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Saturday
Jul132013

Mother and Daughter Trapped in Brazil Custody Dispute Return Home

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A Massachusetts mother and her 6-year-old daughter have returned home to the United States after being stranded in Brazil for nearly two months as a result of a tumultuous custody battle, according to their Facebook page.

Shauna Hadden, 33, of Agawam, Mass., took to Facebook to announce that she and her daughter, Ava, made it back Friday night.

"We are home!!!!!! Love you all thank you all," Hadden wrote on her Facebook page, "Trapped in Brazil." The page has received more than 12,000 likes.

Hadden said she got word that she could leave Brazil on Wednesday, when a federal regional judge there ruled that she and her daughter should be given back their passports, which they had turned over to police, according to a post on Facebook. Both Hadden and her daughter were also removed from the country's no-fly list, the post said.

Hadden took her daughter to Brazil on May 21 to visit the girl's father, Donizete Machado, whom Hadden divorced in 2009. When the mother and daughter arrived, Hadden says, her ex-husband went to court to get custody of Ava.

Although he was denied custody, a Brazilian judge ordered Ava's passport confiscated, Hadden said, adding that she surrendered her own passport as well when police came to her door.

Hadden, who has full custody of her daughter, said she planned a three-week trip to the South American country with Ava so the girl could meet her extended family and learn more about her cultural heritage.

"I was trying to do the right thing, what I thought was the right thing for Ava, and he hadn't seen her in four years," Hadden said.

When the two arrived in Brazil, "Shauna got a call from a man who lived in Machado's town telling her not to come," Shauna's mother, Linda Hadden, told ABC News. "Her ex-husband was planning to take Ava from her."

So instead of traveling to see Machado, Hadden says she chose to go north and stay with friends.

"That's when Machado got angry," Linda Hadden said. "He and his sisters started sending my daughter nasty messages, saying things like, 'You're going to have to stay in Brazil forever.' So Shauna decided to take her return flight home."

But Machado, who had bought the plane tickets, cancelled them when Hadden arrived in Brazil, she said.

While the U.S. State Department tried to get Hadden and Ava out of Brazil, Hadden grew increasingly concerned that she would not get her and her daughter's passports back before her travel visa expired Aug. 21.

"I have no documents here. I fear to even go in the car because if I get pulled over and I don't have my documents, ultimately they could throw me in prison because I'm undocumented," Hadden told ABC News in a Skype interview.

But after the judge ruled in her favor, Hadden posted pictures of herself and her daughter smiling and holding their passports on Wednesday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May042013

Teen Mom's Photo Banned from High School Yearbook

Courtesy Caitlin Tiller(TRINITY, N.C.) -- When Caitlin Tiller receives her high school yearbook later this month, she won’t find a single picture of herself on its pages.

Tiller’s photo was not allowed in the high school yearbook because she held her baby boy in the picture.

“The lady who runs the yearbook texted me and said, ‘We can’t use your picture in the yearbook because it promotes teen pregnancy,’” Tiller, 18, from Trinity, N.C., told ABC News about the exchange last month.

Wheatmore High School, in Trinity, N.C., allowed students to use a prop in their yearbook photos that would show something they were proud of when they posed for the photos last summer.

“There were no stipulations,” Tiller’s mom Karen Morgan, 42, also from Trinity, told ABC News. “They said, ‘Use whatever you want.’”

Tiller’s son, Leelin, 1, had just been born last summer when she took him to her yearbook photo appointment. “Everyone saw me with Leelin,” Tiller said. “No one said anything about me having my picture taken with him.”

That was until April 12, just days before the yearbook was going to print when the teacher at the school sent her the text notifying her that she had two days to submit a new photo without Leelin or not be in the yearbook.

“If he wasn’t going to be in it with me, I didn’t want be in it at all,” Tiller said.

Tiller, who graduated from high school early in December and is now attending Randolph County Community College, said the school fully supported her during her pregnancy. “They all helped me when I needed the help,” Tiller said. “I don’t understand why they’re being like this.”

Tiller said her best friend, who has a child, was also not allowed to have her picture with her child in the yearbook. She said, however, that a photo of a pregnant student, who posed with hands around her stomach, was allowed to be in the yearbook.

Both Tiller and Morgan said they tried to speak to school officials, but were not successful. ”I tried to fight it, but no one was budging,” Tiller said. Morgan said one school board member even hung up on her.

Donald E. Andrews, superintendent of Randolph County Schools, said in a statement to ABC News, “The practice at Wheatmore High School regarding yearbook pictures for seniors has been to include only graduating students in the senior section, and to permit family members and friends to be featured with our seniors in the ad section of the yearbook.”

Andrews said they offered Tiller this option and regretted not making their policy clearer to her.

“I feel like it’s discrimination,” Tiller said.

Morgan said the school is trying to hide its teen moms rather than being proud of girls who stay in school and achieve their goals like her daughter.

“She finished high school early, started college this year, and is working 30-36 hours a week,” Morgan said. “It’s ridiculous. She has proven so much and been such an inspiration to teen moms.”

While it is too late for Tiller’s photo to be in the yearbook, she and Morgan hope that the attention her story has gotten will help other teen moms gain recognition for their hard work. ”Having a baby is not easy,” said Tiller, who is currently studying to be a medical assistant.

When asked what advice she had for teen moms, she said, “Keep on fulfilling your dreams.

“Don’t give up because that little baby needs you.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar062013

Mom Mails Knife to Kids for Murder Plot, Cops Allege

WCTI/ABC News(GREENVILLE, N.C.) -- A Florida woman is being held on $5 million bond for allegedly mailing a knife to her two young children and telling them to kill their grandparents, police said.

Leticia Silva, 31, of Lakeland, Fla., is charged with four counts of solicitation to commit murder. Her children, daughters age 7 and 9, have been living with their grandparents in Greenville, N.C., for seven years.  The grandparents have permanent custody of the girls, police said.

Silva “contacted her children and asked them to kill their grandparents,” according to a statement by the Pitt County Sheriff’s office.  Greenville is located in Pitt County.

“The children revealed that Silva had mailed a knife to be used as the weapon to commit this crime,” the sheriff’s statement said.

 

The knife and the message were sent to the girls in December 2012, police said. The grandparents found the knife under the pillow of one of the girls in February, according to the statement. The police said they began their investigation on Feb. 4.

Officials said the grandparents spoke to the children about finding the knife and were told that they “love their grandparents very much” and couldn’t carry out the murder.

Silva turned herself in to Pitt County authorities on Monday and was held on $5 million bond. She recently requested a reduction in bail, telling the judge, “Your honor,  I need… my family is here from Florida. I turned myself in. I need to see if I can get a bond reduction.”

The judge refused to lower Silva’s bail.

Silva’s boyfriend reportedly has said that he believes the charges are a result of a “misunderstanding” and that the children’s grandparents are “making this all up.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb202013

Mom Allegedly Hires Strippers for Teen Son's Birthday Party

South Glens Falls P.D.(SOUTH GLENS FALLS, N.Y.) -- A South Glens Falls, N.Y., mother of four is facing jail time after she is said to have hired two strippers to dance at her 16-year-old's birthday party. The birthday party took place in early November, but racy pictures surfaced on Facebook this month, causing a parent whose son was at the party to alert local police.

The South Glens Falls Police Department has charged Judy Viger with five counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Police say that five of the attendees were younger than 17, and according to the New York Daily News, some were as young as 13.

The birthday party took place in a room at the Spare Time Bowling Center and had 80 people in attendance, the Daily News reported, including other parents. The bowling alley released the following statement to ABC News:

"Spare Time Bowling Center can confirm that a private party did take place on November 3rd, 2012. We neither arranged for (nor paid for) the entertainment that was provided at the party. Spare Time has been cooperating fully with the investigation and will continue to do so."

In a press release, Police accused 33-year-old Viger of "organizing, managing, and paying" for the party, where two strippers performed "personal and intimate dances for some party attendees."

The strippers, who work for the company Tops in Bottoms, aren't facing charges.

Viger could not immediately be reached for comment, but posted on her Facebook page that she and her family have been going through a "difficult time."

South Glens Falls is a small town 200 miles north of New York City. Viger has her first court appearance scheduled for March 7.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec182012

Valedictorian Murder Trial: Jeffrey Pyne Found Guilty of Killing His Mother

Hemera/Thinkstock(HIGHLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich.) -- A Michigan jury Tuesday found Jeffrey Pyne guilty of second-degree murder in the death of his mentally ill mother.

Pyne, 22, a former high school valedictorian, star athlete and University of Michigan biology student, had been accused of killing his 51-year-old mother, Ruth Pyne, in the family's Highland Township, Mich., garage on May 27, 2011.

Ruth Pyne had been bludgeoned and stabbed 16 times.

The trial began on Nov. 16. Pyne never took the stand, and his defense did not call any witnesses to testify.

When the verdict was announced in court Tuesday, Pyne appeared to be taken aback. Reacting to the verdict, he tilted his head slightly and blinked rapidly.

He had been charged with first-degree murder but the unanimous jury found him guilty of the lesser second-degree murder charge.

Pyne was well-liked in the Highland Park community, and many people did not believe he was responsible for his mother's death.

Prosecutors said he had been fueled by pent-up rage after years of abuse at the hands of his mother, who spent time in jail for assaulting him in 2010. Charges were dropped when she was treated at a hospital and promised to stay on her medication.

But Pyne's defense had said he was not involved in any way with his mother's death, claiming a stranger or strangers likely attacked Ruth Pyne.

The prosecution's case had been largely circumstantial. There was no physical evidence linking Pyne to the killing, but prosecutors did present photos taken shortly after the killing that showed Pyne's blistered hands.

Pyne has said the blisters came from throwing a wooden storage pallet at his job on a local farm.

Speaking to reporters outside the court Tuesday, Pyne's father, Bernie, said he was surprised by the verdict.

"I believe in my son's innocence and I wasn't able to get him home for his sister for Christmas, so it's not been a good year," he said, according to ABC News Detroit affiliate WXYZ-TV. "I have to go tell Jeffrey's 12-year-old sister that it's just her and me now."

Jeffrey Pyne's ex-girlfriend, Holly Freeman, had testified during the trial that Pyne's mother was dangerous, delusional and off her medication. Freeman said Ruth Pyne would often assault her son, adding that Jeffrey Pyne was fearful of his little sister, Julia, being left alone in the house with their mother.

Ruth Pyne's sister said the guilty verdict provided "some justice."

"She was not the monster the media portrayed her to be," Linda Jarvie told reporters. "I am deeply saddened by my sister Ruth's senseless death. This was a heinous crime. Ruth Pyne was a victim."

James Champion, Pyne's attorney, also spoke after the verdict was read, saying: "I told him last Christmas that that was the last Christmas he'd spend in jail, and I had every intention of making that promise come true but we didn't get it done, so tomorrow we'll pick ourselves back up and figure out how to move along."

Pyne will be sentenced on Jan. 29. He faces a possible sentence of 7 ½ years to 12 ½ years in prison.

 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec062012

Utah Custody Battle: Adopted Baby's Mom Wants Tot in Good Home

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Tira Bland, the Utah mother who gave up her baby for adoption, only to have a judge order the girl returned to her biological father, says that she feels sorry for the couple who adopted her daughter.

A judge ordered Utah couple Jared and Kristi Frei to return the adopted toddler to her biological father, Terry Achane, after it was revealed that Bland gave up the child without the father's knowledge or permission.

"Her well being is all that matters to me," Bland told ABC News referring to her child.  "I want to see her successful.  I want to see her in a home, a good home."

She is sorry that her ex-husband is challenging the adoption.

"I'm hurt for the Fries," Bland said.  "They're great people."

Achane, 31, a staff sergeant in the Army and Bland's ex-husband, was transferred from Texas where he lived with Bland to South Carolina.  The staff sergeant claims that in 2010, without his knowledge, Bland put the child up for adoption through a Utah agency.

When Achane learned last year that the child, who he calls Teleah, was being raised by the Freis, he asked a court to give him custody.  Last month, a judge did just that.  

The Freis now have less than 60 days to return the 21-month-old girl, who they call Leah, to her father.  But a lawyer for the Freis told ABC News earlier this week that they don't plan to return the toddler, and will appeal the judge's ruling.

Bland says the Freis took her in, and agreed to the adoption after Achane left Texas and moved to South Carolina with the Army.  Both sides agree he knew Bland was pregnant, and that he still had to move for work.

Bland says that she and Achane had discussed adoption, but in the end, she says, he abandoned her and that's why she turned to the Freis.

"They cared about me and the well being of Teleah when he wasn't there, when he didn't care," Bland said.  "He showed no interest in me being pregnant.  When he left me, he didn't leave me with an address.  I didn't have a home address on him."

Achane's lawyers deny that, saying he was paying Bland's bills, and wanted to take care of their unborn daughter.

"The judge heard [Bland'] story, and completely ruled against her.  He did not find that her story was credible," Wiser said.

Bland now says that she wants what she thinks is best for the baby.

"My heart was comfortable with her being with the Freis," she said.  "I'd rather see her with me struggling first before she goes with him."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov142012

Miami Triple Slaying: Mother and Daughters Found Dead in Bedroom Closet

Olga Cecilia Espinoza(MIAMI) -- Homicide police in Miami are investigating a triple slaying after a mother and her two daughters were discovered dead in a bedroom closet by a neighbor who smelled a foul odor.

The bodies were found at a home in northwest Miami Tuesday afternoon, said police, who have not publicly identified the victims.

But a family friend confirmed that Gladys Machado, 29, lived at the house with her two girls, Julia Padrino, 8, and Daniela Padrino, 6.

Olga Espinoza told ABC News that Machado also had a son, Michael, 6. The boy was found "safe and unharmed," according to police.

He was safe with his grandmother, the Miami Herald reported.

"She was friendly. She was outgoing, and a wonderful mother," Espinoza said through tears. "The little kids used to call me mom. Those kids were very friendly, very sweet. They were very attached to people. It's just devastating how someone so cold blooded and cruel could do something like this."

 

Miami-Dade police said they are investigating the deaths as a homicide. They have not yet released the cause or manner of death, which will be determined by the medical examiner. Investigators said that have not yet released the family's identities, pending notification of other relatives.

The bodies were discovered Tuesday when the neighbor, who has not been named, entered Machado's home and noticed an odd smell.

"The neighbor, who has access to the house, was in the house and smelled an odor that she wasn't familiar with," Miami-Dade Police spokesman Roy Rutland told ABC News. "She searched the house, and discovered the bodies inside the closet."

Rutland said investigators who responded to the scene learned that there was a son who lived in the house. Police at first believed he was missing, but were soon able to track him down, he said.

Espinoza said she had known Gladys Machado for about six years from the Lil' Pirates Learning Center, where both of their children attended child care. She said she last spoke with her Friday.

"I tried to contact her, and the phone went straight to voicemail, something that she never does, she would always call or text us back," she said.

Machado, who worked as an administrative assistant for the Beauty Schools of America, Espinoza said, posted a message on her Facebook wall hours earlier that read, "Where this road goes no one knows."

Machado had been separated from the father of her children for years, Espinoza said. She said Machado was dating someone else, but said she didn't know much about him.

Neighbors told the Miami Herald that Machado was living with a boyfriend who was recently released from jail.

Police said they are following several leads in the case.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct112012

Pregnant Texas Mom Confesses to Killing Infant Sons

Brazoria County Sheriff's Department(HOUSTON) -- A 20-year-old Texas mother who is now pregnant with her fourth child has confessed to killing two of her infant children, according to police, who said that she told them she thought she "had too many kids."

Kristi-An Walker confessed to killing her 4-month-old son in April 2011 and her 6-month-old son in June 2012, Angleton, Texas, police said.  Police told ABC News affiliate KTRK-TV that Walker, who also has a 3-year-old son, admitted to throwing her babies and banging their heads.

"She said she had too many kids," Sgt. Kirk Coleman of the Angleton Police Department told KTRK Tuesday.  "She had three kids.  She didn't want to have three.  She thought she did.  The kids would cry and it would frustrate her, and she would lose control, and she would bang their heads."

"She would take him from the car seat, and she would bang his head on the metal part of the bassinet," Coleman said.

Walker was indicted last week on a murder charge and two counts of injury to a child.

Coleman told ABC News on Wednesday that a judge had issued a gag order in Walker's case as of Tuesday.

Despite her daughter's confession to police, Walker's mother, Carol Shelton, maintains her daughter is innocent.

"She wouldn't hurt those boys in any way," Shelton said.  "She loved those boys more than anything."

Police said that Walker is now four weeks pregnant.  She is currently being held in Brazoria County Jail on a murder charge stemming from the death of her 6-month-old son, and charges of injury to a child in both deaths.

Walker's 3-year-old son is currently in the custody of Child Protective Services.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep072012

Mom of Missing Arizona Girl Charged with Murder

Hemera/Thinkstock(GLENDALE, Ariz.) -- The mother of Jahessye Shockley, a 5-year-old Arizona girl who has been missing for nearly a year, was arrested and charged with felony child abuse and first-degree murder for her daughter's death.

"For the past 11 months, the men and women of the Glendale Police Department and our partners from local, state and federal law enforcement worked tirelessly to accomplish two goals: to find Jahessye and to hold the person responsible for her disappearance accountable," Glendale Chief of Police Debora Black said in a statement.

They have yet to find Jahessye, but Black said authorities were confident they would achieve their second goal with the arrest of Jerice Hunter on Thursday.

Shockley was first reported missing nearly a year ago on Oct. 11, 2011. After an initial investigation and an extensive search, Hunter was arrested on Nov. 21 on suspicion of child abuse. She was later released and no charges were filed.

Authorities are tight-lipped about what evidence led to this week's arrest and charges.

"[The] investigation has turned up information and evidence of varying kinds and when it was re-submitted to our office for review, we felt that there was enough evidence there to support the charges handed up in the indictment," Maricopa County Attorney spokesman Jerry Cobb told ABC News Friday.

"I can't get into any specifics about the nature or type of evidence," he said.

Hunter's attorney Scott Maasen takes issue with the lack of transparency in the alleged evidence against his client.

"They don't have a body. They haven't found Jahessye," he said. "When you have a case where it takes that much time, it really calls into question the believability, the reliability, of whatever type of evidence they have."

Maasen that he met with Hunter in jail and that she is "in good spirits, considering the circumstances."

"She has maintained her innocence from day one when she reported her missing almost a year ago," Maasen said. "In every conversation I've had with her, she's been steadfast in that."

He is "confident" that Hunter will be exonerated once he receives the evidence in the case.

Investigators did not find Shockleys' body after a four-month search of the Butterfield Station Landfill in Mobile, but maintain that her body is in a landfill.

Jahessye was last seen by her three older siblings at their apartment building while Hunter said she was out running an errand. She said she left her three older children doing chores in the backyard and locked Jahessye inside so she would be safe.

Hunter's four other children, ages 6, 9, 13 and an infant, are in state custody, according to authorities.

Hunter's criminal history of allegedly abusing her children drew public suspicion to what role, if any, she might have played in her daughter's disappearance.

Hunter was charged with child abuse in 2006. According to court documents, Hunter was "accused of torturing her 7-year-old daughter and of causing corporal injuries to three of her other children" in California. Her children told police that Hunter would punch them and whip them, sometimes using extension cords.

Maasen said that the children later changed their stories.

Police said Hunter's ex-husband George Shockley also participated in the alleged abuse. He is currently in prison following his conviction as a sex offender.

Convicted of four counts of child abuse in the 2006 case, Hunter was sentenced to eight years in a California prison and lost an appeal. Prosecutors dropped the torture charges in exchange for a plea of no contest, according to ABC's Phoenix affiliate KNXV-TV. However, it is unclear why Hunter was released early from prison.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul232012

Alleged Colorado Gunman's Family Stands by Son

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The family of suspected gunman James Holmes said they will support the Ph.D student accused of entering a movie theatre last Friday and not leaving until he had killed 12 people and wounded another 58.

Asked if they stand by Holmes, lawyer and family spokeswoman Lisa Damiani said at a press conference Monday, "Yes they do. He's their son."

Damiani said the family was holding up, "as well as anyone could under the circumstances."

"I think everyone can imagine how they're feeling," Damiani said, "anyone who's ever been a parent."

Damiani would not comment on the family's whereabouts or their relationship with Holmes.

The spokeswoman said the family had spoken to investigators from California, but had not been contacted by police in Colorado.

"No one from the Aurora Police Department has contacted us, or asked for assistance," she said. Through Damiani, the suspect's mother Arlene Holmes wanted to clarify a statement she made to ABC News in the immediate aftermath of the shooting Friday morning.

ABC News phoned Arlene Holmes at 5am PST, at her home in San Diego, Calif., according to notes and email records by ABC News producer Matthew Mosk, who placed the call.

Through her lawyer, Holmes Monday sought to clarify the remarks she made in that phone interview.

"I did not know anything about a shooting in Aurora at that time," Arlene Holmes's said in statement read by her lawyer Friday. "He [Mosk] asked if I was Arlene Holmes and if my son was James Holmes, who lives in Aurora, Colorado. I answered yes, you have the right person. I was referring to myself. I asked him to tell me why he was calling and he told me about a shooting in Aurora. He asked for a comment. I told him I could not comment because I did not know if the person he was talking about was my son and I would need to find out."

Mosk said Monday that he awoke Arlene Holmes and informed her that a man, he believed was her son had been arrested in Aurora and asked to confirm their relationship.

"You have to tell me what happened … You have to tell me what happened," the woman on the phone said, according to Mosk. He said he told Holmes that ABC News had learned the 24-year-old had been identified by police as the lone suspect in the mass killing in Aurora, Colo. and that the details of the events were still taking shape.

"You have the right person," was her response, he said. "I need to call the police. I need to fly to Colorado."

Just prior to the press conference, Damiani contacted ABC News to determine whether there existed a recording of the pre-dawn conversation between Mosk and her client, according to Mosk.

One hour after learning there was no audio recording, Damiani held the conference and read Arlene Holmes' statement.

James Holmes, 24, appeared at an Arapahoe County courthouse Monday morning, his first public appearance since last week's massacre. He was not arraigned and did not enter a plea.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio