with the families of service members who gave their consent.

In those cases prior to June 2008 where families gave their consent for the military disposition of subsequent remains, Dorrian said “the Air Force would transfer the portions to a local funeral home where cremation was effected and the cremated remains were returned to Dover.”

From there, the cremated remains would be turned over to a contractor for “further incineration and disposition in accordance with medical disposition.”

“The common practice was that any residual matter remaining after incineration was disposed of by the contractor in a landfill,” Dorrian said.

An Air Force official identified the landfill as being located in King George County in southern Virginia.

In Dec. 2008, the mortuary began its current policy of burying the ashes at sea after the then-mortuary director recommended it “to effect disposition as a more respectful and dignified process.”  Since then, the ashes have been placed in urns made of sea salt that dissolve in water.

The new information about the disposition of these remains comes on the heels of Tuesday’s acknowledgement by the Air Force of two instances where mortuary officials misplaced a body part and another where a Marine’s arm was sawed off so he could be buried in his uniform.

After a year long investigation, the Air Force disciplined three mortuary supervisors for their involvement in these incidents.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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