Entries in Georgia (76)


Georgia College Girl Arrested for Alleged Pipe Bomb 'Hobby'

WSB/ABC News(CORNELIA, Ga.) -- Her father says she's just a daddy's girl with some unladylike hobbies. The FBI and the ATF disagree.

Celia Alchemy Savage, 23, was arrested by federal and local officials after a Wednesday search of her Cornelia, Ga. home allegedly turned up two pipe bombs, a pistol, suspected marijuana and methamphetamine and alleged drug paraphernalia. She is being held on federal weapons, explosives and drug charges, and has been denied bond.

According to the criminal complaint, when an ATF agent asked Savage what there was to do in Cornelia, Ga., she said, "Blow things up." The agent said that Savage also stated that she "likes to blow up toilets in the woods."

Savage allegedly told authorities that "manufacturing explosive devices and detonating them for recreation was her hobby," and that she had built five to seven pipe bombs for fun.

"Savage stated she was aware that it was wrong, or against the law, to manufacture the destructive devices," alleged the ATF agent in the criminal complaint, "but claimed she has a passion for it."

The complaint alleges that the drugs, drug paraphernalia, "numerous pills," pistol and bomb components were found in a bedroom of the residence that Savage described as her "lab." According to the ATF agent, Savage admitted that she had used marijuana "the previous day and methamphetamine two (2) months ago."

A video of Savage blowing up a toilet in the woods can still be seen on YouTube. Savage's father, Tommy Savage, confirmed to investigative reporter Mark Winne of ABC Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV that his daughter was the person seen in the video.

Savage's Facebook profile, which is also still on the web, lists "explosives" as an interest, her political orientation as "anarchist" and her status as "Push to test. Release to detonate."

"I despise all law enforcement and any governing authority," she says in her "about Celia" section. "I am not one for selective targeting but mass destruction." Various photos show Savage with high-powered weapons, holding a snake, riding a motorcycle, in a kickboxing stance and posing with her father and a dead animal.

The profile also includes a paraphrased quote from Scott Adams, the creator of the quotes from George S. Patton and U.S. Grant: "There is no problem that cannot be solved by the use of high explosives."

Savage's father Tommy told Winne of WSB-TV that his daughter was a daddy's girl and a church-going college student who is not a member of any radical group. "She likes to hunt and fish," said Savage. "She loves shooting. She goes sky diving. All kinds of stuff like that that you wouldn't really typically think of a young lady doing." He denied that she was a drug user, but said he worried about some of the people with whom she'd been hanging out.

Tommy Savage also said, however, that his daughter shared his distrust of government. "I think everybody ought to be able to set on their property and do whatever the heck they want to," he told Winne.

Tommy Savage declined a request from ABC News for comment. His daughter's court-appointed lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Georgia Judge Tosses Murder Case Citing Sixth Amendment Violation

Hemera/Thinkstock(SAVANNAH, Ga.) -- A Georgia judge threw out charges against an accused child murderer and molester on Wednesday, leaving prosecutors scrambling to determine their next move.

The Chatham County District Attorney's office is seeking input from the family of Ashleigh Moore.  The 12-year-old was found strangled in 2003.

The district attorney's office will have 30 days to file an appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court to reinstate charges against Bobby Lavon Buckner, 36.

Chatham County Superior Court Judge Penny Haas Freesemann threw out the murder and molestation charges against Buckner, saying his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial was violated.

The convicted child molester was indicted in the murder of Moore in 2007.  The indictment came more than four years after the 12-year-old's strangled body was found by a fisherman near the Savannah River.

"The court simply cannot ignore that this considerable delay, which occurred late in an already significantly delayed case, was apparently altogether unnecessary," Freesemann said in her ruling.

Buckner's trial had been rescheduled 10 times.  His latest trial date was June 11.

In her ruling, Freesemann also addressed the misplacement of physical evidence, a defense allegation that it was not given proper access to evidence and delays caused by prosecution deliberations on whether to seek the death penalty.

The district attorney's office said in a statement that physical evidence is maintained by the law enforcement agencies investigating the case.  Therefore, it was unable to address the whereabouts of the evidence.

Michael Schiavone, who represented Buckner until last year, heralded the dismissal of the charges and said he felt the prosecution had made continual, purposeful efforts to delay the case because of a lack of evidence.

"The case is totally circumstantial.  I think the investigators believe he must have done it because he was on probation for molestation," Schiavone told ABC News.  "But there was no confession, no physical evidence linking him to the crime and no eyewitnesses."

Buckner, who was the live-in boyfriend of Moore's mother, was taken into custody for a parole violation on April 19, 2003, one day after the girl's disappearance.  The convicted sex offender had been banned from being in the presence of anyone under the age of 16 and was ultimately sent to prison for the offense.

New sexual abuse charges were filed in 2004.  Buckner pleaded guilty and was given a 13-year prison sentence and was credited for time served.  He is scheduled to be released in April 2016, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Former CNN Exec Caught Putting Dog Poop in Neighbor’s Mailbox

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(COVINGTON, Ga.) -- The former president of CNN’s Headline News almost found himself in deep doo-doo after he was caught on camera placing a bag filled with dog excrement in a neighbor’s mailbox last week.

Bob Furnad was seemingly oblivious to the surveillance camera capturing him and his dog as he looked up his neighbor’s driveway, then shoved a plastic baggie into their mailbox.

Hours later, Benjamin Dameron and Ralph Miller discovered just what he’d left behind.  Dameron said that he was “shocked” to discover what was in the bag.

“We cannot figure out why he did it,” Dameron said.  “At this point we really don’t care why he did it … You know it was a silly thing to do, and were over it.  I mean it’s just a silly prank.”

Dameron, 71, said that the prank that you’d expect from a teen came from Furnad, who is also a respected professor at the University of Georgia.

Furnad, who was head of CNN's Headline News until 2001, admitted to the act to police and local media, but did not apologize.

“This was an immature act in response to years of malicious rumor mongering that I consider defamation of character,” he told the Covington News.

Dameron and Miller have lived in Worthington Manor, a historic home in the quiet, upscale Georgia town of Covington for more than two decades.  They say they haven’t spoken to Furnad in years, and that any feud is news to them.

The two opted not to sue Furnad, who was fined $181 for littering.

“I think this is embarrassing enough for him, as well as everyone in Covington,” Dameron said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Seven School Buses Heading to Six Flags Involved in Crash 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEWTON COUNTY, Ga.) -- Seven school buses that were headed to Six Flags crashed in Newton County, Georgia, leaving at least 43 people injured.

The accident occurred on westbound I-20 at mile post 97. Over 200 students from Burke County Middle School in Waynesboro were aboard the buses. One of the bus drivers, 44-year-old Angela Anthony, was air lifted with serious injuries to an Atlanta hospital, according to ABC affiliate WSB-TV. Officials said 50 other people are being checked for injuries at local hospitals.

Buses were sent to the scene from Morgan County to transport children who were not hurt.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Georgia Teen Sues Cyberbullying Classmates

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(ACWORTH, Ga.) -- A Georgia teenager is suing two of her classmates for creating a cruel Facebook page in her name after school officials and authorities said the matter was out of their control.

Alex Boston, 14, of Acworth, Ga., was enjoying her school's Field Day celebration for the end of the school year in May 2011 when annoyed classmates began to approach her.

"A little bit into the morning, her friends started coming up to her and saying, 'Why are you saying nasty things on Facebook about me?'" Alex's father Chris Boston told ABC News.

"She took off to the bathroom and hid," Boston said. "When she got home, she was crying."

Alex told her parents what had happened and they sat down at their home computers to find the page. When they did, they were horrified by what they saw.

Next to a distorted photo of Alex, it said that the languages she speaks were English and "Retardish." There were posts about false sexual exploits, links to racist videos on YouTube and implications of drug use. And the creators of the page were using the account to post insults on the pages of other friends.

The "About Alex" section said, "I don't have many friends because I'm annoying and I poke people on my way to lunch so I get beat up a lot."

"It made me feel horrible because I didn't think it would happen to me," Alex Boston told ABC News' Atlanta affiliate WSBTV.

Alex had never been the victim of bullying before, and her family immediately took action. Their first stop was Alex's school, Palmer Middle School. Chris Boston said school officials spoke to the two teens that made the page and they admitted to making it, but the school could take no further action since the cyber bullying was done off school property, from the students' home computers.

Meanwhile, they were repeatedly using Facebook's "report story or spam" function to try to get the page taken down, but it remained up.

"For the first several months, she kind of went into a shell," Chris Boston said of his daughter.

The family then went to the Cobb County Police Department to file an incident report.

Police notes on the report said: "Boston was advised to notify "Facebook" and request that the web page be shut down. Report was requested and generated for documentation purposes only. No further action required."

Most states, including Georgia, have laws against cyberbullying, but most of these laws do not cover bullying that occurs off of the school's campus.

"[We were] ticked off," Chris Boston said. "It was very frustrating to sit there and see your kid go through this and you can't get it to stop."

After all of the dead ends, the family sought legal help. Numerous lawyers turned down the case before Georgia attorneys Natalie Woodward and Corey Stern decided to meet with the family to hear their story.

The Boston family filed a lawsuit against the two teenagers who created the page as well as their parents, who provided their Internet service and computers. When the school would not give the Boston family or their attorneys the parents' name or addresses of the defendants, the students had to be served the lawsuit at school.

Woodward and Stern asked that the defendants not be named because they are under the age of 16 and have not yet responded to the lawsuit. They were served in April and have one month to respond to the suit. Woodward has not heard from the defendants' parents or any attorneys that may be representing them.

The lawsuit claims that the defendant's actions were "intentional and malicious and were done for the purpose of causing Plaintiff to suffer humiliation, mental anguish, embarrassment and emotional and physical distress."

It claims defamation and libel for the false statements and use of Alex's identity for the page. The Boston family is seeking a jury trial and punitive damages. In Georgia, plaintiffs do not determine the amount of monetary damages. That is determined by the court.

"I was protective of Alex because I didn't want her entire eighth grade year to be spent in litigation with two of her classmates," Woodward said. "She really felt like it was something that they had a moral obligation to address and if it brought attention to the issue and kept some other kids from being upset, hurt or even committing suicide, then it was a moral obligation on their part to do it."

The phoney page stayed up for nearly a year. It was not until after a television appearance by the Boston family last week that Facebook removed the page from the social media network.

Though Boston said it took his daughter a long time to feel comfortable at school again, she is now doing much better and nearly back to her old self.

"She's upbeat, having a good time and looking forward to summertime," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kindergartner Cuffed After Tantrum in Principal’s Office

Wavebreak Media(MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga.) -- The police chief in Milledgeville, Ga., Tuesday stood by his officer’s decision to handcuff a 6-year-old girl and hold her at the police station after she became unruly in the principal’s office at her school.

“The student was never placed in a holding cell or jail cell and the student’s safety was of the utmost importance,” Police Chief Dray Swicord said Tuesday.

Salecia Johnson, 6, was sent to the principal’s office for pushing two other students and throwing items off her teacher’s desk, according to the police report.

The child didn’t go to the principal’s office without a fight. "Johnson refused to go inside and began running down the hallway screaming,” the report stated.

Once she finally entered Principal Dianne Popp’s office at Creekside Elementary School, the kindergarten student allegedly tore items off the walls and threw furniture, striking her principal in the leg. She also jumped on a paper shredder, tried to break a glass frame and bit the door knob in an effort to escape, police said.

After several unsuccessful attempts to contact her parents, Salecia’s hands were placed behind her back and cuffed.

The responding officer cuffed the kindergartner “for the student’s safety as well as others,’” Swicord said.

She was transported to the Milledgeville Police Department where the handcuffs were removed. The girl was placed in a patrol briefing room and given something to drink, Swicord said.

Salecia’s aunt, Candace Ruff, was reached by police and agreed to pick up her niece at the station.

“She was very scared because she said she was alone by herself and couldn’t get out. She was terrified,” Ruff said.

The kindergartner was charged with simple assault and criminal damage to property.

Due to her age, she will not be prosecuted, but her case will be turned over to social services for any assistance she may need, Swicord said.

The girl’s  family is furious that law enforcement got involved in what they viewed as a school disciplinary issue. "What is the purpose of counselors and other aides in the school system when they just call law enforcement to calm a child when they act out?” Ruff said.

Creekside Elementary was unable to be reached for comment.

Salecia has been suspended for the rest of the school year, Ruff said.

“I really doubt her parents would like to send her back [to Creekside Elementary],” she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Lawsuit: Student Body President Removed Over Gay Prom Proposal

iStockphoto/Thinkstock (ALPHARETTA, Ga.) -- A student body president in Alpharetta, Ga., said he was removed from his leadership post after school administrators disagreed with an idea he proposed to make the titles of prom king and queen open to gay couples.

Reuben Lack, 18, was removed from his post on Feb. 8, 2012 for “pushing personal projects,” according to a suit the teen filed in federal court.

Lack, whose Facebook profile says he is straight, alleged in the suit that administrators at Alpharetta High School violated his first amendment rights when they shut down a student council meeting discussion on modifying the prom king and queen tradition to make it accessible to gay couples.

The school countered that Lack was let go for not fulfilling his duties as president.

“The student was essentially a poor leader,” Suzann Wilcox Jiles, attorney for the district said in a statement issued to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “He behaved in a manner not becoming of student body president including but not limited to rescheduling meetings with little notice, directly going against the instructions of the faculty advisers.”

At a Jan. 12, 2012 student council meeting, a faculty member allegedly “interrupted the debate and demanded that the topic be dropped. She instructed the students to cease discussing the topic, and dictated that the resolution would not be adopted, without any formal vote,” the lawsuit stated.

At the next meeting two weeks later, Lack again introduced the resolution. A student council adviser attempted to “require a formal vote on the measure without further debate,” the suit said. Lack decided to stand down on the resolution until “proper debate and discussion” could be had, the suit said.

The teen is asking for punitive damages, compensation for attorney’s fees and to be restored as student body president.

If the measure had been passed, Alpharetta High School could have joined dozens of schools across the country where gay couples have been elected to “royal” posts.

Last year, lesbian couple Rebeca Arellano and her girlfriend, Haileigh Adams, were crowned homecoming king and queen at their San Diego high school.

“I was happier than when I won, my little Haileigh has just been announced Homecoming queen and I couldn’t feel happier! Thanks to every single one of you! You guys made this happen and we are all part of something huge,” Arellano posted on her Facebook profile after the couple were crowned.

In 2010, two gay seniors who had been friends since kindergarten were crowned prom king and queen at their Hudson, N.Y., high school.

“It was so cool when they called our names. Kids were screaming and cheering for us,” prom king Charlie Ferrusi told the Albany Times Union.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Missing Balloon Pilot Found Dead in Georgia

ABC News(BEN HILL COUNTY, Ga.) -- A missing hot air balloon pilot has been found dead in Georgia, according to the sheriff leading search efforts.

Edward Ristaino's body was found at about 12:15 p.m. Monday, Ben Hill County Sheriff Bobby McLemore told ABC News.

"He was DOA [dead on arrival]," McLemore said. "He was in the basket."

Authorities will not know an official cause of death until an autopsy is performed, but McLemore said he probably died from the impact.

When asked if Ristaino, 63, had a parachute or any other means of getting to safety, McLemore said, "The balloon itself acts as a parachute. It just deflated."

He said the balloon was intact, but that Ristaino had not been able to survive the fall.

McLemore said Ristaino was about seven or eight miles east of Fitzgerald, Ga., where he was last seen. Authorities received a call from a witness Monday morning and after speaking to her, they sent a helicopter to the area.

The helicopter spotted the balloon in a "very thick wooded area," McLemore said.

Ristaino, of Cornelius, N.C., disappeared on Friday night after his balloon was sucked into a sudden thunderstorm. He had gone up with six skydivers who all managed to get to the ground safely.  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Several Dead in Georgia Spa Shooting

AbleStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Several people are dead after a shooting Tuesday night at a health spa in Norcross, Georgia.

Police say the incident at the Su Jung Health Sauna resulted in five fatalities, including the shooter, in what appears to have been a murder-suicide.

Details about the victims and the shooter have not been released. Investigators are uncertain about the relationship between the perpetrator and the victims.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dunwoody Day Care Killing: Trial Begins for Georgia Engineer Charged With Murder

Dunwoody Police Dept(ATLANTA) -- The murder trial of a Georgia engineer charged with killing his colleague and alleged lover's husband began Tuesday in Atlanta with starkly different tales of romance, betrayal and insanity in attorneys' opening statements.

Hemy Neuman, 48, was a high-level operations manager at General Electric when he shot and killed Andrea Sneiderman's husband Rusty Sneiderman, 36, in the parking lot of Sneiderman's son's preschool.

Andrea Sneiderman worked for Neuman at General Electric and they were allegedly involved in a hot-and-cold affair.

Neither the defense nor the prosecution denies that Neuman pulled the trigger and killed Rusty Sneiderman, but they tell divergent stories of what led to the killing.

Neuman pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Neuman's defense attorney Doug Peters said in his opening statements that Neuman believed he had been visited by an angel and demon in the forms of Olivia Newton-John and Barry White, respectively, that told him that Sneiderman's children were his and that he needed to protect them by killing her husband.

Peters said mental illness runs in Neuman's family and his troubled past could be traced back to his family being taken to Auschwitz by the Nazis, a violent father and boarding school.

Neuman eventually married and became the father of three children -- 21-year-old twins and an 18-year-old daughter.

Andrea Sneiderman worked for Neuman at GE and in May 2010, they took their first business trip together and began having conversations about their personal lives. Peters went on to describe numerous romantic business trips, hours spent on the phone and hundreds of personal text messages exchanged between the two.

The defense contends that although Andrea Sneiderman at times said she would never leave her husband, she encouraged Neuman to envision a life with her and her children. These messages and his troubled background, the defense said, were what led Neuman to hear demons and angels that commanded him to murder Rusty Sneiderman.

Andrea Sneiderman was in court and shook her head and let out sporadic sobs as Peters spoke.

"Marry me," Neuman wrote in a text message read by Peters. "You think I'm crazy and your intentions are clear. Sleep on it. I will give you, Sophia and Ian the world. Together we can make it all work. Marry me."

In an email, Andrea Sneiderman wrote to Neuman, "Desire versus reality is a world I'm trying to ignore because I have to. So sorry, not fair to you, I have other thoughts but not the time right now."

"We know what happened; this case is about why. ... How could this have ever possibly taken place?" Peters asked the jurors. "This man should not be released, he should be confined as the law provides, and held as the law provides. This man is not guilty by reason of insanity."

The prosecution told a very different story.

"It's a case of violence where a man wanted someone else's wife, so he killed her husband," DeKalb County Chief Assistant District Attorney Don Geary said in opening statements Tuesday. "He got caught."

The prosecution painted Neuman as a calculating killer who planned Sneiderman's shooting for months -- going to gun shows, taking a gun safety course, going to target practice, renting a car for the shooting and wearing a disguise.

Geary also painted a picture of Rusty Sneiderman's last morning and how unsuspecting he was as he dropped his 2-year-old son Ian at a Dunwoody day care.

"Ian enjoyed spending time with his father and spending time with his friends at day care, didn't know that shortly his loving father, his hero, would be gunned down," Geary said. "Ian didn't know that he was about to see his father for the last time. Ian didn't know that there would be gunshots and that would be the end."

"As Rusty walks to car, Hemy Neuman approaches him, walking towards him, and shoots him three times -- here, here, and here," Geary said as he demonstrated the motions. "As Rusty falls in the parking lot, dying, Hemy Neuman isn't satisfied. He walks up and at contact puts the 40 caliber on Rusty's neck and fires one last time."

Geary expressed his skepticism at the idea that Neuman, an engineer who managed more than 5,000 engineers and an $800 million budget, decided to kill a man without question after being visited by angels and demons resembling celebrities.

Geary said Neuman "doesn't come close" to meeting the requirements for legal insanity.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio