Entries in Indiana (44)


Mom Loses Legs Saving Kids From Indiana Twister

Decker Family/Handout(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- Faced with having her house blown away by a tornado that struck her town last week, Indiana resident Stephanie Decker's motherly instincts kicked in as she used her body to shield her two young kids from the storm.  But her heroic efforts came at a price: she lost both her legs in the process.

"I knew my leg was barely attached or it was severed.  I didn't know which but I knew it was bad.  If I didn't get help soon, I was going to bleed out," Decker told ABC News, which interviewed her Monday night from her hospital bed in Louisville, Ky.

Decker, 37, and her family were smack dab in the middle of a tornado outbreak Friday that included 140 reported twisters, 76 confirmed landings and 39 deaths.

"It was nothing I expected," she said.  "I never, ever thought in a million years my house would be blown away."

Decker was determined to keep her kids safe, and her actions saved them, but at a steep cost.  Not only was her home lost, but both of her legs had to be amputated late Friday -- one just below the knee, the other just above it.

"I assumed I was safe and I heard the roar like a train, and I heard it behind me, and I knew it was coming," she recalled on Monday.  "And it was so loud that I knew that I needed to do something different.  I knew staying put wasn't going to work."

So Decker acted.  She dashed down into her home's basement with son Dominic, 8, and daughter Reese, 5.  As the house began to disintegrate she tried to shield them with a comforter.

"I remember the whole thing," Decker said.  "I stayed conscious the whole time.  I couldn't afford [to pass out].  They needed me.  They had to have me, so I had to figure out what to do.  And my son is a hero.  He went to get help."

Both Decker's legs were smashed.  She also suffered a punctured lung.  Her children, however, were unscathed.

Next, it was her son's turn for heroism.  He knew his mother was hurt and he crawled out from under his mother and dashed over to a neighbor's house.

Help soon came and Decker was evacuated to the hospital.

Overnight, her husband, Joe Decker, tearfully said that the flattened house on Henryville Road had been their dream house.  Stephanie Decker had told her husband she always wanted to have the children's handprints imprinted in the foundation's cement, because "we were never gonna leave here."

And there they are today.  Small prints, with "Reese," and "D" for Dominic scrawled in the concrete, an indelible testimony to a family still intact.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Grandmother Mourns Loss of Entire Family in Indiana Tornado

ABC News(NEW PEKIN, Ind.) -- The death toll from dozens of tornadoes that ravaged parts of the Midwest and South last week has reached 39 with the death of 15-month-old Angel Babcock, the toddler found next to the bodies of her family members in a field near their Indiana home.

She died Sunday from traumatic brain injury after her family removed her from life support.

Angel was taken by helicopter to Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday and placed in critical condition.  She died Sunday at 4:10 p.m. after her grandmother, Kathy Babcock, made the decision with other family members to take her off life support.

"I had my arm around her when she took her last breath," Kathy Babcock said in an exclusive interview with ABC News.  "I sang to her itsy-bitsy spider."

Angel's mother, Moriah Babcock, 20; father, Joseph Babcock, 21; and two siblings Jayden and Kendall were found dead in the same field as the toddler Friday afternoon.  Kathy Babcock told ABC News that when she let her granddaughter go Sunday afternoon, she knew the baby girl was going in the arms of her father.

"We were all around the bed, I had my hand on the side of her, and I reached for her hand, and was holding her hand," the grandmother said.  "I don't know what made me let go, but she put her arms straight up, she was daddy's little girl.  So daddy picked her up and took her.  The whole room seen that.  He was just like, standing in front of her.  She wanted to go with daddy."

Now, the family and friends of the Babcocks are faced with the task of burying five of their loved ones.

"They need to have a proper burial," family friend Sherry Young said.  "That's my dream, that's my prayer.  I've been praying and praying that this can happen for them."

The Babcock family has turned to their community for help in burying their loved ones.  Bank of America has set up a Babcock Family Fund to help pay for the family's funeral expenses.

"I know it's tragic we lost all five of them and it's hard that we did," Young said.  "The one thing I can say, they're all together and that is comforting.  Knowing they are together because they were together day in and day out and they'll always be together."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Baby Who Survived Indiana Tornado Dies in Hospital

ABC News(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- The toddler found among the bodies of her family members in a field outside a home in New Pekin, Ind., that was flattened by a powerful tornado, died Sunday of traumatic brain injuries.

Angel Babcock was taken to Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday, where she was placed on life support.  The 15-month-old's grandparents and doctors took her off life support because of the severity of her brain injuries, and she died Sunday at 4:10 p.m., according to the coroner.

"Angel has been reunited with her parents," her grandfather, Jack Brough, said in a statement read by hospital staff.  "We want to thank God for all of you and for your thoughts and prayers.  God will bring you and all of us out of this.  That is what it will take.  All should look to God.  The family would also like to thank all the wonderful staff and doctors at Kosair Children's Hospital who have taken such kind care of Angel."

Washington County Sheriff Claude Combs told ABC News that Angel was discovered near the bodies of her 20-year-old mother Moriah Brough and two younger siblings, Jaydon and Kendall, ages 2 years and 2 months old.  The body of her 21-year-old father, Joseph Babcock, was also recovered from the field following Friday's twisters.

"I don't even want to believe it," Joseph Babcock's best friend Justin Henley told ABC News affiliate WXYZ.  "[Babcock] loved everybody.  He never talked bad about anybody.  He's just a good person and he loved his kids a lot."

"Kendall…was found in her car seat upside down.  Jayden…was found under the rubble," Sherry Young, Henley's mother told WXYZ.  "Joseph was found on the opposite side of the road from his house.  Moriah was found underneath a tree.  Angel was found out in the middle of the field all alone."

Angel's death brings the death toll to 39 across five states that were hit by tornados late last week.

A state of emergency was in effect in western Kentucky, where 20 people were killed by the dozens of tornados that ravaged the area Friday, leaving many cities looking like war zones.  The tornados hit 19 counties and left at least 300 people injured in Kentucky.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Tornado Tragedy: Child Ripped From Mother's Arms, Baby Found in Field

Scott Olson/Getty Images(CHELSEA, Ind.) -- A mother's strength was no match for a deadly tornado that sucked her 4-year-old daughter out of her arms as the two huddled in a cellar in Chelsea, Ind.

The child and her great grandparents, who were upstairs during the twister, were found dead in a field behind their home.

"We lost a very good farmer, a good neighbor and his wife their great grandbaby," Tony Williams, owner of the Chelsea General Store told

Forty miles west of Chelsea, in Salem, Ind., a blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby was found alone in a field. Authorities worked overnight to identify the girl's family while she was being treated at Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, Ky. The infant is listed in critical condition.

A hospital spokesperson told on Saturday that the family had been identified, however he declined to say whether they were alive.

The deadly string of tornados turned tight knit rural communities into apocalyptic war zones. At least 31 people were killed Friday in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.

Schools were reduced to rubble, businesses were destroyed and families were left homeless by the disaster.

In Henryville, Ind., the town's elementary, middle and high schools were completely wiped out. Receipts from the town were found 150 miles away in Cincinnati, carried by the brutal force of the storm.

The only structure left standing in the community of Marysville, Ind., was the town's water tower.

"This was the worst-case scenario. There's no way you can prepare for something like this," Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden told the Indianapolis Star.

Three bus loads of children, from elementary to high school, rode out the twister in Tony Williams' Chelsea, Ind., store.

"There were a few kids who were upset and crying a little bit," Williams said. "Being a rural community, everyone is really comforting to each other. Right now, we're making sure people have food and a place to stay."

The town of West Liberty, Ky., was completely flattened by the twister. Dozens were reported missing overnight Friday and at least two people were killed.

"The only thing I could think to pray was 'In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost,'" resident Martha Jo Hall told the Herald-Leader. "And He took care of us."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Tornadoes Hit South and Midwest, Leveling Towns

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The powerful tornadoes that have raged across the United States continued Friday, leveling homes across the South and Midwest and leaving at least six more people dead, according to ABC News and its affiliates.

At least six people were dead in southern Indiana, reported ABC News affiliate WRTV in Indianapolis. The state police confirmed six deaths to ABC News — including three in Jefferson County, Ind. Another three people were killed in Ripley County, Ind., WRTV reported, citing Indiana State Police.

The tornadoes were part of a series of at least 34 that have been reported in five states Friday.


Clark County Sheriff’s Department Maj. Chuck Adams described the town of Marysville, Ind., as “completely gone.” The town of Henryville, Ind., was hit by two storms in rapid succession, leaving people scrambling for cover in between them.

In Henryville, the local high school was hit by extreme weather, but the extent of damage or injuries was not immediately clear, according to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

At least 20 homes were badly damaged in Tennessee, which was pounded by high winds and hail.

The storms also hit a maximum-security prison outside of Huntsville, Ala., blowing down roughly 1,000 feet of fence around the prison and causing damage to the roof of two dormitories.  Prison officials reported that the prison, which houses roughly 2,100 inmates, including more than 200 with HIV, was secure and no inmates escaped.

At least five people from the Huntsville area were taken to local hospitals, although the extent of their injuries was not immediately known.

Some schools across the Midwest and South closed early in response to forecasts of further severe weather in the areas, many of which were still recovering from the tornadoes earlier this week that killed 13 people across seven states.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Indiana Republican Rips Girl Scouts

Giuliana Nakashima/The Washington Post/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- When most people think of the Girl Scouts -- especially at this time of the year -- they think of Thin Mints and Samoas, of campfires and green uniforms, but one Indiana Republican sees something vastly different: a “radicalized” group that backs abortion rights and in doing so is destroying U.S. families.

That is why Indiana state Rep. Bob Morris -- who represents Allen County, which includes the city of Fort Wayne -- is not only refusing to sign a resolution to honor the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America but actively trying to get his fellow lawmakers to oppose the measure, too.

In a letter to his Republican colleagues at the Indiana statehouse, first obtained by the Journal-Gazette of Fort Wayne, Morris called the group a “radicalized organization” that backs abortion and promotes the “homosexual lifestyle.” Of the 50 role models that Girl Scouts study, Morris argued that, “only three have a briefly mentioned religious background; all the rest are feminists, lesbians or communists.”

Even the White House wasn’t immune from Morris’ criticism. Morris wrote that First lady Michelle Obama’s role as an honorary president of the New York City-based group, “should give each of us reason to pause before our individual and collective endorsement of the organization.”

Morris, who said he had done, “a small amount of Web-based research” on the matter, claimed that, “the agenda of Planned Parenthood includes sexualizing young girls through the Girl Scouts, which is quickly becoming a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood.”

Morris has two daughters who are part of the group but, he said, he sought out a specific troop for them that is anti-abortion. The organization overall, he wrote in his letter, “has been subverted in the name of liberal progressive politics and the destruction of traditional American family values.”

The married father of six and Indiana University graduate is the owner and founder of a chain of retail stores called Healthkick Nutrition Centers.

The backlash from the organization has been swift. Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana-Michigan posted a statement on its website titled “What We Stand For.” “No funds are allocated from either [Girl Scouts of Northern-Indiana Michigan or Girl Scouts USA] to Planned Parenthood,” the group said in its statement, adding that, “issues related to human sexuality and reproductive health are best left to parents or guardians to discuss with their daughters.”

Planned Parenthood of Indiana also released a statement, with president and CEO Betty Cockrum saying, “It was disappointing to read Rep. Morris’ inflammatory, misleading, woefully inaccurate and harmful words about Planned Parenthood, the Girl Scouts of America and the president and first lady.”

“On the national level, inflammatory and generally inaccurate claims about a partnership between the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood have been promoted primarily by anti-choice lawmakers seeking to place pressure on organizations to disassociate or distance themselves from Planned Parenthood,” Cockrum said.

Even Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma ridiculed Morris’ stance, spending Tuesday dishing out Thin Mints to other lawmakers and joking that the letter made him buy 278 cases of cookies.

Morris said Tuesday that he is standing by his opposition and his daughters are now joining an alternative group run by conservative Christians.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Indiana Babysitter Who Killed 9-Year-Old Girl to Appear in Court

Michael Plumadore in a 2000 mugshot. Dade County Sheriff Dept.(FORT WAYNE, Ind.) -- The babysitter charged with killing a 9-year-old girl who had disappeared from an Indiana trailer park will appear in court Friday, the first chance prosecutors will have to explain why he allegedly killed and then dismembered the girl's body.

Michael Plumadore, 39, "freely admitted" that in the "early morning hours" last Thursday, he struck Aliahna Lemmon in the head multiple times with a brick "while she was standing on the front steps of his residence," according to a police affidavit.

He later dismembered her body and kept her head, feet and hands in his freezer, according to the affidavit.

He allegedly put the girl's body in several trash bags and stuffed her in a freezer until nighttime came. He worked past midnight dismembering Aliahna's body with a hack saw, the affidavit states. He allegedly put the pieces in garbage bags and tossed them in a dumpster of a nearby business, but kept her head, hands and feet in his freezer.

Plumadore shuffled into court for his initial hearing Tuesday, manacled at this feet and hands. He was ordered held without bail, police said.

Plumadore did not tell police why he killed the young girl.

Plumadore, who had been babysitting Aliahna and her two sisters for a week because their mother was ill, initially told police that he has last seen Aliahna sleeping in his trailer on Friday but didn't alert police to her disappearance until Friday night because he believed she had gone home to her mother.

Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries said the girl's body was found after 9 p.m. Monday night.

Plumadore was arrested after his third interview with police, Cpl. Jeremy Tinkel told ABC News.

Fries said Plumadore has a criminal record in North Carolina and Florida.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Indiana Girl Found Dead; Family Friend Charged with Murder

Comstock/Thinkstock(FORT WAYNE, Ind.) -- A 9-year-old girl who was reported missing from an Indiana trailer park on Friday was found dead Monday night, and a man described as a neighbor and family friend was charged with murder, police said.

Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries said Aliahna Lemmon’s body was found after 9 p.m. on Monday, and investigators believe she was killed on Friday, the same day she was reported missing.

The girl and her two sisters had been staying in the Northway mobile home park in Fort Wayne with Mike Plumadore, 39, a family friend, while their mother was sick.

Plumadore reported the girl missing Friday night.  Police said he told them that he last saw her early Friday morning and when he first realized that she was no longer in his mobile home, he assumed that she had gone home to her mother.

He was arrested after his third interview with police, when he gave “indication as to his involvement in this,” and where the body could be found, Fries told ABC News affiliate WPTA-TV in Fort Wayne.

Fries said Plumadore has a criminal record in North Carolina and Florida.

Fries did not say specifically where the girl’s remains were found, but sources told WPTA that there was crime-scene tape around a dumpster and around Plumadore’s home.

The tragic discovery came the same day that police announced that the FBI had joined the investigation and a candlelight vigil was being held for Aliahna in Fort Wayne.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jilted Boyfriend Confessed on Facebook to Murder-Suicide

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(FORT WAYNE, Ind.) -- A man who confessed on Facebook to killing his ex-girlfriend, her companion and then later killed himself was furious because the woman had dumped him,  ABC News has learned.

Erin Jehl, 19, and her friend Ryann Tipton, 19, were shot to death when they stopped by his house to pick up her belongings.

The grisly crime was discovered Saturday when a Washington woman saw a status update from a Facebook friend in Fort Wayne, Ind., saying that he had killed two people and himself. Minutes after the man has posted the message, the woman called police in Fort Wayne.

“She provided dispatchers with a specific home and asked police to check the residence,” Raquel Foster, spokeswoman for the Fort Wayne Police Department, told ABC News. “That is what prompted this whole investigation.”

When police arrived at the residence, they found “three adults all suffering from apparent gunshot wounds,” according to Fort Wayne police. All three were declared dead on-scene and police are considering the incident a murder-suicide.

“We did learn that the female shooting victim had a relationship with the shooter,” Foster said. “We also learned that that relationship ended days prior to this incident. The 19-year-old male shooting victim was a friend accompanying the 19-year-old female shooting victim to recover some of her personal belongings.”

Police said coroners have not yet been able to positively identify the shooter, but ABC News’ Fort Wayne affiliate WPTA-TV identified the person behind the Facebook post as Bart Heller.

His Facebook post read: “someone call 911. three dead bodies at 3229 lima road fort wayne indiana. I’ve killed ryann, erin, and myself. people were warned not to f***ing play me and ruin me. they didn’t listen. sorry about your luck.”

Authorities believe that there had been no indication that the crime was imminent.

“We have not received any information that he made threats to them or that there were any signs that this was impending,” Foster said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Indiana Mother Abandons Baby with Craigslist Sitter

Hemera/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- The Department of Child Services is investigating an Indiana mother who abandoned her 13-month-old son with a babysitter she found on Craigslist.

Cecilia Long, 28, told Indianapolis police that she had responded to a Craigslist ad posted by a woman identified as “Jen,” requesting overnight care for her 13-month old son, Kameron.

Long had been caring for Kameron regularly since Thanksgiving before she decided her agreement with Jen didn’t make a lot of sense.

Long said Jen had promised her $75 a day to care for Kameron, but the money never materialized. Jen gave Long only $10, she told Fox59, which she said she used to buy milk for the baby.

The situation came to a head when Long had to go out of town due to a family emergency. She texted Jen and asked her to come pick up her child, but Kameron’s mother refused and responded that “it wasn’t her problem,” according to Indianapolis police records.

Robert Hatch, the police officer who responded to a call from Long on Dec. 6, tried to talk to Jen on the phone. But when Hatch identified himself, the police report said, Jen told him to “Quit f—ing calling my phone.” “Loud music and partying” were also audible in the background during Hatch’s brief conversation with Jen.

Police also looked for Kameron’s mother at local nightclubs without results -- she had told Long she worked as a dancer at a nearby venue, but employees there didn’t know of any dancers named Jen.

Kameron is now in the custody of Child Protective Services, which is investigating the case, Officer Anthony Weiner of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said.

But Long told Fox59 that her contact with Jen hasn’t ended:  Jen has sent Long aggressive messages since Child Protective Services took over the case.

“I want to know why the (expletive) you called CPS on me (expletive). I didn’t (expletive) do (expletive) to you. I owe you money yes, but I didn’t do (expletive) to you,” Jen said in one voicemail message left on Long’s phone.

Jen may be driving a maroon Jeep or SUV vehicle, according to the Indianapolis police report.

Ann Houseworth, director of communications at the Department of Child Services, said Kameron is in good health and in protective custody.  The investigation is still open; Houseworth noted that “the department makes every effort to locate the parents of a child once we’ve become involved.”

“We’re grateful for the actions of the babysitter,” Houseworth said. “It does take everyone in the community to keep children safe.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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