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Entries in Investigation (66)

Saturday
May182013

Investigation Begins in Connecticut Commuter Train Crash

Comstock/Thinkstock(FAIRFIELD, Conn.) -- Federal transportation officials began their investigation Saturday to determine what caused two commuter trains to crash head-on in Connecticut during the Friday rush hour.

At least 70 people were injured Friday when a Metro-North train derailed and barreled straight into the path of another train headed in its direction just outside Bridgeport, Conn.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived at the scene Saturday morning to begin surveying the twisted rail cars that remained on the tracks.

"We'll be looking at how the crew behaved and how the crew operated the train," NTSB member Earl Weener said.

During the investigation, which is expected to last seven to 10 days, officials will also examine the braking performance of the trains and the conditions of the wheels, cars and track to see if they played a role in the crash, Weener said.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said three people remained in critical condition on Saturday, while six others also remained hospitalized for their injuries. Many of the injured suffered bruises, cuts and minor fractures and were able to be treated and released, according to officials at two area hospitals.

A Metro-North train was traveling east from New York City's Grand Central Station to New Haven, Conn., when it derailed at 6:10 p.m., Weener said.

The jolt of the impact was so strong, passengers said it caused bodies to be flung around the cars.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., was among the elected officials who surveyed the damage and called the scene "absolutely staggering."

He said the injuries could have been much worse and lauded the investment in infrastructure for saving lives.

"Investment in quality of transportation is probably one of the lessons we will learn from this accident," he said.

While the wreckage remains on the tracks, transportation in the Northeast Corridor is expected to be crippled.

Two of the tracks on the line were already out of service for a project, and the remaining two tracks were damaged in the collision, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the Metro-North Railroad.

Amtrak's service between New York City and Boston, which operates on the tracks where the accident occurred, was also suspended indefinitely.

Commuting could be a challenge on Monday for those around Bridgeport who rely on Metro-North to get to and from work in New York City.

Malloy said a system was being set up to move people from Bridgeport to nearby train stations.

"This is going to be with us for a number of days," he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan032013

Senate Intel Committee Probes Bin Laden Movie Torture Scenes

COLUMBIA PICTURES(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Intelligence Committee has launched a new probe to determine how much the CIA may have influenced the portrayal of torture scenes shown in Zero Dark Thirty, the Hollywood dramatization of the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden.

The probe, confirmed to ABC News by a spokesperson for the committee's chairman, will attempt to answer two questions: Did the CIA give filmmakers "inappropriate" access to secret material, and was the CIA responsible for the perceived suggestion that harsh interrogation techniques aided the hunt for America's most wanted man?

In a press release Thursday, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office said Feinstein, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D.-Mich., and former presidential candidate John McCain, R.-Ariz., –- the latter two are ex officio members of the Intelligence Committee – sent two letters to acting CIA Director Michael Morell in December asking just what the CIA might have told the filmmakers about the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation.

The first letter, dated Dec. 19, focused on the possibility that the CIA "misled" the filmmakers into showing torture as an effective tactic.

"As you know, the film depicts CIA officers repeatedly torturing detainees. The film then credits CIA detainees subjected to coercive interrogation techniques as providing critical lead information on the courier that led to the [bin Laden] compound," the letter says. "The CIA cannot be held accountable for how the Agency and its activities are portrayed in film, but we are nonetheless concerned, given the CIA's cooperation with the filmmakers and the narrative's consistency with past public misstatements by former senior CIA officials, that the filmmakers could have been misled by information they were provided by the CIA."

Two days after the letter was sent, Morell posted a statement on the CIA website explaining that the movie was "not a realistic portrayal of the facts" but said some information did come from detainees subjected to enhanced interrogation.

"...[T]he film creates the strong impression that the enhanced interrogation techniques that were part of our former detention and interrogation program were key to finding Bin Laden. That impression is false," Morell said. "As we have said before, the truth is that multiple streams of intelligence led CIA analysts to conclude that Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad. Some came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques, but there were many other sources as well. And, importantly, whether enhanced interrogation techniques were the only timely and effective way to obtain information from those detainees, as the film suggests, is a matter of debate that cannot and never will be definitively resolved."

The trio of Feinstein, Levin and McCain wrote the second letter on New Year's Eve in apparent frustration with that statement and asked Morell to provide information on what exactly the CIA learned from detainees who underwent harsh interrogation – and if it was learned before, during or after the detainees' ordeals.

A CIA spokesperson told ABC News Thursday the agency had received the letters and "take[s] very seriously our responsibility to keep our oversight committees informed and value[s] our relationship with Congress."

Directed by Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow and hailed by critics since its limited release last month, Zero Dark Thirty has also become a lightning rod for the ongoing debate over the role torture may have played in the ultimately successful hunt for bin Laden. The movie features multiple scenes in which American interrogators oversee or take part in harsh techniques including simulated drowning, violent beating, and force feeding of alleged al Qaeda operatives or associates.

In his book The Finish, Black Hawk Down author Mark Bowden wrote that enhanced interrogation appeared to play a significant role in corroborating the identity of an al Qaeda courier who years later led U.S. officials to bin Laden. At least two detainees who underwent enhanced interrogation – one of them the former high-level al Qaeda operative Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded a reported 183 times – acknowledged the existence and the nom de guerre of the courier but failed to provide any more complete or accurate information about him, Bowden wrote.

In their letters, the senators said that based on the material they had been given by the CIA, no detainee reported the courier's full name or specific whereabouts and that the agency actually learned the vital information that led to bin Laden "through means unrelated to the CIA detention and interrogation program."

As to whether Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal were ever given inappropriate access to information, Boal told ABC News' Nightline in an exclusive interview in November that he never received classified documents.

"I certainly did a lot of homework, but I never asked for classified material," Boal said. "To my knowledge I never received any."

Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group, is involved in ongoing litigation with the goverment over exactly what information was shared with the filmmakers. The group previously obtained documents that its president said "provide more backing to the serious charge that the Obama administration played fast and loose with national security information to help Hollywood filmmakers."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec312012

Investigation into Fatal Oregon Bus Crash Expected to Last at Least a Month, Say Police

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(PENDLETON, Ore.) -- Police in Oregon are just now beginning what they say will be a month-long investigation into a fatal bus crash last Sunday near Pendleton in eastern Oregon, which killed nine people and injured 49 others.

Police say they won't know until the investigation is complete if charges will be filed against the driver.

The bus crashed in an icy patch of highway and rolled down an embankment. Lt. Gregg Hastings with the Oregon State Police said the bus "veered across both westbound lanes, struck a guardrail, continued through the guardrail down about 200 feet to where it came to rest."
 
"Many of the occupants were ejected or partially ejected from the bus. There obviously were many people injured still inside the bus," Hastings said in a Monday press conference.  He noted that the area's conditions were "slippery" and that Sunday's bus crash was the second of two fatal crashes that morning.

"We had another one a few hours earlier," Hastings said.
 
Lt. Hastings said he expects the investigation into what caused the crash to "last up to four weeks, possibly longer."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec182012

"In Cold Blood" Killers Exhumed, Investigators Hope to Solve 53-Year-Old Cold Case

Comstock/Thinkstock(LANSING, Kan.) -- The bodies of the killers who were the basis of Truman Capote's true-crime book In Cold Blood were exhumed Tuesday in Kansas, as authorities hope to crack a 53-year-old cold case using DNA.

After committing the In Cold Blood murders of Herbert Clutter, his wife and two children on Nov. 15, 1959, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock hit the road, hiding out from law enforcement in Mexico and Florida, among other places, according to Capote's book and law enforcement accounts. They were ultimately captured in Las Vegas.

But it just so happens that Smith and Hickock were near Osprey, Fla., on Dec. 19, 1959, when the Walker family was murdered in their home.

The men were briefly investigated in 1960, but were ruled out as suspects after passing lie detector tests. Hickock and Smith were hanged on April 14, 1965 and buried at the Mount Muncie cemetery in Lansing, Kan.

Detective Kim McGath, who has been assigned to the Walker case for the past four years, said she decided to start from the beginning last year in investigating the case, and through her research developed a hunch that Smith and Hickock could be responsible.

"Some things started jumping out at me," she told ABC News.

By the time they reached Florida, the men were spotted throughout the state looking for odd jobs to make a quick buck, often at mechanics' shops and gas stations, according to Capote's book.

It's possible the young family, who had been in the market to purchase a Chevrolet Bel Air, may have crossed paths with Smith and Hickock, who were driving a 1956 model and likely needed money, McGath said.

They were spotted several times in the Sarasota area the day of the murders, and after the Walker family was killed, one of the men was seen with a "scratched-up face," McGath said.

Physical evidence, long before the emergence of DNA testing, was also left behind, McGath said.

Christine Walker had been raped and semen was found in her underwear, she said, and there was a bloody cowboy hat found at the scene.

And two suspicious hairs, which were inconsistent with the Walker family, were found in the home.

"There was a dark hair found in the bathroom, where baby Debbie was found in the bathtub, and a long blond hair inside the dress of Christine Walker," McGath said.

According to Capote's book, Smith recalled reading about the murders in the Miami Herald.

"Know what I wouldn't be surprised? If this wasn't done by a lunatic. Some nut that read about what happened out in Kansas," Smith told Hickock while the two were on the beach in Acapulco, in an exchange Capote recounted in his book. The men never confessed to the murders.

Mitochondrial DNA may prove otherwise if it can be extracted from the bones of the men.

"It's absolutely possible," McGath said. "It depends on all kind of circumstances. The soil conditions, the weather, what type of casket it is in. We will have no idea until we get out there."

Fifty-three years after the murders, closure remains just as important to residents of the Osprey.

"People really changed the way they lived. They locked everything, were afraid of their neighbors," she said. "There has just been such a great desire for this to be solved because it really affected so many people. It really is a lot more far reaching than a lot of people realize."

 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec052012

Baton Rouge Police Hope They've Cracked 28-Year-Old Murder Case

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Investigators in Baton Rouge, La., say they may have cracked a 28-year-old cold murder case after re-arresting two suspects who were originally linked to the 1984 disappearance of a Louisiana businessman.

Leila Mulla, 57, was arrested by Louisiana investigators in New York City, and Ronald Dalton Dunnagan, 64, was arrested in Bossier City, La., Monday. The missing man, Gary Kergan, was last seen alive at Mulla's Baton Rouge home Nov. 29, 1984, police say.

Mulla, who, according to the Queens (N.Y.) District Attorney's office is now a registered nurse, was seen with Kergan, 29, on that night in 1984 at a Baton Rouge nightclub. Kergan was seen wearing flashy jewelry and carrying a significant amount of cash when they left in his Cadillac, police say.

Kergan and his brother owned a string of Sonic fast-food restaurants in Louisiana.

Baton Rouge Police Lt. Don Kelly, who was then a reporter in the city before joining the police force, said Kergan was specifically targeted by Mulla and Dunnagan.

"[Kergan and Mulla] met at the strip club. They [Mulla and Dunnagan] were robbing him of jewelry and cash," he told ABC News. "He [Kergan] flashed jewelry and money, drove the big Caddy....I don't know about their [Mulla and Dunnagan's] relationship, whether they were dating...or mentor-mentee."

Kelly said that when investigators searched Mulla's apartment at the time, there was blood and signs of an effort to clean it up.

Kergan's car was later found abandoned in Metairie, La. A significant amount of blood was located in the trunk of the car, Kelly said, but it could not be determined at the time whether it belonged to Kergan.

"Of course, speculation was that [the blood] was Kergan's. But the technology didn't exist, with DNA testing, to establish that. And his family didn't know his blood type. It made it almost impossible," Kelly said.

Mulla, an exotic dancer at the time, moved out of the apartment within a few days of Kergan's disappearance, Kelly said. She and Dunnagan went to Las Vegas, where they were arrested weeks later.

Investigators had also obtained Mulla's diary, in which she outlined a plan to rob Kergan, Kelly said.

After their arrest in December 1984, Mulla and Dunnagan were charged in connection with Kergan's death. Although they had a timeline of events placing Mulla with Kergan on the night he was last seen, and evidence of a possible crime in her apartment, it wasn't enough, Kelly said. With only circumstantial evidence against the two, the district attorney opted not to prosecute.

Kergan's body has not been found. He was declared legally dead by the courts in 1986. But investigators were able to make an arrest in the nearly 30-year-old murder case when, as part of cold case review, the blood in the car was re-examined.

In March of this year, Baton Rouge police placed Det. John Dotchier in charge of re-examining the department's hundreds of cold cases. Kergan's death became the first one in which the enthusiastic detective got a break when blood from Kergan's Cadillac was re-tested at the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab. DNA analysis showed that the blood belonged to Kergan.

"We've got hundreds of unsolved cases, and this one was looked at this year," Kelly said. "When he saw this one with the blood, he could have swung and missed. It's the first one he's solved."

Kelly said he district attorney's office believes that it now has enough evidence to convict Mulla and Dunnagan.

He has been charged with first-degree murder, she has been charged with second-degree murder and both have been charged with criminal conspiracy and simple robbery. They won't be arraigned until they are returned to Baton Rouge to face formal charges.

 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec032012

DNA from "In Cold Blood" Killers Could Solve 1959 Florida Cold Case

Comstock/Thinkstock(OSPREY, Fla.) -- More than 50 years after the Walker family was murdered in the quiet, carefree town of Osprey, Fla., the focus of the cold case investigation has shifted to two notorious killers who were the basis of Truman Capote's true-crime book In Cold Blood.

Investigators from the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office are hoping to travel to Kansas as soon as an order is approved by a judge to exhume the bodies of Perry Smith and Richard Hickock. They hope mitochondrial DNA evidence collected from the bones of the killers, who were executed by hanging in 1965, will help close a cold case that rattled Sarasota County.

On Dec. 19, 1959, the Walker family, including parents Cliff and Christine and their toddler children Jimmie and Debbie, were shot to death in their Osprey home.

Detective Kim McGath, who has been assigned to the Walker case for the past four years, said she decided to start from the beginning last year in investigating the case, and through her research developed a hunch that Smith and Hickock could be responsible. The men were briefly investigated in 1960, but were ruled out as suspects after passing lie detector tests.

"Some things started jumping out at me," she told ABC News.

After committing the In Cold Blood murder of Herbert Clutter, his wife and two children on Nov. 15, 1959, Smith and Hickock hit the road, hiding out from law enforcement in Mexico and Florida, among other places, according to Capote's book and law enforcement accounts. They were ultimately captured in Las Vegas.

By the time they reached Florida, the men were spotted throughout the state looking for odd jobs to make a quick buck, often at mechanics' shops and gas stations, according to Capote's book.

It's possible the young family, who had been in the market to purchase a Chevrolet Bel Air, may have crossed paths with Smith and Hickock, who were driving a 1956 model and likely needed money, McGath said.

They were spotted several times in the Sarasota area the day of the murders, and after the Walker family was killed, one of the men was seen with a "scratched-up face," McGath said.

Physical evidence, long before the emergence of DNA testing, was also left behind, McGath said.

Christine Walker had been raped and semen was found in her underwear, she said, and there was a bloody cowboy hat.

And two suspicious hairs, which were inconsistent with the Walker family, were found in the home.

"There was a dark hair found in the bathroom, where baby Debbie was found in the bathtub, and a long blonde hair inside the dress of Christine Walker," McGath said.

Smith recalled reading about the murders in the Miami Herald.

"Know what I wouldn't be surprised? If this wasn't done by a lunatic. Some nut that read about what happened out in Kansas," Smith told Hickock while the two were on the beach in Acapulco, in an exchange Capote recounted in his book. The men never confessed to the murders.

DNA may prove otherwise if it can be extracted from the bones of the men, who have been dead for 47 years.

"It's absolutely possible," McGath said. "It depends on all kinds of circumstances. The soil conditions, the weather, what type of casket it is in. We will have no idea until we get out there."

Fifty-three years after the murders, closure remains just as important to the residents of Osprey.

"People really changed the way they lived. They locked everything, were afraid of their neighbors," she said. "There has just been such a great desire for this to be solved because it really affected so many people. It really is a lot more far reaching than a lot of people realize."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec032012

Toddler's Death Points to Other Killings

Hemera/Thinkstock(MANASSAS, Va.) -- Police investigating a Virginia man in connection to the death of his 15-month-old son are also looking to see whether he played a role in the mysterious deaths of two other people: his mother and an ex-girlfriend.

Joaquin Rams, 40, became the focus of a Manassas Police Department investigation last month when his son, Prince McLeod Rams, died during a three-hour unsupervised visit.

Police have called it a "suspicious death" while they await the results of a medical examiner's report.

Rams has not been charged.

That case remains an "active and open investigation," police spokesman Lowell Nevill said, but it prompted cops to look into the 2008 suicide of Rams' mother and the 2003 shooting death of his ex-girlfriend.

Rams has not been named a suspect in any of the three deaths, but Prince's mother believed the man was dangerous, requesting last year that a Maryland judge order his visits supervised. The judge denied the request.

McLeod, an intelligence analyst and former contestant on the CBS reality-TV show The Amazing Race, ended her engagement with Rams about two weeks after their son was born.

She mentioned the women's deaths at a custody hearing, but a judge dismissed the concerns, calling them, "smoke that's been blown that I can see through," according to court documents.

Police have not formally re-opened an investigation into the death of Rams' mother, Alma Collins, whose death was ruled a suicide in 2008. Rams, however, remains a suspect in the still-unsolved 2003 shooting death of his ex-girlfriend Shawn K. Mason.

Rams did not respond to email and phone requests for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov192012

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

Friday
Nov162012

CIA Investigating David Petraeus

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The CIA has confirmed that the agency’s inspector general is investigating Gen. David Petraeus’ conduct in the wake of his admitted affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.  Petraeus resigned last week as CIA chief.

A CIA spokesman issued a statement saying, “At the CIA we are constantly reviewing our performance.  If there are lessons to be learned from this case we'll use them to improve.  But we're not getting ahead of ourselves; an investigation is exploratory and doesn’t presuppose any particular outcome.”

The FBI has been conducting its own investigation into Petraeus’ extramarital affair.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov142012

Los Angeles Officials Suspend Search for Girl Dragged Away by Hair

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Steep terrain and rough conditions dangerous to K-9 units forced the suspension of a search for a girl or petite woman seen being struck and dragged away by her hair Monday night, officials said.

The victim may have been kidnapped by a man at the El Sereno Recreation Center on the 4900 block of Klamath Street in El Sereno, Calif., located in eastern Los Angeles, according to a 911 caller reporting the incident at 8 p.m. Monday.

Witnesses saw the victim and her alleged assailant arguing, according to reports.

"That argument escalated to the point where the male struck the female at least once in the face and then began to drag her up into the brush area by the hair," police Lt. Andy Neiman said, according to The Associated Press.

Soon, police launched a thorough search, Los Angeles Police Department Public Information Officer Luiz Garcia told ABC News.

"Helicopters, K-9 units, urban search and rescue, and mounted police officers searched a 350-acre radius around the center, and we involved up to 250 officers to search for the missing victim," Garcia said.

"We found clothing items including shoes, a shirt and pants that we believe belong to the girl," Garcia added. "The fact that we found these items made us suspect that the victim may have been sexually assaulted."

During Monday's incident, witnesses heard the victim screaming and saw the suspect drag her into the bushes by her hair, Garcia said.

"The girl looked petite to them, so they estimated that she might have been between 13 and 15 years old," he added.

The witnesses did not interfere with the suspect, but decided to call the police instead, Garcia said. They did not have a cellphone with them so they ran to grab one to call 911.

When they returned to the scene, "they had lost contact with the victim and the suspect," Garcia said.

So far, the LAPD hasn't received any reports of missing persons that matched the description of the victim.

El Sereno Recreation Center serves the East Los Angeles community. It is a bustling center with a pool, a public community room, a baseball diamond, basketball and tennis courts, and other amenities.

"It's very shocking that such an incident would happen at this park given that it's a really nice and safe place," said Patricia Solis, a neighborhood resident. "This is a very safe neighborhood and people look out for each other."

Garcia said that the suspect was described as a Hispanic male between 18 and 20 years old, 6 feet tall, weighing 200 pounds with clean-cut dark hair. He was reported to be wearing a gray shirt and blue jeans at the time of the incident.

Even though the full-scale police search that followed was suspended on Tuesday, the investigation to find the girl and her assailant continued. A command post established next to Wilson High School, located half a mile away from the recreation center, was still operating.

Garcia urged anyone with information about the case to call the Los Angeles Police Department at 1-877-527-2477.

 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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