Entries in Homicide (15)


Pa. Doctor's Parents: 'She Could Not Have Harmed Herself'

Hemera/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) -- Investigators have not yet confirmed the cause of a death of a prominent Pennsylvania neurologist whose autopsy revealed she had "toxic levels of cyanide" in her system, but her parents spoke out against the possibility that their daughter's death was a suicide.

"We cannot imagine someone harming our daughter, but from what we're told, she could not have harmed herself," Dr. Autumn Marie Klein's parents, William and Lois Klein told ABC News in a prepared statement.

Klein, 41, collapsed at her home in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood and later died on April 20 at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, where she was chief of the division of women's neurology and an assistant professor of neurology, obstetrics and gynecology.

The FBI is working to assist the Pittsburgh police in the investigation, but said suicide has not been ruled out as Klein's cause of death.

While authorities said Klein's husband, Dr. Robert Ferrante, was not named a suspect in his wife's death, police executed a search warrant overnight to case the couple's home, which they shared with their six-year-old daughter, Cianna.

Investigators removed three vacuum cleaners and a computer tower and towed the couple's cars as neighbors still worked to process Klein's sudden death.

"We were stunned," Blithe Runsdorf told ABC's Good Morning America. "I mean she was young, she was vibrant, she has a young daughter. We were just stunned."

Klein worked at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. Her husband, Dr. Robert Ferrante, 64, is a professor of neurological surgery at University of Pittsburgh.

A private investigation into Klein's death has also been launched, with prominent forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht at its helm.

"I have been privately retained, but I'm not able to give you any more information. But I have been privately consulted in this matter," Cyril Wecht told ABC News when asked if he was retained by Dr. Robert Ferrante or his attorney.

Neither Ferrante nor his attorney responded to requests for comment.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Cops Say Colorado Prison Chief Was 'Targeted'

Colorado Dept of Corrections(MONUMENT, Colo.) -- Detectives investigating the murder of Colorado's prisons chief appear to be ruling out the possibility that he was a victim of random violence and believe that he was specifically targeted.

"Is it possible this was random? Absolutely," County Undersheriff Paula Presley told ABC News today. "Then again, you have to look at what the motive would have been if this was a random shooting. At this point, there's nothing that leads us in that direction."

"It appears at this point in time that Mr. Clements was obviously the target of this homicide," Presley said.

Clements, 58, was shot Tuesday night at his home in an upscale neighborhood in Monument, Colorado.

One of the few clues in the case is a dark, "boxy" car that was seen in the neighborhood at about the time of the shooting. One witness said they saw the car parked and running Tuesday night, but nobody was inside. Presley said that at least half a dozen residents in the neighborhood have now come forward to say that they also saw the car, described as possibly a Lincoln or Cadillac.

At least one witness told detectives they may have gotten a look at a suspect.

"One of our witnesses or individuals in that neighborhood stated what they believed to be a white male driving this vehicle but that's all we have, and we can't assume that all of that info is accurate," Presley said. "It's after dark, and the vehicle was in motion at the time."

Investigators are also looking into an ad that Clements apparently posted on Craigslist the same day he was shot, for a used $1,200 mountain bike. According to the website, the ad was posted at 6:11 p.m., just hours before Clements was murdered. Authorities say they are aware of the Craigslist ad, calling it one of many potential leads.

Police are also looking at any potential cases stemming from his job running the state's prisons for a possible motive in his death.

Days before Clements was shot, he had denied the request of a Saudi national convicted in 2006 of false imprisonment and sexual assault to serve his prison sentence in Saudi Arabia. It's not clear if other cases stemming from Clements' job as the state's prison chief are also being eyed by the cops.

Just a week before his murder, Clements wrote a letter on March 11 to convicted Saudi national Homaidan al-Turki, stating that he was denying his request to complete his sentence in his home country. Al-Turki's application to complete his sentence in Saudi Arabia had cleared reviews by prison officials, ABC News affilaite KMGH reported.

Al-Turki, whose company Al-Basheer Publications and Translations sold CDs of speeches by Islamic militant Anwar al-Awlaki, had complained during his trial that the prosecution was the result of a government conspiracy. Al-Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

In his letter to al-Turki, Clements cited his refusal to participate in sex offender rehabilitation programs.

"Information provided indicates that you have been given multiple opportunities to be screened by the Sex Offender Treatment and Monitoring Program," Clements wrote to al-Turki dated. "You have reportedly declined based upon religious reasons/conflicts with your Islamic faith.

"I have decided not to support your request for transfer to Saudi Arabia at this time. I would encourage you to reconsider your position regarding participation in required treatment."

Al-Turki was convicted in 2006 of the sexual assault of his Indonesian housekeeper. According to an affidavit, al-Turki and his wife kept their housekeeper as a virtual slave, allegedly paying her $2 per day and forcing her to sleep on a mattress in his basement.

Al-Turki has been serving a 28 year prison sentence in Colorado's Limon Correctional Facility since 2009. In February 2011 Al-Turki's sentence was reduced to eight years to life.

The case attracted international attention throughout his trial, and the conviction was seen across parts of the Muslim world as a result of Islamophobia. Colorado Attorney General John Suther met with Saudi King Abdullah, the Crown Prince and al-Turki's family in 2006 at the request of the U.S. State Department to put the Saudi royal family's concerns at ease over al-Turki's treatment.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


US Gun Homicide Rate Higher Than Other Developed Countries

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The faces of those 20 first graders massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary School, their devoted teachers and the gunman’s mother have made the issue of gun control the subject of a national conversation, leaving many asking why there are so many mass shootings in the United States.

There are an estimated 88.8 civilian guns per 100 people in the United States, according to the Small Arms Survey -- a number unparalleled to the rest of the world.  With the right to bear arms written into the Constitution of the United States and the fabric of American culture, it’s no surprise that this number is higher than it is in other G-8 countries for which there is data.

But the United States also has a much higher rate of homicides by gun -- 3.2 homicides by firearm per 100,000 people, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Homicide Statistics.

Even Italy, the G-8 member with the second highest rate of homicides by firearm, comes in far behind the United States.  According to United Nations data, a person is 4.5 times more likely to die from gun violence in the United States than Italy.

In France and the United Kingdom, the homicide by firearm rate is 0.1 per 100,000 people.  That’s one in a million.

The rash of mass shootings -- occurrences that have become all too common in the United States -- have left the country “with some hard questions,” President Obama told the grieving Newtown, Conn., community Sunday evening.

“We can’t tolerate this anymore,” he told mourners.  “These tragedies must end.  And to end them we must change.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Indianapolis House Explosion Case Now a Criminal Homicide Investigation

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- The probe into a massive explosion earlier this month in Indianapolis that killed two people and damaged dozens of homes is now an active criminal homicide investigation, with authorities saying they believe the blast was caused intentionally, ABC News has learned.

At a meeting Monday evening at the Southport Presbyterian Church to update residents of the Richmond Hill subdivision where the blast occurred, Marion County prosecutor Terry Curry said the criminal homicide investigation is ongoing.

The ATF offered up to $10,000 for information that leads to an arrest in the case.

The explosion in the subdivision just south of the city on Saturday, Nov. 10, killed John and Jennifer Longworth. Their funeral was held earlier Monday.

Much of the attention since the explosion has centered on Monserrate Shirley and her boyfriend Mark Leonard, who lived at the house in the center of the blast area.

John Shirley, who owns that house but now lives elsewhere, told ABC News two days after the blast that he believed that his ex-wife, who still lives in the house, was to blame for the explosion.

Shirley claimed he knew that the furnace in the house was broken and had not been fixed properly, if at all.

"If I were to suspect anything, that's where the problem was," said Shirley, who noted that his ex-wife Monserrate Shirley had a "protective order" against him. However, Shirley said he did not believe his ex-wife would have caused the explosion intentionally.

"I don't think so, because there was no real reason to," Shirley said. "I pay a thousand dollars a month for one kid because she had a lawyer and I did not, so she has more than enough money. At one point the house was slipping into foreclosure. Last spring she had a buyer but she chose not to sell. We were in some bankruptcy but that's pretty well cleared up."

Monserrate Shirley and Leonard were reportedly visiting a casino at the time of the blast.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Open Homicides Possibly Linked to Manson Family

California Dept of Corrections & Rehabilitation(NEW YORK) -- The Los Angeles Police Department continues to battle for audio tapes that could hold clues to a dozen open homicides potentially linked to the murderous "Manson family," officials told ABC News.

The open cases came to light during a legal battle first reported by The Los Angeles Times and confirmed by ABC News.

"We do have open cases from that time; there is a possible link," LAPD Commander Andrew Smith, who heads the department's public information section, told ABC News.

The tapes, recorded by Manson disciple Tex Watson, could hold information that helps to solve the decades-old homicides that occurred in circumstances similar to the Manson murders.

The circumstances and time frame fit, but there are no guarantees.

"It's an awful slim chance," said Smith, "but we want to hear those tapes and we've never been able to."

The renowned cold case and robbery homicide units are both involved in the cases and the legal battle.

The LAPD disclosed the cases as it battled to get access to hours of audio tapes, The Los Angeles Times reported and ABC confirmed.

Those tapes, according to the Times, were recorded in 1969 "between Charles Manson follower Charles 'Tex' Watson and his attorney."

According to the newspaper, "The LAPD has said detectives believe tapes could shed more light on the activities of Manson's group" -- a detail that was confirmed to ABC News.

Watson has fought to limit the LAPD's access to the tapes.

Manson and his disciples were tried and convicted of eight murders.  One of those, in 1969, was the murder of actress Sharon Tate, the wife of film director Roman Polanski, who was eight and a half months pregnant.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


1985 Cold-Case Homicide Solved

Lewis County Sheriff's Office(LEWIS COUNTY, Wash.) -- Washington state officials have apparently solved the 1985 cold-case homicide of an elderly couple with an arrest that fulfills a grieving son's promise to his parents.

Wilhelmina "Minnie" Maurin and Edward "Ed" Maurin's dead bodies were found Christmas Eve 1985. They had been shot to death and dragged into a wooded area.

"At their funeral, I laid my hand on their casket and I said, 'I will find out who did this,'" the couple's son, Dennis Hadaller, said at a news conference Monday.

A team of investigators from the Lewis County Sheriff's Office in Chehalis, Wash., was dispatched to Alaska July 8 to make an arrest in connection to the slayings.

Rick Riffe, 53, of King Salmon, Ala., was arrested and will be processed for extradition back to Washington to stand trial for what Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield called "horrific crimes."

Minnie and Ed Maurin were 83 and 81 years old, respectively, when they were reported missing by family members Dec. 19, 1985.

"We have developed evidence that Rick and his now deceased brother, John Riffe, kidnapped the Maurins from their residence and drove them to the bank, forcing Ed to withdraw $8,500 in cash," Mansfield wrote in a news release.

Five days after their disappearance, the couple's bodies were found in a wooded area at the end of a road in Chehalis. The investigation revealed that they had been shot inside their car with a shotgun and then dragged to a wooded location where they were found by a passerby, according to police.

Mansfield said the Riffe brothers were their primary suspects from the beginning of their investigation, but they did not have evidence of probable cause "until much later on."

"Detectives feel many witnesses did not come forward during the time of the initial investigation due to being fearful of the Riffe brothers and possible retaliation for speaking out," Mansfield wrote in the news release.

Both Riffe brothers moved to Alaska in 1987 and John Riffe died "ironically" the week before investigators bought tickets to travel to Alaska for the arrests, police said.

"I believe in karma, these are bad, evil people," Mansfield said at Monday's news conference.

The prosecutor in the case told ABC News' Seattle affiliate KOMO that he did not plan to pursue the death penalty for Riffe because of his failing health.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Five Bodies Found in Arizona Related to Drug Cartels, Police Say 

Comstock/Thinkstock(VEKOL VALLEY, Ariz.) -- Five people found burned beyond recognition in an abandoned SUV in an area of Arizona frequented by smugglers were likely the victims of one of the same drug cartels that have ravaged parts of Mexico with their rampant violence, the local sheriff said today.

A border patrol agent noticed a white Ford Expedition stopping around 4:30 a.m. Saturday in Vekol Valley, a desert area that's a well-known smuggling corridor for drugs and illegal immigrants from Mexico. Suspecting the car stopped to pick up drugs, the agent tried to make contact with the vehicle, but the vehicle fled.

When the sun came up, the agent noticed car tracks leading off-road and followed them for a couple miles into the desert. The agent found a smoldering vehicle and called for back-up. When other agents arrived, they used fire extinguishers to put out the fire and found five charred bodies inside the car, police say.

"This is pretty significant," Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said. "Given all these indicators, you don't have to be a homicide detective to add up all this information."

One victim was found in the sedan's rear passenger seat and four others in the back cargo compartment, their bodies burned beyond recognition.

Investigators had not yet determined whether the bodies were bound, the sheriff said

Babeu told ABC News that it’s likely others fled the scene.

"There wasn't somebody in the front driver's seat or in the front passenger's seat and the position of the bodies lead us to believe that there's likely other people that were there," Babeu said.

Babeu said the deaths are being investigated as homicides.

"The vehicle was stopped in an open area. It did not crash into something. Clearly whoever murdered these people did it intentionally," he said. "They brought them there either alive or dead and torched the vehicle in an effort to conceal evidence."

Babeu said the incident is likely a case of drug cartel violence.

"This is more than likely connected to drug smuggling," he said. "It's not likely human smuggling because most of the time if illegals are no longer of use or too slow for the rest of the group, they're left to fend for themselves or die. We don't see many cases where illegals are killed. They're usually only killed if they put up a fight as they're being robbed.

"This is more likely either punishment on criminals who tried to steal from the cartels or some competing interest in a criminal element."

Babeu said investigators will try to determine whether the victims were dead before the fire was started or whether they were alive when the SUV was set ablaze.

The Vekol Valley is located 70 miles north of the U.S.-Mexican border. Babeu called the area a "hotbed for human and drug smuggling."

The federal government put up 15 billboards that read "Danger Warning, Travel Not Recommended, Drug Smuggling, Active and Armed Gunmen" in the area along Interstate 8.

Last year, the Vekol Valley was the site of the largest drug bust in the history of Arizona.

Seventy-six members of the Sinaloa cartel were arrested in the bust, known as Operation Pipeline Express. The suspects had 108 weapons, including scoped rifles, AK47s and two weapons from the U.S. government's Fast and Furious program.

The controversial program, run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was designed to track guns bought in the United States by strawmen and delivered to drug cartels in Mexico, in an attempt to catch the cartel higher-ups. Begun in 2009, it was shut down after the December 2010 murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, who was killed with a weapon sold through the program.

Babeu said the fact that the Fast and Furious guns were found in the possession of the Sinaloa cartel members is a sign that the program is "criminal."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kentuck Derby Mystery: Body Found, Cops Say Evidence of Foul Play

MARK ABRAHAM/AFP/GettyImages(LOUISVILLE, KY.) -- Louisville, Ky., homicide detectives are investigating the death of a man whose injured body was found this morning in one of the barns at Churchill Downs a day after the Kentucky Derby, authorities said.

The body was discovered just before 5 a.m. in Barn No. 8, four barns away from where I'll Have Another, the horse that won the derby, was kept.

"We found evidence of injuries that lead us to believe he was involved in an altercation and that foul play was involved," Louisville Metro Police spokewoman Alicia Smiley told

The death is being investigated as a homicide, but there is no evidence of a connection to Churchill Downs, the racetrack where the Kentucky Derby is held annually, or the Kentucky Derby, police said.

"We are still trying to determine what led to the incident. At this point we don't have anything pointing to the fact that this had any association with Churchill Downs or the Derby itself," said Smiley.

Smiley said police have not named any suspects or made any arrests.

Some workers sleep in the backside of Churchill Downs, Smiley said, but she was not sure if anyone was supposed to be in the barn overnight.

Trainer Angel Montano, who works out of Barn No. 8, told ABC News affiliate WHAS-TV in Louisville that one of his employees found the body when he arrived for work.

Smiley said authorities are waiting for an autopsy report to determine the cause of death.

"There are homicide detectives on the scene. They are investigating any type of death regardless of the manner of how it occurred," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Amish Girl Buggy Shooting ‘Freak Accident’

File image. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CANTON, Ohio) -- The shooting death of a 15-year-old Amish girl in Ohio, originally labeled a homicide, now appears to be an accident, according to police.

Rachel Yoder was shot in the head Thursday night as she rode in a horse-drawn buggy on the way home from a Christmas party in rolling farmland southwest of Canton. At first, a medical examiner ruled the death a homicide. Now, investigators say the death appears to be a freak accident.

Holmes County Sheriff Timothy Zimmerly told ABC News an Amish man has come forward to say he was preparing to clean his muzzle-loaded rifle after deer hunting and fired it into the air. Zimmerly says the bullet from his rifle “is consistent with” the one that struck the girl riding in a buggy more than a mile away.

The investigation continues and no charges have been filed against the Amish hunter, who voluntarily notified authorities after he heard Rachel Yoder had been shot the same night that he was cleaning his gun.

Yoder was riding alone in the buggy, returning from a Christmas party for employees who work at an Amish produce farm. The shooting took place in the same area of Ohio where seven Amish men have been charged in beard-cutting attacks in a dispute over church discipline, but authorities say there is no connection between those attacks and the girl’s shooting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Boston Mansion Murders: Couple Gunned Down in Their Home

ABC News(ANDOVER, Mass.) -- Investigators are combing through the mansion of a prominent Boston-area real estate attorney and developer after he and his wife were found shot to death in their home, the victims of an apparent double homicide.

John Magee, 69, and Geraldine Magee, 67, were found dead at about 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, having been gunned down on the first floor of their sprawling estate in the affluent community of Andover, Mass.  They were discovered by their daughter.

The front door of the couple's home was found unlocked with the family dog still inside, according to police, and the couple's Lexus SUV was found torched 25 miles away, in Boston's North End, in an area that has come to be known for organized crime activity.

Police are still searching it for clues while reassuring residents that there is no cause for fear.  It was the first muder in the community in more than a decade.

"The incident appears to be an isolated act.  And the circumstances lead us to believe that there is no further threat to the Andover community," Andover Police Chief Brian Pattullo said, adding, "I don't want to give out any specifics that may compromise our investigation."

Investigators will not say whether there were signs of a robbery or a struggle in the home.  Police did say, however, that there was no history of trouble at the Magee residence.

By Wednesday night, authorities said they had not identified any suspects and have yet to establish a motive.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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