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Entries in Miami (35)

Monday
Jun112012

Canadian Porn Actor Linked to Unsolved Miami Murder?

Montreal Police(MIAMI) -- Miami police say they haven't ruled out the possibility that porn actor Luka Rocco Magnotta, who allegedly killed his male lover, chopped up the body and mailed pieces of it to government officials, could have committed an unsolved murder in Miami in 2009.

The news comes days after Los Angeles police confirmed there is no possible link between Magnotta and the chopped-up body found beneath the Hollywood sign in January.

Magnotta, 29, was arrested in Berlin last week on murder charges.  He allegedly filmed himself stabbing a Montreal college student to death with an ice pick, hacked the corpse to pieces and mailed them to government offices.  He allegedly also had sex with some of the body parts.

The victim in the unsolved Miami case was Omar Laparra, 21, whose body was found in the Biscayne Bay, dismembered and floating in plastic bags.  Detectives still don't know how he died, according to ABC News affiliate Local 10 in Miami.

The Canadian Press reports that someone posting as "luka-magnotta" wrote on Lotus car websites in 2010 and said he was living in Miami.

"Why not look into it?  Any agency with a similar case, we would look into it," Miami Police Sgt. Confesor Gonzalez told the Miami Herald.

But at first glance, the Miami killing doesn't follow the pattern of Magnotta's alleged crime in Canada, said Gonzalez, the lead investigator on the Laparra case.

"In the Canadian case, it appeared to be domestic, and the killer knew the victim, while in our case, it appears to be random," he told the Herald.  "Nonetheless, in the interest of being thorough, we will follow up with Montreal police."

Magnotta is currently in a German jail awaiting extradition to Canada, where police say he allegedly murdered Chinese student Jun Lin around May 24.

Magnotta and victim Jun Lin, 33, were gay lovers, according to Montreal police.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun092012

Miami Face-Eating Attacker Had No Human Flesh in Stomach

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- The Miami man whose vicious face-eating attack left his victim with his eyes, nose and mouth chewed off may not have been a cannibal after all.

An autopsy of Rudy Eugene's body found there was no human flesh in his stomach, just a few undigested pills, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The pills have not been identified and it will take weeks to complete toxicology tests on them, the newspaper reported.

Eugene, who authorities suspect may have been high on a dangerous new street drug known as "bath salts," was naked and had to be shot four times by a police officer to halt the attack.

"He's beating another man. It's a naked man beating another man," one 911 caller said. "He is going to kill that man. I promise you."

The grisly assault on Ronald Poppo, a homeless man, lasted for 18 agonizing minutes and was captured on nearby surveillance cameras.

Poppo, 65, is in critical condition after police say 75 percent of his face was devoured by Eugene.

Footage taken by security cameras at the nearby Miami Herald building shows most of the 18 gory minutes of Eugene's growling and vicious attack on Poppo, when Eugene chewed off the man's nose, mouth and eyes.

The bizarre attack was one of the first in a string of unrelated cannibalistic incidents that has been dubbed the "zombie apocalypse."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun022012

Zombie Apocalypse: Miami Face Eating Attack: 911 Calls Released

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Three frantic 911 calls reporting a brutal face-eating attack are shedding new light on the painful scene passersby witnessed.

"He's beating another man. It's a naked man beating another man," one caller said. "He is going to kill that man. I promise you."

The grisly assault on a homeless man whose face was eaten by a deranged assailant lasted for 18 agonizing minutes and was captured on nearby surveillance cameras. The 911 calls were releaed by police late Friday.

"He is beating another man to a pulp," one caller said.

Another told police they would have no trouble finding the location.

"Can't miss him, he's naked!" the caller said.

Rudy Eugene, who authorities suspect may have been high on a dangerous new street drug known as "bath salts," had to be shot four times by a police officer to halt the cannibalistic attack.

The victim, Ronald Poppo, 65, is in critical condition after police say 75 percent of his face was devoured by Eugene.

Footage taken by security cameras at the nearby Miami Herald building shows most of the 18 gory minutes of Eugene's growling and vicious attack on Poppo, when Eugene ate the man's nose, mouth and eyes.

A second cannibalistic attack occured later this week.

A 21-year-old man accused of killing a housemate told police in Harford County, Md., that he ate the victim's heart and part of his brain after killing him.

Alexander Kinyua first became a suspect when his brother found what he thought were human remains in the basement of the family's Joppatowne home. When the brother confronted Kinyua, he told him they were animal remains, according to ABC 2 News in Baltimore. The brother told the father about the grisly find, but when the father searched the basement the remains were gone.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun012012

Philadelphia Weatherman Drugged, Scammed by Women

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- John Bolaris was a TV weather forecaster in Philadelphia, but even he could not predict the intentions of two comely women that approached him at a luxury hotel bar in Miami.

He woke up two days after the encounter with little memory and even less money -- allegedly drugged twice on consecutive nights and charged more than $43,000 on his credit card.

Bolaris had become another mark in a scheme run by an alleged Eastern European crime ring.

Hours of FBI surveillance videos and photos obtained by ABC News show how the group of so-called bar girls, known as "b-girls," lived and operated in South Beach -- targeting wealthy male tourists and bilking them of thousands of dollars.

"They came across very cutesy, and very sincere, and very nice, like the girls next door," Bolaris recalled of his alleged scammers in an interview with ABC's 20/20.  "This wasn't a hooker-type thing."

The FBI said Bolaris was one of 88 men preyed on by a crime ring that illegally brought in attractive women from Eastern Europe and used them to lure men from Miami hotspots like the Hotel Delano, Clevelander and Fontainebleau to shady clubs nearby where the girls plied their alleged victims with liquor, forged their signatures and charged them "exorbitant prices" for alcohol.

Bolaris' stranger-than-fiction story began when he vacationed in Miami in March 2010.  Bolaris, who was 52 at the time of the incident, said he was having a drink at a South Beach bar when he was approached by two women with Russian-sounding accents.

After a few drinks, Bolaris and the women piled into a taxi heading to another bar.  On the way, Bolaris said, the women asked if he wouldn't mind stopping to see a painting a friend was selling for charity.  Bolaris said yes, but then the weatherman's memory becomes cloudy.

He said he did not regain full consciousness until the next morning, when he awoke in his own hotel suite.  Then, to his surprise, he received a call from the b-girls offering to return his sunglasses that they had inadvertently taken.

Bolaris himself wanted to return the painting and agreed to meet up with the girls again that evening.  According to Bolaris, they met him at the hotel and took a cab together to return the piece of art.  On the way, the girls disembarked at an unmarked storefront and "whistle[d]" at him to join them inside.

"And next thing I know, I'm passed out," said Bolaris.

He woke up on March 30 feeling "very sick" and "extremely worried" because he had no recollection of the previous night.

Instead of hearing from the girls again, Bolaris received a call from his credit card company, American Express, detailing charges of $43,712.25, including a $2,480 charge for the painting.

When Bolaris attempted to dispute the charges, American Express referred him to a man named Stan Pavlenko, who was later indicted in the case and has pleaded not guilty.  Pavlenko had supplied a photograph of Bolaris at the bar to the credit card company in an attempt to legitimate the charges.

Despite evidence that located him at a bar called Caviar, Bolaris vowed to fight the expenses.  He eventually connected with the FBI, which had launched a full-scale investigation of the Eastern European criminal activities in the South Beach clubs.

After spending 13 months and more than an estimated $1 million investigating the case, the FBI staged a birthday party at one of the clubs to arrest the bar girls and their managers.  The agency raided the club fully armed, arresting 16 suspects, including almost a dozen b-girls and a handful of male managers and accountants.

The case against Pavlenko and others who have pleaded not guilty will head to federal court in October.  Bolaris and the b-girls are expected to testify.

Bolaris lost his job as a weatherman in Philadelphia after the b-girls scandal made headlines.  But there was a silver lining: He won a court battle against American Express -- the credit card company repaid him the $43,000 it originally charged and also forked over thousands more in damages.

Watch the full story on 20/20 Friday at 10 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May312012

Miami Face-Eating Attack Lasted 18 Minutes

Rudy Eugene is pictured in this undated mugshot. (Obtained by ABC News)(MIAMI) -- The grisly assault on a homeless man whose face was eaten by an assailant in Miami last week went on for 18 agonizing minutes and was captured on nearby surveillance cameras.

Rudy Eugene, who authorities suspect may have been high on a dangerous new street drug known as "bath salts," had to be shot four times by a police officer to halt the cannibalistic attack.

The victim, Ronald Poppo, 65, is in critical condition after police say 75 percent of his face was devoured by Eugene.

Footage taken by security cameras at the nearby Miami Herald building show most of the 18 minutes of Eugene's growling and vicious attack on Poppo when Eugene ate the man's nose, mouth and eyes.

Eugene, 31, had a criminal past and has the notoriety of being the first person ever tasered by the North Miami Police Department after he was arrested for beating and threatening to kill his mother in 2008.  Police told ABC News affiliate WPLG that they had to taser him three times to subdue him.

According to WPLG, police believed that Eugene may have been mentally ill, but, according to the judge who handled the case, was never referred to the court's mental illness diversion program.

Eugene was found guilty, but the court suspended his sentence citing in court records that "the defendant is not likely to engage in a criminal course of conduct."

That prediction proved to be wrong last Saturday.  Police say Eugene started his day in South Beach where he dumped his car.  It is believed that he may have been cruising the streets for the popular Urban Beach Weekend.

He then walked across a causeway that connects the popular neighborhood with downtown Miami when he began to strip his clothes off.  The footage picks up and shows an agitated Eugene naked and bent over a second figure believed to be Poppo.

Poppo was homeless and lived near the area where the attack occurred.  Poppo tries to fight back as Eugene tries to take off his clothes.  As the assault begins, the surveillance video shows a few passerbys beginning to notice what is going on.  Police say they received at least five calls from witnesses.

When a police officer, who has been described as traumatized by the incident, arrives on scene, he is seemingly casually getting out of his patrol car until he notices what is going on.  The officer almost immediately draws his gun.  The cop ordered Eugene to stop the attack, but Eugene ignored his command and even growled back at the officer. 

It's unclear when the officer fired because the video is obstructed by a metro commuter train line, but it eventually took four bullets to make Eugene stop his brutal assault.

It's still unclear what triggered the violent attack.  Police and many in the medical community believe that drugs, in particular "bath salts," may have played a role.  "Bath salts" have become increasingly popular in the Miami party scene, and they can trigger extremely violent outbursts.  But police have found no evidence of drugs at the scene, and toxicology results will take several weeks to come back in. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May292012

Cannibal Attack Possibly Prompted By 'Bath Salts'

Rudy Eugene is pictured in this undated mugshot. (Obtained by ABC News)(MIAMI) -- Miami police suspect that what caused a 31-year-old man to rip off his clothes and viciously gnaw on the face of another man in a daylight attack on a busy highway is a new and extremely dangerous street drug known as "bath salts."

A Miami police officer shot Rudy Eugene Saturday after repeated pleas for him to stop eating another man's face. His demands were met with only growls. Eugene continued, and it took four bullets to kill and finally stop him as witnesses watched in horror.

According to police, little remained of the victim's face, with 75 percent of it eaten away, rendering him almost unrecognizable. One source says all that remained was blood and the victim's goatee.

[ CLICK HERE TO SEE A PHOTO OF THE VICTIM PRIOR TO THE ATTACK ]

Police have not officially connected Eugene's behavior to "bath salts," but experts say he was exhibiting the classic signs of someone high on the drug.

Armando Aguilar, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of police, who has been in contact with the officer who killed Eugene, says the similarities between this and other recent cases involving "bath salts" are striking.

"The cases are similar minus a man eating another. People taking off their clothes. People suddenly have super-human strength," says Aguilar. "They become violent and they are burning up for the inside. Their organs are reaching a level that most would die. By the time police approach them they are a walking dead person."

According to WPLG, the victim was a 65-year-old, apparently homeless man who was living near the causeway where the attack occurred.  The victim, identified as Ronald Poppo, is listed in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital, WPLG reports.

Eugene, who was believed to be homeless, left few clues behind as to what led to the attack. Court records show that although he was arrested several times, they were for minor offenses. His ex-wife described him as having violent tendencies, but is shocked by the attack.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May202012

NAACP Board Votes in Support of Same-Sex Marriage

Mario Tama/Getty Images(MIAMI) -- The NAACP made waves on Saturday evening when its board of directors voted to support same-sex marriage, releasing a statement that "civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law" and citing the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution as a reason for backing marriage equality.

"The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure the political, social and economic equality of all people," said Roslyn M. Brock, chairman of the NAACP's board of directors, in a statement. "We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law."

"The NAACP's support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people," said Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, in a statement.

The announcement from the civil rights organization arrived on the heels of President Barack Obama's own recent statement in support of same-sex marriage in the U.S.

The African-American community has been slow to warm to the idea of same-sex marriage, but the NAACP's statement on Saturday, when paired with recent endorsements by President Obama and rapper Jay-Z, could indicate that the tide in the black community is flowing in the direction of marriage equality.

In an ABC News/Washington Post poll following President Obama's announcement of his support for same-sex marriage, 54 percent of African-Americans agreed with him. But in similar polls in mid-2011 and early 2012, just 41 percent of African-Americans took the same stance.

Prior to issuing the blanket statement in support of marriage equality, the NAACP had opposed legislation that would prevent same-sex marriage, including California's Proposition 8 and North Carolina's Amendment 1.

NAACP made its proclamation from a Miami, Fla.-based gathering of its board of directors, where only two board members expressed opposition to same-sex marriage, according to a tweet from NAACP senior vice president for development Maxim Thorne.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation issued a glowing statement following NAACP's announcement, saying, "We applaud President Ben Jealous and the NAACP Board of Directors for their leadership on this issue."

GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said in a statement: "Across races, faith traditions, and political persuasions, a majority of our culture recognizes that denying gay couples the chance at happiness that comes with being married is unfair and un-American."

Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker also tweeted his support of the NAACP's position, writing, "'Arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice' RT @dawnnozziwitter: It's on NAACP website under press release WOOHOO! About time!"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr242012

Cuban Actors Vanish Before NY Film Premiere, Director Hasn't Heard From Them

UnaNocheFilm(NEW YORK) -- The director of a film about young Cubans defecting would like to know that her real-life missing stars -- who may have defected en route to the premiere -- are safe.

Two of the stars of writer-director Lucy Mulloy's film Una Noche vanished in Miami as the group was making their way to New York from Cuba for the film's premiere.

"Though they've made difficult choices about what to do at present, I wish them the very best in all their endeavours and I hope I will get to see them again soon," Mulloy said in a statement emailed to ABC News. "It was a pleasure working with them. I would love to know that they are well."

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The film is about three young Cubans who decide to flee the country on a raft after one of them is accused of assault. The film follows the day they attempt to make it 90 miles across the ocean to Florida.

The British-born director recently graduated from New York University's graduate film program and Una Noche is her first feature film.

All three of the film's stars -- Anailin de la Rua de la Torre, Javier Nunez Florian and Dariel Arrechada -- were expected to appear at New York's Tribeca Film Festival for the premiere. But Torre and Florian, both 19, were nowhere to be found the night of the event.

Arrechada, 21, was the only one to attend the premiere.

"We can't say for sure what the status of these guys are," Katie Tichacek Kaplan, spokeswoman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), told ABC News on Monday. "There are a number of things they could be thinking. We just don't know what their plans are."

Kaplan said that people in similar situations who come to the U.S. for asylum have a year to apply.

A State Department official told ABC News on Monday, "We are aware of the reports, but we don't have any further information. We have not been in contact with the film festival organizers or the Cuban actors."  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr122012

Miami School Bus Crashes Into Home; Other Driver Flees

George Doyle/Stockbyte(MIAMI) -- Authorities in Miami are searching Thursday for the driver of an SUV who crashed into a school bus with children on board and then walked away from the scene.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials said the black SUV crashed into a Miami-Dade County yellow school bus after the driver ran a stop sign around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.  The impact of the crash sent the bus careening into the front of a nearby home.

“I just turned around and I see a bus inside the house,” one of the home’s residents, Dominique McDuffie, told local ABC affiliate WPLG.

On board the bus were two special needs children and two adults, all of whom suffered only minor injuries and received treatment on the scene, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials.

Eyewitnesses said the driver appeared distracted after the crash and fled the scene as the two adults worked to evacuate the children from the bus.

“I saw the guy. The guy was on the phone, talking. I just heard him say that he ran the stop sign, and then he was talking on the phone and the next thing you know, he disappeared,” a neighbor said, according to WPLG.

Authorities are asking anyone with information on the accident to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr022012

Miami Rally Puts Heat on Police to Arrest George Zimmerman

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(MIAMI) -- Hundreds attending a Miami rally Sunday demanded justice in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and again called for the arrest of George Zimmerman, the Sanford, Fla., neighborhood watch captain who told police he shot the unarmed youth in self defense.

The speakers at Bayfront Park included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and the Rev. Jamal Bryant, founder of the Empowerment Temple in Baltimore. Martin's parents were also on hand to address the crowd.

There have been similar rallies across the country during the past few weeks after news of the Feb. 26 incident turned viral on social media sites. Just about everyone has weighed in on the case including President Obama, Republican White House hopefuls, TV and radio commentators and celebrities.

Much of the outrage has come from the nation's African-American community, alleging that Martin's death was simply another example of how racial profiling is used to target innocent black males.

Zimmerman, who is of Hispanic origin, told investigators that he saw someone suspicious lurking around a gated community where a string of robberies occurred. He claimed after confronting Martin, he was attacked from behind and used his firearm as a last resort.

Many believe Zimmerman should have been charged instantly, but investigators said there wasn't enough evidence. Now, a grand jury that will get underway next week will determine if Zimmerman can be charged with manslaughter.

At the rally, the Rev. Al Sharpton said he promised Martin's parents that the demonstrations would go on as long as necessary until Zimmerman is arrested and formally charged.

Meanwhile, more questions have been raised about Florida's "stand your ground" law that allows the use of deadly force when a potential victim feels his life is threatened even away from home.  Critics say it can be too loosely interpreted and would result in similar cases such as the one involving Zimmerman and Martin.

In other developments Sunday, Martin’s parents have asked the Justice Department to launch a separate probe to investigate possible interference in their son's case by the state's attorney's office and a Sanford police detective.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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